Sunday, July 28, 2013
Concert review: American Idol Live put spotlight on great singing
Despite the show's cheesiness and waning popularity, there’s still something magical about hearing a little-known singer knock a great song out of the ballpark.
GRAND PRAIRIE American Idol has sputtered in the ratings, most of its judges have jumped ship, and a slew of its concerts have been cancelled this summer due to lackluster ticket sales.
But it’s not time to bury the show with a nasty Simon Cowell-style put-down. At least not yet.
Cancellation is inevitable, and even the merciful thing to do after 12 seasons. But Saturday’s Idol concert at Verizon Theatre reminded you that despite the show's cheesiness and waning popularity, there’s still something magical about hearing a little-known singer knock a great song out of the ballpark.
Season 12 runner-up Kree Harrison pulled it off late in the concert with her passionate version of Patty Griffin’s “Up to the Mountain,” a Memphis soul tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. Candice Glover – the show’s first female winner since 2007 – matched her with a smoldering ballad version of the Cure’s “Lovesong.” Earlier, Devin Velez totally went to town on the 1970 Mexican bolero “Somos Novios (It’s Impossible).”
But classics like that were few and far between in a show that was too heavy on bombastic original tunes and so-so pop hits by Beyonce, Rihanna, and Bruno Mars. Since Idol’s audience includes lots of fans in their 30s, 40s, and up, why not focus on rock and pop standards from yesteryear?
Like previous Idol tours, the show featured the 10 finalists (and sing-off winner Aubrey Cleland) performing solo and in various group settings. The ladies started the night with the Little Mix hit “Wings,” the guys did a smooth job on Justin Timberlake’s “Suit & Tie,” and the whole co-ed gang teamed up on fun.’s “We Are Young” and a show-closing version of “Gone, Gone, Gone,” a tune by Season 11 winner Phillip Phillips.
In between, several singers rhapsodized about going from being Idol fans to being a real-life Idol stars. After the third Cinderella story, you wished Simon would pop up onstage and start spewing some snark -- perhaps about the unnaturally-white color of Angie Miller’s teeth or the ridiculously tight trousers worn by Lazaro Arbos.
But even mean ol’ Simon would have had nothing but praise for the vocals on Saturday night, which were generally top-notch and reminded you of the best thing about American Idol: In a music biz dominated by attitude and auto-tune, it put the spotlight back on singers who can actually sing.
Thor Christensen is a Dallas writer and critic.
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