I'm going to mash up two shows now to make point:
In Mad Men recently, a client blithely demands that Sterling-Cooper hire the Rolling Stones to sing a commercial about beans. Think about it. Before the mid-60's, you could probably hire a Pat Boone or a Dusty Springfield or a Chubby Checker or a Lulu or a Pet Clark or even a Dave Clark Five (as close to the time as that) to sing about any product you got. They sang for a living, they did it to make money. There were no conflicting principals at all. Dinah Shore sang for Chevrolet, it was just another income stream.
But suddenly, with bands like the Beatles, the Stones, guys like Dylan, Jimi...anti-establishmentarianism was critical to their brand. They couldn't do commercials. They were rebels, revolutionaries, iconoclasts. They were the new embodiment of the beats that confronted Don in the Village:
"How do you sleep at night, man?"
"On a bed of money!"
The Beat influence, first via folk/protest music as heard from Phil Ochs, Ramblin' Jack Eliot, Dylan and others (channeling Woody Guthrie) and then into many bands across the mid 60's and later. The stance was pure counter-cultural. That's what bought their credibility with the kids. Jimi Hendrix couldn't POSSIBLY do a commercial for...anything!
Point being that on Idol now, they force these poor saps to become literally commercial PUPPETS in those moronic Ford ads. The opposite of counter-cultural. Thus the opposite of credibility. It neatly strips any last shreds of cultural dignity they may have left, leaving them perfect soulless and malleable products themselves, which is kind of the point of the show.
When folks step out of line a little, they get slapped down hard. Heejun got lectured to like some little kid. Astro over on X Factor got booted out quick. These shows actually hate individuality and attitude. They want to mold a safe, commercial product.
And the song choices reflect that conservatism very strongly. As has been said, the performers get to choose from a very restricted list. Thus the colorful attitudes and "uniqueness" they can cop is virtually nil. Stripped out by the format.
Thus Idol could never produce a real unique performer with any relevancy. The best they can do is crank out corporate Barbie Doll crooners like Carrie Underwood or corporate hard rock generics like Daughtry or David Cook. Safe as milk. Generic musictainment Lite with zero street cred.
And ironically, with the exception of Daughtry and Underwood, it ends up being so generic and lacking in cred as to not sell well. Lee DeWyze and Crystal Bowersox can't sell for beans. Taylor Hicks, Ruben Studdard, Katharine McPhee (with the exception of acting), Jordin Sparks, Blake Lewis...it's kind of a self-fulfilling failure formula wrapped in what's supposed to be a sure-fire success package. Irony's a bitch.
Edited by Maruuk, 18 April 2012 - 03:18 AM.