We’re nearly a month into “American Idol’s” ABC rebirth at this point, and things are looking surprisingly good. The first half of the top 24 performed last night, under the guidance of the new “American Idol” mentor, a guy I’m apparently supposed to know named Bobby Bones. Bobby. Bones. I like to think I’m someone who mostly keeps up with what’s popular and trendy and I have absolutely no idea who this man is. The show tried to hype him up, saying that he’s a radio host, comedian, author and musician who also happens to have the name Bobby Bones. Who???? It wasn’t until they revealed that he’s only really big on the country music scene that I understood why I had such a blind spot to a man named BOBBY BONES.
Country music is not my thing. It’s also not the thing of a lot of the contestants on the show, so why do we have a country music guy (Named Bobby Bones!!!!!!!! I cannot stress this enough.) telling everyone how to be successful? The only logical explanation in my eyes is that he looks like Ryan Seacrest with thicker-framed glasses and they’re introducing him to the viewing public so that if they end up having to part ways with Seacrest after the stuff that happened, they’ll have good ‘ol BOBBY BONES readily available to replace him. Bobby. Bones. That’s a real person’s name.
As for the judges, they’re still doing unexpectedly well, although I did feel like they were being way too nice to the contestants last night. There was barely any constructive criticism (and there was plenty of room for it in some cases) and if it was there it was in a compliment sandwich, the worst of sandwiches. I’ve also gotten a little sick of the whole “Katy and Luke are goofballs and Lionel has to tell the ‘children’ to calm down and focus bit.” None of you are under the age of 30, it’s time to get it together.
Now it’s time to focus on the contestants, the reason we’re all supposed to be here in the first place. While the classic “Idol” stereotypes are present, like the spunky country queen and the white male hunk who sings okay, there are several other contestants that might be some of the most exciting and different people “Idol” has seen in years.
My personal favorite is a little treasure named Michael J. Woodard. He works in a bowling alley, rocks a utilitarian-chic look almost every week, seems like he might actually be the sweetest person alive and has the most varied taste in song selections ever seen on this show. It really started for him during Hollywood week, (as you can see in the video above) when he decided to sing “Maybe This Time” from the musical “Cabaret.” You read that right: an “American Idol” contestant, in 2018, sang a song made famous by Liza Minelli, And you know what? He killed it. All-judges standing O, Katy Perry weakly throwing her chair off the stage in excitement-level killed it. And the next week he followed it up with the totally logical progression of 90’s angry-girl anthem, “You Outta Know” by Alanis Morisette and killed that too. Last night he went with a Beatles song, but not a typical one like “Hey Jude” or “Eleanor Rigby.” No, he went with “Golden Slumbers.” And it was great too!! He just has such an interesting voice and his stage presence is so unique that you can’t take your eyes off him. Only one black man, the velvet teddy bear himself, Ruben Studdard, has ever won “Idol,” so I have very high hopes for this guy to add another to the list.
Another contestant that has me very excited has yet to make their top 24 performance debut, but I can only imagine how great it will be given their previous performances. Adam Sanders originally auditioned for “American Idol” back in season 12. Sanders only made it to the top 50 and, according to Sanders, struggled in the intervening years with body image and online bullies. But Sanders is back and, much like “American Idol,” is reborn as Ada Vox, an incredibly glamorous and gutsy drag queen with vocal range for daaaaaays. Ada’s superstar moment came during last week’s showcase, wherein she sang (or rather saaaaaaaaang) Radiohead’s “Creep.” It was incredible. She’s incredible, and a definite first in “Idol’s” storied history. It’ll be especially interesting to see if Adam ever decides to perform as himself. In the meeting with the judges where they offered him a top 24 spot, Adam came as himself without all the Ada glam, the implication being that we could potentially see more of that down the line. In the meantime, I am 100% on board with Ada and everything she’s bringing to the table.
There are some other exciting contestants, like serious rocker Cade Foehner, Jurnee, a powerhouse vocalist whose wife is in the Army and of course what I like to call the three young Dads, but Michael and Ada are the two I’m rooting for the most. It’s so nice to be excited for “American Idol” again. Hopefully they can keep it up.
What do you think? Are you also excited by “Idol’s” much more eclectic offering this season? Are you too still recovering from “Atlanta’s” “Teddy Perkins” episode, easily one of the most terrifying, heartbreaking, and deeply compelling things I’ve seen on television in a long time? Share all in the comments. And, as always…