American Idol has had its share of effeminate and (secretly, or not-so-secretly) gay male contestants in the past, but this season’s Paul McDonald is the height of effete indie SWPLism. Is there anything about his performance that projects strength, determination, gravitas, control, command, or power? All I see is some guy with a wispy voice traipsing around the stage like he’s afflicted with a muscle control disease and not caring that he’s presenting himself this way because this probably passes for “cool” in his music circle.
Here he is from last night, singing “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues.”
Defenders might posit that Paul’s not caring how he comes across actually makes him alpha, but that usually requires either a certain amount of self-awareness and IDGAF-ism, or so much ripe masculinity that it can’t be denied. Paul, on the other hand, seems to be laboring under the delusion that what he is doing is charming and cool, a delusion that is likely buoyed by the alpha attractors of being in a band prior to the show and now being famous thanks to television. Whatever masculine personal traits Paul may possess disappear when he gets on that stage to perform.
Unfortunately for me, there are some worse contestants who need to get voted off before Paul, and the largely female, middle-aged voting base has a greater tolerance for male contestants than female (I know, what a surprise), so I expect Paul to live to sing for at least a few more weeks.
Other related thoughts:
The show is deeply feeling the loss of uber-alpha Simon Cowell. Steven Tyler is useless on these live performance nights, and Randy Jackson lacks the swagger to pull off meaningful criticism. And from a performance standpoint, Cowell was just better at delivering a sharp, 30-second critique in the heat of the moment. They really should have gotten another music executive for the panel, someone who knows what qualities a performer will need to survive in the pop world, rather than going for two celebrity performers loath to judge the contestants because they feel too much empathy for them.