“American Idol” has changed a lot in the past two decades. The singers are much better; the judges are much worse.
Then again, the entire music-from-home trend has changed a lot in a few weeks. Everything is better.
On Sunday (April 26), “Idol” became the first performance-reality show to switch to a social-distancing format. That will rerun Saturday (May 2). with a new episode the next day. Then, on May 4, “The Voice” has its first social-distance show.
How did the 20 “Idol” contestants do, singing from their homes Sunday? They were very good … but not as good as the judges indicated. No one could be.
“I feel like we’ve had about five superstars in a row,” Luke Bryan said at one point.
You’d think so by hearing the judges. After each of the 20 performances, they raved.
These are, apparently, really nice people. Lionel Richie’s daughter has called him the happiest person in the world … Bryan seems like the sort of good guy country music abounds with … Katy Perry also seems pleasant – even if her gimmick Sunday (spending the whole time in a hand-sanitizer costume) – wore thin in a hurry.
But 20 straight bursts of “wow” gets to be a monotone. It’s sort of like a professor whose grading curve ranges from A to A-plus.
Still, I have to admit that most of the performances were terrific … and the logistics were amazing.
Advance descriptions made it sound like this would be terribly basic: Each of the 20 contestants would be at home, singing into an iPhone – the way real superstars did after the virus shutdown began.
“Idol,” however, had something bigger and better in mind. There were, apparently, three stationary cameras in each singer’s home; a gifted director was cutting between them … and sometimes between the back-up singers and musicians, all in their own homes.
Still, life is never completely equal; neither are the conditions we’re quarantined under. Some singers seemed to be all alone; others had warm family members nearby. Some seemed to be crammed into small apartments; Lauren Spencer-Smith had a spectacular, lakeside backdrop.
Most people were in fairly appealing settings; most sang well. “Let’s just let all 20” singers advance, Richie said, perhaps semi-seriously.
That’s a bit much, even for the happiest man in the world. Sometimes, we long for early “Idol” and Simon Cowell, back when he was one of the meanest men in the world.