American Idol went a bit long Wednesday evening with their combined results show/ “Idol Gives Back” fundraiser, the latter an annual charity drive to promote various humanitarian efforts that the show and its affiliates sponsor and/or support. It seemed only appropriate that the charity-laden American Idol results show that would see Tim Urban finally dismissed would take longer than it should have. But getting there was not half the fun, as problems with sound, unamusing sketches, and the message of hope besieged with infant mortality, poverty, ill-education, lack of foodstuffs, AIDS, and malaria throughout the world made for an overly long, depressing “Idol Gives Back” show. By the time American Idol said goodnight, the viewer no doubt felt relief more than gladness or sadness that Tim Urban was finally gone. Some may have been prompted to make a donation to American Idol just to end the show early, especially after the Black Eyed Peas performed. Who knew that a show dedicated to promoting amateur music artists could have made professional music artists look so amateurish?
Queen Latifah co-hosted the show from a sister stage in Pasadena, Calif., where most of the musical guests performed. The Black-Eyed Peas were first up, and if Fergie hadn’t been so distractingly gorgeous, the performance would have been simply horrific. Given that the week’s theme was Inspirational songs, “Rock That Body” may not have been much of an inspired choice of songs from their catalog. The sound was completely out of kilter, Will.I.am’s auto-tune was barely working, the vocals were far too loud, the music almost nonexistent, and the entire performance only seemed to prove that some acts would be nearly lost without modern technology.
And it didn’t get much better. When Joss Stone and Jeff Beck performed “I Put A Spell On You” (another questionable song choice), Stone’s powerful voice shone through but Jeff Beck’s guitar was muted. Jeff Beck is a virtuoso and being able to hear him actually play — which was the intent, it would seem — would have made the performance far better. Good thing Joss Stone can sing…
Then there was “Stairway To Heaven” (a debatable song choice), performed by Mary J. Blige and an all-star band that included Steve Vai (guitar), Orianthi (guitar), Randy Jackson (bass), and Travis Barker (drums). After a pretty decent beginning and middle, it seemed as if someone remembered that they had a job to do and turned on Orianthi’s guitar just a bit too loud. The lead was well played, excellent in fact, but added to the sound problems that were prevalent throughout the night. But an otherwise good performance was ruined by Blige when she seemed to not want the song to end, reporting the last line several times. It reflected what the show was becoming — overkill.
Thankfully, there were other musical guests whose songs were more in line with the “Idol Gives Back” theme. Alicia Keys performed “Unbelievable.” Carrie Underwood, American Idol Season Season 4 winner, sang “Change.” Annie Lennox, grounded in London due to the volcanic ash cloud and unable to get to California for the show, sang “Universal Child.” And Sir Elton John finished the show with his classic “Your Song.”
Besides musical guests, the show paraded numerous celebrities — like Jennifer Garner, David Arquette, Morgan Freeman — across the screen, all in an effort to raise money for “Feeding America,” “Save The Children,” “The Human Foundation” and other organizations affiliated with “Idol Gives Back.” Other live performances included comedy routines by Wanda Sykes and George Lopez.
All songs from “Idol Gives Back” were made available for download through iTunes. Net proceeds of all downloads go to the various organizations under the “Idol Gives Back” umbrella. Hopefully, the recorded versions sound better than the live versions. Still, it’s for charity…
Contributions can also be made at AmericanIdol.com.
And was it mentioned that Tim Urban was kicked off the show Wednesday evening? Probably the most charitable moment of the night occurred when, after Ryan Seacrest made the results announcement, “Teflon” Tim Urban was not asked to sing a farewell song…
“American Idol,” Fox Television