Saturday, March 25, 2006

crossing the line you walk...

YeeHaw!! We haven't even gone three weeks into the finals and already we have a yummy controversy. And for once it does not involve The Smoking Gun or old police records.

And, it seems, the online Idol community is taking center stage. Yay us!

Central question: Do we or do we not tie Chris Daughtry to the highest tree and stone him for failing to mention the fact that he was performing Johnny Cash as interpreted by Live when he delivered I Walk the Line Tuesday night, to the glowing reviews of the three judges, all of whom, in one fashion or another (yes, Paula, I'm talking to you) raved of the song's "originality"?

I knew there were rumblings throughout the Idol blogosphere and the message boards, but it wasn't until Vernae hit the tagboard to mention that her local news was discussing it that I discovered that Daughtry-gate had hit the
mainstream media too.

I [heart] controversy!

The general consensus is that Chris' Tuesday performance was a virtual carbon copy of Live's 2001 recording, found on their
Awake CD. And, while it was 50s night, the only reference to the performer was to Johnny Cash, to stay within the thematic framework. The outcry is one of hoodwinking. But the question is, who misled whom, was it wrong and should we care.

Considering that the prior week, Chris paid credit to the Red Hot Chili Peppers for the version of Stevie Wonder's Higher Ground that he chose to perform, I don't believe for one second that Chris is trying to pull off this sneaky cover stealer act. And I think he has every right to perform alternative versions of songs that fit into the theme. Actually I have less problem with that than I did when Bo whipped out Vehicle as part of "70s dance tunes" night last season. I loved the performance, but I'm still trying to figure out how they stretched that song to fit dance tunes. After all, I grew up in the 1970s, and I didn't dance to it. But no matter.

Some people are screaming foul to the point of suggesting Chris be booted from the show, that nowhere in the pre-performance clip does Chris mention that he's covering an alternative cover, one that's already in existence. Forgive me for my bluntness, but that's bull.

Unfortunately all we really get to see of the kids in their pre-performance introductions is what the producers and editors want us to see. And hear.

I watched the entire performance again, from the bit with Sammy the Ace fan to the post-performance bantering with Constantine. It's always interesting to view again, intentionally waiting and watching for anything and everything I missed while watching it live.

Here's my conclusion, and you are free to disagree, of course, because it really does come down to a matter of speculation. In the taped segment with Barry Manilow, it is clear that Chris is cut off after what appears to be a comma, rather than a period, immediately after mentioning that "we're going to try something different tonight..." Now Chris is no Pickler. He doesn't presume to think that he's the only person on the planet that has ever heard the group Live.

But all the proof I need that Chris was upfront about the arrangement was Barry's one sentence about Chris' version. "I'd never heard this rendition of it." Now, I may be completely out of my head, but one would think that if Manilow thought Chris was coming up with this new arrangement out of his head, he would have never said that, because Manilow's not stupid, and if this different version were absolutely original, of course he would have never heard it, but would probably not have considered to mention it.

So, for that reason alone, I refuse to even listen to any more Chris bashing on this matter. He's certainly not the "original" that they're trying to convince us that he is, but he's no fraud or cheater that deserves to be disqualified from the show. At least by anyone other than the voters.

The problem is obviously with the show, just as I complained about
earlier. I was bothered then, as I am now, with all of the gushing about originality. "...You took a great song and [made] it your own version," Simon told him.

No he didn't.

Just like the judges (and me) didn't know last season that Faith Hill had covered Joplin's Piece of my Heart, and blasted Carrie's butchering of Janis, when in fact she had butchered Faith, this Chris/Cash/Live issue reeks of the same problem: judges that are just ill-informed or unaware of what music is out there, despite their protestations that they are the all-knowers of current marketability.

So, from now on producers, if a performer is going to cover a recent cover of an old song, clue in the panel, so that nobody sniffs any more odors of conspiracy in this show than the ones we traditionally smell.

And please stop presuming that your viewers are stupid.

ETA: If you want to download a comparison of the versions, click here. I've downloaded it already; it's a safe download.

tag: american idol


Blogger purplvr said...

Well, I just downloaded the file you referred to, Jennifer, and I see the video but get no sound! :-(
I haven't had any problems with my Windows Media Player before so I guess the file is corrupt or something.
Oh well ...

12:40 PM, March 25, 2006  
Blogger jennifer said...

Hmmm. Mine had no problem. I can't think of what the problem would be. Any computer people here?

12:44 PM, March 25, 2006  
Blogger Vernae said...

