Lists, Pop Culture, Theory & Essay, Uncategorized

The Ultimate American Idol

JillScott

One of the most underrated skills for a couple to possess is the ability to find TV shows you both enjoy watching. If you’re good at this, you’ll likely end up saving somewhere between 13 and 39 minutes a week that would have been devoted to passive-aggressive arguments about who wants to watch what. This extra time adds up, and could be used for anything from extra sleep to prolonged pre-brunch fellatio.

If you’re not good at this—or, if you’re pretending to compromise under the “It’s cool, whatever you want to watch, babe” bitch-ass guise—you’ll eventually end up having arguments where things like “If I watch one more episode of House of Fab, I’m going to House of Stab myself to death” are said. And, when things like this are said, animosity builds, anger simmers, and mailmen get f*cked.

Fortunately, my queen earth woman wiz lady girl and I haven’t had this problem. Yes, I have to watch at least 20 hours of NBA games a week and yes, she has to watch whatever the hell she watches when I’m not there, but we’ve managed to settle on a few shows we mutually enjoy.

Suits (It’s been a while since I’ve been this surprised by how much I enjoy a show. Maybe I just had really low expectations. And, maybe I just love Gina Torres)

Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives (After watching approximately 250 different episodes, we’ve figured out exactly how much Guy likes the food he’s sampling. If he says “That has some flavor” he hates it. One grunt means “Ok, this is cool.” Two grunts and a hard stare at the food in his hand means he likes it. And, the orgasm face followed by a “I don’t know whether to kiss you or kick your ass” face made at the cook means he loves it, and he’s still high)

Love and Hip-Hop New York (We’re both big fans of Yandy, and we both wonder if the size of Erica’s boobs are directly correlated to her level of crazy, and we both call Mandeeceeeeees a different name every time we say it. “Mandarin Feces” is my current favorite)

Black Ink (Why do I suspect we’re the only two people in the country who watch this show?)

(surprisingly) American Idol

(Yes, that American Idol. I know you didn’t know it still comes on, but trust me, it does. Really!)

This is the first time in maybe eight years or so that I’ve even glanced at an episode of the show, and you can thank Nicki Minaj for this. I think she’s legitimately insane. She sounds like an autotune version of Fran Drescher. She dresses like an ant trapped inside of bag of Skittles that’s trapped inside of a Walrus’s ass. She’s built exactly like the world’s tiniest pear. And, to say that her music tends to suck is disrespectful to the art of sucking. Still, I’ve been a fan of hers since her ole English intro on MBDTF, and I continue to watch to see if it’ll be the week she mistakes Keith Urban for a giant, vanilla Twizzler and eats him.

Anyway, while watching a couple weeks ago, I thought of a question posed in one of Bill Simmons’s mailbags.

(Paraphrasing) “If you took every current performing artist, made them unknowns, and put them on American Idol while in their absolute primes, who would win?”

If I recall, Simmons’s answer was a 21 year old Whitney Houston. I agreed. She had it all—the talent, the charisma, the look, the smile—and both the judges and the audience would have fallen into love with her. But, since Whitney is no longer with us, she no longer qualifies.

So, considering all the living artists, I think an 18 or 19 year old Mariah Carey would be a tough out, as would the current Adele, a 16 or 17 year old Christina Aguilera, and a pre-breakdown Lauryn Hill. (I can’t think of any current male performers that would make the cut.)

But, if I had to place a bet, I think they’d all have a whale of a time beating a 21 year old Jill Scott. Between her pipes and her smile—and the fact that Randy Jackson would totally propose to her—I just don’t see anyone topping Jilly from Philly in that type of competition.

Anyway, you heard my choice. I’m curious. If we somehow played a game of ultimate American Idol, who do you think would win and why?

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a contributing editor for EBONY.com. He resides in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes.

  • Secret Sauce

    Shotgun!

