On Some Beatles Updates

After all my excitement that the Beatles back catalogue was finally coming to iTunes, unfortunately that’s not actually the case.

I swear, it’s like Lucy and the football.

Eventually, a deal will be made. There’s too much money to be made for there not to be a deal. Not just in digitial distribution, but in providing remastered CDs to the brick-and-mortar marketplace as well.

Which brings me around to Tuesday. And my viewing of American Idol.

There was an incredibly awkward product placement for the iPhone in the middle of the show. The first thought to cross my mind? Is this how they’re going to announce the Beatles-on-iTunes? With a product placement on American Idol‘s Beatles Night II? The snatching the football away was a bit of misdirection?

Alas, it was just a crappy product placement. It could have been handled so much better. So much better.

As for Beatles Night II on Idol, how was it?

Mind you, I’m not a fan of the show. I’ve never watched it before. I have no idea who the competitors are, but there’s no one in America who isn’t aware of who Randy, Paula, and Simon are. My instant observations of the three?

1) Randy is a fucking tool.

2) Paula clearly suffers from some sort of cognitive problem. Her sentences lack verbs. Her sentences also lack sense.

3) Simon is rather fair in his critiques. He’s blunt, but he’s giving the feedback that the competitors need to hear.

Now, I wrote a week ago with suggestions for the songs that the competitors should tackle. And looking at my list, I see two songs where my advice was taken — “A Day in the Life” and “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away.”

My advice didn’t help.

Simon was right. Repeating the Beatles was a really bad idea.

Take, for instance, “A Day in the Life.” I had no idea that songs had to be cut down to fit about two minutes. So that five minute long song was chopped so much that it was an incoherent mess. I have to give the singer credit for the sheer ambition of attempting the song, but it was obvious that it was even beyond him when he forgot where his lyrics were going in the final verse. But that was part of the problem — the Lennon verses were jumbled beyond recognition, and there was no logical flow to the song’s narrative.

Other songs weren’t bad. I thought “Day Tripper” was fun, even if the lyric was “cleaned up” — the line is, “She’s a prick teaser,” not “She’s a big teaser.” The use of Peter Frampton sound effects was nifty.

There was a very nice version of “Here Comes The Sun.” I hadn’t considered George Harrison songs in my blog post of a week ago, as everything I’d heard talked about the “Lennon/McCartney songbook,” and the Harrison songs are part of a different songbook. I thought it was done well.

The song that the judges really liked — and I heard on the radio Wednesday morning was fabulous, according to the morning DJs — was “The Long and Winding Road.” I actually didn’t care for it. I didn’t feel like the singer brought anything to the song. It was a safe choice, and the singer looked very young, too young to have the wisdom and the weariness the song requires. Also, the arrangement struck me as a bit too jazzy and reminiscent of an arragement that George Benson used about ten years ago.

Which lead me to my realization about American Idol. It’s not about musicianship. It’s about winning a karaoke contest. Singing ability and stage presence seems to be all that matters.

Which is why the Beatles were a bad idea for American Idol. Because so many Beatles songs are more than that. They have sound. They have creativity. They have life and energy behind them. American Idol is the wrong place to showcase that.

I tuned in to the end of Wednesday night’s results show, as I’d never seen how someone left the program before.

Damn, that’s fucking harsh.

I guess it’s what it has to be. There’s no easy way to sugarcoat it.

But jeez.

I was a bit surprised at the person who went home. She had done a rollicking version of “Back in the USSR” the night before. I thought she’d done quite well, actually. It’s a tough song anyway — the bars shorten by a note as the song progresses — and I thought she sold it well and had a good stage presence.

Clearly, I was wrong.

My interest in American Idol is now over, and I’ll move on to other things.

Unless they do a solo Beatles night. It might be interesting to hear people doing things like “What Is Life?” or “Band on the Run” or “Working Class Hero” or “Photograph.” Okay, maybe not. ;)

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