What’s Wrong with the World

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Yet I have seven thousand left in Israel...

...who have not bowed the knee to Baal.

I just heard this story for the first time tonight. The sustained attempt by American Idol judges to corrupt young Gospel singer Amber Nelon by flattery and mental pressure, and its failure.

Listen up, Satan: It's not over till it's over.

Comments (21)

I found it odd that they asked her if she was willing to do secular songs and she said yes, as long as they were not offensive to her faith (Which seems reasonable as I seem to recall Amy Grant was able to straddle the sacred and the secular without either camp getting the vapors), and then turned around and asked her if she would ditch the gospel stuff altogether, don come-hither garb and prance about like Salome like the rest of them. Was the first question genuine, or just sales lead in?

My impression is that in between the two versions of the question she got a lot more flattery. A fifty-minute session, with repeated requests to "sing us another song," is something like an endurance trial. She sings, they flatter, they put out feelers to see how far she's willing to compromise. They don't get the answer they want, so they ask her to sing more, flatter her more, and then ask the question in a more explicit form. Presumably the first time was really _meant_ to be asking, "Would you be willing to sing _only_ secular music," but they didn't want to put it so starkly to begin with.

Actually, Amy Grant did lose some of her Christian base when she sang pop music. Some of the reactions were over-the-top (someone once handed her a bit of threatening hate mail in a bouquet of roses, for example), but she consciously pushed the envelope in some music videos and such. So not everyone walked away happy from that transition. The unhappiness was only compounded when she left her husband (undoubtedly a nasty, complicated situation for all concerned).

One thing that strikes me about this behind-the-scenes story about American Idol is that it sheds light on the artificiality of what the viewers are shown. That particular bit of arm-twisting would never have been known if the Nelons hadn't told the story. What this means is that the finalists and such who are shown are those who have agreed to be repackaged according to the wishes and ideology of the judges, which do not always have to do with talent or professionalism or anything valuable like that. I'd always understood the idea of the show to be to show us people "as they are" in a sort of Horatio Alger story, winning the hearts and plaudits of the judges by sheer talent and sincerity. Well, it ain't necessarily so.

On further reflection, the Amy Grant example is probably not that good for the reason mentioned, but also because, and I can't believe I'm saying this, there was more goodwill between secular/sacred in the 80's and 90's than there is now. What we have now is complete popular-music balkanization. Niches of niches. And as much as AI would deny it, they basically promote one style--he/she that can do black melissma best wins. (That is, the overornamented vocal style. For example, see this comedian doing a parody of it to the national anthem.)

Actually, they had a country winner and runner-up last year, and before that they had a pleasantly smooth pop dude (Kris Allen, who kind of disappeared after the winning the show). This year we had the gruffy white male who thinks he's John Mayer. Surprisingly he lost to the Filipino pop diva (who I really wanted to win except she developed a bad habit of screaming towards the back half of the show---and don't get me started on Josh Ledet).

I'm sorry, that should be that surprisingly he BEAT the Filipino pop diva. I thought she was a shoo-in, I really did.

What we now have is complete popular-music balkanization. Niches of niches.
Is it just poplar music that is balkanized? How many tenors can you name that sing both Verdi and Bach? The last lyric tenor I remember whose repertoire spanned from Bach and Handel, to Verdi, to Wagner, to Gilbert and Sullivan was Jan Peerce. This balkanization of both classical and popular music seems to be a phenomena peculiar to our age.

How in the world do you guys know so much about AI? I couldn't name any contestants or winners, period. Even though I watched the show once or twice, that was ages ago and all detail is completely forgotten. Kind of like last-year's winner, completely forgotten. By design, I take it.

Isn't this show all about manufacturing glamour and fame? With absolutely no attempt to even allow, much less design, something of substance to undergird that glamour?

