‘Idol’ Singing Improves

The clueless, easy to please “American Idol” judges couldn’t understand what got into the nine remaining contestants this week. They were all singing so well. It may have had something to do with the fact that they could all, for the first time since auditions, sing songs they actually wanted to sing, by artists they actually liked (and not those like last week’s Billy Joel, with whom they had very little knowledge).

Hence the youngsters took hold of some Beyonce, Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert (who is married to a judge on the rival singing show, “The Voice” and is a mentor there). But “Idol” producers who must have older music on the show to attract a broader audience, installed Stevie Nicks as guest mentor, who had some amazing revisionist rock history to impart, such as saying if Phillip Phillips were around 40 years ago, he would have been invited to join Fleetwood Mac as well.

To ensure certain oldies as well as pad out the two hours, producers put the remaining finalists into three trios, singing medleys of Michael Jackson, Madonna and (surprise!) Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac (though ending it with “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow” wasn’t exactly a Nicks ending).

Judges by now are not saying all positive things to the finalists, they’re giving them standing ovations. At one point Jennifer Lopez was urging people to vote for someone. What next? Will they fund SuperPACs to ensure more voting?

Their mistake was saying that the night’s first singer Colton Dixon had set the bar so high. Actually, his handling of a Christian rock song by Lifehouse was way off key. And if judges couldn’t tell, it meant trouble from the start. But actually, most of the singing was markedly better — if only because everyone was singing songs they actually knew and cared about.

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