Saturday, May 22, 2010

The American Idol … and then there were two…

The American Idol has now come to its climax, the Grand Finale. This was decided last Tuesday ( aired direct locally at 1800hrs (6.00pm) Wednesday night, the 19th May, via satellite ) when Casey James was eliminated.

From the thousands of hopefuls when they first auditioned early in the year, it is now whittled down to the last two finalists, Lee DeWyze and Crystal Bowersox (female) , a couple. The Final is slated for next week May 25th , same time and day.

Both Lee and Crystal are not just talented vocalists but also strum the guitar whenever the song demands. And besides that Crystal would also play the harmonica at the same time or play the piano. This make them way above the local ones.

Academi Fantasia, Mentor and a few of the new ones just push for ‘vocals’. Very few showed prowess in engaging an instrument, a guitar or piano and such like.

I am not into songs and dance as such but the American Idol presented itself with a lot of surprises, more so during auditions. It was just hilarious and at times dramatic ( when those who failed their auditions would curse and shout obscenities in front of the camera)

The hilarious ones remained and were appreciated for originality. One that remained imprinted in my mind was that of William Hung ( ?a naturalized Hongkie) from season 3, 2004. He was an electrical engineering student from Univ of California, Berkeley. He sang in a typical Chinese style and butchered , Ricky Martin’s ‘She Bangs’ that (even though he failed the audition) he was very ‘successsful’. He cut some song and dance routines later, got onto the charts and made lots of money despite a failure! ( His 2004 CD ‘Inspirations’ hit the Billboard Top 40 Charts and he swore he made US$1mil after ‘Idol’)

Another that left an impact was ‘Pants on the Ground’ from this year’s season 9 hopeful (who called himself ‘General’ Larry Platt ) a hobo looking’ 62 yr old coloured guy. Almost everyone, from high school kids, a politician, pub singers and others were shown later doing the same routine on TV – such was the impact! It was just plain funny, that’s why.

The lyrics did not do full justice ( should see the video) but here it is in any case.

Pants on the ground
Lookin’ like a fool with your pants on the ground
With the gold in your mouth, hat turned sideways
Pants hit the ground, call yourself a cool cat
Lookin’ like a fool, walkin’ to the town
With your pants on the ground!

Apparently at this juncture, after 9 seasons (nine years) the ratings are beginning to drop. ‘Judge’ Paula Abdul left earlier. The infusion of interesting replacements Cara and Ellen Degeneres did a lot to retain the ratings. Now, with the showy and ever critical Simon Cowell leaving next season, it would be bad. There were moves to change the format but it remains to be seen. This is typical of reality shows. The novelty of it wears away.

Donald Trump’s ‘The Apprentice’ was the rage about a decade ago. It had to adjust into some innovative spin-offs like ‘ Celebrity Apprentice’ to maintain viewer’s interests.

I remember decades ago too, seeing and hearing those older than me, discussing TV’s (black and white) popular serials (no reality shows back then) such as ‘Peyton Place’ many an evening with all the excitements. Then later there were ‘Dallas’ and a few others. I never followed them but maybe a few episodes here and there.

However, give me comedies, ‘Saturday Night Live, Everybody Loves Raymond even Friends’ or ‘chat shows’ such as those of David Letterman, Jay Leno, Jon Stewart (not Conan – he bores me! ) or even Oprah, I would stay on!

I remember, while on attachment in New York in mid 80’s, staying up through the nights just to see a young David Letterman and re-runs of the ‘club swinging’ Johnny Carson and Ed Sullivan’s shows. It was just hilarious, and plain witty of the highest order!


abdulhalimshah said...

Dear Hank,
From what you have posted, it was obvious how the Budak boys came to call you "Hank" after that American country singer "Hank Williams" if I got it right.
I am not an ardent follower of that reality show, but my daughter does, and I am only impressed by the comments from that critical guy Simon Cowell. My current favourite TV show is that miniseries " The Pacific " on Astro and as far as possible I try not to give it a miss. The flow of the story is not the usual war-time flicks where victory belongs only to the Allies, but this time more based on actual experiences of three writers and is not of the run of the mill type which you normally come across. There was a scene in one of the episode whereby the marines landed on Guadalcanal and when darkness fell they saw ships were blown up and were on fire off the beaches. At first the soldiers arrogantly remarked that the Japanese ships were being sunk, but when daylight came, only then they learnt that it was the American navy that got the pounding from the Japanese, and they were almost starved for months due to lack of supplies and ran short of ammunition. You would not get the true story if it was a fiction, but it was that marine soldier, Robert Leckie who wrote " Helmet for my pillow" that such stark reality could be unveiled.
I hope our own writers and film directors could come out with war films based on real experiences during the Japanese Occupation. P.Ramlee tried one with "Sarjan Hassan" but with the constraints he was facing, the reception then was fairly good. And so too was with " Leftenan Adana", but what is needed are good script writers and good directors and of course a big budget to boot.

kaykuala said...

Dear Hal,
Not really, but it does't matter. Hank just sounds nice I thought.

I tried to sit through the longer serials and dramas, HBO and all that but I just could not be a faithful follower every week. Gear suggested Korean serials (Channels 303,2040hr or 2140hr, Sats /Suns)but I 've not given it a thought yet ( Apparently he switched from being long time favourite of Hindi films)

It is now just news and comedies mostly and Nat.Geog ( sort of features) for me. I'll try Pacific after this, yes, why not?

norzah said...

Reading your entry and Akhi AHS' comment, I feel like a TV ignoramus. Yes I've watched most of the shows mentioned, enjoyed many of them especially the famous miniseries like Dallas, Little House of the Praire etc, the late night shows with Johnny Carson (Heeeeere's Johnny), David Letterman etc. and the reality shows including The American Idol, only the scientific and discovery series stick in my memory. The rest are just for laughs although they do sometimes broaden out the meaning of life and humanity.
As for the local shows, some make me feel so stupid such that I love laughing at my own stupidity. Only the news and the discussions on current affairs sometimes kept me glued to the tube. Even then I often watched TV with a book in my hand, getting ready to fill in the boring part with some reading.
No, I don't hate TV and I must say I enjoyed it at times but it's often that the TV is watching me rather than me watching the TV. When no one is home I often never switched on the TV and only listen to the radio. But hey, I really enjoyed the Honkie guy's performance ( William Hung?) and the song 'Pants on the Ground.' Very original.
Guess I'll watch more TV after reading your account, Kk. Maybe even try the Pacific miniseries as persuaded by Akhi AHS.

kaykuala said...

Akhi Norzah,
Come to think of it, Akhi Norzah, you are absolutely right.We may be giving in too much to browsing & surfing.

I'm beginning to miss TV too. I'm not familiar with the recent serials. Even 'Glee'the rage of others, I've as yet to see considering it being a comedy ( a musical though but apparently still a comedy)

I may just have to depend on promptings from others like OP Halim or make 'discoveries' of my own, I guess.

It may be a good respite but is it a bother to the eyes just as it is to surfing?

No, I think a TV screen is more forgiving than the monitor. I think so. Yes, TV here I come!

kaykuala said...

...and the winner is...Lee! This was announced at the 2-hr extravaganza that just ended a few minutes ago.

What seems some common grounds shared by previous winners was that the favourite was cast aside.

This was very apparent the last 2 seasons when Chris Allen won over Adam Lambert in Season 8 and David Cook over David Achuleta in Season 7