Monday, March 22, 2010

The Damned Cry Out

Those who know me even slightly are aware that if I was asked about the Fox television program American Idol, a show that I am reliably informed has captivated our fair Republic in recent years, it would come in on a list of things I'm interested in somewhere lower than...oh, molds and slime perhaps.

That said, a friend recently insisted I watch the video below, which aired on Idol last week. The theme of the episode was, apparently, songs of The Rolling Stones.

That poor clueless bastard singing "Under My Thumb" is a kid named Tim Urban -- not, alas, the brother of Nicole Kidman's beard. In any case, the clip is simultaneously one of the funniest and most appalling things I've ever seen; Urban's little interjected "Ain't it the truth, babe?" is right up there with Lili Von Shtupp's "Right, girls?" in Blazing Saddles.

And speaking of American Idol, I should also add that a certain dingbat law professor obsessed with that asinine show was allowed to pen four (count 'em -- four) Op-Ed pieces in the New York Times in 2008. But that's perhaps a subject for another time.

[h/t bayeuxkanga]


Sal Nunziato said...


That damned show makes my blood boil, and like you, I don't think I have ever seen an episode. This performance makes me wanna cry. Absolutely fucking painful. Thanks. I fully expected my day to ber ruined, just not this early.

rurritable said...

The forced vibrato when he sings "girl" lets you straight off the only thing he's ever had under his thumb is his dick.
Here's a good example of natural vibrato:

Sal Nunziato said...

I can't stop watching!

steve simels said...

Sal -- I know the feeling.

steves said...

Ouch! Would I be yelled at if I noted that was closer to "real gay" than reggae?

Oops! Too late.

Gummo said...

Heh. I sent this clip to Billy B.

He may never forgive me.

big bad wolf said...

wow. just wow. i never knew such things existed in the world. the weirdest thing to me is that the audience cheers at the end, and there is no audible laughing. wow. that's was like bill murray's saturday night lounge singer done totally straight. wow.

Sal Nunziato said...

I keep watching hoping that someone comes out and beats him up at the end.

FD13NYC said...

This is just one of the hundreds and hundreds of very bad performances on AI. People love to watch other people make fools of themselves. I've never watched an episode of this show either, wouldn't waste my precious time.

But this guy, someone should have stood up and riddled him full of bullets like they did to Howard Beale in the film Network. That would be entertaining.

Kid Charlemagne said...

John Mayer meets Sting in a steel-cage death match. As Leonard Pinth-Garnell used to say, "Stunningly bad!"

Peter said...

Jagger at his gayest would eat this kid like a crisp.

I know we're not supposed to give this kind of dreck any more credence by noticing it (and I've never watched AI either) but the whole evil erzatz of the performance and its concept is a symptom of the growing encroachment of corporations on our lives - in every sphere, not just culturally. It's just that we can see the cultural. We can't ignore it. We have to fight it.

Anonymous said...

In the past, every time music has been co-opped by Big Brother, rock has always come back roaring it's anger, energy and passion ('55, '64, '77, '94). This time I fear rock & roll will rollover and not play but will be dead. The Dream might be over!!!


steve simels said...

As they famously said in the old Columbia Records ad for (I believe) an early Chicago album:

The Man Can't Bust Our Music!!!

Michael said...

No good will ever come from kids taking singing/guitar lessons.

edward said...

Wow. Gobsmacked. Good thing I've never seen the show. Did he win?

TJWood said...

Pretty gruesome--the worst reaction anyone could have is the one I did--to check out the other Stones covers done that week. Check out Crystal Bowersox (!) doing "You Can't Always Get What You Want". AI limits performances to about 1:30-2:00 (thank heaven for small favors), so she was only able to do verses one and three. Verse one was semi-bearable for AI, but the third verse--words fail me.

Here's the link for those who for whatever reason want to check it out. And if you don't, in the immortal words of the Yardbirds, you're a better man (or woman) than I.

steve simels said...

Did you ever hear Sinatra's version of the Beatles' "Something"?

A song he genuinely loved, by the way.

At one point he goes "You're asking me if my love grows..well, I don't know --JACK!"

