Tag Archives: American Idol

Idol Does “Hallelujah” Again

On last night’s American Idol we had Lee DeWyze cover Leonard Cohen’s”Hallelujah” on last night’s American Idol at Simon’s request.  “We always talk about the moment. I wanted him to do something that shows he has the potential to be a great artist.” Cowell said.  Like “All Along the Watchtower” (which everyone seems to do as well) I have heard dudes at bars play “Hallelujah” and no big moment has come from that.

The idea that a great song will be a great performance is laughable.  If nothing else, my post on Bad Bob Dylan Covers reflects that.  It’s not so much the song, but what you do with it.  “Hallelujah” has now become the new standard for wannabes to think they can achieve credibility.  Whether or not Cohen views it this way or not remains to be seen, but he has definitely gotten tired of the countless covers – last year he asked artists to stop performing it.  It becomes a cliche – “oh this guy covered ‘Hallelujah’ so we must pay attention.”  The original loses its power and resonance as a result.  When I saw Leonard Cohen perform “Hallelujah” last year, I had to remind myself  I was seeing the guy who actually wrote the damn song performing it live, otherwise I might have groaned.

Some might say I’m being too cynical about “Hallelujah” and that I shouldn’t blaspheme a great song.  (It is by the way.)  And I’m all for introducing great songs by great artists to new audience.  But dig a bit deeper, and discover some of Leonard Cohen’s dozens of other great songs.  Covering “Hallelujah” doesn’t bring you rock glory.  Just ask that to the next guy  who performs at an open-mic night.

And for starters on Leonard Cohen, here’s one of my favorites by him:

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Art, Lady Gaga and American Idol

Lady Gaga is pissed at American Idol for chopping a good two minutes off of her performance on American Idol of “Alejandro” on Wednesday night.  Going against my usual pop-snobbery, I like Lady Gaga.  But this whole scenario feels tacky.  Just like many of the contestants on the show, Gaga has to make the appearance about her and how she got robbed.

I’m not an Idol fan by any means, but the show is not about the performers, or Simon Cowell, or Lady Gaga’s performance.  It’s about audience participation.  It’s a form of democracy for fans in the music business.  They ultimately get to pick who wins and loses.  They are the real stars of that show.  Perhaps thats why a lot of the albums bomb once the Idol’s debut is made. The connection between audience is lost.  They no longer have control, and seem disinterested.

But something that happens when people get on Idol stage, and they forget the audience connection.  This is especially true for Gaga, who is known for loving her fans, and is so devoted to them.  (Has any recent stars been so obsessed with her fans as Gaga?)  When contestants are asked why they chose specific songs, they always try to apply it to their own situation.  Sometimes you have to remove yourself from the picture into to make great art – Gaga should know it.  With all of her crazy outfits, we never get to find out the real her.  But this week, we finally saw into the real Gaga’s psyche.

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