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American Idol and Artistry

An article about performing-Arts and music-related topic

By Ralph Schatzki

for La CoffeeMelodie Suite

  • American Idol and Artistry

  • That's quite a title, isn't it? I'll nip your protests in the bud and tell you that I now find the two virtually incompatible. The fact that Adam Lambert made it all the way to the finals of season 8 of American Idol might make one feel good about our society's perception of artistry; but I submit it is, rather, a clear indication that most of the public remains truly ignorant of what art really is.

    Now, don't get me wrong: I think the winner Kris Allen is a perfectly capable performer with a nice voice and seems like a genuinely nice fellow (as does Adam), and I think he'll find a modicum of success as a musician. But if you watched American Idol this season, you could see from the outset all the way to the end that Adam was in a different class from the rest of the contestants.

    As a professional musician I marveled at the thoroughness of Adam's preparation week after week, and how he yet made everyone feel that he was just effortlessly gliding through a song as if he were a "natural." Now, of course he is a supremely talented individual, but I suspect most who watched couldn't grasp the work that he had put in behind the scenes in order to create that image. To me, it was perfectly apparent that Adam is the first AI contestant who is a real performing artist (and I do not use that term loosely), one who makes conscious decisions about every aspect of each performance.

    Why am I disappointed? Well, the fact that more Americans preferred Kris's performances to Adam's is a clear indication they prefer the generic, simple things to the well-thought out, crafted ones. Perhaps I'm being an elitist, although I think there are connotations associated with that word that overshadow its true meaning, namely one who likes the best. I do think that many didn't like Adam because they thought he was "too much," or "over the top," but I have to ask these folks, then, what it is they want from their performers.

    Hardgoods For Sale
    Yes, Adam made it to the finals. He impressed enough people with his prodigious ability to enable himself to finish second. It's disappointing, though, that America prefers (even good-tasting) white bread to an hearty, artisan multi-grain. Perhaps that's the lesson, after all: if you're going to offer fare to the public, give them what they want. Don't put pearls before swine.

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