Last Night: American Idol Live at Verizon Theatre at Grand Prairie

Categories: Last Night
American Idol Live
Verizon Theatre at Grand Prairie
Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Better than:
Watching paint dry. I think.

idol live.jpg
I don't remember if there was ever a talent show episode on the original Beverly Hills 90210. But if there had been, I imagine it would have looked a lot like last night's show. Splashy lights, pretty outfits, nice voices, and mind-numbing boredom.

Sure there were a few bright moments. Casey Abrams was kind of a hoot. He was working the sexy ugly and playing the bass, singing "Smooth." The guy has a great voice. But he's goofy as hell, making silly voices and preforming the guitar solo vocally instead of with a guitar.

He was joined on-stage by Haley Reinhart to do some crooning and scatting and dashed around the stage to get the spotlight to follow him. "It's so hot here," he said. "I'm trying to drink water. But it's getting harder and harder to breathe." And you can imagine what he sang next.

Nine of the performers, all in red suits, did a rendition of "F U that fell pretty flat. Although Naima Adedapo did put on a little attitude briefly for the number. And then, deus ex machina, Ryan Seacrest appeared on the large on-stage screen to announce the intermission.

(Strangely, videos played as well as commercials for everything from Macy's to Farmer's Insurance to Coca-Cola during the twenty-minute break. So, it's just like watching TV, I guess. Ugh.)

Lauren Alaina came out in a sparkly 80s prom dress with equally sparkly cowboy boots to start the second half. She sang her single "Like My Mother Does" (originally recorded by season-seven American Idol contestant Kristy Lee Cook.) And, though she has some serious lungs, that's pretty much all she has.

The show definitely makes you appreciate real stars, people who command the stage and dare you to look away. James Durbin sure tried, heading to the stage through the audience singing Sweet Child O' Mine, sporting a bandana on his head, tight jeans with feathers and chains hanging down, and two black lines drawn under one eye.

"They will not force us. And they will stop degrading us. And they will not control us," Abrams sang, which seemed a little ironic since I understand that Idol contestants sell at least a good chunk of their souls in order to join the tour.

But, it's hard not to think about the fact that a year or so ago this gang was figuratively (if not literally) flipping burgers and now they're selling out the Verizon Theatre. I'm afraid that says more about people's mediocre taste in music than the talent onstage.

There was then a bizarre segue, or really a lack thereof, to Jacob Lusk skipping and prancing and saving the hour -- a least for a minute -- with a few 70s tunes with lights and video a la Soul Train. And he did a great rendition of "You're All I Need to Get By."

Finally, they showed the videos of the winners being announced at the end of each Idol season. And as they showed the video of Season 10's winner being announced, out he came, Scotty McCreery.

He sings "Your Man" and "Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not," and it's amazing that this big, deep, sexy country voice comes out of this cute, little country boy.

"I'm a North Carolina boy but I feel right at home here," he says. "I can get a sweet tea here. You can't get sweet tea in Los Angeles. They think you can add sugar after you make it and I tell them you can't do that."

He performed "I love You This Big" and "When You Say Nothing at All" before Randy Jackson showed up on the video screen. "The boy, Your dog, Randy here in the house with you. The Idols are going to rock your city. Are you ready?" It was so cheesy that I turned to my twelve-year-old and asked if she had any crackers. (Cheese begets cheese.)

The finale consisted of a mash-up of "Here I Go Again," "Faithfully," "Walk This Way," and "Any Way You Want It." All eleven of them were all over the stage, often causing a bit of a clusterfuck. At least one of the mikes went out.

But, man, the audience sure loved it, cheering and standing and clapping and dancing. And the performers really can sing. But good singing voices do not artists make. Oh, and, considering the cast that they just happened to end up with, I think they should just call the whole endeavor American Stereotype.

Critic's Notebook
Personal Bias:
I watched Idol first season. It was interesting enough the first time around. And I managed to watch a few episodes of every season thereafter, which mostly looked like reruns of the first season, barring the judge switcharoos. I think I saw one episode of Season 10.

By The Way: I missed the first hour of the show. Ten minutes because of traffic. Fifty minutes because they couldn't track down one of my tickets. They couldn't find one of Dallas Morning News Reviewer Darla Atlas' tickets either. I'm not complaining though. Joking with her and her plus one was more entertaining than most of the show.

Random Note: Cotton candy was only $3. I swear it's $10 or $12 at the American Airlines Center, which is highway robbery.

Location Info

Venue

Map

Verizon Theatre at Grand Prairie

1001 Performance Place, Grand Prairie, TX

Category: Music

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41 comments
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kewa
kewa

You actually were hired by a newspaper? Do you have a relative that works there or something? Serious lack of effort. 

