'American Idol' and the Contemporary Conundrum
Abbey Simmons
Abbey Simmons
Contributing Writer, BuddyTV
Week after week we hear the same critique from the judges on American Idol: "you didn't sound contemporary, relevant or current." Every single one of the nine remaining contestants left on Idol has received this critique. And if your name is Katie Stevens, you can all but guarantee at least one of the judges will tell you this every week

However, if the judges are going for contemporary, current or relevant this season, they're making it next to impossible by giving the aspiring Idols dated themes including: The Rolling Stones, Soul Week, The Lennon/McCartney Songbook, and this week, the songs of Elvis Presley. What's next, American Idol? Songs of the Sacred Harp? Disco Week? Jazz Standards recorded before 1950?

If you want these kids to sound contemporary or current, perhaps the themes should be as well, or at the very least include songs that were written in the last three decades.  Covering classics is a tricky tricky thing that even icons stumble over. The truth is, it takes more than a week to take a classic song and make it your own. Especially if you're a 17-year-old or someone whose biggest crowd before American Idol was at a local open mic. There's something ridiculous about handing Tim Urban the songs of The Beatles and saying, "Here Tim, take this and make it better ... make it your own!" and thinking it's going to be anything other than karaoke or a train wreck.

And it's not just the age of the themes that's hurting this season's chance of sounding contemporary, current or fresh. It's also that they've all been done before on the Idol stage. We've gotten exactly one new themes this season, the oh-so of-the-moment Rolling Stones.  It's hard enough to make a song your own when The Beatles performed it, much less when David Archuleta and Brooke White did too.

Right now it seems that American Idol is suffering from a classic case of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.  If American Idol wants contemporary artists, at least half of the themes should allow for contemporary songs to be sung--or at the very least, songs that haven't been done and over done on the Idol stage. Until Idol figures that out, we're doomed to hear the same critique, and the same songs week after week.

(Image Courtesy of FOX)

And don't forget my song suggestions for this week's oh-so contemporary theme: Elvis!