If you watched Idol last week, you were treated to a bunch of mediocre renditions of classic Motown songs, plus a stunningly beautiful re-imagining of Smokey Robinson’s “Tracks of My Tears.” Adam Lambert is the one who pulled off that coup. He sang with an acoustic guitar, upright bass and slapboard-drum-type-thing, and it was so tender and gorgeous and moving. If he continues with performances like that and his brilliant reworking of “Ring of Fire,” he’s going to go all the way.
Ryan Seacrest makes a point of saying that you can buy recordings of the contestants’ performances on iTunes, so I tried to do just that last Thursday. Unfortunately, last week’s performances weren’t available yet. I tried again this morning and they were. But what they are selling is not what you heard on the show. I went directly to the link for Adam’s “Tracks Of My Tears” and when I previewed it… WTF?!? Gone is the simple rhythm section and Adam’s tender vocals. Instead, you get Adam doing karaoke vocals over the original recording’s instrumentals. That is not what I wanted in the song, and given the comments from 587 other fans, not what most people want. Idol pulled this same switcheroo last year with Jason Castro‘s performance of Brudda Iz‘s “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” In Jason’s case, however, the tenderness of his singing and his ukulele playing were left intact and you couldn’t really tell it was not the same performance that you saw on the show.
The people who are really upset are those who prepaid for the song. I know I would be too. This should serve as a cautionary tale to anyone who is thinking of preordering any Idol performances in the future. There’s no way I’d pay in advance for anything from Idol now.
By the way, if you’re technically inclined, you can buy the video of his performance that was so beautiful and then rip the audio track into its own mp3 file. That’s what I’m going to do. But you shouldn’t have to do this. Idol should be selling what we heard on the show, not a studio do-over. I don’t have a problem with them also selling the studio do-over, but what people want and expect to get is what they heard on the show.