Loud-mouthed liberal feminist. Anarchist knitter. Tequila-drinking artsy-smartsy fat chick. Bluesy folk-rock singer-songwriter. Rebel with too many causes. Quirky eclectic pagan poet. Paradoxical intuitive smartass. Sarcastic brainiac insomniac. You know, for starters.


American Idol.

I don't like American Idol. This is probably not surprising to most people who've exchanged more than two words with me. American Idol, while certainly featuring many talented vocalists, is to genuine, original music what paint-by-numbers "Dogs Playing Poker" is to the "Mona Lisa." It's an assembly line, masterminded by Music Business impresarios with dollar signs in their eyes, taking fresh-faced youth and untried (?) talent and adding a goodly dose of Hollywood hype, a dash of media orgy, a thin veneer of "competition" and mass-marketing interactivity, and injecting it into some over-produced mindless gem of a pop song laden with hearts-and-bunnies imagery designed to appeal to twelve-year-old girls....and I believe that it not only contributes to the growing soul-less-ness of Music These Days, but also contributes to the premature deaths of music careers that crash and burn before their time because of inflated expectations and the emptiness of a glorified karaoke contest. I don't believe Simon Cowell gives a good goddamn if the pretty people on stage can sing two notes in a row on-pitch, if he thinks they'll make him a buttload of money.

People wonder why I'm not flattered when people suggest I should audition.

So, last weekend, I was home visiting the family in the wilds of Michigan, and my dad starts telling me about this contestant on American Idol he's really impressed by - he plays the guitar (left handed even), sings well, does songs with interesting angles, isn't like the other singers on the show. And he mentions that the dude did a version of Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" that was just amazing and ass-kicking, making it so much more than a catchy dance tune. Of course, that was a familiar sentiment, since I'd had a similar reaction upon discovering Chris Cornell's awesome arrangement of that tune....which this guy was covering! Holy wow, that's not like anything I imagined could find its way to that show...maybe there's something to this dude, after all. Maybe there's something worthwhile involved in that clusterfuck of yuck.

With that in mind, I undertook to discover something about this David Cook who apparently won the whole contest. I tooled around the internets and found clips of most of the songs he sang on the show. And, well, not to put too fine a point on it...I'm actually impressed. I didn't hate what I heard. Actually, I really liked some of it, and was kind of pissed at the way they do abridged versions of songs on the show; I would've loved to hear him play with dynamics a little more in his version of Lionel Richie's "Hello." Not to mention, a full version of Dolly Parton's "Little Sparrow" could've been ass-kicking. The guy plays with his vocal range in a way I love, flipping octaves to punch up the intensity (a trick I use myself, so I may be biased)...and he also seems to have a thing for taking a song out of its typical context and genre-bending arrangements. That is awesome!

I'm still working on finding his pre-AI musical stuff, mostly because I want to find out if he's as good a songwriter as he is a signer and arranger. That makes the total package for me....and I can't decide if I'd rather find that he's a sucky songwriter and have my poor opinion of American Idol restored....or if I'd be okay with his being the exception to the rule.

Either way, I've been listening to David Cook, American (fucking) Idol, all day long. And I don't think I'm ashamed of that. Weird.

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