Thursday, March 31, 2011

American Idol Snark Station: The Sun Goes Down on Me

One of the few non-fist-flying, hair-pulling, face-spitting moments I can remember having with my brother when we were kids was the time we spent choreographing and practicing a dance routine to Elton John's "Bennie and the Jets" in anticipation of presenting it to our parents and neighbors on Sunday afternoon. I even used up a whole bottle of Elmer's Glue to coat my go-go boots with green glitter and my brother likewise outlined a pair of my mother's YSL sunglasses with gold sequins.

We were so over the moon for Elton John, my parents even agreed to allow us to join his fan club, which used to send us these monthly newsletters outlining all the goings-on in Elton's life in that hyper-exclamatory manner so particular to fan mag writing of the time: "Elton says the best way for a girl to catch his eye is not to be too fake!" "Elton can eat wherever he wants in the world but still says his mom's meat pies are his favorite!'"

To this day, if one of his songs comes on the radio—even "Candle in the Wind" and "I'm Still Standing"—I'll listen. Some still have the power to slay me completely, most notably "Daniel," "Someone Saved My Life Tonight," and "Yellow Brick Road." Elton even followed me into adulthood, when S.B. revealed during the early days of our courtship that one of the things that got him through three stints in a Nigerian compound was John's Tumbleweed Connection on his Walkman because there's a song on there that reminds him of me.

So I couldn't help but cringe when I heard that the Idolators were doing Elton songs last night. Seriously? Because of all the pop songs out there, Elton's are to my mind at least some of the toughest to cover. What makes Elton John great is not only his lyrics and piano-driven melodies, but also his voice, one of the most distinctive in all pop music, capable of phrasing things in ways that no mere mortal, regardless of technical ability, can match.

And you know what? They still can't. The thing about Elton, too, is that so many of his songs are so personal. And these kiddies seemed not to grok to the meaning of the lyrics at all, especially Pia, who for all her technical proficiency just comes off to me as cold and un-engaging. The praise heaped on that Cruise Ship performance made me wince.

You know who I did like, though? Durbin. It was a little manic, but his voice was awesome and he brought an energy and a power to his performance that was almost Elton-esque. Oh, and Pauls' suit? I want that suit. I'd wear that suit. That suit rocks.



Anonymous said...

I'm tempted to say that Paul and Jacob are too gay to sing Elton John songs.


I actually wound up watching 3 of them this time. Scotty (live) and, of course, Casey and Alaina on dvr.

Scotty chose the right song and was on-tune and pretty good.

Casey was okay. I voted for him just because he might be 10% Troll and I want to be able to continue to say my "dark horses" made it far.

Alaina was okay. I thought the judges were way overboard in their praise of her.

I'm assuming Moi believes I needn't waste my time watching the other 8 on DVR?

I'm also tempted to comment on upon the sun going down on you but I will refrain from doing so.

moi said...

Troll: Bah-duh-bum. Yeah, I noticed that after I published it and then thought, aw, frig, I'll leave it. It's kind of funny.

If, like me, you enjoy torturing yourself and throwing things at the screen, by all means watch the rest. At the very least, watch Durbin and let me know what you think.

Jenny said...

Mr. Boxer loves Elton John and I think he's seen him at least five times in concert. I know what you mean when you say if you hear one of his songs you stop and listen. I also wasn't looking forward to the theme last night but was marginally happy. Casey was good and Paul's suit? I love what he wears. Turning Elton John into a reggae version was risky and I didn't like it.

I love the story of you gluing green glitter on your go-go boots! Of course you did. :-)

Anonymous said...

Watched Durbin. He was off-key badly twice.

I always thought Elton John was just a guy who ripped off 10-CC.

czar said...

I take it no one did the Elton John song where a kid goes into a bar and blows away 14 people? Presumably American Idol is not the place for evoking Jared Loughner/Columbine.

Although that would have been rather interesting.

moi said...

Boxer: Man, I so want Naima to get it together. I love the way she looks, I love her exuberance. But these past two performances were frightful.

Troll: Off key didn't bother me so much. Your 10-cc comparison is intriguing. Although, I think Elton pre-dates at least their fully-formed incarnation. They did have some of the coolest album covers of the '70s, though, and "I'm Not in Love" is a great song.

Czar: I have that on an album somewhere, but went and re-listened to it on YouTube. I wonder if a compilation album, Songs About Kids that Kill, would be in terribly bad taste?

Pam said...

Naima was awful. AWFUL. AWFULLLLLL. Hated every minute of it and I hope she goes home. She just thinks she is reggae.

Durbin was okay but he is a bit glambert for me ... too staged and too much playing the role of a rocker, not a real rocker. if that makes sense.

We thought Casey did a good job, but played it safe. Did vote for him also.

Scotty chose a cool and obscure Elton song and nailed it.

Paul is going a bit meh for me. I can't remember his performance so that sums it up.

Thia and Haley can go right home also. This is a horse race between Casey, Paul, Durbin, Lauren and Jacob.

Jacob should gone with the Holy Moses song. He shines on those gospel things. But he sings. his. heart. out.

No clear fave last night. And re Elton? Husband won me over on date no. 1 as we were trading Elton John lyrics.

Elton is from his hometown and owned his local football club (Watford Hornets) at one time. We are all about ELton in this house!

moi said...

Pam: The thing about Scotty is that although he has one sound, he sings that sound well. Always.

Pam said...

Yes, I think Scotty will have a good country career. He is eating it up too. I think the right people went home last night. Naima is the one too quirky for the show ... but she has the exposure to go do something with it now and I hope she does. Thia just needs to bake a while longer.

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