Jeremy's Weblog

I recently graduated from Harvard Law School. This is my weblog. It tries to be funny. E-mail me if you like it. For an index of what's lurking in the archives, sorted by category, click here.

Tuesday, August 13, 2002

Continuing the TV theme (see comments on NBC's "Meet My Folks" below), tonight I watched what has become my only summer TV habit, FOX's "American Idol." Around the beginning of June, I told myself I wasn't going to watch any TV all summer, except for a couple of Mets games here and there. That lasted about two months actually, with only a few rare exceptions.

But then a few weeks ago I discovered "American Idol" and the joy of hoping that a bunch of reasonably talented singers can screw up on live TV. In case you live in a cave, here's how it works -- they held auditions for people who can sing, and chose a bunch of them to be on the show. Each week they each sing a song that fits the week's theme (for example, "Songs of the '70s," "Songs of the '60s," or "Songs that weren't any good when they came out, and certainly aren't any better now"), the "celebrity" judges -- Paula Abdul, Randy Jackson (a record producer; is he Michael's brother? Or are they just pretending he's famous for the show?), and a British guy who is really pretty funny (by funny I mean that he insults the contestants and tries to make them cry) -- give their opinions, and then the American public (or at least the three or four teenage girls who are really into this show) votes by phone for their favorite, and the one with the least number of votes gets kicked off for next week.

They're down to 5 contestants. Tonight's theme was "Burt Bacharach songs." And, yes, that was as exciting as it sounds. Burt Bacharach himself, in one of the many segments of filler necessary to turn 5 songs into an hour of television, helped the contestants choose their songs. Then he apparently lost his ability to hear. This was not the right genre of music for 18-24 year old aspiring pop singers. Burt Bacharach songs are musically pretty complicated, it seems to me, and don't really have the melodic hooks that make them fun to listen to even when they're being butchered. So the show was, well, boring at its best. And in the case of one contestant, actually painful. My ears began to bleed as the notes got flatter and flatter until it was like she was singing the national anthem at a little league baseball game.

But that was the best part of the show. Because, just like it's secretly fun when the stock market falls a thousand points, it's kind of entertaining to watch someone mess up on live television.