Looks like Simon Cowell is going soft. This season on American Idol there have been a number of questionable twists (new judge, first-time ever final 13, the judge’s save option) but the most disappointing is a kinder, gentler Simon.
Aside from Idol’s winning format from day one, the most invigorating aspect for pop-culture has been Simon’s devilish snarkyness. Suddenly, speaking your mind was not only a guilty pleasure – it was actually now kind to be cruel. Now, the hundreds of former pop star wannabes are in their proper place, and these gas station attendants and prospective brain surgeons have been told by Simon that they just didn’t cut it.
But even Simon is a pussycat when it comes to Scott MacIntyre, the partially blind piano player from Scottsdale, AZ.
I know. I’m picking on the blind guy. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not anti-Scott because of his handicap. I’m anti-Scott because he can’t sing very well. He’s just okay. And I’m a little pissed that a voice talent like Jorge Nunez got passed over last week by the judges. If ever there was a perfect save opportunity, it was Jorge’s chance to make history. Sure, he’s a little wolfmanish-looking, but that dawg can sing!
I’m not inspired that Scott has made it this far despite the hurdles. That’s because I’m too used to blind performers who have actually had major talent. The list is impressive. You can name them off the top of your head too: Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Jose Feliciano, Ronnie Milsap, Jeff Healey… hey, I’m no opera fan, but that Andrea Bocelli is one helluva singer too.
So why is Simon (and for that matter, Randy, Kara and Paula) going easy on this marginally talented performer? Last night, before Simon had a chance to snipe, he got into a tiff with Paula over her comments that Scott was playing it safe by sticking to the keys. That dustup deflected Simon’s moment to speak his mind, and for the first time ever, he played it safe as well, remarking that Scott should pick better songs.
Believe me, I’m all for equal opportunity. Except when it comes to my American Idol. The contest every season has so far been perfect for letting the cream rise to the top. Every winner has been a dark horse, emerging from the chorus, spurred on by brutal, cutting edge competition that brought out their inner fire.
Whether it be big man soulful crooner (Ruben Studdard) crystal clear Texan princess (Kelly Clarkson – still the greatest nobody ever found) or salt-n-pepper Soul Patroller (Taylor Hicks) AI has produced the goods every time. (uh-oh… a quick check on the web reveals that Hicks can’t even give tickets away).
Well, 6-for-7 is still an .857 batting average.
Scott MacIntyre: The next American Idol?
Not a chance. As Kara would say… “you just ain’t got the chops.”
Maybe it’s time for Simon Cowell to pay more attention to the newbie.