We listened so you don't have to: The 'Idol' songwriting competition
ABV: Okay! “No Turning Back.”
Slezak: Already a better title.
Slezak: I hear guitars! David Cook fans will be all atwitter.
ABV: I’m actually not hating this.
Slezak: It’s not completely tragic, you’re right!
ABV: I’m kinda loving how it’s not about winning American Idol. It seems like it’s about not turning back from a bad relationship?
Slezak: All good Idol finale songs should be about A) winning Idol; B) a relationship; C) belief in a higher power
Slezak: ALL AT ONCE.
Slezak: I give this one a 7.
ABV: I’m at 8.
Slezak: Okay, me too — 8 it is!
ABV: Next up, “You Believed In Me.” Not to be confused with “You Believe In Me.”
Slezak: Are you kidding me that there is a “You Believed in Me” and a “You Believe in Me”?
ABV: And yet another song about being downtrodden.
Slezak: Okay, I hate “You Believed In Me” already.
ABV: I sense a theme. “There were times I was so low, I reached up to touch the ground.” Uplifting!
Slezak: Any song that opens with the line “Life can have so many ups and downs” gets a 2! Next!
ABV: I’m at a 3.
Slezak: “Thank You Whatever Comes.” This is the jankiest song title in the history of “Celebrate Me Home.”
ABV: First line: “I was a loner and a roamer.”
Slezak: Sorry, I was so bored I started checking email.
ABV: Hey, a choir!
Slezak: The melody is not excruciating.
ABV: And it fills all three of your requirements, but I’m still at a four.
Slezak: Okay, I’m giving this one a 5.Only because she also watched her bridges burn, which is a very controversial thing to do for an Idol.
ABV: It would’ve been a great song for Kristy Lee.
ABV: And we’re to our next song, “Believe,” which is an R&B joint.
Slezak: They can’t choose “Believe” because ‘Tasia’s joint was “I Believe.” That’s just too confusing
Slezak: We both used “joint”!
ABV: Because we’re hip, Slezak. Like this song. (That was sarcasm.)
Slezak: I reserve the right to give this song a 1, just because.
ABV: “If you believe it, See you can do anything.” Looks like someone‘s read The Secret.
Slezak: I believe this song has no chance of winning! And I believe I am moving on to the next song.
ABV: I’m at a 3.
Slezak: 1 for me!
ABV: “‘Cause I lost myself in front of me.” The metaphysical implications!
Slezak: HA! He’s like Gob on Arrested Development.
Slezak: I’m giving this a 2.
ABV: Before I rate, I need to print the entire chorus:
Slezak: Nooooo! Don’t do that to me!
ABV: “AndI have overcome / I’ve changed my ways / Look what I’ve become / And Istood up for myself / Forgotten what I’ve lost / Look what I’ve done /I have overcome”
Slezak: So many words, and yet it all adds up to nothing.
ABV: People need to understand why this is my first 1.
Slezak: Next up, “Faith”
Slezak: I swear these songs are all generated from an inspirational cliché generator.
ABV: Yep!Nigel Lythgoe keeps it in his office.
ABV: I’m beginning to feel really bad for the session musicians who have to perform these songs.
Slezak: This song completely made me zone out, which means it has a really good chance of winning.
ABV: There’s a song playing?
Slezak: “Song” — they are stretching the definition of the word
ABV: Thechorus: “With faith you know we can’t be afraid to fall / Love willcarry us through / And hey, looks like we made it after all / Look whatfaith can do, it led me to you.”
Slezak: This song is all about searching, and the road, and choices, and finding something, and faith!
ABV: You know, it’s not atrocious.
Slezak: The chorus is kind of rousing.
Slezak: I hate myself for writing that.
ABV: Grading on a steep curve, this is a 5 for me.
Slezak: This song gives me feelings of deep self-loathing and I give it a 6.
ABV: And the music is building — I can see the confetti now.
Slezak: If Carly gets to sing it, I will probably cry.
ABV: Okay, I’m bumping up to a six.
Slezak: And onto the next song…only 13 more to go!
Slezak: “Dream Big”
Slezak: AWESOME title.
ABV: First lines: “When I was a little girl / I swore that I would change the world.”
Slezak: YES! “These days I just can’t seem to find the child in me / Who always believed”
Slezak: Have you heard enough?
ABV: The story seems to be “I was a wretch, but then I won American Idol.”
Slezak: I’d have more respect for this song if it was called “Clichés.”
Slezak: I give it a 2.
ABV: Yes, a 2.
Slezak: We have to move on. My will to live is fading.
ABV: “Something Like Heaven.”
Slezak: Pretty intro on this one.
Slezak: Okay, not anymore.
ABV: First lyric: “I’ve said goodbye to the boy that I once knew.”
