By BOB SAN
AAP staff writer
A once die-hard American Idol fan, I quit following the show religiously last year because of the very bland contestants and the egotistical panel of judges – headed by the rude Englishman with the man-boobs – Simon Cowell.
Cowell and two of last year’s boring judges are thankfully gone. Replacing them are rock legend Steven Tyler and the sexy and talented Jennifer Lopez. Many predicted the show would tank without Cowell, but so far the ratings have held up and ‘AI’ is still by far the most popular show in the United States (and in Toronto too).
First of all much of the credit has to go to Tyler and Lopez. The two, along with longtime judge Randy Jackson, have injected star quality, warmth and credibility to the panel. When Tyler, a god of rock, says something about singing you know it can’t be wrong and you listen. While her musical talent is nowhere near Tyler’s, Lopez is a prominent entertainer and has had many big hits in music and movies.
More than their professional resumes, Tyler and Lopez also bring other qualities to the show. For Tyler, it’s a fun and god-like personality. He caught some heat early in the season when cameras caught him salivating over some hot young female contestants, who didn’t waste anything flirting with him. He has since toned down his drooling. But that was hilarious.
I hadn’t ever laughed so hard while watching AI, until I saw Tyler’s look as attractive young female contestants sang his classic rock ballads, such as “Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing”, and so turned on their stage passion to catch the attention of the legendary debauch rocker.
Lopez brings warmth and compassion to the panel. I will never forget the show when she had to break the bad news to Chris Medina, a contestant whose fiancée was paralyzed in an accident, that he had been eliminated. Lopez broke down and cried. It was real and touching and heart-warming, a far cry from those insulting and cold-hearted comments that came from Cowell.
The other reason for the show’s success this year is the caliber of its contestants. I can honestly say that this year’s talent level is I think the highest since 2003 – when Oscar winning actor and Grammy winning singer Jennifer Hudson managed to finish just fourth.
For Asian Americans, there is hope this year. Thia Megia, a 16-year-old Filipino-American from California, is in the top 13. Megia has the voice of an angel and the beauty of a pageant queen. She didn’t get much attention earlier in the season because she does not belt out big tunes, but instead wins judges over with her powerful, yet sweet and controlled performances.
Thia is listed as one of the top female contestants. Now that viewers/voters decide the fate of the contestants, Megia stands a good chance of advancing far because she will get lots of teen votes and Asian votes.
The other 12 AI contestants are equally dynamic and talented and represent a wide variety of musical styles: from pop and contemporary, to hard rock to blues and country. All in all, this AI has been a treat to watch. I have no doubt it will only get better.