Sunday, July 19, 2009

Could Elvis have won on American Idol?

I don't think so. Gasp! Blasphemy by an Elvis fan? Remember, we’re talking about getting through the Idol process here, not talent. (While I absolutely love Adam’s tenor voice I still prefer Elvis’ baritone).

Here is my comparison between Adam and Elvis with regard to winning the title of American Idol

1. Luck - Elvis was fortunate to have made contact with Sam Phillips (by way of Marion Kiesker) who was patient enough to let him continue singing for hours that fateful day at Sun Studios. He could have listened to 2-3 songs and said thanks. But he let things roll and history was made.

Adam was also fortunate that the original Idol producers who heard him let him pass, because we know that having a good voice isn't always enough for them - and that not having a good voice is ok if you have something else that will make good tv. With the a cappella auditions, they have to have some vision of what might come of any given contestant.

2. Experience - Adam was 26 when he started the Idol journey. We'd have to compare him to the 19 year old Elvis. His experience, especially his years of professional singing, trumps Elvis' by a long shot.

3. Risk taking - Adam’s smarts when it came to song choice, song arrangements, etc. were very sophisticated. He took big risks with those arrangements. I don’t see Elvis doing that. We know that when Elvis heard a demo, when he recorded the song, he pretty much followed the arrangement he heard. While any song Elvis sang became his just because of his sheer talent, I don’t think he would have taken the risks that vaulted Adam past the others. (I was also impressed by how willing Adam was to dramatically change his look for the good of the song he was singing. Would Elvis have done that? OTOH, would it have been necessary.. :-))

4. Genres – Each week the Idols have to sing a song based on a theme chosen by AI producers. This could have worked in Elvis’ favor because, as we know, Elvis could and did sing “all kinds”. (Imagine having to choose a song from his birth year! ) Elvis has the edge here, because instead of embracing a genre (like country) Adam chose to make the music his own (good, but it probably hurt him even if he did get points for originality).

5. Voting – here’s where Adam and Elvis really have something in common. Adam should have won on talent and performance, hands down. But he didn’t. I have heard the vote for the finale wasn’t even close.

There was a huge backlash against Elvis when he first came on the scene. Some called him the devil incarnate. His sexiness was bad. The effect he had on girls and women was frightening. The way he looked - his hair, his clothes, his moves – all different, and all condemned by “middle” America. He was different, and therefore scary to many people.

Adam’s effect on the fans of American Idol is very similar. And his effect on “middle” America is comparable. He’s definitely different. His hair, his makeup – NAIL POLISH on a guy, fer cryin’ out loud. Scary. The questions about his sexuality during the Idol season undoubtedly had a huge effect on how many people voted. But as he says, “Sexy is sexy” and that’s why women are going nuts over him. Just like for Elvis. Sexy is sexy. And talent is talent.

As Adam says, Kris won because he got the most votes. True. But Adam didn't win because he was scary to too many voters. I think the same thing could have happened to Elvis.

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