Television, Saturday night
So this is what happens when you’re alone at home on a Saturday night. Out of boredom, you flip on the TV, start clicking through channels, and stumble across Deutschland sucht den Superstar, Germany’s branch of the American Idol enterprise.
Near the end of last season, I swore off Idol, having grown tired of its formulaic construction. Suddenly, however, I long for American Idol as a corrective for the spectacle I am at this moment inflicting upon myself. DSDS, as they call it here, horrifies me on many levels. It has often been said that German pop music sucks, and wow now I know why. What horrifies me the most is hard to say. Is it the fact that the German pop catalog is so thin and pathetic that I’m listening to a bunch of German kids butcher American and English songs? That half of them sing off key or flat every other note, or at best hide their lack of talent in ridiculous songs that require no talent to sing? That one of the judges is Dieter Bohlen, perhaps one of the most loathsome humans, ever? That they openly call one of the contestants (who, by the way, can sort of sing) a bitch? That one of the women actually gets up and sings that horrid, horrid genre of German song known as the Schlager, without any ironic wink whatsoever? Perhaps it’s the sum total of these things that horrifies me, but it’s also pretty riveting, if only for the negative cultural experience.
Ironically, one of the contestants can truly belt it out (the other five are just wretched), but she has no chance because, well, she’s not prepared to turn things into a freak show as her co-contestants seem to be.
[Oh god, they have some contestant’s grandmother yodeling during the show. Aarrgh, this is beyond lame.]
Suddenly, I’m feeling mighty jingoistic. Take any of the final six contestants from recent versions of American Idol and one could crush this field of posers and preeners. AI is pretty trashy at times, but for the contestants it’s bitter earnest and some of them are truly talented. All DSDS proves is that the reign of Anglo/American music in Germany has nothing to fear from the next generation of German pop talent. Yikes.