The X-Factor – If you want to win, you need to murder a song
I am really tired of judges on singing contests telling artists that they killed it. In order to kill it, the artist needs to have a moment where their performance convinces everyone for the history of time that if they try to sing the same song, they will be compared to the version the artist killed. Kelly Clarkson killed it on American Idol with “Stuff like that there”. David Cook killed it with Chris Cornell’s version of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean”. Christina Aguilera killed it during the 2007 Grammy’s when she sang “It’s a Man’s World” in tribute to James Brown. No one will ever, nor should they ever again attempt these songs, they have been performed the best they can be.
Everyone knows that all of the artist’s on these shows are talented, and this season is no exception. The X-Factor contestants this season are particularly well voiced. There are no contestants with mediocre voices who are in this for production value. Production value seems to be where as a whole the artists are struggling. That’s why, as Simon said this week, someone needs a moment. They need to kill it. They need to stab that song in the heart, and render it unable to be sung by anyone else for fear of being laughed off the stage. They need to reach through the television, and make America sit up and take notice of their performance like a meerkat on the African safari. They need to find a way to distract the masses from helping their kid with the late night homework assignment, and pull them away from paying their bills while listening to the show in the background. They need to be so good that their performance is what is being discussed at the water cooler tomorrow.
Josh Levi almost had such a moment last week with his rendition of Paula Abdoul’s “Straight Up”. Simon is always telling the artists to be contemporary. Josh’s version of a song I remember listening to on a Walkman on a bus coming back from a track meet in high school (a VERY long time ago… I know) was probably better than Paula’s. He had a very urban Justin Bieber vibe going on, and came pretty close to murdering the song. Let’s call it aggravated assault. The thing is that his performance was commercial. I could see younger people drawn to the performance due to it’s timeliness, and older people appreciating its nod to a once very popular song.
At the end of the day, all of these guys and gals are talented… the question is what are they going to do to convince me, and the rest of America, to actually spend money on their performance of their art. My advice… kill a song… actually murder it.