Any music fan would agree that guitars and songs go together like shoes and sox. So I find it “musical disturbing” that American Idol New and Old Executive Producer Nigel Litgoe has repeatedly stated that the season ten contestants won’t be able to hide behind their guitars anymore. He added that in this age and time a performer should be able to move around the stage. (And I am paraphrasing here).
He didn’t elaborate further on this. I have a hard time understanding what it will mean for Idol. As a fanatic fan I am concerned about those statements. Auditions have started for the tenth season of American Idol. In season 7 contestants were allowed for the first time to play their own instruments. Season seven winner David Cook performed several times with his guitar and was often criticized for hiding behind the guitar by American Idol Judge Simon Cowell.
I welcomed the change in season seven. I think it provides a closer look on the contestant’s ability and it showcases stage presence and ownership of the song. It just fits to a singing competition. Of course in previous seasons contestants like Bo Bice, Chris Daughtry would have greatly benefited from it. Bo Bice is probably in my opinion the most underrated contestants in Idol history.
Sure by looking at the last three seasons it seems to suggest that adding instruments to the competition didn’t necessary translate into record sales as season four American Idol winner Carrie Underwood is the most successful contestants with album sales topping eleven million dollars. Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson topping the Forbes list of top earning Idol in 2009. It seems to me that it took four years to find the next superstar after the original winner. So maybe we will be in for another one this season. My point is that it really may have nothing to do whether contestants are using guitars or not.
In any case Nigel seems to confusing American Idol with his show:” So you think you can dance” where performers have to grace the entire stage. This is Idol, Nigel!. Having to say that I still fail to see how Kris Allen hid behind the guitar by ditching the house band and only accompanied himself on an Acoustic Guitar during his memorable “Heartless” performance. One could think that this may have just won him the competition. Only Bo Bice has successfully done it before with his incredible performance of: “In a Dream” back in season five. It was praised as a bold move and I think he did it too early. He should have waited another week.
On the contrary we have seen contestants like Adam Lambert hiding behind the band, ridiculous outfit and weird moves (Tim Urban) which doesn’t translate into sales either. I never knew what genre Adam represents or who he is. Of course then we have our current Idol winner Lee Dewyze who ‘won” Idol with “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen. Viewers were blinded with a violin choir, background singers and light effects. Any wrong notes were drowned out by the amazing support of the band and the gimmicks.
Getting rid of Instruments really just means more control for the producers because they can easy throwing their support with gimmicks to whoever they want to win. When I buy an album I really do not care how the guy moves or what outfits does he wears I care about how the guy sounds and what music he represent and whether I can relate to them or not. Adding instruments to Idol was a great move because it enabled me to see what the contestant really can do on their own. Anyone can drown out errors with special effects, gospel and violin choirs, bagpipes and other gimmicks. You see season eight wasn’t about “the guy from next door ” verus the “guyliner” as Seacrest stated. It was about music versus show. After five years we should find the next Superstar again and I am rooting for someone who relies on their talent and music first and who can support it with show and movements and not for someone who hides behind gimmicks or cover up mistakes with background singers. Bring your guitars. I am patiently waiting.