For some reason, I’ve gotten semi-hooked on American Idol this season. I don’t watch every week, though I seem to be catching most of the results shows, so I’m keeping up with who has been voted out and who is still around.
One of the men in the group has arguably the best voice amongst them. Beautiful tone, rich and full. Most of the time he’s on pitch. (Something that can’t be said for many.) But he won’t win. Why?
Now, he’s not terribly unattractive. But there are a few in the remaining five who are. One woman is strikingly beautiful. One man is the epitome of hip rock guy. There’s a guy who’s greying early, and has some quirky appeal. There’s a young woman who probably will be voted out next week, since she’s not nearly as pretty as the other. (She’s quite young – 17, if I remember correctly – and has a great voice. A bit of coaching, and she’d be someone to watch for in a few years.)
When, exactly, did we get so hung up on physical appearance? Is this a hallmark of our generation? Think of the movie stars and vocal talents of a few decades ago. The men weren’t pretty. Some of the women weren’t, either. But they were talented. When Ella Fitzgerald sang, the angels quieted so they could listen. But Ella was heavyset, and a bit plain. Not pretty. I wonder if she would make it today. Forget that she had one of the most spectacular voices in modern memory. It apparently wouldn’t matter.
I think of Ann Wilson, who has a fabulous voice. Heart was one of the bands of my generation, and her vocals were amazing. Unfortunately, Ann has a bit of a weight problem. And so, when MTV came to be the powerhouse it is, her career was effectively over. Not because she could no longer sing. But they couldn’t figure out how to make a video with a fat chick.
And so, we’re left with what passes for musical talent. Pretty people, who all sound alike. Most of them even look alike. Britney. Jessica. Justin. Lightweights, all. Ella and Ann would outsing this group without even trying. But, gosh…aren’t they pretty? I guess video really did kill the radio star.