Slezak: Goodbye, boy!
Slezak: Is HE the BOY?
ABV: I sure hope so. Otherwise, it’s a song about a disturbing Big Brother.
Slezak: An angel came knocking at his door. What if it’s the angel of death?
ABV: These lyrics are really creeping me out.
ABV: “I’vesaid goodbye to the boy that I once knew / He is not himself ’causeloving you / Makes me feel like someone new.” Chorus: “How did I findsomething like heaven / And in your eyes is something like heaven /Your touch defined feels something like heaven tonight / With you Ifeel something divine.”
Slezak: It’s all very “Wings of Desire.”I give this song a 1.
ABV: Yes, one star for me too. If I could rate a zero, I would.
ABV: “Only Love.” This is the first song I could hear Jason Castro singing.
Slezak: “Don’t you backslide / to the dark side”
Slezak: Clearly this songwriter has never known the pleasure of backsliding to the dark side
ABV: Oh! We’ve got a “Na Na Na Na” chorus! It just went up one star.
ABV: “Only love can change the world,” Slezak, and for Jason Castro’s sake, I’m throwing down a 7.
Slezak: I agree “Na na na na” is an automatic bonus point. Therefore I give this weird little ditty a 4.
Slezak: And with that, we’re halfway through.
Slezak: I’m having a flashback to last week’s 30 Rock,where Liz Lemon describes her feelings of love and Jenna says it soundslike she’s describing the sensation of freezing to death.
ABV: Which seems like a perfect segue to “You Believe In Me.”
ABV: (P.S. Until freshman year of college, I thought “segue” and “segway” were two different words.)
Slezak: Segue looks like it should be another word for legumes.
ABV: Doyou see, Popwatchers, what this task has done to us? We’re literallydriven to nuts! Or at least nut-like foods! And bad jokes aboutnut-like foods!
ABV: Meanwhile, we’ve got our first Mariah-esque chimes.
Slezak: “My spirit’s finally free/ ’cause you believe in me”
ABV: I’m no longer a wretch! Thank you America!
Slezak: Is it a requirement that every song mentions a road or a journey?
ABV: Actually, Slezak, the lyric is “cuz you believe in me.”
Slezak: This song wasn’t half as horrid when it was called “I’m Everything I Am (Because You Loved Me).” And even that was awful.I give it a 2.
ABV: Yes, a 2, and this song is so early ’90s we need to move on before I regress to middle school.
Slezak: (I wish I could give it one and a half)
Slezak: Next up, “In This Moment.” Again, a song title too close to a former Idol coronation song: “A Moment Like This.”
ABV: The singer has a kind of a whiny alt-rock voice.
Slezak: Totally. And he’s basically whining to his mother. Who never believed in him (I think).
ABV: “Mother,can you hear me, for the first time I see / born into eyes not by my owndecision / take me away from a life with no vision / step down from thesubway, / climb the staircase to the street / spinning in circles andholding on tight / to this moment forever / if only tonight“
ABV: Have any of these writers heard of therapy?
ABV: Or Cute Overload?
Slezak: Hello, I am gonna set my clock for one hour and charge him $150 for making me listen to this dreck. It gets a 1.
ABV: But this is one of the most David Cook-friendly melodies. So I’m voting 3.
Slezak: “Align”! Hot title. (relatively speaking)
ABV: Okay,we have our first awesomely bad lyrics: “It took a long time / To put aman up on the moon / It took a long time / To get past me to get toyou.”
ABV: We must move on. It’s actively making me hate music.
ABV: Slezak, are you there? Has this song killed you?
Slezak: Sorry, that was the sound of me dying inside.
Slezak: I give this a 3…because there’s a pretty long instrumental part.
ABV: For a singing competition. You’re brain’s been warped, clearly. Because there is no minus 5, I rate a 1.
ABV: So hopefully the next song, “Stronger,” will make me, you know, stronger.
Slezak: I wish this was Cher’s song “Strong Enough.”
ABV: Or, heck, even Britney’s “Stronger.”
Slezak: “Life can be so mean” is a terrible lyric — especially when rhymed with “machine.”
ABV: “You’ve settled in to strugglin’, barely getting by.”
Slezak: Call 911! I am being assaulted by a song!!
ABV: Just click on the one star and move on!
Slezak: “All You Will Need”
Slezak: I don’t immediately loathe this.For starters, it’s not totally mopey
ABV: In that the melody doesn’t immediately require anti-depressives, yes.
ABV: Toan uptempo rock beat: “Seems to me you’ve put chains around yourheart and locked it away / By doing this you hope no one will see yourlonely pain.”
ABV: I could see Carly doing well with this song, actually.
