Editorials and Articles Archive
Don't Forget The Lyrics...But If You Do, Don't Panic
Two Idols give a lesson on how and how not to handle a performance flub
14 March 2008
Answer quickly: Who was the first contestant to blatantly forget the lyrics of his or her song during this week's Beatles Night episode?
No, it wasn't David Archuleta, though the Boy Wonder's repeated and painful flubs on We Can Work It Out will still be remembered by Idol Nation when his grandchildren are old enough to audition. In fact, someone much earlier in the episode suffered a fleeting but unmistakable brain cramp, and during a 5-star performance no less. In compiling this week's approval ratings, we read over 400 reviews posted on at least 40 different websites. Precisely zero mentioned it.
Take a look at the video of David Cook's Eleanor Rigby, second verse. Father McKenzie, look at him working, wearing his socks in the night when there's...um, wait. "Wearing" his socks? The lyric is "darning". Cook had started to sing the parallel line from the first verse: Wearing a face that she keeps in a jar by the door. He caught himself and switched seamlessly to the correct line, but the way he cast his eyes downward is telling. He was obviously trying to collect himself.
Now, we're not writing this to stir up trouble, particularly as we're already weary of Idol's neverending "non-troversies". At least one obscure band is claiming laughably that Cook stole his arrangement of "Rigby" from them, as if the classic song has not already been covered thousands of times in every musical style known to mankind. (Cook's was at least the 10th hard-rock version we've heard in our lifetimes, and one of the better ones too.) Meanwhile, some neurologically-challenged forumists are bandying about the theory that Archuleta, in conspiracy with the producers, torched his performance deliberately this week to ease some of the front-runner's backlash he's facing and thus help increase his ultimate chance of winning. Of course. Incidentally, Elvis Presley shot Kurt Cobain just moments after Cobain killed John F. Kennedy. We just thought you'd like to know.
In fact, we come not to bury Cook, but to praise him. He covered his slip-up so smoothly that hardly anyone caught it. We noticed that something was amiss only upon rewatching the clip several times as we prepared the episode summary for our database. Surely a few viewers picked up on it in real time, but Cook, by carrying on professionally with his performance, made most of them forget about it by the time he was through.
Lyrical flubs happen, particularly in Final 12 Week when the contestants move to a much bigger stage and unfamiliar themes are introduced. Last season, both Brandon Rogers and Haley Scarnato blanked out on Diana Ross Night. As with Archuleta's multiple meltdowns, you didn't even need the volume turned up on your TV to notice. The contestants' facial expressions were dead giveaways. Yet, Chris Sligh has since written on his blog that at least three other contestants, including himself, also cramped up that night but were able to cover their mistakes.
Perhaps the most sage advice offered this week by the judges came from Paula Abdul. Re-read that sentence a few times until the shock wears off before proceeding. Ready? Paula might not be able to sing (or to judge singing) to save her life, but the woman does know a few things about how to perform on a big stage. She noted correctly that Archuleta's real mistake wasn't forgetting the words. All singers, from the rankest of amateurs to the most experienced of superstars, do that on occasion. His error was allowing the audience to see that he knew he'd forgotten them. Demanding that a 17-year-old kid cover his error as well as a seasoned bar-band frontman might seem like asking a lot. But then, they are competing for the same prize, are they not?
Future Idol hopefuls, take note of the first rule of show business: Never, ever, let them see you sweat.
- The WNTS.com Team