I'm not sure how I got roped into it - this concert that is, but there I was - tenth row, center at the Staples Center in Los Angeles and the massive overhead PA system is pumping out a strange, bouncy horn intro which sounds a little like that same horn intro that used to signal that Elvis was seconds from hitting the stage during his final Vegas years.
So the horns are blaring in quadraphonic sound and the two glasses of wine from the lobby bar are finally starting to hit me. For a second, I'm actually getting a little excited - not because of the performers, it's just that the fanfare is really contagious: teen girls standing on their chairs going apeshit, the Elvis horns, the enormousness of the Staples Center structure - it's hard not to get caught up in the grandiosity of it all.
And then some girl named Jessica Sierra starts singing a really homogenized version of the Bus Boys "The Boys Are Back In Town" and the illusion that something interesting was going to happen screeched to an abrupt halt.
Ask anyone - I'm a sucker for reality television. Have you caught the new Battle of the Reality Network Stars? Amazing! But I must admit, American Idol ranks incredibly low on my list - I only watch it because the wife watches is (her being a former stage performer) and this year, I got caught in the drama of it all. Then, when the wife's mother found out that we watch the show on a regular basis, she thought we'd actually want to see the live show. Which I didn't, but I'll never pass up a night of drinking without the parental duties that I've taken on since 2002.
So there I am, kind of just watching the show - the first four performers gets two songs each. Each song is a cover naturally and they're always either familiar Top 40 tunes or a moldy oldie that gets played by your local classic radio station at least six times per day. Not a particularly bad way to go as these kids (average age about 18) probably know nothing about crafting original songs, but every number sounds like something you'd hear on a Superbowl halftime show from the '70s. Yes, Up With People - that old American song and dance troupe. No real soul or feeling.
Standouts? Admittedly there were a few. I thin that black kid that thinks he's Bobby Brown was very good for the genre that he obviously wants to go into. Nikko Smith is his name, I believe. Interesting fact: he's the son of the great St. Louis Cardinals' shortstop, Ozzie Smith (I based my whole little league baseball career on Ozzie's teachings).
The second place winner, Bo Bice - the hillbilly from Alabama also provided a few grins. It's obvious this guy is having fun with freaking out the mainstream. He took the stage, grabbed a pretty nice Fender Flying V guitar and wanked off to a five minute extended intro of Jimi Hendrix's Voodoo Child. I don't know if I liked his rendition (doubt it) or the fact that he just killed the momentum of the entire show with his swampy wah wah-drenched solo, but after 90 minutes, I was finally enjoying myself.
Of course, the enjoyment came all due to the fact that the demonic sounds of Voodoo Child knocked the wind out of every kid in the arena. It was the equivalent to Santa Claus taking a huge dump in every kid's stocking - - that moment of discovery was exactly the response Voodoo Child got. The psychedelic lighting and smoke machines only added to the head shop atmosphere.
How did the show end? Don't ask me, I left right after Carrie Underwood - the show's winner and de facto headliner - sang some song about her daddy urinating in his bed because he got drunk on proof the night before. "Daddy wet the sheets because he drank to much proof" I think is how the lyric went. Brilliant.