It’s time for a new kind of American Idol.
We’ve had country. We’ve had rock. We’ve had pop. We’ve had soul.
You know what we haven’t had yet? American Idol’s answer to Weird Al Yankovic. This year, we have him in Norman Gentile. While there’s a chance he’s slightly unhinged mentally, he’s got the same thing going for him that Weird Al has: He’s funny and he can sing.
I’ve always said that the one thing Weird Al never gets enough credit for — and Billy Joel fits into this category, too — is his versatility. Think of all the songs he’s parodied, let along the ones he’s written himself. He can go from The Beach Boys to Michael Jackson to Nirvana to rap. His voice changes. The music changes. Yet he plays it all well, with a healthy dollop of humor.
I don’t know yet that Gentile has that versatility, but he can sing when he’s not goofing off and cracking us all up. Personally, I hope he stays “in character” more often that not.
Don’t concern yourselves with the damage he does to the brand. We’ve already suffered through Sanjaya, for goodness’ sakes. He’s not going to win. Vote for the Worst will take full credit for him every week he makes it through, but the truth is that as the season goes on, the popular vote tends to coalesce to the talents and the well-liked. But it also goes to the serious singers, the ones that America believes should be in Top 40 radio.
As Simon so famously told one ditched contestant this week: “If it’s any consolation, you couldn’t have won this.” Norman can’t win this, either, but he’ll provide plenty of entertainment until America fails to vote for him I sufficient numbers.
American Idol has found its jester. Let’s hope we see lots of him before the numbers rise against him.