Like I said, don't matter to me, he did wonderful and thats all that matters....Chris' true fans won't worry about such things....we are too busy planning the kidnapping of Kellie Pickler when she leaves her hotel room to score what is probably her favorite delicacy...Ho-Ho's.

2:03 PM, March 25, 2006  
Blogger purplvr said...

Downloaded files from Windows Update & "magically", the video works great now. YaaY!
I tend to agree with what the woman reported said: Surely the producers edit the pieces of the contestants being interview prior to the actual singing of the song.
Chris did give credit to The Red Hot Chili Peppers' version of what he sang last week which leads me to wonder if he gave credit to the band "Live" for this week's song & it just didn't make it to our T.V. screens.
Either way, I believe Chris has integrity and isn't the sort of person who would try to pull the wool over America's eyes like that. Surely he knows that he would get "found out" if that were to happen. He was just singing an old, well known song with a new twist. If it was a cover of a different band's version, so what. Because of all this brew-ha-ha over it, I'm willing to bet that something will be mentioned about it next week, i.e., whenever Ryan interviews Katherine about the rumors of her leaving the show, etc.
The REAL fake, IMHO, is Pickles for Brains, who thinks playing dumb is gonna score her points ...

3:33 PM, March 25, 2006  
Blogger jennifer said...

Yay! Glad the file is working. I agree with you about Chris. But I'm also getting the sense that the "what's a ballsy" comment has taken some Pickler fans over the edge.

3:55 PM, March 25, 2006  
Anonymous Suzanne said...

I never thought this was Chris' fault or blamed him, I question the judges though, and even Mr. Manilow. They are the ones that lead everyone to believe it was Chris' rendition, I never heard the Live one either.

4:10 PM, March 25, 2006  
Anonymous Maggie said...

Hi Jennifer! I read about this in another aol blog. The writer brings up a great point. What has been drummed into our heads about Chris is his originality and how "unique" his perfomances have been. But actually he has been singing covers for the last two weeks and that's nothing more than Karaoke! And we fans know what the judges think of karaoke! Seems fishy, don't you think?

4:31 PM, March 25, 2006  
Anonymous Getting Curious said...

I agree with you, Jennifer, I just don't see this as grounds to kick Chris off the show. The judges gushing and calling him "so original" has grated on my nerves quite a bit the past few weeks, but like you (or someone) said, do we really think the Chris would think that out of all the millions of people who watch AI, not one of them has heard Live's version of the song? He is not that dumb, nor, does it seem, is he that much of a jerk to not give them credit. The producers love contreversy, is the most likely reason they left the mentioning of Live off the air.

The judges have the worst fault of all in this whole thing, IMO. Falling all over themselves and using the word 'original' 50 times a piece in each of their reviews. Good idea for getting a heads up on everyone that's ever covered the chosen song. They have made themselves look like fools (like Paula needs any more help).

Even Simon, on Stevie Wonder week, if you remember, when Chris was done with his song Simon said something like, "that was pretty much original... no, totally original." or something strange like that. It makes me wonder why the king of calling every contestant that comes to the stage 'appalingly unoriginal' is giving this guy a pass.

My Vote: Chris stays, judges go!

6:45 PM, March 25, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When you get right down to it, the show is really a popularity contest, rather than a singing contest.
I think this will only help Chris, not hurt him.
And yes, I think the Judges do fawn over him.
But, the bottom line is Chris will make big money for Simon's record label.
And that's what it's all about.

8:55 PM, March 25, 2006  
Blogger lorguru said...

I think Chris deserves praise for finding those versions of songs that fit the theme but also his style. The judges always talk about finding the right song, and Chris does just that. He knows who he is, knows his stuff, and gets it right. I firmly believe it was not Chris' intention to fool anyone. I'm sure he is upset about this whole thing.

Now what's this talk about Katherine leaving???


9:08 PM, March 25, 2006  
Blogger Dave said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7:27 AM, March 26, 2006  
Blogger JR said...

No one can possibly have heard every cover to every song. This is painfully obvious whenever the cover has been done by a country artist. Simon, Paula, Randy and the producers have NO CLUE who or what country music is all about. I'm not a huge fan of it, but I know consierablly more than they do. A couple of years ago Simon panned a country song on country theme night because he didn't understand it. I don't understand hip-hop, but that's no reason to trash someone for doing it...well maybe it is. If necessary all the contestants have to do is submit their song, and the version, to the judges a couple of days prior to the performance. At least everyone knows then, it's not original. I doubt if if anyone has the time to come up with original material because of the pace these kids are being asked to keep.