  • SoSaidRed

    Jill has talent and charisma for days. There are some underrated artists that would do well. (Algebra and Emily King for example) They wouldn’t beat Jill, but it could be entertaining.
    P.S…. I watch black ink. The tooth man. The tooth.

    • http://obsidianraw.bravejournal.com Obsidian

      Jilly couldn’t win – too big. And this is coming from a stompdown Jilly fan.

      O.

      • http://www.blacklatinafabulous.com Maris

        Agreed. Because having a killer voice worked so well for Jennifer Hudson and that other big girl who got kicked off for the “implied nudity” photos on that show. Somebody please tell me her name.

        • camilleblue

          frenchie

          • http://www.blacklatinafabulous.com Maris

            THANK YOU!! It was breaking my head! She was a talent. I’m happy she made it to Broadway.

            • http://obsidianraw.bravejournal.com Obsidian

              Yes, as a matter of fact, and as I recall, Ms. Frenchie and Studdard worked together on a production of, I think, Porgy and Bess(?). So, all’s well that ends well.

              O.

              • http://www.styleillusions.com WIP

                Frenchie was OK, but who were the finalists the year she left? Ruben and Clay- no harm, no foul.

        • Vesalius

          Frenchie.

    • MicTheMessenger

      That damn Emily King tho. The Seven EP is the hardest 7 songs to drop under the radar in a min.

      Did someone kidnap Algebra? She been lowkey as ever…

  • The Red Lip Madam

    Meshell Ndegeocolle would kick ass. Happy Friday ma pippoz.

  • That Ugly Kid

    Taylor Swift would totally dominate.

    • The Red Lip Madam

      Kanye, wouldn’ t let her finish…..

    • That Ugly Kid

      But to be absolutely serious, I think Amy Lee, the lead singer from Evanescence would stand a great chance. She has an amazing voice.

      • http://testorshia.blogspot.com Tes

        Amy does have an amazing voice, but AI wouldn’t know how to market or brand her, so I don’t know how far she’d really go.

        • http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com Tristan

          Amy would get caught slipping on like r&b week and get voted off

        • http://obsidianraw.bravejournal.com Obsidian

          @Ms. Tes,
          Provided Amy Lee did Evanescence type stuff, she’s got a shot to go deep into the latter rounds. Otherwise, yea, I’m with you, she’s likely to lose out pretty quick.

          O.

          • Kopa

            Amy has some tuning issues live, I’ve heard her butcher My Immortal once, completely flat through and through, so I don’t think she’d stand a chance.

  • Theecletic

    Just gonna throw some names out there..

    25 year old Aretha Franklin
    Present day Beyonce
    20 something Patti Labelle
    19 year old Alicia Keys MIGHT have won it depending on who was in her season..and whether or notmthey would let her ride that “i’m mixed from the hood piano playing prodigy” storyline out

    • http://www.styleillusions.com WIP

      Last American Idol there was a little girl on there who sounded JUST like Beyonce. She lost.

  • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com Val

    Okay, I’m not going to mention that a 19 year-old AK would win, since that would be stating the obvious. ;-)

    Here are some less obvious singers who could win or could have won.

    01. Esperanza Spalding
    02. Joss Stone
    03. Carl Thomas
    04. Leona Lewis
    05. K-Ci Haley at 20 years old

    And here are five singers that despite their success would lose American Idol

    01. Beyonce
    02. Chris Brown and Rihanna
    03. Taylor Swift
    04. Janet Jackson
    05. Madonna

    Honorable mentions: Justin Bieber/ Salena Gomez/ Miley Cyrus/ Bob Dylan

    • msdebbs

      sorry Val I think Beyonce would actually win if they based the talent on singing like they used to.

      • Latonya

        Beyonce can sing but she does to many runs.

      • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com Val

        Bey can hold a note but, her voice is so blah. There’s nothing special about it at all. I think without dancing Bey would lose. Heck, without dancing Bey wouldn’t have a career.

