Idol Gives Back

The big American Idol benefit show—Idol Gives Back—was on last night, and it was quite a spectacle! The build up surrounding the show was unbelievable, and I’m not sure if it lived up to the hype, but it was totally entertaining. Except for Il Divo who I could do without ever seeing again for the rest of my life.

It might seem corny to say, but I thought the energy exuded by Ryan, Ellen (who, as always, was hilarious—“what’s the big surprise? I mean, am I being kicked off”), all the performers, and the contestants was tangible. I felt like they were proud to be a part of what was going on. And maybe I just fell for a great act, but I would like to believe they were.

I know there has been a lot of controversy about Idol Gives Back—whether they really do care, or is it a publicity stunt? Is the money actually going to end up where it should? But a friend of mine works at the food bank featured at the end of Tuesday’s show, and she said that when Simon showed up he was extremely humble and kind, and was genuinely touched by what the people there were doing. I think, whether they went into this or not with good intentions, they certainly left with a changed perspective.

Anyway, back to the show. In terms of celebrity performers—Kelly Clarkson, to me, owned it. It was great to see legends like Earth Wind and Fire, and Annie Lennox, but Kelly—our original American Idol—sounded incredible. Live the dream, Kelly!

Josh Groban…. Eh, kind of corny, but I respect his talent enough. I did think that choreographing the hug from the African chorus at the end was a bit much, but those kids with the missing teeth were cute enough to get away with it.

The Celine Dion, Elvis duet was… weird. Was this weird to anyone else? First of all, Celine Dion? I know she covered that (awful) song, but could you pick a person less compatible with the King? Having him standing there, doing his Elvis thing (you know, that knee-jerk move he does when he’s getting ready to swing his hips) was kind of spectacular. But good ol’ camel toe and her too prominent French accent ruined it for me. I feel like she’s a parody of herself at this point.

Two things that really pissed me off: Why did Bono not perform? Why!!! And where is his Irish accent when he talks? I waited the whole show to see if he would sing, and… I was pissed. Isn’t he Mr. Charity? He was there to do the mentoring thing, so not just sing a little ditty for the people at home? Hmmm… something is strange here.

Second—how dare you Ryan Seacrest, and the writers of American Idol to lead me to believe that you were kicking Jordin off! And then wait far too long to tell me it was all a joke! I was about to throw something at the TV. I am rooting for that Amazon chick with a voice like an angel who only gets better every week. And after LaKisha’s performance the night before… I would have been pissed.

Watching clips from Africa was extremely emotional for me—I read newspapers, and watch the news, but it doesn’t ever make it easier to see things like this. The extreme poverty, the sickness, and knowing things like Darfur are taking place, is a serious slap in the face for me— whose biggest problem right now is not having weekend plans. And if it takes a show like American Idol to educate kids, and others about the problems in Africa then so be it.

I have to wonder, though, especially with the realities our own country faced after the destruction of Hurricane Katrina, why we don’t every once in awhile focus on our own people’s problems. There is extreme poverty in the good ol’ U.S. of A. as well, and we tend to forget about it. Or how about raising some money to reinstate the art programs that have been slashed from public schools across the country?

But American Idol did a good thing. And I hope that all the money they raised during the show, and through selling all of last night’s performances on iTunes will make a great impact on the lives of the people in Africa. Good on you, AI.

And don’t you dare let Jordin go home.

Watch Kelly Clarkson & Jeff Beck’s performance:

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