Zenomath
Zenomath

Remember how Elvis changed the music world and that parents hated him for it. When he first came on the scene no one quite knew what to make him. There were haters then, as there are now, as people see something new everyday.  If you saw something new and different today, would you whole heartedly grasp the beauty in it, or would you straight forwardly release the hatred bottled inside you and relay it to the world as you do on this page. 

justhavingfun
justhavingfun

overall, a very disappointing, error-ridden review from a reviewer who seemed put out to have been asked to even cover this event.  too bad you didn't offer your free tickets to someone who would have appreciated the experience.

Kamery41
Kamery41

I'm just speaking for myself, but I will tell you why I like American Idol.  The music market today is saturated with non-talent.  Seriously - I look at some of the popular acts today and I think WTF...they have no talent whatsoever.  Not musicians.  Not artists.  Auto-tuned and marketed and forced upon the public until we think this is talent.  Then we have people like these 11 kids that can actually sing (without auto-tuning), hiding in classrooms or at meaningless jobs - people we might otherwise never get to hear because it's extremely hard to break into the business and monopolized by the same people - people who know the right people and have had the right opportunities.  Take James Durbin for example.  Here is a kid with a magnificent voice, that may have never even gotten a foot in the door before because he has Tourettes Syndrome.  The music executives may not have ever given him a chance for fear that he wouldn't be publicly accepted, but the American public did give him that chance.  I enjoy that we get to see raw, undiscovered talent each year and let our voices be heard on what we actually want to see more of in the future.  And even if the majority of them don't go on to become superstars and end up playing to small crowds...so what?  At least they got their chance, a chance they may not have gotten otherwise.

md
md

Elaborating on your point about music executives, Haley Reinhart observed there aren't many talent scouts hanging out at nightclubs today. But I think there's a limit to how much the American public can " let our voices be heard" in that the Idol voting system. It's skewed towards the young who sometimes vote hundreds of times. Of course, that is also the same public that is most likely to buy music marketed to them.

Older people just aren't that committed. Tom Hanks on the Ellen show: " I had dodged the (AI) virus for many, many years. I watched some of it when you were on just to see you...This year I got hooked on watching with Rita (his wife).  I must say, I never voted until last week for the first time. I voted for Haley. I voted twice...."

I was the same way. I never watched American Idol before, but got sucked in watching and rooting for Haley. She finished in the bottom three four times but finished in the top three because she grew as a performer and took risks.

The drama of the contest:

She was the dark horse of the season and in the end faced off before the country kids and their built-in voting bloc. She lost, but not before winning over new fans, many grudgingly. Along the way, she battled two of the judges who appeared to offer some criticism because her rise threatened to upset the script the-powers-that-be had predetermined for the show (i.e., she wasn't one of the contestants they had pimped early on).

To learn more about her journey and how good content centered around AI can be, I invite you to watch the exit interview Michael Slezak conducted with her:

http://www.tvline.com/2011/06/...

If you don't have the patience for that, watch a few of her performances to see how talented some of these kids are.

Moanin':

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

House of the Rising Sun:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

Bennie and the Jets:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

Led Zeppelin (What is..):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

B-scot
B-scot

I too became a Haley fan this season and loved the show in at the Verizon in GP. I think Scotty, James and Haley have the talent to become solid artists and look forward to buying their music if its of the quality their did on the show and tour. I like to listen to many music genres from Hard Rock(no metal please) to modern country songs and most radio stations are so single genre focused and major artist driven that its hard to find new talent they you can watch grow. The UK seems to be doing better it helping new artists than US label and Country radio seem afraid of hurting older artists to promote many new country singers. Just my 2 cents take it for want its worth.

md
md

Here is an original tune from another young performer I think has loads of talent:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

He auditioned for Idol last season and received a ticket to Hollywood but opted out because he was a student teacher and felt and obligation to his students, plus his parents wanted him to finish his education. I think he is undeniably talented.

Anita Wagner
Anita Wagner

I am always fascinated by how ready people online are to rip into others when they can hide behind a computer and anonymously snark away.  That takes no guts whatsoever.   What I hear are a bunch of bratty people who emotionally identify with the struggling artists in the show.  Clearly they don't have the emotional maturity to simply express their own opinion without taking the writer's opinion personally.  Instead they indulge in personal attacks because, what, it's fun??  

At least Jenny Block uses her real name and picture online.  And as someone who has been reading her work since 2008, I have found her to be an excellent writer.  If she weren't, she wouldn't be able to make a living at it, find a publisher to publish books, etc. 

