If all the 2016 Grammy performers competed on American Idol, who would win?
The Grammys are a must watch event for me because a) they help heal my football hangover and b) it’s a chance for me to realize that I need to listen to the radio and stop taking musical recommendations from my 4-year old. When you’re watching nominees and you’ve heard of two of the songs and sometimes only one or two of the artists, you know you’re not really in tune with what’s going on.
Even without knowing what the hell is going on in popular music, I can tell you the difference between what sounds good and what doesn’t and watching all the performers last night, it got me thinking – which one of the live contestants would win an American Idol? Since it’s school vacation and my kids can pretty much watch themselves now (NO YOU CAN’T PLAY WITH THAT KNIFE) I had some time to figure this out.
To do this, we have to pretend we don’t know who the artists are or what they’ve accomplished. We just have to go along with the idea of these people are showing up, trying out and singing. They gotta get their ticket, go to Hollywood and make the Top 12, then get eliminated from there.
I took a list of performers, took 25 names who performed – if it was a band, a lead singer; I took Jackson Browne from that Eagles tribute – and started narrowing down results.
NO GOLDEN TICKET
Judges were confused when he kept sneaking the line “I’m Mr. Worldwide” into his version of Sam Cooke’s “Cupid.”
Clearly talented when it comes to spitting bars, the MC got a little pitchy taking on Heart’s “Alone” and was shown the door.
Tried to do a cover of Sir Mix A Lot’s “Baby Got Back” and it did not go over well with the judges.
Became this season’s version of William Hung because, as J-Lo said, “you look cool and act cool, but you don’t have the voice to do this professionally.”
GROUP NIGHT CUTS
Country guy’s choreography looked like it came from the Elaine Benes’ School of Dance
His vocal on Bruno Mars’ “Treasure fell relatively flat and he looked desperately out of place trying to dance with group partner Justin Bieber.
Suffered the same fate as Jackson Brown and after they gave their farewell speeches, cameras cut to the Biebs maniacally rubbing his fingers together like Mr. Burns, lipping “excellent” to the national TV audience.
Paired himself up with two women from Little Big Down. All three survived and in the post-interview, as they celebrated, Thicke looked at the two and exclaimed “all right, let’s go make a Robin sandwich!” Three days later we found out he was kicked off the show for “extraordinary circumstances.”
FINAL SOLO CUTS
Put together one of the best performances anyone’s ever heard with a cover of “Simple Man,” as J-Lo and Urban were left in tears. Harry was critical, saying Stapleton sounded like he didn’t really understand what the lyrics meant and said he didn’t really didn’t have the look of an Idol.
His reaction after his groupmates Jackson Brown and Alice Cooper were cut didn’t play well in the Twitterverse and his controversial decision to do an acoustic cover of Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer” didn’t play well with the judges.
Another inexplicable cut, as he crushed out Rhianna’s “Stay” but judges said they didn’t feel his song selection was right for the performance and it seemed a bit cliched.
Gary Clark Jr.
We saw his original audition and didn’t see him until he was eliminated. As he walked off the state, we heard someone off camera say “A black country and blues singer? That won’t work anywhere in America, never mind on stage at American Idol.”
GREEN MILE ELIMINATIONS
Little Big Town
Karen Fairchild and Kimberly Schlapman took the walk down the carpet with Carrie Underwood and with the judges about to take Fairchild, Urban stopped and said he wants them to sing for the spot. Underwood sang “Alone and before she could finish, Karen and Kimberly walked off the stage knowing they didn’t have a shot.
Took the long walk with Tori Kelly, who seemed like the long shot until Connick stepped up and said “Taylor, Tori, you were both great. But the idea of sending Tori home gave us a bad case of deja vu, so she’s moving on.”
It was the toughest elimination on the guys side, but with room for only one falsetto-voiced R&B prince, Idol decided to go with the guy who probably wouldn’t decapitate a woman during an on-stage performance.
THE TOP 12
12) Lady Gaga
Her performance of “You Give Love A Bad Name” was terrific, but middle America was terrified when she came out wearing a dress made of processed deli meats.
11) Andra Day
A shocking elimination just proved one thing – American Idol has no to time for female soloists doing Celine Dion songs.
10) Demi Lovato
After surviving the bottom two the previous week, Demi’s decision to cover “Trap Queen” backfired during “Hip Hop Hits of 2015 Night.”
9) Sam Hunt
The country guy’s cover of A$AP Rocky was a hit the week before, but he ran out of steam during 90’s pop hit with a completely inappropriate, countrified version of Color Me Badd’s “I Wanna Sex You Up.”
8) Ellie Goulding
It was patently clear producers didn’t want her around when they announced the week’s theme was “Sing In A Low Register Only” week.
7) Brittany Howard
She’d been quietly finding herself in the middle of the pack before “Sing In A Low Register Only” Week, but when it came time for “Just Do Up-Tempo Usher Songs With a Ton of Choreography” Week, everyone knew she was in trouble.
6) The Weeknd
The judges favorite week in, week out and clearly the best vocalist of the final six, The Weeknd left the show when producers told him he couldn’t incorporate darkness, smoke machines or pyro displays in his performances because he’d already burned through their budget.
5) Tori Kelly
At this point of the show it was clear Tori was the fourth best woman left. Being the youngest competitor left, everyone assumed she’d get the youth vote. When text and Tweets were taken off the table and only landline phone votes were allowed, it was clear she stood little chance.
4) John Legend
After being told for weeks not to just be the “guy with the piano and incredibly moving voice,” he broke out a guitar for “Rock Week” and was masterful with a slowed down version of Buckcherry’s “Crazy Bitch.” Judges ripped him for not sticking with what was worked for him and for trying to suck up to the audience by being another “Guy with a Guitar.” The criticism worked and America stayed away.
3) Carrie Underwood
After singing Heart for an unprecedented 10 straight weeks – highly controversial when she did it during “Anything But Heart Week” and “Song By Someone Not Named Ann or Wilson Week” – her attempt to sing Stevie Wonder in the Top 3 went awry when, in the midst of a bridge, she broke out into “Alone” one more time.
She was cheerful, she was brilliant and didn’t deliver one poor performance. By the Adele reached the final three, it wasn’t if she was going to win; it was would the other two performers give up and just let her perform two-hour solos in the final two weeks of the season. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be as on finale night, as she stood ready to accept the trophy from Ryan Seacrest and sing her Idol coronation song, another winner was announced. Who?
1) Bonnie Raitt
She was a darkhorse candidate, but it should have been clear she was going to win when the Top 12 was finalized and Raitt, sipping Jack straight from the bottle, looked at the other contestants and said “which one of you pansies is coming finishing behind Big Red in this shindig” before throwing all over Ellie Goulding. Raitt earned the country vote, the mom vote, the “50-year old guys who thought she was hot when they were young” vote and the “30-something guys who are pretty sure if Bonnie asked, they would” vote.