Tony, it's okay, you're not missing anything... very, very occasionally a singer comes along who's actually worth paying attention to. For example, Carrie Underwood. And sometimes they don't win, but they're way more talented than the person who did win (like for example, I believe Jennifer Hudson was a runner-up in her year, and she's a fantastic singer). There are also few singers who were finalists but didn't win and have gone on to have careers in Christian music.

Tony, I actually don't. I don't have TV channels and learn anything I ever know about the show from other people, including the main post. So the main post doesn't reflect my knowing a lot about A.I. in any general way, just my considering that particular story (which I heard about from someone else) to be very inspiring.

I'm unfortunate enough to have seen the show a few times, and it is despicable in every way. Tony's description, of the entire exercise being about "manufacturing glamour and fame," is pretty much on the money. Simply put, everything about it is fake, and it is depressing that even though most viewers must know this, they are completely fine with it so long as they can pretend for a moment to be interested in, or entertained by, the participants. The whole point of the show, it seems to me, is to participate in a grand spectacle of fakery, in the manufacture of celebrity, with the added insult of the obviously manipulated "voting" mechanic in which the American pubic supposedly chooses the winner (and in which the "expert judges" make iron-clad predictions about the results in advance, also participating in the process in a wholly corrupting fashion by selectively criticizing and praising the contestants immediately before the voting is supposed to begin). This is supposed to lend some credibility to the whole Oz-like edifice. It's a miracle to me that the average Obama voter doesn't mind being led along in this way.

Wait...what are we talking about again?

We're talking about how cool it was that Amber Nelon refused to play along and be remade into something fake and corrupted. :-) We could also be talking about how vile the judges were for trying to shmooze her the way they did and about how that's probably pretty effective for a lot of young people. And about how there is still hope for America while there are still young people who (with apologies to Veggie Tales) live out the injunction, "Stand up, stand up for what you believe in, believe in..." etc.

The preliminaries have gotten really horrible for the most part(though at one point they were so bad that the public outcry was actually enough for them to issue an apology and tone it down a notch, if I remember correctly), and there are a lot of things wrong with the show (15 year olds should NOT be allowed on this show-actually, they probably shouldn't allow below 18 year olds on), but I still watch because I like some of the singers. Good singing, in the end, is good singing, and I enjoy a lot of it. Some of them really are very good.

Although I've heard there's going to be a lot of fighting between the judges this year, so I might not be able to stomach it. It's supposed to be a singing contest, not Real World.

I'm not sure this gives me a lot of hope, to be honest. The girl in question is the older woman's daughter? Because the older woman is definitely [egregious insult edited, LM] (look and listen to her!), and daughters usually end up like their mothers...

Jump to nasty conclusions much, Samson J.?

Wow. Inappropriate comment. Bag it. The ref. whistle says "tweet"!

Doesn't the name of the show say it all: American Idol. What should we expect but the packaging of a non God honoring celebrity.
Contrast American Idol with Britians Got Talent which gave Susan Boyle and Paul Potts a fair shot without excessively repackaging them

Things are massaged to a great extent on similar shows like the X Factor as well. For example, I found this story interesting about a big black lady who auditioned and got gushed over, then disappeared. She was a great singer and also a great character in that sort of over-the-top older black lady style. But she got the distinct impression that they didn't air her later performances and eventually kept her from advancing to Top 12 because she didn't fit the demographic they were looking for in terms of a winner.

This is the full story with interview snippets. She does make a big joke out of her crush on Simon Cowell so I think she kind of goes overboard with that, but the overall story is very interesting:


Well, Lydia, I'm disappointed that you continue to avoid some of the gritty realities of life.

Nasty commentators are one of my unfortunate realities, Samson. Your utterly unsupported insult towards an apparently perfectly nice Christian woman of whom you've watched two minutes of video, during which she is telling about how her daughter stood up for her convictions on American Idol, does not become a "gritty reality" just because you think your slanderous free association exercise constitutes evidence of someone else's wrong-doing. As I said, bag it.


Since children often do follow in the footsteps of their parents, I'd like to see you make a non-insulting case. Yu know, one with specific references and no ad hominem insults?

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