KathryneB
KathryneB

Really? No crap out there published, huh? Dream on.....

fover10
fover10

Really, while it's nice for someone to use their real name and be an excellent writer, those  aren't necessarily the credentials I look for in a critic.  What I'm more interested in is can they report accurately and do they have the literary skills to convey the atmosphere of the venue, the quality of the actual stage presentations, and the mood of the audience.

PS. I spend more for cotton candy when I go to a pro football game.

Anita Wagner
Anita Wagner

Fover10, I wasn't referring to Jenny's credentials, I was referring to her harsher critics here, who with zero credibility due to doing it anonymously are piling on the hate.  And your critic criteria sounds reasonable to me. 

I paid a lot more for cotton candy at the circus in March, it had been smooshed into a plastic bag and stuffed into a cheapy tyvec clown's hat.  $10 as I recall. 

KathryneB
KathryneB

Nobody was piling on the hate...they were being critical of the "critic" because she had no idea what or who she was seeing. Don't see a picture of you here either. Anyway, Kevin John Gilhooey started it all with his smart-alec post!

md
md

" they indulge in personal attacks because, what, it's fun?? "

People were critical because they came to read a review of the show and how their favorite performers were received and got something that read like an attack piece on American Idol.

She did say at the beginning the eleven had "nice voices" and at the end "the performers really can sing" but that was lost because there were too many words like this:

"But good singing voices do not artists make. Oh, and, considering the cast that they just happened to end up with, I think they should just call the whole endeavor American Stereotype."

The criticism of her then is no different than what she levied: She can write, but the production was lacking.

Your defense of her -- a personal attack on people you don't know -- suggests you are bratty and emotionally identify with her. Clearly you don't have the emotional maturity to simply express your own opinion of the review.

Darryl
Darryl

If you're over 12 and you dig American Idol, you're an idiot. Thank god I have cool kids who don't buy into corporate music!

md
md

Your kids with their disdain for corporate music are no doubt cooler than those kids who like to sing and hope to make a living at it.

It's a shame though that your kids won't be exposed to songs like House of the Rising Sun and Moanin' because they're too corporate.

Merritt Martin
Merritt Martin

I am that idiot. I "dig" that show once they get past the auditions. I also quite like The Voice, The Sing-Off, Top Chef, Project Runway and all that reality BS. Doesn't mean I buy the music or the knives or the clothes. Just means I love competition, television, creative editing (in some cases) and cheering someone on when they do something that isn't predictable.

Merritt Martin
Merritt Martin

Have to add, though, I may like watching shows like American Idol, but I'm certainly not going to be angry at someone if they didn't like the live tour. 

Of course, the rabid backlash at Jenny's review doesn't surprise me. The worst hate mail I ever received was after I wrote a tongue-in-cheek piece on Daughtry.

whynotcanada
whynotcanada

you're missing the point. jounalists are required to know what they are writing about.  i have not problem critiquing Idol or the show, but mixing up both the perfomances and the performers showed that the "writer" has not cred on the topic.

Bmayne
Bmayne

Cotton Candy sold at American Airlines Center is priced at $3.50 when sold by the venue.

Jenny Block
Jenny Block

Really??? I guess we always end up buying it from the show then. We paid ten bucks at the last few Disney on Ice shows.

MusubiS
MusubiS

Jenny, thank you for writing an honest opinion. Too few of those in our media landscape these days. As with all opinions, there will be disagreements; as long as the conversation doesn't devolve into name-calling, we're all entitled to our opinions. I'm not a big fan of popular music, so I, for one, am glad to see a review that isn't fawning all over these manufactured celebrities. 

whynotcanada
whynotcanada

It is not really an HONEST article, when you make so many fundamental mistakes that evidence the fact you aren't well versed in the topic you are writing about.

Darin Robinson
Darin Robinson

Did you get in trouble? Why did you have to go to this?

MisterMiguel
MisterMiguel

Thanks for the I-only-went-to-show-because-my-twelve-year-old-wanted-to-go-and-I-got-free-tickets-so-don't-think-I'm-actually-down-with-this-whole-American-Idol-thing review.

MattL1
MattL1

I actually feel sorry for you.  I don't know how the concert assignments are handed out at the Observer, but whoever asked you to review this show deserves some pretty nasty pranks in the near future.  

Daniel Hopkins
Daniel Hopkins

That would be me. And, you're probably right, I do probably deserve some nasty pranks. But not for sending Jenny to the show, this is right up her alley.

Buzzenator
Buzzenator

I think the alley was actually a drive by review...so maybe more props for Jenny if she had missed the 2nd half too?

