Idol thoughts

So I was watching American Idol tonight and perked up when Jeffrey Johnson, a praise and worship minister from somewhere south of here, auditioned. The producers seemed a little smitten with his Christianity and his work, cutting briefly to a prayer group he assembled with some other contestants (though it’s hard to know if the producers were smitten with the Christian-boy narrative or just having some fun, since it is difficult to take anyone seriously who fervently seeks God’s will about a vainglorious stunt like AI … rather like Kurt Warner asking God if it’s His will for the Rams to win the Super Bowl. … kind of belittles the notion of ask and ye shall receive). Anyway, Johnson’s appearance was interesting for what Gene Simmons said in the critique phase (and wasn’t Simmons likeably low-key, levelheaded, smart, and articulate). He said something to the effect of, you (meaning Johnson) would do well in country, certainly better than you will in pop because you can be overtly religious and Christian-themed in country without risking a backlash. He’s right of course. It’s hard to try to project an overtly Christian image in pop music without running up against the opposing demands of the two masters (cf Amy Grant, who was shamed by her Christian base into lamely claiming that she was singing her first big pop hits to God and not Vince Gill …er, I mean Gary Chapman at the time … hat tip RF, for the reminder). Another sign that the AI producers are interested in Christian narratives: they visited tonight’s first advancing contestant, David Something, in his home church, where the show’s host, Ryan Seacrest very sincerely and unironically accompanied David as he told his church he was going to Hollywood. I was pleased to see this moment, since AI has struck me as particularly inhumane so far (moreso than in seasons past), the judges especially meanspirited, gratuitously so at times in ways that were so clearly part of a concerted ratings ploy, a vain performance of a judgely image they wanted to perpetuate for themselves. It’s been hard to watch, especially in those instances when you know producers have put certain pitiable figures in front of the camera and the judges just for bloodsport (and this whole staged “feud” between Simon and Paula/Randy is transparent and lame). But of course I’ve watched almost every minute so color me culpable. Hudson should be up next, right? I’m still hearing wildly conflicting stuff. One person today has him getting cut after round 2. Another has him getting cut from the top handful and the AI crew visiting his home church to interview him. Go figure.

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