Once again, the day after hysteria is in full swing, and it’s so fun to watch. However last night was so different from the chaos of last week that if you miss a week you may loose out.
Casey is once again the talk of the show. I’m not saying that it’s good or bad. It just is. Last night he attempted jazz against the advice of the professionals and the fans are still buzzing. For as huge a jazz fan as I am some of it just is not good music. I try to allow for free form and improvisation, creativity and artistry, and personal taste and style, but some stuff should just be left alone. Sometimes it's the listener, but if people don't get it, then could it be the player? Imagine walking into an art gallery. Some pieces will be appealing and others will just be hard to understand. I think the jury is still out on Casey. He's got potential but still some growing to do.
It's interesting that the fans of more conservative, traditional jazz didn't seem to care for Casey’s rendition of Nature Boy, while the fans of more contemporary jazz appreciated it more. In the 70s George Benson did a version of the same song, too. Some people (including me) didn't care for it initially although I had been a huge Benson fan for years. However over the years the Benson version has grown on me tremendously. For some people Casey may be the same way. I guess it's what the individual is accustomed to. Casey seemed to be trying to combine Nat King Cole, Al Jarreau, and Harry Connick, Jr. Casey gave props to Esperanza Spaulding but is he in the same category with her?
Jazz is well over 100 years old and was invented in this country, yet many...probably most people here don't understand or know what it's all about. And, there are so many kinds of jazz that that may turn off some listeners, too. One of the greatest disservices in this country was allowing so many of the jazz radio stations to go off the air. Those stations gave people a greater variety and ability to choose. Even people who don't care for ALL jazz might sometimes flip the station and hear something that is appealing. One-flavor pop music in this country may sell records but doesn't seem to encourage real talent or development of the musical art form.
One thing about musicians in general, and jazz players in particular, is that they never stop learning, experimenting and taking tips from others. One thing that I'm not so sure that Casey has yet is the ability to listen and learn. He is a bit cocky and arrogant although he possesses talent. He may have been right to ignore Jimmy because Jimmy has made some terrible suggestions in the past. But people listen to what they like, not what the musician want them to hear. Casey's phrasing, style and choice of notes show some potential. But his performances seem more salesman-like than true performances. He's good, but I think the jury may still be out about being GREAT.
There were a few other things that for me came out of last night’s show. I am glad that Will-i-am challenged Jimmy Iovine a couple of times last night. Jimmy has made some bad suggestions to the kids and many have paid for it by being sent home. Most of the remaining people at some point have stuck to their guns and apparently it has paid off for them. The suggestion to insert a beatbox pass in the middle of Paul's song was the dumbest idea ever. Paul needs to do everything he can just to stay there without silly suggestions. That is the quintessential error in so much of what is considered cross-over music today. If you just tape different genres together without any real understanding of how they work you will get crap. At some point maybe sticking to their guns could get them eliminated, but I'm sure it's easier to accept going home being true to yourself than going home because of following some else's bad advice.
While I’m on the Subject of Jimmy Iovine, I do have to give credit where credit is due. He was right in his comments to Jacob because he was way off base last week. Jacob came back this week seemingly a bit more humble because he may realize he put his foot in his mouth. There's nothing wrong with Jacob making the comments about Marvin Gaye's song as far as it applies to him and that's what he believes. He just goes too far for chastising everyone else if they didn't appreciate his choices of style of song. The fact is that's the point of the show and if the fans don't like you they may vote you off.
Okay folks. I know that some people will disagree but if you roll the tape back Jennifer has made some comments in several of the past shows expressing her preference for the girls or expressing some concern that there were fewer girls left than guys. She has made some sort of comments going as far back as when Ashton and Karen were vote off. She is human and entitled to her opinion, however, as one of the judges you would think that she would be more professional and mature than to be so blatant. Maybe she doesn’t get it or maybe she doesn’t care, but her comments regarding the girls does show some real bias whether its real or imagined. That won’t score her any points…even with her fans.
Oh and by the way - when did the show become a showcase for Jennifer? I'm a bit tired of her running her mouth when it's someone else's turn, seeing her self-aggrandizing commercials, and the spotlight on her as the "world's most beautiful woman" was too much. If she wants her own show she should do what Oparah, Tyra Banks and others did.
I do have some comments about Haley, and while I will save them until after tonight's show I will say this: sadly, some people do base talent in part on what they see. And still in 2011 sex does sell. But an Idol is different things for different people. In the case of Pia, many people liked her style. So that last outfit may have been a disaster for her because it was such a big (and not very good) change. I could be wrong but if she had on a better outfit I bet the voting may have been different. While Haley is not my choice, she is using ALL of what she has to get where she wants to go, including all of the sex appeal she can muster. Some of the other fans of the show have not been as kind in their descriptions. It seems to be working for Steven anyway! I wonder if he looks at her and thinks groupie? I don't even think he hears her sing. But her singing was seriously challenged last night by the judges for the first time. Let's see if she survives the fans.
This brings me to my final thought about last night's show, but it's an ongoing inssue in my mind generally. I like the judges for their entertainment value, but with the possible exception of Randy (and I still wonder even then) would they have been able to have become the same successes earlier in their careers if they were to compete the same ways these kids do on AI? Being successful doesn't necessarily make you good or mean that you are the best or you are the most skilled and talented. But being successful may be a reflection of tenacity and staying power - and how well you are promoted. Remember, Jennifer was NOT a singer in the beginning, she was a dancer. Someone suggested she should sing and she began to develop that side of her "talent." (Remember she spent a lot of time early on developing through the P-diddy and Ben Afleck years.) But how many years did it take for her to become respectable as a singer? Am I wrong, or was she fairly limited to hip hop until the movie "Selena?" And Steven has been a huge success for decades. But what is his real experience in other types of music? Some would say that he did not even cross over until "Walk This Way." So you would think that he would be the last to comment on screaming and pitchiness (LOL). Nevertheless he has overcome in the industry. The judges have a lot of experience through the "school of hard knocks" but except for Randy, who has had a career as one of the most sought after writers, producers and musicians in the business, it doesn't seem that they have much in the way of actual music training. It seems that so many people miss Simon not because he knew so much about music, but he knew a lot about the music business and how he could sell it. Is that what the show needs in order to be able to provide more constructive feedback? Maybe? Or perhaps the show can benefit from someone who actually teaches voice and instructs in performance. But then would it be an entertaining show?
One thing is certain; the show is about money, profitability and marketability. A lot of people were pissed that PIA was voted off last week, but do you think the show's producers really care? Naw. As long as people read and write blogs (like us - hahaha) and keep the controversy stirred up and say they will never watch again - only to tune in again tonight in spite of ourselves, then their cash registers running. Period. All of these kids will have careers. The only big winner here is the industry. And they don't care anything about music as art or even music ans entertainment as much as music as business. So I suspect that anyone who watches the show for anything more than entertainment will have their feelings hurt when their favorite is sent home.
So don't get too hung up with your personal favorites. You'll hear from them again at some point. Meanwhile I guess we might was well enjoy the ride while it lasts.