        • Nikki

          I am so glad to see someone else believes this too. I can’t tell you how many “discussions” (read arguments) I have been involved in just for making this blatantly obvious point.

          *back to lurking*

          • camilleblue

            *hands nikki a ‘lurker-free fridays’ t-shirt*

            • camilleblue

              meant to tell u to stay with us :) when i handed you the t-shirt…

      • IcePrincess3

        Before they changed their name to DC, beyonce’s girl group was called “girls time.” They went on Star Search in the 90′s and lost.

    • Latonya

      I agree with all except Taylor Swift.

      • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com Val

        Did you hear Taylor sing at last year’s Grammys? She was horrible!

        • http://obsidianraw.bravejournal.com Obsidian

          There’s a reason as to why Taylor Swift won out over Beyonce a few years back, and its because she personifies the kind of virginal White female innocence that both White Men and Women alike really like. In an American Idol type of situation, she mops the floor with Beyonce.

          O.

          • Kema

            Beyonce at 18 would beat Taylor’s innocence. She has more talent and back then she also seemed sweet and doe eyed. She would have won over America.

            • http://obsidianraw.bravejournal.com Obsidian

              @Ms. Mena:
              Don’t bet on it. Now don’t get me wrong – I’m not a huge fan of Beyonce, but then I’m not a fan AT ALL of Taylor Swift; but I know the deal in America and I know that there’s simply no way in Hades would a Beyonce edge out a Taylor Swift on something like an American Idol show. Uh-uh.

              O.

              • mena

                Mena or Kema? LOL.

                • Kema

                  Hah! I didnt even catch that.

                  • http://obsidianraw.bravejournal.com Obsidian

                    Whoops! My bad ladies.

                    O.

              • Kema

                I dont think Beyonce would win. But Taylors ‘talent’ wouldnt even get her past the early eliminations and I kinda like Taylor S.

              • MiketheCarGuy

                Taylor would get crushed by Simon after singing off key week in and week out though.

          • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com Val

            “…virginal White female innocence that both White Men and Women alike really like.”

            Lol Virginal? Really? That’s so funny. That chick dates more men in a year then most women date in a decade. There’s nothing virginal about her.

    • That Ugly Kid

      Alicia Keys doesn’t make it past week 3. Her range is too limited and her voice isn’t powerful enough. Beyonce would make it further, although she wouldn’t win either.

      • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com Val

        *doesn’t debate AK’s talent, because I’m not a stan*

        I seriously don’t think Bey would even make it to Hollywood if Simon was judging.

        • http://obsidianraw.bravejournal.com Obsidian

          Hmm, good point. Cowell was wowed by Susan Boyle’s performance a few years back. How would you compare her to Beyonce?

          O.

          • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com Val

            Bey is an entertainer and not a real singer and Susan is a true singer and not much of an entertainer.

      • Theecletic

        Let me be clear…i think alicia should stop singing live and just make more kids with “the beak”

        Wth that being said…Alicia makes its past week 3…she’s still riding off the sympathy votes for her poor little drummer girl storyline…

        In fact if each week she did a song from songs in a minor she would be set…she would also be the one people either love or hate and would get tired of her schtick…much like in real life…

        I say depending on her season…she would make at least final 4…win it all?? Ionknow..

      • tgtaggie

        If Alicia would sing girl on fire, she wouldn’t make it past the first week. Lol

        • http://testorshia.blogspot.com Tes

          Oh my Word, yes… >.<

    • msdebbs

      Boy yall go hard on Bey…what about mary j blige, faith evans and kelly price??

      • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com Val

        Mary back in the 90′s, yes. Faith, no. Not sure about Kelly Price.

        Bey is a product. Without all the lights, dancing, costuming, lip syncing, etc., she’s only average at best.

        • http://obsidianraw.bravejournal.com Obsidian

          Kelly Price back then? Too big. Faith Evans? Nah, no enough pipes. The only one to win out of the three mentioned would be crazy Mary…

          O.