Slezak: She also references prison guards and one-room jails. Edgy! (Again, relatively.)
Slezak: I’m giving this a 10, because just like Carly, it will never win.
ABV: Okay, even though its lyrics yet again make me think of in-patient psychiatric care, I’m going with a 7.
Slezak: I am voting for the Carly finale that will never happen.
Slezak: “Fly Me Away” — also an automatic DQ for its similarity to “Flying Without Wings.”
ABV: Wow — a 30 second piano and strings intro.
Slezak: I can’t help but think of Amanda Overmyer’s famous quote: “Ballads are boring!”
ABV: “Flying on a wing and a prayer / Fly me from despair.”
Slezak: Fly Me Away from this songwriting competition! I am giving it a 2 and moving on.
ABV: Popwatchers, we promise, we’re not being snarky for snarky’s sake here. These songs are just that awful.
Slezak: Seriously, this is the musical equivalent of watching I Know Who Killed Me.
ABV: I’m at a 3. I don’t know why. But let’s fly away from this song.
ABV: To “You Can Do Anything.”
Slezak: I wonder how much money the winner of this competition makes.
ABV: Enough for a year of intensive therapy, I hope.
Slezak: Next year I say we poop out a horrible shlocky ballad and win the Idol Songwriting competition.
ABV: Popwatchers, rating these songs just made Slezak say “poop.”
Slezak: Is it possible this is the worst song in the bunch?“You can find your own star/ Reach any height”?
ABV: I have no ability to differentiate any more.
ABV: But, yes, 1, make it stop, 1, 1, 1, 1!
Slezak: I give it a 1 as well. This honestly could play over the closing credits of an Olsen twins’ direct-to-DVD release.
ABV: No, not good enough.
Slezak: Ha ha! Adam watches Olsen twins movies!
Slezak: God,listening to his music is making me mean, just like drinking gin! Let’smove to “We’re Gonna Make It.” With only three songs left, do you think wewill?
ABV: We will, I promise.
Slezak: I might make it, but I have to take a Pepto Bismol first.
ABV: Okay, this is my favorite lyric so far: “We both know this was not gonna be easy / All these demons telling us we’re stupid crazy.”
ABV: Stupid crazy. That is exactly how I feel. In this moment.
Slezak: The demons tell me to give this song a 9!
ABV: NO! RESIST!
Slezak: I…I…I can’t! The demons have taken control of the keyboard.
ABV: But, actually, am I stupid crazy, or is it not that bad?
Slezak: Inthe name of all that’s holy, this 20-song exercise has completelywhittled away my ability to tell what’s good and what’s bad.
ABV: I think this is pretty good.
Slezak: It’s not awful, for sure.
ABV: Let me put it this way: It certainly suits David Cook better than Archuleta.
ABV: And, whoa, it’s the first song we actually listened the whole way through.
ABV: So I’m going 8.
ABV: Demons, you win.
Slezak: Okay, time for “Here I Am.” And the opening line is “I’ve been searchin’, never findin'”
ABV: “And I never understood why” music like this can exist.
Slezak: Becausenone of these people are allowed to have a moment of emotional orspiritual fulfillment prior to making it to the final two.Idol = Life.
Slezak: That whole vibe offends me, as does this wretched pabulum. I give it a 2.
ABV: Iwas at a 2, but then I got to the second lyric, and this interestingstring production kicked in, and kicked me up to a 5. Also, it’s one ofthe only songs in which I’ve detected power notes.
ABV: Surprisingly so.
Slezak: I will take your word for it as I move on to “The Time of My Life”
ABV: Because we’ve had the time of our lives doing this?
Slezak: And Adam, I must thank you for cajoling me into joining you on this journey.
ABV: I’m just glad we’re on different coasts, so you don’t have to show your…gratitude in person.
Slezak: Literally, this song contains the phrase “magic rainbow.” That is AWESOME.
Slezak: I want David Archuleta to sing about the “Magic Rainbow” as little faeries and hummingbirds are dropped from the Nokia ceiling.
ABV: Nice old school spelling of faeries.
Slezak: Thank you.
ABV: Thatis the only comment I have for this song. After 19 songs, it literallysounds like this to me: “WaablahblahblahBLAAAAAAAAAAAAH! Waa woo hooBLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!”
Slezak: It does!
Slezak: I give this song a 5. Just for being last.
ABV: Yes, I’m going 5, because it certainly isn’t the song’s fault for going last.
Slezak: Okay, I am going to log off and go to the gym immediately to try to sweat these heinoustries out of my system.
ABV: Good luck, good sir. Me, I think I’m going to blast Rufus Wainwright for the next five hours to clean out my ears.
ABV: And brain.
ABV: And soul.
Slezak: I might have to play some Ludacris.
ABV: That works too.