Glee makes American Idol look bad

Amber Riley, Dianna Agron, Jenna Ushkowitz, Chris Colfer, Mark Salling, Cory Monteith, Kevin McHale, Lea Michele, Heather Morris and Harry Shum Jr. of Glee perform on the recent Dream On episode. Copyrighted photo by Micahel Yarish | Fox.

Amber Riley, Dianna Agron, Jenna Ushkowitz, Chris Colfer, Mark Salling, Cory Monteith, Kevin McHale, Lea Michele, Heather Morris, and Harry Shum Jr. of "Glee" perform on the recent "Dream On" episode. Copyrighted photo by Micahel Yarish | Fox.

Since its premier following the second to last episode of American Idol last year, Glee has enjoyed a nice relationship with the “reality” TV juggernaut.

Maybe too nice.

American Idol finalists Crystal Bowersox and Lee DeWyze. Copyrighted photo by Michael Becker | Fox.

American Idol finalists Crystal Bowersox and Lee DeWyze. Copyrighted photo by Michael Becker | Fox.

Much has been made of the disappointing group of contestants for this year’s Idol which, along with the impending departure of Simon Cowell, is making Idol look like it’s on its last legs. That impression is crystalized in the final two on Idol.

I’m definitely backing Crystal Bowersox as the stronger artist and performer of the pair, like I did with Adam Lambert last year. But I don’t find her as compelling a stage presence as Lambert – though her Up to the Mountain last night certainly was a moment where we watched an artist find the proverbial next level. And Lee DeWyze has pulled off the feat of being even blander than last year’s winner, Kris Allen, which I why, unfortunately, I think he’ll win.

Yes, a diminution of talent, loss of a marquee judge, and a voting base that seems to be attracted to mediocrity make Idol harder and harder to watch.

And then it has Glee making it look worse.

Granted, AI is a mostly non-scripted amateur talent search show while Glee is a scripted drama with professional performers. But the centerpiece of each show is the same: reinterpretations of pop songs.

And even if the storyline on Glee has roller coastered this season, the performances are usually captivating, be it a frame-by-frame recreation of Madonna’s Vogue video or last night’s deconstruction of Lady Gaga’s Poker Face by Lea Michele as Rachel and Idina Menzel as her mother, Shelby – granted, the sex anthem was a strange choice for a mother-daughter duet.

Put that imagination and creativity next to the karaoke of DeWyze and most of his fellow competitors this season, and it seems like the best thing Idol can do to preserve some integrity next season – aside from coming up with a strong replacement for Simon – is put some distance between itself and Glee.

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