I'm definitely enjoying the return of American Idol to my TV watching these days. As deadly boring as some of the episodes can be (I couldn't watch without benefit of a DVR), as irritating as the judges' banter can be, as ear-splitting as some of the singing can be, a new season of Idol, especially once the competition is on, is pure pleasure. Which of theses kids will become my faves? What kinds of theme weeks will we be subjected to next? How will the "packages" that feed us tantalizing bits about the contestants turn them into characters we know and love--or hate?
After making it to the 5th (yes, 5th!) hour of Idol this week, I was rewarded with one of my favorite kinds of Idol moments--the group number. The series typically delivers group numbers on results show nights, though not on every such episode. With this week's '60s theme and full roster of 24 contestants, we were primed for a group number and, boy, did we get one, complete with '60s get-ups right down to the girls' hair and makeup, which were adorable.
Group numbers like this embody Idol's cheese factor in all its glory. Which is not to say that I enjoy them in a so-good-it's-bad kind of way. I love them instead for their honest-to-goodness wholesomeness. It really matters to these kids' futures that they perform well, that they make us like them, and that earnestness makes such Idol moments sincere. In fact, they remind me most of those icons of wholesome sincerity, the Brady kids, and of those awesome Brady moments when the kids became a singing group and not just a bunch of step-brothers and sisters:
I was way disappointed when the second Idol concert I attended, for season 5, the year of my beloved Elliott Yamin, had many fewer group numbers than the first show I'd seen, the Clay, Reuben, and K.Lo. year, which was pure joy in its plethora of group acts. The reduction in these numbers over the years of the concert seemed to me a sign of the tour becoming more and more of a money-making machine, one that saw no need to invest in the production of new numbers when the fans would still pay money for the tickets and the Idols could just recycle songs they'd sung on the show. I'd still go to another concert, if I were to have the same attachment to the finalists as I did the two years I've attended in the past, but for now I'm holding onto the group numbers I'm getting on screen. Let's hope the bloated results show has the decency to include another next week.