Monday night– for the second night in a row “American Idol” served up a group of semi-pro’s who don’t need the show as much as they need a manager or an agent.
Top of the list was Brandon Elder of Arab, Alabama. (Yes, you could call him an Arab. Turns out the history of the town is that was supposed to be called Arad, but whoever filed the paperwork in 1892 goofed and now we have Arabs in Alabama. Ironic.)
Anyway, Elder is younger– 23, to be exact. He’s got a full website, a publicist, tours locally, is all over You Tube. He sang one of his own songs, called “Gone,” about his late mother. It’s a hit right out of the box. Sign him up, Capitol Nashville. He’s a star. (Plus he has this great story we’re going to hear all season about how his biological mom traded him to someone for a car. Then he was adopted by a saint who died from cancer. He’s like a Robert Altman character come alive.)
There was a whole show like this– they’ve all got social media already, tons of PR, and so on. In one instance, two sisters came on– one was the accompanist on guitar, the other was supposed to be the contestant. But– what a shock– the 20 year old sister who didn’t come to play got the spot. Katy Perry whispered to Lionel Richie, “She looks like a rock star.” Well, this Payton Taylor was coincidentally all set to go with a whole mini machine in place. I felt bad for the younger sister, who’s 17 and was clearly sandbagged.
Is the show being cynical or is it me? “Idol” obviously is upping its game– as I told you after Sunday’s show. The contestants are all far more accomplished than in the past. There is no William Hung, the 2004 player who was beyond awful. They kept him on as a kind of “Gong Show” hook. No, these people are like Grab n Go pop stars.