    • Camilleblu

      I like how u put #chrisbrownandrihanna together! Lol!

      • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com Val

        Lol. And I didn’t even think about.

        • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com Val

          it.

    • http://obsidianraw.bravejournal.com Obsidian

      @Ms. Val:
      The only real contender on your “could win” list is Joss Stone; she’s basically a thin Adele, and as such would have a shot. Plus she’s got the “Black sound” that seems to be par for the course for singers from the UK – but, since she’s White, she can get away with it in a way that a Black singer, such as say, a young Aretha Franklin, couldn’t. Neither Carl Thomas, no K-Ci, could win – both too Black looking and sounding to make it past the first round or two. And Spalding? Forget about it – way too highbrow and abstract.

      O.

      • camilleblue

        What about Amy Winehouse?? If she was still with us and they could keep her off the drugs I think she would kill it….they want that “something funky” that I think she has over Joss Stone. Although I do love Ms. Stone….

        • mena

          Amy was great…in her lane. I haven’t seen AI since forever but don’t they make them sing different genres? Some of these artists wouldn’t make it b/c they can’t leave their own lane without crashing.

        • http://obsidianraw.bravejournal.com Obsidian

          @Ms. CamilleBlue:
          Amy Winehouse’s ace boon coon is all-time great Tony Bennett, which should tell you something about her talent level. She could easily be a real contender on AI. No doubt about it. Plus, she’s able to “switch lanes” with ease, and, like most UK singers, she comes standard with the Blue-eyed Soul sound – which would give her an edge against more country-sounding White American singers on Idol.

          The late great Amy Winehouse? Definitely one of my picks to take it all on UAI…

          O.

          • mena

            Amy’s lanes were Blues, Soul and R&B. You honestly think she could leave those and still sound just as good?

            • camilleblue

              yep…b/c she would be able to put her funk on any kind of music….and that’s the whole thing about it…taking a song and making it your own…some people can do that better than others and i think she was/would have been one of those people…

              • mena

                Not saying you are wrong but i just can’t see it. I do agree though that a great singer can make any song their own.

              • http://obsidianraw.bravejournal.com Obsidian

                @Ms. CamilleBlue, Ms. Mena:

                An example – perhaps one of, if not thee best – is Whitney Houston’s rendition of Dolly Parton’s “I’ll Always Love You”. The song, at the time Houston had remade it, was upwards of 20 years old, and sounds NOTHING like Houston’s version. It was a modest success, when compared to Houston’s version, too. As we all know, it proved to be one of the most commercially successful songs ever made.

                So, I say the same thing wrt Winehouse. She has a proven ability to competently span genres ranging from Blues to Jazz and back again, and – this is important – do it while being White (and Jewish!) – at that. Which is what an Idol audience would definitely take into account.

                O.

                • mena

                  So in other words, taking the song, and make it her own. I do get that. But, are they allowed to do that on Idol? Can they take a country song and change it to R&B or do they have to sing it as a country song?

                  • camilleblue

                    you know…i think that the judges on AI like for the contestants to put their own little spin on the songs that they cover, but i’m really not sure if they want such a drastic change as what whitney did with that song….almost like they would tell them that they are doing too much…*yeezyshrug*

        • Asiyah

          Amy Winehouse! Loved (and still love) her!

      • SweetSass

        Fantasia Barrino.

        What are you talking about man… are you going in on anti-black people streak again…

        • http://obsidianraw.bravejournal.com Obsidian

          Am I? Again: just look at AI since Fantasia and Studdard. The show is basically a showcase for White and otherwise racially ambiguous popstar talent. I don’t have any problems in the least with that, because I’m gonna like what I like regardless and nobody and nothing is gonna stop that. But what I do think AI does is serves as a kind of Rorschach test in terms of where we are as a country in a racial sense, using reality TV and pop music as the paper and the ink, so to speak.

          O.

