Tuesday, March 20, 2007

One If By Land, Two If By Sea

Here's a sentence I never thought I'd type: I may try to catch "American Idol" (Fox, 8 p.m.) tonight.

No, I haven't suffered a head injury. (Well, maybe I have; with me, who can tell?) Tonight's competition involves the British Invasion. Guests hosts Peter Noone of Herman's Hermits and Lulu join the fun as the remaining contestants tackle, for my money, the world's greatest music.

Still, not being familiar with "AI," I wonder what kind of rules they will have in place. For example, does it have to songs limited to the early-to-mid 1960s range, or can the performers do songs from British Invasion bands from later in their careers? In other words, would you be limited to early stuff from The Who or could you perform anything in their catalog?

A lot of the pop hits from the early British Invasion years won't allow the contestants to really demonstrate a lot of range. How much can you really do with something from The Dave Clark Five, after all?

Here's what I am curious to see: How much of a spin the contestants actually put on the songs they cover. The Beatles have obviously been covered a lot over the years, but it's the artists that re-interpret the songs that seem to do the best job of the covers.

So, here are a few recommendations from someone who doesn't know a lot about "AI" but does know a decent bit about the British Invasion:

--Avoid the obvious stuff from the Beatles or the Rolling Stones, unless you plan on doing something really different with it.

--Don't do "To Sir, With Love." I mean, Lulu is sitting right there, so the judges probably won't be kind if you don't nail it.

--I'd love to see a contestant show some real guts and try to tackle someone like Dusty Springfield. True, if you don't clear the bar, you fall flat on your face and are likely out of the competition; if you do clear it, you are a virtual lock to advance.

--Some song choices: "Behind Blue Eyes" and "I Can't Explain" by The Who (please not "My Generation); "Come Dancing" by The Kinks if the judges allow post-1960s stuff or "Girl, I Want To Be With You" if they don't; "Yesterday" by The Beatles (a little obvious, yes, I know); anything by Cream that isn't "White Room." There are plenty of others I could list, but these would make for a few highlights.

For more about "AI," including post-game analysis, check out Maggie Large's music blog, Amped.

IS VERONICA BACK?: Contrary to the rumors I posted last week, "Veronica Mars" may not be dead as a doornail. Creator Rob Thomas has said he hasn't heard about the show's fate one way or the other, and none of the principal cast has had their contracts ended. So, at this point, VM may either: 1) Be cancelled. 2) Looking forward to her sophomore year of college. 3) Flash forward four years with Veronica as an FBI agent or trainee, depending on the rumor.

TUESDAY'S BEST BETS: With "House" and "VM" still on hiatus, I can look forward to going out without having to fill up a videocassette.

NBC is pretty much reruns, and ABC only has a new "Boston Legal" at 10 p.m. CBS is really the only thing looking to compete with "AI," with new episodes of "NCIS" and "The Unit" beginning at 8 p.m.


Jonathan said...

yaI'm really curious to see what will happen to Ms. Mars in the future. Part of me hopes it can go on, but part of me is a tad on the skeptical side. I could be wrong, but I think you made a comment about it last month or so turning into "CSI:Neptune," which if they go the FBI route and they have to stick to self-contained episodes, that very well could be the case. Or "Law and Order:VM," or some such nonsense.

Still, Thomas was asked to go more of a self-contained route in season 2, and he definately side stepped that somehow, so maybe he could again. Overall, I would rather see what new direction they could take it than have it off the air completely. I guess it's all going to depend on the route the CW wants to take with their programming.

Anonymous said...

When AI chooses a category for songs, all should be included. So pre 60's should be allowed (at least that is what they have done in the past). But the contestants chooses the songs, so I doubt there will be any we have never heard of before. And as a note to that...sadly many contestants wont do 'unheard' of songs because they want get much of the votes. Voters tend to like to know the song in order to vote for it. Blake did a great 311 song the other day, he did get praise, but even Simon said he had never heard of that song before, and that could hurt him in the votes (of course it didn't because he is actually one of the good ones).

Phillip Ramati said...

Some good points, guys.

Jonathan - You are a correct, it's a pick your poison kind of deal with VM. The show is much better with the story arcs than with self-contained, mystery-of-the-week episodes, but in the end, you have to ask yourself, do you want VM to stay on the air? I do, but not at the compromising of the show's artistic integrity.

Anon - The British Invasion is kind of a nebulous term. Technically, it refers from the period from 1962-66, but many of the great acts that defined the era had hits that went well into the 1970s and beyond. Take Pink Floyd, for example. It's stuff from the mid-to-late 60s were songs like Arnold Layne and See Emily Play, a far cry from albums like The Wall that came much later and weren't part of that British Invasion sound.

That being said, I hope the judges give the contestants some leeway in what they are allowed to sing.

Zodin2008 said...

Wow, Phillip...you can always joke about how you feel dumber for watching "24" but I have a feeling an hour "American Idol" probably did that to you.

AI could the cast of BUFFY and JOSS Whedon singing for the Hour and only THEN, I MIGHT think about watching. But still probably wouldn't because it's freaking "American Idol".

So, with no new "Veronica" and not even a new "Criminal Intent" to pass the time, my wife and I went out to dinner for Thai food and went to the Grocery. it's amazing the things you can get done when there is literally NOTHING on TV to watch. It's alarming to me how miserable Tuesdays have become but I suppose if "Veronica" is canceled, it's become an openj night for going out & catching up with friends.

I even watched a movie when I came home.

On the flipside, Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are all super loaded with good Television shows so my DVR is working overtime those nights. And NO, none of those nights ever involve me wasting an hour or 3 hours) of my life on a CSI.

And speaking of the brilliant Miss Mars, I don't want her to be in a CSI-like show...hut if her show was something more like "Bones", the ONLY procedural on TV worth watching, then I would be interested. The woman needs some form of 'scoobies'.