Tweets of the Week: Who’s got talent?

Tweets of the WeekIt’s a good time to be a fan of reality talent shows just now. American Idol is a month away from its finale, The Voice is now in full swing and this weekend also saw the return of Britain’s Got Talent. Here’s what Twitter had to say about each of these – and the news of the return of a 1970s cult sci-fi favourite – during the week ending 14th April 2013.

Did America crown its new Idol?

After five years where the overall winner has been a WGWG (White Guy With Guitar), the producers and judges of American Idol have been not-so-subtly reminding viewers that they really, really want a female winner to win season 12. Having started the finals series with five girls and five boys, this week saw the fifth successive week in which a boy has been eliminated – the stuttering Lazaro Arbos (think of a Hispanic Gareth Gates) – leaving us with five girls to battle it out for the title.

The pecking order among the girls has been fairly clear in my mind for several weeks now, but if ever there was any doubt that Candice Glover is the best singer in the competition, then her show-closing version of The Cure’s Lovesong surely left no remaining room for doubt. For all the constant debate about falling standards on Idol, I defy anyone to watch this and (a) continue to decry the lack of genuine talent on reality talent shows and (b) claim that Steve Brookstein, Joe McElderry, Alexandra Burke, James Arthur et al – and I include the undeniably successful Leona Lewis in that number – even come close to this in terms of the combination of artistry and sheer vocal ability.

 

Don’t just take my word for it. The entire judging panel gave Glover a standing ovation, and Mariah Carey dashed on to stage and (somewhat bizarrely) threw glitter over her. All over the Twittersphere fans rose to applaud Glover’s bravura performance.

Not to mention former contestants – here’s season ten’s Pia Toscano:

And even former rivals from this year were wowed enough to declare her this year’s winner now, a full month ahead of the final:

Of course, such are the vagaries of public votes that the best, most talented singers often fail to win the competition as a whole. Past Idol seasons are littered with such examples: Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson (who was only seventh in season three). Katharine McPhee (now appearing in the soon-to-be-cancelled Smash), Melinda Doolittle, Adam Lambert and last year’s runner-up Jessica Sanchez. Glover should win on talent alone, but when you throw in factors such as core demographic appeal and marketability I suspect she’s destined to join the long line of predecessors who have fallen short and finished second at best while inferior teen-friendly rivals emerge on top.

By the way, if you don’t know the original Cure song – and Glover’s version is so strikingly different that it is easy to struggle to place it – here it is.

Maybe Britain does have some talent after all

Although I will confess to having watched both Popstars: The Rivals and both seasons of Pop Idol, as a rule I steer clear of UK talent shows such as The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent, which for me have too much of an orchestrated circus about them and only serve to underline that Britain doesn’t really have that much talent.

However BGT – the show which gave us Susan Boyle – returned on Saturday for its seventh run, with the highlight of its first episode being Attraction, a shadow theatre group who drew universal acclaim from viewers.

However, the show also plumbed the depths of tackiness to remind me exactly why it is I don’t watch it, bringing us what amounted to a lapdancing performance and the admittedly talented 11-year-old Arixsandra Libantino singing about a one-night stand, which wowed some viewers and disgusted others.

If nothing else, it was a guarantee of headlines in the Monday morning edition of the Daily Mail. And so it came to pass. Call him cynical, but Simon Cowell and his production team know exactly what buttons to push to guarantee wall-to-wall media coverage. And, like fools, we fall for it every time.

Regular readers will know that I have, however, been watching The Voice. In true BBC style, this aims to set the bar high by making it a ‘worthy’ competition for proper singers, free from novelty acts and PR hoopla – although this year’s edition is noticeably packed full of contestants with heart-tugging stories of reviving dormant singing careers, childhood traumas and trying to establish oneself as a country singer in Doncaster. (No, really.)

Consequently, of course, it’s a bit dull compared to the razzmatazz of BGT, which promptly gave it a good trouncing in the ratings: 10.97 million viewers versus a still strong 7.47 million for The Voice. But there’s no doubting the BBCs show can claim the moral high ground if nothing else, as coach Jessie J was quick to point out as she hit back at the show’s critics.

Personally, I’m with Ms J on that one.

Seven heaven?

After many false dawns – and more than 31 years since the series’ final episode was originally broadcast – last week brought the news that SyFy in the US have commissioned a 13-episode remake of the cult BBC sci-fi series Blake’s 7. As a huge fan of the show when I was growing up, you can probably imagine how childishly thrilled I am at the prospect, bringing back memories of wobbly spaceships in flight, cheap special effects and props which looked like they had been made by a bunch of primary schoolkids. Judging from the volume of reaction on Twitter I wasn’t the only one, with the following comments being typical of a fan-base which wouldn’t be unhappy if the new show retained some of its decidedly low-budget production values.

By the time the remake hits our screens the time gap between it and the original will be approaching double the 18-year hiatus between the original Star Trek and The Next Generation. And yet, judging from the depth of nostalgia and the passionate response from the show’s fans, the degree of fervour – and trepidation – surrounding the show’s return is no less intense. To those of us who have remained fans of the show, it will feel like only yesterday.

In the meantime, here’s a little reminder of the original.

I’ll be spending the rest of this week devising a heart-rending back-story with which to accompany my applications for The Voice, X Factor and BGT, but I shall return with more 140-character-based observations next Tuesday!

To read previous Tweets of the Week columns, click here.

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