American Idol: The 1970s Edition
By Buddy Jones
American Idol may only have cranked out a few superstar pop idols, but it has given a platform to many other aspiring artists. I wonder how well artists of yore might have fared if AI had been on back in the day. Here’s what I think the judges would have said if they’d had the opportunity:
1. Janis Joplin Performing “Me and Bobby MeGee”
Randy: So, dawg, here’s what I think. You showed up and sang this big song and you nailed it. There were a few pitchy places for me, but I have to say, welcome to Hollywood, baby! That was the bomb!
Paula: You know what I love about you, Janis? You are yourself; you are so unique. What you bring to this competition is life and fullness. I have a feeling we are just seeing the beginning of what you can do.
Simon: Well, that was interesting. I don’t know quite what to say. For me, there was too much going on. I could barely understand half of the lyrics. You sounded like a deranged banshee in a B-list horror flick. And whoever is dressing you has obviously never heard of a comb and needs to be fired.
2. Alice Cooper Performing “Welcome to My Nightmare”
Randy: (Laughing) Wow. Dude. I have to be honest with you; I just don’t get it. The makeup and the crawling around on stage—are you supposed to be scary? I just don’t see that really doing well in the music scene. Welcome to your nightmare? What? Sorry, dawg, but that didn’t work for me.
Paula: Alice, that was so real. The black eyeliner and top hat were fun and unique; you really showed us a wonderful side of your personality. I think there is an audience out there for you and I am in it! Just keep being you.
Simon: Is this a joke? Seriously, because it feels like a joke that you are even here. I don’t know what that was that we just saw, but it wasn’t music. It was like a vaudeville production on a shoestring budget written by a fourth grader. Here’s my nightmare—that I will have to see you next week.
3. Reginald Dwight (Elton John) Performing “Crocodile Rock”
Randy: So, Reginald, here it is, man. I dug the energy of the song and I thought you did a pretty good job singing it. But … I just don’t see it, man; I don’t see you as a star. Maybe you could perform in a piano bar in New Orleans, but I just don’t see anything else. Sorry, dude.
Paula: Reginald, that was … that was amazing. I saw all the true colors of your soul painted on the stage tonight. I had fun; I danced. You are special, and your potential is limitless. Just be yourself and you will be a shining star.
Simon: That was utterly ridiculous. You looked like a drunk madman at a failing carnival in Nebraska. I bet there are Americans all over the country who would like to beat you up right now. The only extraordinary thing about that was how extraordinarily bad it was. Pack your bags … there won’t be an American Idol named Reginald Dwight.
4. Olivia Newton-John Performing “I Honestly Love You”
Randy: Olivia … you know, this is really a case of song choice for me. We’ve heard this side of you before and I really wanted to see another side of you. There were lots of pitch problems for me, especially that falsetto note. This kind of ballad with no dynamics—it’s been done before. I didn’t see anything new.
Paula: Wow, Olivia. First of all, you look beautiful … and your song was beautiful. You showed your artistry and stayed true to who you are. You were classy and elegant—there’s a star out there with your name on it.
Simon: Olivia … I honestly hated it. It was such a sugary, bubble gum ballad, my teeth are actually hurting just from listening to it. Your voice is so breathy, you sound like a stalker. You sang the whole thing like it was a funeral march; honestly, I thought you were dead. The only good part was when it ended.
5. Bob Dylan Performing “All Along the Watchtower”
Randy: First of all, dude, you can’t walk onto the stage of American Idol looking like that. Did you just wake up? I mean, the song was okay, but I was bored watching you. I’m sorry man, but I don’t think you’ll ever have a career in music.
Paula: You know what I see in you, Bob? I see a diamond in the rough. There is something so original about you and you are living your truth right now. You are a gem and soon enough, everyone will see it.
Simon: What was that? Did you swallow gravel? This is a singing competition. Your voice sounds like there’s a whiny child buried in your stomach who sings when you open your mouth. This show is for serious contenders; I agree with Randy—you will never have a career in the music business.