Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Are we judging song choices or singing?

It came up over and over again last week on American Idol. Instead of critiquing the singers' voices, Simon Cowell and his fellow judges fell back and blamed the song choice. "I really like you, but I absolutely hated that song," Simon told welder Matt Breitzke Wednesday night. "Completely the inappropriate song for you, but you do have great legs," he said to Jeanine Vailes, sounding more than a little like a creepy old man.

I think criticizing song choice can be fair if the singer has gone way out on a limb and picked something that they just can't handle. You need to know your own limitations -- it's hard to argue with that -- and many of these singers don't. But even then, it should be only part of the critique. Too often, it seems like the judges get lazy and blame the song instead of really dissecting the performance of the song, even if they didn't like the choice.
A friend of mine thinks that 99 percent of the time when the judges harp on "bad song choice" they really mean "bad genre choice."

They've already pigeonholed the singers into different boxes -- oil rig roughneck Michael Sarver looks like a country guy, even though he hasn't sung country on the show. Don't get out of your pre-assigned box, people! If Simon decides R&B is your genre, don't try a pop song (Jasmine Murray was dinged for this Wednesday night).

Read the complete story here.
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