No Comparison

When I watch American Idol and listen to the judges’ criticisms, it makes me laugh. Sometimes I agree with what they say, sometimes what they say makes no sense, because while the product placement is clearly for Coca-Cola, you can easily tell one judge in particular is not swigging only Coke products. And you can tell [she] might do this habitually, because [she] is very seldom lucid. … Paula rarely speaks coherently. She only knows enough and has her wits about her enough to say the contestant looks fantastic when s/he sang horribly. 

A lot of times, the contestants just don’t sound all that great. I mean, this season, the contestants seem fine. Of course I’m rooting for my Mormon “friends,” David Archuleta and Brooke White. I’m also cheering with reservation for my “cousin,” Ramiele Malubay. She’s gotta step it up. This is the first season I’ve watched from the very beginning. I sat and jeered and laughed during the pre-Hollywood episodes, like a good lemming audience member, until the top ten, when we can get down to business. 

Sometimes the contestants do really well with the songs they choose. Sometimes I’m really impressed and sometimes they really know what they’re doing. Sometimes, they really, really don’t and I end up wishing I had papercuts between my fingers instead. Why do I watch this kind of television? Why, when I listen to these people who they let on television “sing,” blood wants to squeeze from my ears and drip from the lobes? Why do I subject myself to this? How sadistic am I?

And, why do I have Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, ‘N Sync, Christina Aguilera, that wretched Fergie song, Jordin Sparks’s “Tattoo” (I have yet to analyze that song, and just you wait, it will be fun.) on my mp3 player? This is probably my guiltiest pleasure, even moreso than mini-powdered donuts. I take great pleasure in exceptionally crappy music! Woo! 

But then, then. I went to the annual Easter Concert up in Inwood this evening. Every single musical number made me want to cry. The subject matter, of course, is sacred. But let me attest that not a whole lot in this world is better than pure sound. Inspired sound. The low rumbling of the deep registers of the organ. Fingers producing vibrato on the strings of a cello. The utterly delicious phrasing and blending of the SATBs in the choir. The soaring clarity of that angelic soprano singing from Handel’s Messiah. And those gospel numbers at the end? Praise be.

And then, the roaring applause at the end of the concert. Because my heart was about to burst. All that wonderful pop junk I listen to starved my soul and all but frayed my auditory nerves. But tonight all was healed. I appreciated the performers who put their entire bodies into creating phenomenal sound. Such talent and passion and high regard what they were singing about. I don’t know if I enjoyed a concert like that in a long, long time. Tonight was beautiful and humbling and lovely. Tonight I rejoiced.

I walked out of that chapel with a smile in my heart and some Spring in my step. 

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