Karen E Laine
Karen E Laine

Ouch!! It is highly unfair to compare entertainers who are just beginning there career to seasoned professionals.  And, one question that comes from this article is "if you only caught one show, why even think about going?"  Just to criticize?  The fact is I will go back to see Scotty McCreery perform again, but I wont return to another article of yours.  You may want to practice on your writing skills, there are better writers out there.  Just because you can put words together does not make you a good writer.  This was just mean!

Kevin John Gilhooly
Kevin John Gilhooly

That was my issue with the whole show. I would go see Scotty. I would probably go see Lauren. However, I didn't want to pay a lot of money to see all the rest of them. Also, they are charging "seasoned professional" prices, so I think it's a bit of a rip-off.

By the way, if you're going to criticize writers, "there career" as you used it is generally spelled "their career" and "wont" has an apostrophe, making it "won't". Just sayin'.

Karen E Laine
Karen E Laine

HA HA!! good catch...lucky I dont write for a living!

KathryneB
KathryneB

Gee, her spelling is a bit off, just as the critic's facts were a bit off, which you didn't mind a bit. Of course, we certainly don't expect journalists to be accurate these days, mainly because they ARE NOT journalists, just cutesy hacks pretending.

Kevin John Gilhooly
Kevin John Gilhooly

Interesting that all the comments so far are about your mis-identifying some of the performers. I suppose that implies they're all interchangeable. So it goes.

I've never understood why these show tours have a multitude of performers when there was only one winner. Well, I do, because a small minority voted hundreds of times each for the winner, and who wants a crowd of only twenty people. That would be like a coffeehouse crowd. Wait, where are most of these people going to end up performing? Wow, irony.

Still, the last time I went to one of these (America's Got Talent, last year - same concept, only you don't have to sing), I swore never again. In that case (and this one), I liked (or could tolerate) probably the top two performers and the rest were fluff. Some were annoying. Some (I'm looking at you Naima and Casey) were really annoying. Why would I pay a lot to be annoyed? I can stay home and have my wife annoy me for free.

KathryneB
KathryneB

Uh Oh, Kevin John, methinks I see a grammatical error in your first paragraph above. Also, in my first reply I dropped a little error so that you could point it out.

Buzzenator
Buzzenator

Anybody that has to spell their entire middle name for a lead-in...well a little too full of themselves, as was this review. Where do they find music critics like this, in line at Starbucks? I didn't find one interesting musical observation in the whole review, and if Kevin John is somehow related...well then it must be something in the coffee.

Kevin John Gilhooly
Kevin John Gilhooly

I'm not related to Jenny and I haven't had coffee since this morning, so you don't have to worry there. Also, I could use a really cool nickname on my posts, but ever since I moved out of my parents' basement and into the real world, I decided to use my real name. I'm sorry that offends you.

Buzzenator
Buzzenator

I was mistaken, I thought you were the Kevin John Gilhooly who likes to wear a suit and tie to music concerts and lives alone...not that there's anything wrong with that.

KathryneB
KathryneB

Actually, it implies that your music "critic" was too uninterested, too late, too uninformed, or possibly too stoned to actually be assigned to critique this show. After all, how much can she really care since she didn't bother to leave early enough to get there on time or know who the performers were? Totally unprepared. And SO SORRY that the other girl had to WAIT to get her free press pass. Try paying for a show once in awhile!Interchangeable? All you have to do is look at red-headed, bearded  Casey and then at James with his hair covered by a bandanna and wearing chains to see the difference - let alone, LISTEN to their music. Obvious that this woman wasn't paying attention, i.e. not doing her job, but then, check out the reply from her assignment editor who is actually proud of her "reporting".If you want to always see GREAT, go see folks you already like, instead of bashing kids doing their best to get started - that's what American Idol is all about.  What's good music or not is totally subjective  - quit being such psuedo-sophisticated snobs!After all, the venue was packed and enthusiastic so stick to artists who appeal to your obvious ultra-cool tastes!

fover10
fover10

My guess is that the "critic" probably sold her tickets and wrote this piece from her computer in her basement.

Wallflower
Wallflower

If you are going to write a review of a show try getting the names of the performers straight!  Total FAIL. James Durbin performed Sweet Child O Mine and Casey sang Moanin' with Haley, not Pia. The show was fantastic, they are all very talented and probably the best Idols live show in years.

KathryneB
KathryneB

That was James Durbin, not Casey Abrams, who entered through the crowd singing Sweet Child O' Mine. Duh. The concert was great! The six or so with real star power shone like, well, uh, Stars! And the others were fun to watch anyway.

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