Let's be clear about something: I have never followed American Idol. I am not a fan of the show. I have seen pieces of episodes as I've flipped through the channels, and have been less than impressed with the loathsome, vibrato-laden cacophony that shrills into my family room. I hate all those songs that barely rank higher than Muzac, belted out by a bunch of Mariah Carey/Justin Bieber wannabes who couldn't carry a tune with an industrial-strength wheelbarrow. And of course, these are the contestants that are ALLOWED to go to Hollywood.
(As a side note, since I have mentioned his name, I recently saw a post on Facebook that said, "Dear God, we will gladly give you Justin Bieber--if you'll just send John Lennon back." Now, I don't think this is very nice. John Lennon is worth WAY more than Justin Bieber. That's not a fair trade at all. To get John Lennon back I think we'd have to trade Eric Clapton, Bono, Ringo Starr, all of the Eagles, and Bill Clinton.)
Anyway . . .
I don't like American Idol. For me, the biggest problem with the show is that it always seems to place image over ability. Appearance over aptitude. Style over substance. Are we so obsessed with creating the perfect looking "Idol" that we don't really care about the music anymore? Hence my aforementioned freaking out when Fox announced the new line-up of judges on this ridiculous show.
Steven Tyler is a rock legend. He is one of, if not the greatest, front men of all time. He's loud, he's obnoxious, he's rude and he's amazingly talented. Why Steven? Why, oh why would you stoop to this level? Is it so important to remain in the public eye that you would sell your rock and roll soul so cheaply?
But then, out of morbid curiosity, I tuned in to the show just to see what I assumed would be a total train wreck, only to be pleasantly surprised. Oh, the contestants were the same. They shrilled the same old, tired musical stylings of Spears and Beyonce, but Steven Tyler brought a fresh new perspective to the judges table.
Let's face it. The man is talented . . . and during the ONE time I will ever watch an Idol epsiode in it's entirety, I found him to be insightful, funny and most of all, sincere. He wasn't mean--which I always disliked about Simon Cowell, but it was obvious that he suffered when a contestant had no talent. He offered advice that made sense and was, most of all, germane for someone who wanted to be successful in the business. At times, he sang with some of the contestants and we were reminded that he REALLY does know what he's talking about and that the vocals on his albums are all his--and not doctored up with technology to make him sound better.
He was also genuine. In the short time I watched the show, he seemed like he was simply enjoying himself. A contestant appeared and told the story of his fiance who had suffered brain damage in a car accident two months before their wedding. The pair were still engaged and he was taking care of her. It was a sad story which made for good TV, but then the guy sang. And he could sing. He could REALLY sing. The judges were impressed by the performance, but Tyler seemed to be genuinely moved. After the audition, the judges asked to meet the contestant's fiance and they were all very nice---Tyler particularly when he leaned over and kissed the girl on the cheek and told her that her boyfriend sang beautifully.
It was a sincerely-felt comment, oblivious of the TV cameras, and I was impressed by his kindness toward a couple of people that he had just met.
I don't have the time--or the inclination--to watch American Idol again. But I have to admit that I came away with even more respect for Steven Tyler. I still don't fully get why he wants to be on the show, but there is one thing that is enduring and incontrovertible:
Steven Tyler is really cool, man.