Somehow, you should never watch “30 ROCK” before watching “American Idol”. At least, it doesn’t work for me. Listening to some of the things “Jack Donaghy” says, the way Tracy Jordan thinks, “Lemon’s” life struggles, listening to Kenneth etc and then watching contestants performing on the television talent show makes everything come across as one long spoof.

So, it’s taken me a few days to forget some re-runs of “30 ROCK” I watched before the Hollywood Week Auditions and then returning after a break to take in the goings-on at “Idol”.

First off, I have to wonder if the show is having it’s own Esparanza Spalding Grammy Moment or whether Jazz and is making a comeback this year- the, you know, the musical dish de jour.

I mean, a guy playing double bass? On “American Idol”? And hitting nearly all the right notes while singing “Georgia On My Mind” without the arse soul shtick of a Taylor Hicks or Michael “The Dolt” Bolton?

Yes, that was what happened and contestant Casey Abrams might not look like an “American Idol” but he has music running through his veins. Same with Jacob Lusk.

Sure, both took their 2-3 minutes to add as many runs, scatting, skitter-scattering, adlibs, falsettos and testifying as humanly possible and, yes, I would be lying if I said there were not the odd moments when Eddie Murphy popped into my head, but these guys were good.

When Lusk sang, “God Bless This Child”, yes, it could have easily taken an Eddie Murphy spoof route if I was still locked into “30 ROCK” land, but, man, this guy can really sing. One doubts he will appeal to a “mainstream” audience, but, does everyone have to?

Usually, like applauding as if on monkey glands for every tedious solo at a Blues house or a Jazz club where everyone needs to go “vibe-ing”, I am a big cynic about “soul” and all that “goin’ back to church” and screamin’ and hollerin’, but when done well- and Jacob Lusk did very well- it shows- and one can feel it- from all the shuck and jive of fakirs and fake “soul brothers”.

Having the guy go bawling to his Mama is not my kinda “thing”, but hey, I’m not him and what he gave up there on stage was immensely powerful.

I have no idea what type of record either of these two can or will produce, but as ‘live’ performers they are very good.

Then again, does anybody except for a handful of people make any money making records today- “physical product” or in the “digital world”?

Maybe ‘live’ music is making a comeback with room for the manufactured, the outrageous, the contagious, the manipulative and those who just go up there and sing and simply perform without thinking what to wear and if white horn rims would look better than black ones so they go better with the grey hat?  

Sales and ‘looks’ aside, these two contestants proved  that the show has really grown up this year despite the age limit being lowered to 15. Even the 15-year-olds sound older- and better than on previous seasons.

Speaking of which, what a surprise to hear that 16-year-old Kenzie Palmer is no longer in the competition. She has been conspicuous by her absence on the show- and is now gone. I don’t get it. 

Who will win “American Idol”? You know, I don’t know and nor do I care.

What I do care about is that the programme is today not only about a smart arse judge with a British accent working off some flunkies sitting around him.

It’s about real talent and where ‘looks’ don’t seem to matter and it will be interesting to see how America votes and for whom and why.

And if your “favorite” doesn’t win, who really cares?

It’s been a great season of entertainment and real musical talent- and the season has barely started.

  1. Sev says:

    How can someone write something like this and get the main artist’s name wrong? I never heard of Esmerelda Spalding ….. is she any relation to Esperanza Spalding???? LOL
    where’s a proof reader when you need one?????? btw.. Esperanza is absolutely fabulous (and so is American Idol’s Top 12 guy Casey Abrams)…. He should go very far in the competition….. maybe even top 10 or 5 or 2 Hell this guy could be a winner…. Good Luck Casey…….

  2. Christy says:

    Hey, I remember Schnicky too!

    But to the subject of your post…

    I think Esperanza (sorry Hans – not Esmerelda) Spalding is a sign of good things to come. I the past three months I have seen two Grammy nominated/winning jazz artists — Nnenna Freelon (amazing in many, many ways) and David Sanchez. Good music draws robust and loyal live audiences. Maybe you won’t have your own 3-D movie (who cares), but people do pay to come out and listen. People can make a living at it.

    Ergo.. who cares who wins some television talent show. Some of these kids will go on to bigger and better things and it’s a place to showcase their talent and a notch on their resume. Maybe that’s what the show should be about.

  3. Shnicky says:

    HANS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Finally, I’ve found you… thanks to Bootstar (be nice to her). I have missed your blogs sooo much. Can’t wait to get caught up on all things Hans Ebert!! Rock On my man.

  4. Two two dudes are awesome and I might even start watching again. American Idol has grown up and the talent shows there is hope. Stop bitching about what they’re going to record, that’s become almost irrelevant. Start with some great ‘live’ music and recordings of it will find it’s own way to the fans.

    • We-Enhance says:

      Me? Bitch? Nah. You should take up the double bass. More cool to carry around these days than a guitar case- with no guitar in it…

      • I actually took up the double bass in about 1961 but gave up because HK taxis were too small and rickshaw drivers hated it….well, that’s MY excuse….but there are some cute double bass players around, that’s for sure…

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