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'Idol' Banter: Oh, Danny Boy!

March 7, 2008 |  8:18 am

Danny Oh, Danny. How I hate to see you go. The crown prince of snap lost out to Chikezie in tonight’s elimination, and it really hurt to see him fight through tears to get fierce with Marc Almond’s legacy one more time.

“Tainted Love,” indeed! This show needs a little stain on its fingertips. I firmly believe in what Sanjaya Malakar taught us last season: that a trickster among the top 12 helps alleviate the program’s unbridled sentimentality and massively overstated faith in the triumph of the individual. Even more than Sanjaya, Danny understands that in mainstream pop -- in any mainstream -- certain people have only two routes to success: they can fight to blend in (hello, David Hernandez) or turn themselves into walking novelties whose flamboyant difference helps everyone else feel open minded as they go about their more conventional lives.

Maybe Danny bobbed his head at Simon one time too many, but how else to react to snide “constructive criticism” when you’re an effeminate brown-skinned teen with a punk rock past? All I hope is that Danny quickly connects with film director Gus Van Sant, or singer/lesbian pinup gal Beth Ditto from the Gossip, or some other queer punk mentor who can help him avoid the bashing he’ll surely get if he has to go back to Asuza and work at a burger joint.

Tragic as Danny’s loss will prove for the non-musical side of “Idol,” for other reasons I’m glad Chikezie got his spot. As long as the two rock pros –- Michael Johns and Carly Smithson –- and that chirpy good girl Brooke White don’t get in the way, this season we’ll likely see a non-black person of color win “Idol” for the first time. That’s great. American pop in general remains far too black and white, with the language barrier hurting Latino stars and Asian pop just too aesthetically different for most outside the demographic to embrace. An Asian or Latino “Idol” would expand our horizons.

But this possibility seems to be emerging at the cost of the season’s strongest R&B performers. First Alexandrea Lushington was prematurely booted; now Asiah Epperson, whose vocal tone was one of this year’s most distinctive, is also gone. Chikezie and Syesha Mercado are both outstanding stylists who, in any other season, might have a chance to be that supremely competent fourth or fifth finalist, a Stephanie Edwards type. But this is just not the year for soul; Simon’s even been bashing Whitney (or her songbook, at least). I never though I’d say this, but I’ll miss the melisma when Chikezie does finally go.

As for Luke and Kady … they knew it, we knew it. Luke’s gonna be fine back in the a capella underground. Kady? I expect her to become the next big YouTube star. She may not be such a great singer, but in today’s realm, where just being sassy is often enough to attain stardom (as long as you’re blonde, gorgeous and apparently straight), this is just the beginning of her career.

-- Ann Powers

(Photo courtesy Fox)