This shit is similarly clueless. Only without the charm or heart.

TJWood said...

Actually, he adds the "Jack" in the next line of the song--"You stick around, Jack, it might show, I don't know". Of course, Frank was also clueless as to which Beatle had written the song, introducing it as his tribute to Mr. Lennon and Mr. McCartney at a performance not long after Lennon's murder.

geor3ge said...

About the only worthwhile thing about American is that the sooner it wraps up, the sooner So You Think You Can Dance starts.

It has its own moments of broad reality TV silliness, but there's enough genuine artistry from the contestants to make it compelling.

Sal Nunziato said...

Frank's live intro to "Something"--

"Dis is one of da only love songs dat nevah sez da woids I love you innit."

I saw it. I was there.

Dave said...

I'm flummoxed by all the hate from folks who say they've never watched the show. I guess you can be interested in music and not want to see AI, but I don't see you could be interested in popular culture and not be curious about checking out why the show inspires such love. It reminds me of folks who used to brag about not having any television, or only watching PBS.

The very reason the "Under My Thumb" performance has gone viral is precisely because it's one of the worst performances on the show (or ever on this planet, for that matter). Even so, there's something charming about an innocent 21-year-old singing "Under My Thumb," maybe my favorite Stones song, and not having the slightest idea what he is singing about.

Sal Nunziato said...

Sorry Dave, I don't find it charming at all. It's misguided and sad.

What happened to A&R guys, and managers, and people who had some experience, and the George Martins of the world who taught and polished and made good musicians better?

Yeah, AI is popular, but billions of people still eat at McDonalds, and I wouldn't feed that shit to a rat. Someone...anyone...should have told Tim Urban, "Uh..bad idea, Kid. Why don't you try something else?"

Cleveland Bob said...

One of our fave local punk bands back in the day was a band called Hammer Damage who formed after several iterations of break-ups from the Dead Boys and The Rubber City Rebels.

Anyway, they covered this song one time at a benefit for the Kent Gay Liberation Front which was comprised almost entirely of females.

Needless to song, the ditty was not well received by the ladies in attendance.

Damn funny, tho'.

TMink said...

Dave, I hear you, but this strikes me as more clueless than charming. My 7 year old singing "I Wanna Be Your Man" in Beatles Rock Band is charming, this strikes me as crass consumerism.

And maybe that is the sticking point. That is the most American Idol I have seen too. But the show smells of consumerist schlock rather than artistic integrity. Now the world can have their entertainers, but I just really appreciate artists who also entertain.


Edward said...

Dave: I work nights and don't own a TV recording device. I don't feel culturally deprived by not seeing AI or Dallas or a host of TV cultural signposts. Not snobby about it, I watch plenty of garbage TV. But TV is designed to be ephemeral, which is its true cultural significance.

commie atheist said...

OK, for the first time ever I've been watching AI every week this season, partly as a favor to my wife, who loves the show (and who is the only breadwinner in the family right now, so I feel I owe her), and partly to rack up karma chips on the off chance there is a next life.

Two things I've noticed: one, the performances seem to have gotten worse over the course of the show, as they've gone from just a capella to guitar strum accompaniment to more professional arrangements and coaching by supposed seasoned professionals (like, last night, MILEY FUCKING CYRUS!?!); and two, the fine art of interpreting a song is a totally foreign concept to all of the contestants.

That's true of this Urban guy to a T; I couldn't believe that none of the judges, while universally panning the performance, made no mention of how utterly wrong his interpretation was. He does this every week, yet he manages to avoid being cut, because he's cute and girls love him, or something.

It's obvious they aren't trying to find any real artists, just cookie-cutter automatons to feed the commercial pop-rock machine that assholes like Simon Cowell are making a killing on. You can see this when they bring back previous winners or almost-winners to perform, and they play their own bland, uninteresting songs.

And, despite what TJWood wrote above, Crystal Bowersox is one of the two contestants displaying any kind of originality (although she is starting to get her rough edges sanded down to fit the mold), the other being a hippie chick named Sihoban or something. And one of them might win it. But just about everyone else is awful, awful, awful, with Urban being the worst of the worst. Feh.