The case of the fall of “American Idol” into irrelevance – in addition to their overall scores, sagging, frequent personnel changes and struggling contestants – could have been made in its annual summer tour, which stopped in Los Angeles on Thursday.
A lot sample season contestants, the tour has traditionally been the last cycle of the “Idol” machine. The finalists are given a new lease of advertising and the winner of the most recent year comes to annoy some post-show work.
Sadly, Thursday’s show was a sad reminder of how far “Idol” – which for many years was literally the biggest thing on television – has fallen. Once he played a brilliant show to arenas around the country, this year’s show was anchored in the most intimate Greek theater.
This was significantly better than the casinos and state fairs that the finalists have been playing this summer, but a range from recent years in the capacity of 7000-plus Nokia Theatre, where glamorous end of the show (and worst recording yet, Staples Center tour apogee). And the reduction in size place was even more evident by the anemic crowd.
More than a quarter of about 5,900 seats were Greek masked out and the crowd was an uneven mixture of excited children, parents and bored AARP (no joke, had ads before the show).
But the nine finalists (country crooner Dexter Roberts left by disease) seriously tried to do the best with what they were given – and it was not much. There was live music on stage, and for a show that has always been lampooned as a glorified karaoke contest, the movement felt ironic.
Music tracks aside, the staging were too heavy for the Greek infrastructure.
A huge video screen that seemed to be recycled from the series swallowed up the stage with a trio of platforms and lighting towers that take up more space. It was a useless addition considering Ryan Seacrest and the judges did not even bother to shoot greetings and contestants were forced to enter each other while waiting sidemen advancing to their tracks.
Clips of the contestants that were already seen during the show’s run were selected, along with basic graphics that made Thursday’s show look like a flashy high school musical. The whole thing was embarrassing, uncomfortable, especially for those who had been to previous tours.
During the two-hour show (there was an intermediate) to the finalists plowed through a few covers and originals that the public had already been done in the show.
Rose took Majesty “Tightrope” with cheerful mood. Malaya Watson delivered a stunning take of “When I Was Your Man” on the piano (thankfully number of contestants was able to play instruments). CJ Harris uses the intimacy of the place going for a moving shot of “Gravity”. Jena Irene reminded the audience of his superstar potential with his set solo.
But memorable moments were scarce, as several finalists chose to mark it. This was clearly the case of the favorite show Alex Preston, Jessica Maas and Sam Woolf, who all seemed to have preferred to be somewhere else while they were on stage.
Apex frustrating show came with the winner Caleb Johnson spend his set on the songs played in the program and not a preview of his newly released debut, “Testify”.
Johnson album was promoted at least one video segment available for purchase at the merchandising stand. Some fans even hoisted in the sky during their set, but even that felt like a consolation.