Last night’s elimination of Pia Toscano was, in the widely used phrase, a “shocker” only if you weren’t following what is making American Idol such an improved show this season.
Toscano was a perfect example of what has long made Idol so prone to vapid tedium: With her emphasis on hitting the “perfect” note, her excessive emotionalism, and her clueless phrasing, Toscano was an ideal robo-Idol contestant, custom-designed to fit the aesthetic of this show — as it existed a few years ago.
Sure, there are other current contestants who also deserve the boot, and it’s time more men said bye-bye — Stefano for sure; the increasingly exaggerated Casey; the he’ll-have-a-fine-career-as-a-Randy-Travis-impersonator Scotty.
But Toscano, right up to the end — with her stentorian version of the Pretenders’ “I’ll Stand By You,” sung in a manner Chrissie Hynde might reserve only for the death of a head of state she doesn’t respect — continued the long tradition of Idol’s misguided mission: the valuation of technique over expressiveness.
The best thing about this season is that
it has allowed less perfect-pitchy performers like Paul McDonald, and some wonderfully over-the-top ones like Jacob (my favorite Idol singer since Adam Lambert), to remain as finalists.
Oh, and Iggy Pop? It wasn’t even a very good performance by Iggy, but it was nevertheless absolutely delightful. I haven’t seen Jennifer Lopez more turned off by a man since she costarred with Michael Vartan in Monster-in-Law. And just think: If Iggy had ever tried out for American Idol, he’d never have made it past the first round — too old, too weird. God bless him.