American Idol: Sing it Like You Mean it, Girls! Like Black Velvet.

Last night the first and the last singers were like gold-plated bookends for boring paperbacks on American Idol. FINALLY . . . we’re getting around to comments that are getting past great singing voices to actual performances that someone can give a care about. ¬†Like what I’ve been witching about all along.

Amber Holcomb has kept somewhat of a low profile comparatively during the season, only to come out ahead of the herd on the home stretch, sporting an interesting and entertaining new attitude. Angie Miller, the prim and proper enunciator, is trying out some new wings, and seems to have gotten some wind beneath them, both last week and last night. She and Amber saved the night from being a total waste as far as performances went.

Of course the spiff on stage between Nicki Minaj the sometimes adorable maniac, Randy the stalwart mediator, and Jimmy the new Rodney Dangerfield was priceless, especially when Jimmy accused Nicki of having a crush on him. I don’t care what anyone else thought of it, I loved the non-threatening and fun theater of it. The down side was the timing, which was during Candice Glover’s time in the sun when her comments were due.

The disagreement was about Jimmy’s comments on Amber’s version of MacArthur Park, a song which Jimmy never liked sung by anybody, whether by Richard Harris or Amber Holcomb. I agreed with Jimmy that Amber’s take on the song would never win any prizes, but I disagreed with him about the original song in general. It was a song about the loss of sweetness, first love, and innocence, in a park where old men “played checkers by the trees”. The metaphor for that loss was:

“MacArthur Park is melting in the dark
All the sweet, green icing flowing down…
Someone left the cake out in the rain
and I don’t think that I can take it
’cause it took so long to bake it
and I’ll never have that recipe again
Oh, no!
There will be another song for me
For I will sing it
There will be another dream for me
Someone will bring it . . .[but]

Though the metaphor is strange at first hearing, no one can refute the fact that a cake (which is usually a happy festive confection) left out in the rain, (an unhappy circumstance denoting the precipitation of insurmountable problems) becomes a mushy mess that cannot be put back together no matter how hard you wish it. And no one can know what emotions, background, etc (ingredients) went into that happy moment in life and love. That longing melody in the original song makes you weep for the lost sweetness, love, and innocence of youth. Amber certainly didn’t get it with that upbeat, let-me-kill-this-song performance. What Jimmy had against the song itself, other than the strange wording, I couldn’t begin to guess. But the song itself, I wouldn’t hesitate to say, is an American icon, somewhat akin to the strange wording of American Pie, though not as good. (Oh my. Didn’t realize I had two songs listing bakery items. Joanne Fluke would be so happy).

Another thing that puzzled me was the focus of last night’s songs — One Hit Wonders. Okay. Am I wrong here . . . or aren’t one-hit wonders exactly what the words say they are? A song by the BeeGees isn’t a one hit. The BeeGees slammed the billboards with their songs during the seventies. The only song I knew of to be a real one-hit wonder I heard last night was Amber’s version of MacArthur Park by Richard Harris (you know, the actor, A Man Called Horse and Camelot, whose last performance was in Harry Potter). If he ever had another hit song, I never knew about it.

Candice’s song “Find Your Love” was by Drake, who has had four consecutive hits, according to my internet research. That’s doesn’t make Drake a one-hit wonder. A real one-hit wonder was like “Black Velvet” sung by Alannah Myles. Who? Exactly. I’ve never heard of her again, and yet that bluesy, Mississippi heat wave invoking, Southern song about Elvis will “bring you to your knees”, and make the sweat pop out on your brow just to listen to it. I can’t say I care much for the video, but the song and singing are unsurpassable. Have a listen. THIS is a real one-hit wonder.

So, as I say, what was the criteria on American Idol for a One Hit Wonder? Whatever their meaning, I think Kree’s going home tonight and I think we’ll wind up with Amber and Angie waiting side by side in hope and anguish on that final stage. But who knows. We all know by now the fickleness of the American public.

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