What Type of Artist Should the Next 'American Idol' Be?
Friday, May 06, 2011
Last night's results show featured a lot more filler than results. But in one of these pieces of filler, specifically the Bing commercial, Haley said something that made a lot of sense. She also provided one of the reasons I think Jacob Lusk was eliminated from American Idol.
Before they put on goofy hats and too-small leather jackets, the contestants were asked how they choose a song each week. I don't know that we can trust the authenticity of most of these answers, since none of the kids mentioned how a stylist might dress them, but Haley seems pretty genuine. She said something to the effect of,
"You have to pick a song that you like, and you have to think about what the judges will like, and you want to pick a song that America will like. It's a lot to think about."
I think this conundrum speaks to why Jacob Lusk was eliminated. He closed out the night with "House is Not a Home," which was one of my favorite songs he has performed. He sang it very early on in American Idol, when he seemed to be doing really well. Randy Jackson called several of his performances the best he'd ever seen, etc. Then something began to happen.
Jacob was getting mixed messages about what type of artist he should be, specifically in this competition. The voters would put him in the bottom on occasion (so don't tell America to look at itself in the mirror). The judges gave him mixed feedback, too. Jennifer Lopez and Randy seemed to alternate weeks when they wanted him to change, or to stay the same and "take it to church." Then we've got Jimmy Iovine telling Jacob what to sing, and, perhaps too late, suggesting he put a spin on some Classic Rock songs like "Love Hurts." It was a lot to think about.
In the end, none of us were sure what type of artist Jacob Lusk might be, or even if he wanted to be doing all the things he was. I was very happy when, at the end of the night of his elimination, Jacob said he was excited to get out there and make a classic R&B record in the style of Luther Vandross, and other artists he had channeled early on.
So we're left with Haley, James, Lauren, and Scotty. As talented as Haley is, I think she could be the next to go, only because Jimmy Iovine said he doesn't think Haley knows who she is, and it has taken her a little longer to pinpoint a genre. The other contestants all have that going for them: James is mostly Classic Rock, Scotty is Country, and Lauren is Country/Rock. Haley has a little bit of everything, so she's going to keep getting mixed messages from the judges and the mentors.
While the competition asks these contestants (a lot of them teenagers) to be jacks of all trades, it also asks them to know who they are and what type of artist they might want to be very early on. Maybe the juxtaposition of these two requirements is part of the reason it's interesting to watch.
So, should an artist go with what they want to do, with what the judges want them to do, or a little bit of both? How important is it to establish a genre or artist identity in this competition?
(image courtesy of FOX)