Schlock This Way

American Idol and the downfall of Aerosmith

I fucking hate American Idol.

Even though I'm pretty sure I've never made it through an entire episode of the show, I hate everything it's about. I hate the contestants. I hate the judges. I hate the songs the contestants have to sing for the judges. And I hate the fans, who waste their valuable texting minutes on Friday-night-karaoke singers who make even balls-to-the-wall rock classics sound like wedding-reception schmaltz.

The show recently wrapped up its 11th season, crowning some guy named Phillip Phillips champ. (Seriously, what the fuck kind of name is that?) He looks and sounds like the last half-dozen winners. Or something like that. I'm not really keeping score.

It was a lot easier to shrug off American Idolback when it started, when it was just three judges (the cranky Brit, the ditzy pop star, and the black guy), Ryan Seacrest, and a bunch of summer-vacation Disney World hopefuls looking for their big break. And it was a lot easier to give the show a smidgen of credit when it was spitting out winners like Kelly Clarkson ("Since U Been Gone" is one of the greatest songs of the past 10 years) and Carrie Underwood (who's not awful at what she does).

These days, the winners are interchangeable. Can anyone really tell the difference between David Cook and Kris Allen? Only season 10 champ Scotty McCreery stands out a little from this parade of white-boys-next-door whose record collections probably contain the same seven mega-selling albums. And that's only because his 2011 debut was by far the shittiest record released by anybody last year.

Plus, it doesn't help that the show has become a place for already-established pop stars to pimp their music. The season 11 finale included performances by Neil Diamond, Rihanna, and Aerosmith, who premiered their first new song in 11 years, "Legendary Child," a guitar-powered '70s throwback that's about as exciting as watching anotherIdol runner-up sign autographs at a county fair.

Of course, Aerosmith were there because singer Steven Tyler is one of the judges. Which is another reason I will never, ever watch American Idol. It's bad enough that Jennifer Lopez, who shouldn't be giving singing advice to anyone, is instructing 18-year-old Dairy Queen employees from Idaho on how to nail a Stevie Wonder song; I really don't need to see a 64-year-old dude who looks like your crazy aunt talk up his dick to female contestants young enough to be his granddaughters.

Aerosmith were also there because they have a new album coming out in August and a summer tour kicking off this week, with a stop at the Q on Tuesday. I'm sure it will rock, in a here's-all-of-our-hits-played-just-like-you-remember-them kinda way. But the band's embarrassing antics over the past couple of years — from publicly bitching about each other to Tyler falling off of a stage while dancing around like a clown having an epileptic fit — seem like desperate and deliberate moves to remind people that they're not dead yet.

But music fans don't care about real bands, like the kind Aerosmith used to be, anymore. That's why the iTunes charts are dominated by manufactured artists like Carly Rae Jepsen (a Canadian Idol contestant) and Justin Bieber (discovered on YouTube). Tyler gets this. That's why he's being paid a gajillion dollars to gawk at 17-year-old girls on TV every week. It makes it easier for him to feel like he's still relevant and maybe pick up some high-school ass along the way. And it makes it easier for me to ignore something I didn't care about in the first place.

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