Monday, April 19, 2010

Tower of Bowersox

This is an open letter to Crystal Bowersox, the clear favorite (and my well-informed pick) to win this season's "American Idol" competition. Rumor has it that MamaSox came about yay close to packing up her acoustic guitar and her memorial hair decor and heading home, only to be coaxed back by Ryan Seacrest in the "Idol" studio parking lot. Reportedly he told her that the reason to stay on the show was because if she managed to win, she could by her mother a house. Now we're hearing from members of the Bowersox family that they had heard nothing of Crystal threatening to leave, so who knows what's true. All I know is that Crystal never misses this blog (play along) and I have some friendly words of advice for her:

Dear Mama:

How you doin' girl? The "Idol" meatgrinder gettin' you down? I hear that. Who needs to pour her heart out into a song only to have four smart-arses and "comedians" tell you that you were "yo yo yo pitchy dog" or whatever other nonsense they blurt. Not to mention all the backstage crazy. It's enough to make you miss hanging out at the bus stop, counting the change in your guitar case.

I feel you.

And I'll tell you somethin' else, somethin' you probably already know: You do NOT want to win this thing. Have you heard the kind of drivel they make these poor kids sing after winning "Idol?" Have you seen the kind of image makeovers they inflict on them? Sure, it suits a few of them okay. Underwood was tailor-made for it. But even Kelly Clarkson has bristled and bucked under the "Idol" yoke. Someone like you, someone sharp and self-aware and independent, mama, you do NOT want to get strapped into that harness. I don't care what Seacrest did or didn't say. How many houses do you think Taylor Hicks has bought recently? It ain't worth it.

As I said in my review of the most recent performances (see below), you have already gotten everything good out of the "American Idol" experience that you're gonna get. You've received the massive exposure and win, lose or draw, everyone with the tiniest shred of taste knows that you are far and away the best of this bunch and for my money, the best singer in the history of this program. Bar none. You've advanced past the point where you're guaranteed "Idol" tour money, so that's set. All the competition has left to offer you is a Pyrrhic victory.

So what's a poor girl to do? Well, if I can reference a quote with which you may be a tad familiar: "Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose." You are in a position on "Idol" that no one else has ever held. You are completely playing with house money. Only Chris Daughtry may have ever found himself in anything like the position you hold, and even he still let himself get caught on the "Idol" treadmill. But you don't have to.

Some might suggest that this is an opportunity to send up "Idol." To intentionally tank the show and get some cheap laughs at its expense. To act like a clown. Our pals at VoteForTheWorst have hinted as much. I am NOT suggesting that. First, I have too much respect for you. Second, at a purely selfish level, I want to hear you sing and sing brilliantly as often as I can. And third -- and most important for you -- buffoonery is the one thing that could damage you long term in your post-show career. So don't do any silliness, but do recognize a unique opportunity.

This is your chance to step past the role of being another drip of oil greasing the "Idol" machinery and become a true legend. Ask yourself this: What have I always wanted to do musically? What kind of performance have I always dreamt of giving? What do I most want to say through music to the 25 million people who watch this show every week? Whatever your answer to those questions, do it. Don't consider how it will play or who will vote for it or whether it's the right song choice or too big for you or any of the rest of the "Idol" BS.

Grab it with both hands. Pour your beautiful soul into it. Leave it all out there on the stage (or wherever you end up). You've got the chops; that's been proven. Now show that you have the vision.

I guarantee, mama, I'm along for the ride.

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