American Idol's Anti-R&B Attitude Claims Chikezie
But I worried about it. Because last night he took the easy way out and sang the soul ballad he'd been dying to belt out since the show started -- placing himself square in the crosshairs of American Idol's severe anti R&B bias.
Over its history, the most successful artists to emerge from Fox's blockbuster talent show have been in country (Carrie Underwood) power pop (Kelly Clarkson) and rock (Chris Daughtry). R&B tinged winners such as Ruben Studdard, Fantasia Barrino, Taylor Hicks and Jordin Sparks have had a tougher time, with quick success that fades quickly (Studdard and Hicks for example, have already lost their record deals, and Studdard was always overshadowed by the success of the guy he beat, Clay Aiken).
But R&B singers on Idol always had an edge: They were usually also the BEST singers. Not so this year. Idol's 2008 edition is the first in recent memory where R&B-influenced singers -- and, indeed, singers of color -- are not among the best singers or performers. And the show's only real judge, record label owner Simon Cowell, is clearly jonesing to work with the rockers onstage, especially Michael Johns.
So this is the first Idol where straight-up R&B singing is a clear ticket to ejection-ville. I hope Syesha takes the hint; the only way she's going to stay in the hunt is to stay away from the soul stuff and seriously re-invent herself.
Kind of odd that a competition which has two R&B and dance artists among its three judges and a host of R&B players in its backing band, is working so hard to keep an artist like that from actually winning.