Didn't follow any of these shows prior to this year... The trouble with them are the terrible themes and song choices - and as a fan of Bowie, Kate Bush and The Dresden fucking Dolls I always felt these shows were beneath me.
My opinion was kind of changed this year with American Idol. A show that similarly to Czech X Factor allows their contestants to use musical instruments...exactly half of the top 10 finalists ended up being record-buying worthy for me.
From what I've read this season WAS extremely good - I checked out some of the past contestans' performances and I wasn't that impressed by them at all.
This year the winner, singer-songwriter Kris Allen could almost make you forget you were watching a talent show when he humbly strummed his guitar or played his piano covering old ("Ain't No Sunshine") or new ("Heartless") classics, and sang with a passion and vulnerability only Irish and Scottish artists seem to be able to put in their singing.
He also sang Glen Hansard's and Marketa Irglova's Oscar-winning "Falling Slowly" and got praize from them even tho no-one actually hunted these two down and asked them to do it.
Most surprisingly tho, even tho his post-Idol album wasn't flawless, it totally was worth a buy and I can't wait to hear more from this guy.
Then we have the runner-up Adam Lambert.....I intend to write a whole blog about this over-the-top openly gay wonder, so I just add altho not my type - visually or vocally he totally caught my interest and I also am interested in his future career.
Allison Iraheta. Finished 4th place, ended up being singed first and is so far the only American Idol 2009 contestant that got a short article in one of the "serious" Czech rock music magazines. Though only 17, she's got the voice of a 40-year old belter and can express emotion many contemporary female singers can only dream of being able doing.
Was worried her album would turn out being another Avril album, only with better vocals but I was wrong. No, it's not a great album (but neither is P!nk's Fullhouse) BUT it's one of the nicest surprises of this year for me.
If you like female rockers and haven't seen Allison singing "Don't Waste The Pretty" or "Holiday", you haven't lived.
Matt Giraud. Finishing fifth and winning the hearts of everyone on the American Idol tour when there were no judges staring at him and no cameras pointing. Pianist, singer-songwriter and a piece of a man with a very interesting voice didn't show his best in the competition itself but proved he can be THE performer you wanna see on stage when he can just work his audience, play the crap out of his piano and sing.
When he releases his stuff, I definitely will be there to buy it.
Megan Joy. So what if she doesn't sing in the technically right way, she's got the most interesting voice I've heard in ages. One of my favourite Czech singers - and one of the symbols of The Velvet Revolution - Marta Kubisova, has spent her whole life singing with some kind of vocal chords dysfunction - and that's what makes her voice so fucking interesting. Unless Megan's style of singing would lead to a damage to her vocal cords, I hope she won't go and try to sing correctly. :o)
The two new songs she put on her Myspace recently totally made me excited for the whole album she hopefully releases next year.
SO, that's why I tweeted and blogged about Americn Idol so much this year. I couldn't care less about the format of the show - I discovered five great artists that fascinate my soul and ears that are always hungry for new, great music. I believe neither of these five will disappear, even tho not all of them will become megastars.
Being a musician is not only a gift and it's wonderful to see people like Zoe Keating telling it like it is: you can make your living writing, playing & recording music and not being huge stars...if it's really music you love and not fame and money you'll be fine without being on charts (especially in this day and age).
I find it kind of unbelievable that most of these five understand that - especially Megan - and it makes me happy and hopefull for the future of popular music.
Then there we have The X Factor. I made two mistakes. I expected something similar to American Idol - and I also expected the rules of the British version being the same as the rules of the Czech version.
What we ended up having here in the end was a small crowd of wide-eyed contestants in the hands of the "mentors" who in so many cases didn't manage to understand what made their acts so special, instead kept on insulting each other and making as much drama as possible (I've learned that the British love drama even more than the Americans, ouch).
There were quite a few talented performers in the competition (my fave being Rachel Adeji who sadly didn't get far) but what this show didn't accomplish at all was to make me hunger for some new music. It only made me pissed off, week by week. But once I started I just couldn't stop.
As a TV show, great...as a vehicle to find something musically interesting for me, useless.
The only artist I "discovered" by watching The X Factor was, ironically, Michael Bublé who totally got me with his version of "Cry Me A River" and I've bought a few of his albums and become a minor fan since then.
So that would be my only thank you to this show, I guess.
And Brits, if you're reading this, buy Rage Against The Machine's single this Christmas, instead of any muzak this show might produce, I urge you. I'm sure it won't sound a bit like "Live Like We're Dying", anyway. ;o)
(P.S. No, "Hallelujah" is not a Christmas song.)