n p r n e w s
by Marc Hirsh
May 9, 2012 — As we near the finale of the current season of American Idol, a look at some of the show's annoyances, great and small.
- Ryan Seacrest's double/triple/quadruple fakeouts. Our host used to screw with the contestants by teasing the results before throwing to a guest performance or commercial. Now he gives those results using sentences so convoluted, with so many double-backs and twist-arounds, that you need a white board to diagram them and unpack their actual meaning. Frustrating the singers, yes. Confusing them entirely, no.
- That half-hidden, slightly elevated lip-ramp at the front of the stage. Someone's going to wipe out on it, I just know it. It's like a trap, hidden in plain sight, just waiting to be sprung and claim its first victim. Sometimes I can barely concentrate on the performance, so worried am I.
- Wikipedia Randy. Okay, this is technically about the judging, but it's really more Randy Jackson's unwavering drive to be liked by somebody, anybody, for any reason at all. In particular, his tendency to pepper his comments with factual information that nobody requested, just to prove that he knows it. Here's him responding to Steven Tyler's unfamiliarity with "Bleeding Love," which Hollie Cavanagh had just performed: "This was a really big song written by Ryan Tedder from OneRepublic, huge hit for Leona Lewis..." This sort of thing happens all the time, usually under even flimsier pretenses.
- TMZ visits. They've done this twice now, which says that not only don't they realize what a horrible, gross mistake it was last year to toss the contestants - who are, remember, still essentially average Joes and Janes untutored in public-image coaching - into TMZ's offices and hope for the best, they've decided to flat-out embrace it. At least last year's contestants had the presence of mind to look disgusted at basically being told "We're here to show you what kinds of bottom-feeding gossip-hound scumbags you should be careful to avoid out there. It's called providing a service." The current batch seem to have been told to play along.
- The limited screen time given thus far to Hollie Cavanagh's family. Father, mother, brother, it doesn't matter. They are, to a person, pretty much the most cutest thing ever. They're easily the best Idol family since Elliott Yamin's mother, and they've been put in front of the camera maybe twice. Unacceptable.
- Two-hour shows, apparently now and forever. Time was, performance shows would gradually shrink with the number of contestants, first to 90 minutes and then to an hour. But why do that when you can double and triple up the performances, slap together some duets and trios, none of which work very well, and maybe bring in an outside act or two? Idol has always been stuffed with a brutal amount of filler (when it hasn't been insanely rushed, and sometimes when it has), but this is the first season it's used that to show active contempt for its viewers.
- Yawn-inducing Ford commercials. Sure, they used to be incredibly cheap and jaw-droppingly cheesy. But at least they weren't boring.
- Shipping. It's one thing if fans hope amongst themselves for contestants to pair up and get all kissyface with one another. But when Seacrest keeps pestering Colton Dixon and Skylar Laine about whether they're a couple (despite their increasingly vocal insistence that they are certainly not), we tip into weird territory for a show that has almost zero backstage component that's not directly advertising-partner-related.
- The steadfast belief that words have no meaning. For one thing, there was the theme of "pop songs from Great Britain" that Seacrest was determined to keep calling "Britpop," despite the two not being synonymous and the latter actually referring to a fairly specific subgenre. But there's also the longstanding issue of songs being edited down to fit the time allotted without any consideration for how the lyrics that are left are affected. It reached its nadir several week ago, when Elise Testone and Phillip Phillips, Jr. sang Gotye and Kimbra's "Somebody That I Used To Know." The song is already a duet, with two very distinctive parts thoughtfully divvied up to create a specific dialogue. Naturally, the show just haphazardly assigned whichever lines to whoever, because why not? That'll work, too, right? It's all just sound.
- "Goosies." You are a grown woman, Jennifer Lopez. Call them "goosebumps" or don't call them at all. And for crying out loud, use your talking-to-adults voice. You are a grown woman.
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