The Worst Cover Version of All Time is The Epitome Of American Idol

Look. The truth is, I try to ignore American Idol. I lot of people I respect like it, and while I think that it’s essentially a ‘roided up version of Star Search that’s only produced two even marginally interesting musicians — Kelly Clarkson and Jennifer Hudson — in seven years.

So I try to ignore the early rounds, which seem to be about feeling superior to talentless retards who just Want to Be on Television. I try to ignore the later rounds, which seem to be about singerbots performing soulless — but technically perfect! — versions of Other People’s Songs.

But the greater truth is that I live in the middle of the popular culture, and since Idol is the biggest thing in today’s Long Tail culture — 10% of the country watches it every week! — I am inundated with it on both the radio and the TV.

Which means that I get assaulted with things like some douchebag’s version of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire:”

Wow. Not only is this abomination this week’s Worst Thing I’ve Ever Heard In My Entire Life, Ever and — by default — the Worst Cover Version of All Time, it’s also the absolute epitome of American Idol.

Idol, of course, isn’t so much about musical expression, per se, — which is why I love music — as it is about outdoing the other person. Just as Baseball players as naturally great as Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez compelled to do steroids because that was the culture, or Nadia Suleman “wins” because she had eight babies at one time, this version of “Ring of Fire” epitomizes the Idol culture of “the more notes you sing, the better it is.”

BTW, this isn’t because the douchebag somehow destroyed the sacrosanct “Ring of Fire,” with an “experimental” version. Why should I care which song he destroyed when he so obviously didn’t? Also, in the early 80’s, Wall of Voodoo did an amazing deconstruction of exactly the same song:

So it’s not about the fact that he gutted “Ring of Fire,” it’s the fact that it didn’t matter what the song was. It could have been any song, and he would have done the same exact thing. The song didn’t matter. The words didn’t matter. The melody didn’t matter.

“Ring of Fire” was simply a platform upon which the douchebag could sing his notes upon notes upon notes not for any kind of musical expression or connection to the actual song he was supposed to be singing, but rather in a desperate attempt to stay in the competition at all costs.

Really? It might be entertainment, but it doesn’t have any kind of connection to, you know, music. I’d love for my Idol-watching friends to defend this, but really, they deserve it.

4 Responses to “The Worst Cover Version of All Time is The Epitome Of American Idol”

  1. Tyson says:

    I believe the guys on KROQ this morning described his performance as sounding like Geddy Lee on acid with his balls in a vise.

  2. Tim says:

    Righteous indignation I get. But I think maybe you are a bit harsh here only by singling out this one person as a generalization of the show. I really don’t think the guy is a douche bag per se. Pretentious as hell? Yes.

    Simon summed it up for pretty much all of us. And that is the role of the judges. Simon always cuts through the b.s. Look, there is a huge pool of contestants and songs to be had. The fact that this guy has no grounding in music is merely a sign of age more than anything. It may be a classic, unworthy of mangling unnecessarily, but there are now probably a few thousand “classic” songs. I applaud the guy for at least trying something different. And, I have to point this out to Jim–Idol is not about the whole “more notes the better.” The judges will call you out on that. That is why the winners–all of them really–are not so much “oversingers” as they are just singers with excellent voices. But out of all of them, I only really care about Kelly Clarkson and David Cook. Jennifer Hudson did not win, which is crazy as she is possibly the greatest singer to come out of the show.

    Although I’m not big on the format changes to Idol this year (like FB’s unnecessary changes) I still watch most of them and am still entertained. One thing you have to check at the door is a sense of music “ownership,” the how-dare-they-fuck-with-the-music thing. It’s a talent contest, and part of the appeal is discovering those one or two jewels each year that may or may not have success. Along the way, there area a couple of “douche bags” I guess!

  3. Jim says:

    I swear to gods I wasn’t going to write an Idol rant this year, but I heard that version on KROQ this morning, and so there you go.

    In terms of singling somebody out:
    Adam Lambert = Jim Cramer

    And of course:
    Jim Connelly < Jon Stewart More like <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

  4. Tim says:

    An interesting aside…had lunch with friend Paul today and he absolutely loved that version of Ring of Fire. He thought it was the best song of the night! So, there you go. Horses for courses.

    For the record, I wasn’t impressed. What I do love about Idol is that they have some sort of mercy rule on songs…they only last about 90 seconds or so.