4:27 PM, March 26, 2006  
Blogger jennifer said...

A couple of years ago Simon panned a country song on country theme night because he didn't understand it.

Oooo! I remember that. I think. Wasn't that when Amy Adams (my S3 FAVE!!) did Sin Wagon? She rocked the house that night, and Simon just didn't like her, so that's the only way he could find to pan her performance. She went home the following week.

And you're right. It's impossible to know every cover of every song, but since we're talking about a handful of kids and songs, I really don't think it's too much trouble for the show to do a little research before going live.

They'll still pimp their faves, but at least they won't look like fools. And right now they look like fools. Which, BTW, I find incredibly satisfying actually.

4:52 PM, March 26, 2006  
Blogger JR said...

You're right. Everyone has research departments and it wouldn't be difficult for AI research to do the leg work and inform the judges that the song being performed is or is not a unique arrangement by the contestant. AI is not the first tv show to assume the audience knows nothing and they will not notice anything amiss. What they fail to realize that there are bloggers and fans who make it their business to be informed and look for discrepencies in the show. It's like people that go to a period movie and look for historical inaccuracies or sports trivia buffs who commit every fact about their favorite team to memory. Whether it was an oversight, a production cut, or just brain freeze, AI got it wrong and ought to admit to it.

5:47 PM, March 26, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is absolutely no reason to kick off Chris...its not his fault that the judges never heard that version and made such assumptions...and editing is everything with those clips...who knows...he might have mentioned to Barry Mannilow that it was a live version....this whole thing is blown out of proportion...but ya gotta love the controversey! can't wait 'til tuesday!!

10:11 PM, March 26, 2006  
Blogger Nelle said...

Yes it is the same instance as when Carrie attempted to cover Faith Hill's cover. As you point out, we dont' know that Chris never said we was performing a different version to Barry or other contenders. If they didn't dismiss Carrie they certainly have no reason to do so with Chris.

5:50 AM, March 27, 2006  
Anonymous ChrisROCKS said...

We have to put the "originality" comments into perspective. Traditionally, AI has been a singing contest to flesh out the most marketable POP performer. In the last two seasons, however, they've broadened their scope to include country singers, rock singers, opera for goodness sake! singers, crooners, and now jazz artists a la Elliot and Katherine. It's because AMERICA is interested in more than just pop music. (Thank goodness.) Anyway, when considering Chris against all the other singers, he IS style. Even as a rocker, he's different. He has a very unique sound and style in relation to the other singers in the contest. That's how I interpreted what Simon said about him. (I don't even pay attention to Paula anymore.) Yes, Chris' version of "Walk the Line" was a cover of a cover. I think you're spot on, Jennifer, when you say that Barry Manilow alluded to Live's cover. His comment wouldn't make sense in any other context.

Anyway, Chris has proven himself to be a stand-up guy, having copped to covering Red Hot Chili Pepper's version the week before. His admission this past week probably just got clipped in editing. Why? Perhaps the producers of the show misjudge America's breadth of music knowledge and assumed we wouldn't recognize which version Chris was actually singing. It was 50's night, afterall, and they may not have wanted us to think about the fact that Chris was singing a far more recent version of the song. At any rate, Chris should absolutely NOT be booted from the competition for this. He's too good. This competition NEEDS him. Hey! I'm starting to sound like Paula. Maybe I should be a judge! Simon -- CALL ME!

6:17 AM, March 27, 2006  
Blogger Tifftuck said...

I don't think Chris should be booted for this. Chis needs to be in the competition he could be the next Idol. Not because he's my favorite (because he's not) but because he's actually good and real. Originality has become to much of this show lately, they are covering other peoples songs just because they change something here or there doesn't really make them original this show is about can you sing can you perform isn't it? They wont be orignial until they are about three cd's into their career if they win. This show is controlled by the producers they show what they want to show to keep you watching to get to vote for who they want. But that's what we love the show for isn't it.

10:33 AM, March 27, 2006  
Blogger laura said...

geez, i go away for one weekend and miss all of daughtry-gate!

12:26 PM, March 27, 2006  
Blogger Tifftuck said...

Another thing that gets me about the country bashing from the judges (I'm actually a big country fan) but what get's me is not that they bash the country because I like all types of music too,I just feel like if you are judging this contest you shouldn't be biased against types of music you should be looking at how they sing the song and if it suits them. It's up to the fans to decide if they like the song or not, the judges need to judge on performance and voice!!! I don't know why I just really had to say that.

11:43 AM, March 29, 2006  

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Thanks Rob for the awesome image!