Thursday, June 21, 2007

Not American Idol, but BETTER!

I have a confession. I love American Idol rip-offs. Well, some of them at least. Let me start by saying, I never got into American Idol. The show to me, is lame. Anyone can sing. I went to high school with a guy who was a good friend and he could sing as good as anyone who's been on that show. I worked with a girl who sang better then Carrie Underwood and others, she even sang at football games and such, but she never persued it which is why she's not a star. Is it easy to sing? No, but it's not hard per say either. For me the major problem with Idol is that it doesn't produce real stars. There are no Elton John's being discovered on American Idol. The best person to come from Idol is Kelly Clarkson and while she's got some decent pop stuff, you can make a pop star out of ANYONE.

That's why American Idol sucks. It's been on for about 50 years now and has made one bankable star. That's pathetic. It's just fat black girls and gay guys singing. Sorry, not my cup of tea. That said, it has created a genre of TV that IS enjoyable. While not all American Idol rip-offs are created equal, I'm looking at you, So You Think You Can Dance? Some are actually great. Here's my favorites:

America's Got Talent
The show that re-ignited David Hasselhoff's career, AGAIN! Why is this show entertaining? Because it's a variety show at the very core. You see jugglers, ventriloquists, singers, dancers, magicians and plenty of other oddities. That said, this show's main problem is the singers. I hate it when singers come on, because they should be on Idol, IMO. Last years competition was won by some 12 year old, who could sing, but I thought it was bogus. Plenty of better acts probably should have won. That's the real downfall of the show is that plenty of Idol castoffs end up on the program. In between that drivel though, you get guys who can sing and play guitar, some incredible bands like the 16 year old rockabilly band from last week, and some talented magicians. Even the occasional wonky act has it's charm. Bobby Badfingers from last year stands out to me as someone who was entertaining in a "I've never seen that" kind of fashion. Quick Change was a magical act from last year that you've likely NEVER seen anything like. This year hasn't quite produced the unique acts of last year, but we have seen some good ones. Sharon Osbourne replaces last year's weak judge Brandy, but I'm not sure if Sharon is really worth her weight. She's a bit of a drama queen. At least she's better then Brandy. Jerry Springer has replaced Regis Philbin and has been doing a great job.

American Inventor
Of all the Idol rip-offs, this one is probably my favorite. Why? Because at the end of the day, last year's winner actually had a GREAT invention that could save lives. That alone makes it better then anything Idol has ever produced. What truly makes this show great though is that there aren't any jokesters. On Idol and all the other shows, people show up in wacky outfits, do bad singing or dancing, just to get on TV. Not here. The people that show up with some of these lamebrain inventions are truly and completely... INSANE! I kid you not. Insane people show up to the show. This week had a man who wears copper on his head to sleep. Among other places. He honestly believed it made him healthy. He was of course, completely bonkers, but he wasn't an "act" like so many of the people on Idol are. The show has been retooled this year with new judges, including George Foreman who's too nice to really be effective. There have also been some pretty novel ideas come through and the stories are great. When someone gets voted off on this show and they cry, it's because it's REAL. Some of these people have thousands of dollars invested in their product. Whereas on Idol, the waterworks routine is just that, a routine. To truly invent something great, you have to be a thinker and that's why this show is the best. It's too boring for some and not a huge ratings hit, but for my money it's the best entertainment out there.

The Next Best Thing
This show has proven to be a ratings hit. Basically it's a impersonator competition. This doesn't have the depth of American Inventor, nor the wide range of acts as America's Got Talent, but it does feature lots of impersonations. Good and bad. The odd thing to me about this show is that lots of acts I think are good, they axe. Whereas some I think are just okay, they pass through. Regardless there is a pair of guys doing a BRILLIANT Honeymooners routine and you really feel like they are Art Carney and Jackie Gleason stepping out of a time machine. This is good mindless TV.

So there you have it. Some summer "Idol Rip-Offs" that are actually a billion times better then Idol itself. Every show that Simon Cowell produces has to have a snarky British guy, but oddly enough to me Piers Morgan and David Jones are MUCH more appealing then Simon. They aren't really doing a Simon impersonation, instead they are being more genuine. Simon is basically a parody of himself these days and thankfully they aren't doing a parody of him. Of course it does seem that way when they are all the mean judges, but at least they have their own twist to it.

I suggest you watch these shows. Besides, it's not like there is much else on during the summer.

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