Thursday, May 01, 2008

La French Idol

What, Paula Abdul is out to lunch? Really? No matter: Anybody with taste knows that pretty much all the Idol series are fun except for the American one, sinking into irrelevance and ridicule with every passing week.

I've written about the French iteration, aka Nouvelle Star, before, and a new season has been under way for a few weeks now. Most notable is the presence of three new judges, with only one leftover from the previous years' group. (If only American Idol had the sense to follow that lead and rejuvenate its jury…) Among the newbies is singer Lio, whose "Banana Split" remains one of my favorite pop hits ever.

Let's check out some high- and lowlights of the current season. Sit down, relax, grab a cold drink—this is going to take a little while.

• The cast covers "Umbrellas." Not so great, but typical of the group sings popular on Nouvelle Star.

• Cedric (white shirt) and Kristov (dark shirt) cover "Une femme libérée," a 1984 hit by Cookie Dingler (ayee!). Could these guys' pants be any tighter? It's a wonder they can sing at all. Note that blondie isn't a member of the jury but the show's version of Ryan Secrest.

• Thomas performs "My Sharona" in passable English; there seems to be progress on that front, though us Frenchies are still far from Scandi-style ease.

• Someone has the balls to tackle Piaf's "Hymne à l'amour" and redefines "lightweight" in the process. Poor Axelle…

• Pretty cool group performance of "Dis Moi" by the trio BB Brunes. Significant detail there: the guys play guitar.

• Official sign that it's time to retire "Toxic." Wretched, like a third-rate Jamiroquai. Forget what I said earlier about the French getting better at English.

• Another great thing about Nouvelle Star: They cover really recent hits, like this Vanessa Paradis song from just a few months ago. Still, Axelle messes it up by meowing some of the worst "lalala's" I've ever heard.

• Wow, Thomas goes after Franz Ferdinand! Again, this material selection would not have a snowball's chance in hell, otherwise known as American Idol.

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