What a night on American Idol! The judges were jumping up to give the contestants standing ovations so often it looked like the Senate during the State of the Union address. By my count – and J. Lo’s – five out of the nine performances brought the judging panel to their feet.
OK, you guys need to get a grip. Seriously. Wow! This is so nuts.
Let’s begin with the basics of music appreciation. Applause is what you give when someone has done a great job on stage. If they really excel, you might whoop or whistle. Classical crowds shout “Bravo” but that won’t fly on Idol. Screaming is acceptable.
The standing ovation is reserved for the transcendent, once-in-a-lifetime, revelatory, peak performance. This is rarely granted.
To put this in perspective, Aretha Franklin in her prime belting out “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta? That might merit a standing ovation. Heejun Han trembling his way through “A Song for You”? Not in a million years. (You be the judge.)
And by the way, that’s a Leon Russell song. Donny Hathaway is merely one of the dozens upon dozens of people to have covered it over the years. Shame on you for not knowing that Jimmy I.
The point is that when you jump up after nearly every number, you cheapen the standard for true excellence. In the annals of Idol, I think I’ve gotten restless in my seat only twice after performances – both times by singers (Clay Aiken and Pia Toscano) who didn’t win. I didn’t get up but I was tempted.
You no doubt have your own all-time Idol favorite stage moments. Enter them in our online poll (above, right).
What I’m saying is that in ten years of this amateur singing contest, moments meriting a standing ovation have been exceedingly rare. So for Randy, Steven and Jennifer to stand up five times last night was an absolute joke.
Making predictions in this atmosphere of irrational exuberance is difficult. How do choose among the greatest singers who have ever existed?
Here are my picks for tonight’s bottom three:
Heejun Han for his very sensitive, very saccharine ballad. You used a flute to accompany you? A flute?
Elise Testone. I thought wearing bell bottoms to cover Led Zeppelin was very cool, but I though it played too vintage for the room.
Jessica Sanchez. Crazy, right? But you wear a dress with a long train and sing with a harp, there will be repercussions.
Leaving the show: Heejun. Because there’s just no coming back from the flute.