    • mena

      I don’t understand the entire “beyonce can’t sing.” Someone please explain it to me.

      • camilleblue

        oh…bey can definitely sing…but she “entertains” better….

        • http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com Tristan

          well considering we don’t buy albums and watch videos and see concerts, she basically just adapted to her surroundings, “if skills sold truth be told….”

          • MicTheMessenger

            I definitely agree.

        • mena

          I am not a Beyonce stan by any means but she is the best entertainer out right now. I would go to one of her shows and probably leave with a hoarse voice and sore calves. <—— *there's a joke there i am sure*

          I didn't like her after the whole DC drama but I can not not like her music. The only song i don't like by her is Party. I want to stab someone when that song comes on.

      • http://opinionatedmale.com Medium Meech

        She can sing well enough. But as a successor to the Top R&B chick in the game throne, she is one of the weaker title holders in a minute. Her penchant for pop and non-serious music plays into that perception well. Following Whitney and Mariah didn’t help. Put it like this, those two wouldn’t lip synch at an inauguration even if they came down with pneumonia or get shown up by Kelly Clarkson.

        • mena

          Kelly did show up and say “bow b!tches.”

          • Asiyah

            For real. Girl can sing! Only one I feel deserved to win.

        • camilleblue

          @ M.M. – TRUTH!! – it was almost like she was more concerned about sounding “perfect” than she was about putting in the work…d@mn a sore throat!! dis da ‘bamas big day!!

          • Kema

            Well she is a virgo… Perfection is of the utmost importance.

            • camilleblue

              lol….as am i…but if i was gonna sing for the 1st black presidents 2nd inaguration…i would SANG!!!!

              • Kema

                Yay! Another Virgo!

                • camilleblue

                  awww sookie-sookie now kema!! after all the love shown for yolie, breezy and kid video, we gonna really haffa rep-er-zent for the V!!

        • Angel Baby

          I am a B fan and I totally approve this: “Her penchant for pop and non-serious music plays into that perception well.” That’s why she sang “At Last” for the President last time. She doesn’t have any meaningful songs. She finally tried with “I’m Here” on her last album, but it’s not my favorite. LOL

    • http://www.twitter.com/IluminatiNYC Todd

      You think Esperanza Spaulding and Carl Thomas would do well? Not that they can’t sing, but the show has fought against similar singers since it’s been on. Low-key smooth singers need not apply, in my experience. And LOL at your whole list of singers who wouldn’t do well on AI, though I think Beyonce would just make it to Hollywood.

      • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com Val

        I think Esperanza could win. Although she’s a jazz singer she has a strong voice and real talent. Carl would have a more difficult time but could still be a winner.

    • ScoutF

      Emeli Sande

  • The Other Jerome

    A young MC Hammer!!!!

    ….. what?

    • http://testorshia.blogspot.com Tes

      You know very well what! LOL!

  • Latonya

    -I watch Black Ink. I think Ceaser needs to stop messing around with Dutches. Dutches is pretty but seems to be a hand full.
    - Love and Hip Hop NY sucks.
    - I think I’m the only one that watch Mary, Mary who knew that gospel singer can be ghetto.

    • http://www.styleillusions.com WIP

      I think Caesar and Dutchess are cute together.

  • Preacha

    I sometimes watch black ink…..ole girl from norf cakalakky that’s dating the owner is a butta face but I like her(I tend to not mind butta faces..lol). now my choice for a singer to win American Idol is Leela James. She would blow the judges away

    • Camilleblu

      Loves me some Leela!

  • http://www.iamyourpeople.com I Am Your People

    I wish the best of the late 90s – DMX, The Hot Boyz, and No Limit could go before Simon Cowell…

    • Camilleblu

      Awwww man….per-crack DMX was my dude!!

      • Camilleblu

        *puts down my crack* I meant pre-crack *picks back up my crack*

      • Asiyah

        I was just thinking about pre-crack DMX the other day and how much I miss him.