What do middle-aged couples with binoculars, pensioners from the surrounding counties and children ages 6 to 16 all have in common? They apparently all still love American Idol, based on what The Spin saw at Bridgestone Arena last night. It’s been several years since we were avid watchers, but if you’ve lived in America in the past decade, you don’t need to be a devotee to know the format: Kids with dreams enter nationwide karaoke contest, one triumphs. The live tour wrangles the Top 10 contestants (seven of whom were born in the 1990s) and plops them onstage to perform some of their better-loved covers from the show, along with tepid group numbers that seem pretty unnecessary.
Plopping them down onstage isn’t critical cruelty: The stage was just a blank slate, with a very expensive video screen playing what looked like Windows Media Player visualizations from 1995, aka The Birth Year of Runner-Up Jessica Sanchez. Hometown-hero-with-a-Rufio-hairdo Colton Dixon and soul singer Joshua Ledet received the biggest applause for their opening video sequences (wherein the contestants shoot like asteroids down to earth, painfully prescient), while Rachel Dratch character Skyler Laine received little to none. But at least we figured out what she looked like — we were unable to ever tell the difference between Hollie Cavanagh and Elise Testone, noting them as “skinny blonde” before realizing it was two different people. One of them at one point literally screeched like a hawk and was applauded for it.
Pretty-mouthed hair monster DeAndre Brackensick seemed to be popular, though it seemed like he was more often relegated to backup duty than allowed to take the spotlight. We liked Heejun Han, who thankfully provided something up-tempo with John Legend’s “Green Light,” which segued into a group-sing for “Party Rock Anthem.” He wiggled his butt a lot, the kids went wild.
Joshua Ledet was a legitimately good performer, because he possesses something called “charisma,” a quality the majority of the contestants seemed to lack. We saw a man, probably 70 years old, grooving out to Ledet’s rendition of “It's a Man's Man's Man's World,” and that was adorable. Unfortunately, no one ever told Dixon a haircut is not charisma, but that didn’t stop the kids from loving him; he’s got a very cute face, and is exactly the kind of tree every preteen girl barks up at some point. He was an unconvincing, nasal vocalist, kind of an emo-er Our Lady Peace.
The highlight of the night (we suppose) was winner Phillip Phillips, hottest turd on the quad. His douche-rock version of “Superstition” tore the place to shreds, as did “Nice and Slow,” with a grating Nashville shout-out shoehorned in. Fucking Gotye, too. Ledet was robbed.