Lead us back to glory!
Big news last week: Randy Jackson, the last man standing from the original judges’ panel on American Idol, has finally tendered his resignation from the show, so with last night’s announcement that Candice Glover is the new American Idol and will (probably not) rule over us all from the top of the pop charts for eternity, Randy is no longer in it to win it, dawg.
It is a sign of American Idol‘s waning cultural moment that this is probably the first you’ve heard that Randy is leaving the show. Remember the first few years it was on? Remember when adults and heterosexuals watched it? Remember what a meal the media made of rumors that Paula Abdul might be leaving? It was bigger news than when Ted Kennedy died. Remember when Kelly Clarkson won? It was on the front page of the New York Times. If you wanted to read about last night’s finale, you’d have to go below the fold — in the Entertainment section — on Google News, and even then the stories are all about Mariah Carey and Jennifer Lopez, not bright-eyed Candice Glover. Maybe it’s because the show is old hat, maybe because it’s used up all the undiscovered young singers, maybe it’s just because people like The Voice better, but American Idol is in a severe tailspin — I think it may even have sacrificed its core audience of catty queens at the altar of 13-year-old girls.
On the day that he died in 2009, though his family and friends (if he had any real friends) and his army of lawyers and accountants (he definitely had those) were surely bereaved and numb with grief, there must have been some small part of them that was a little relieved that Michael Jackson’s death would mean the end of the horrifying allegations of child molestation that started in 1993 and persisted through two trials, one ending in acquittal and the other ending with a $20 million out-of-court settlement, that ruined the reputation of the world’s biggest celebrity and has hung over the family name like a cloud of tear gas.
But no, it seems that even in the grave, the self-appointed King of Pop cannot escape accusations of loving little boys, because this week Wade Robson, a judge on Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance and a successful choreographer with a bunch of Britney Spears and N’Sync videos to his credit, filed suit against Jackson’s estate, alleging repeated molestation from the time Robson was 7 till he was 14.
What’s interesting about this new accusation is that Robson, both a frequent guest at the Neverland Ranch through the ’90s and the only choreographer in the world named “Wade,” was an outspoken defender of Jackson’s during his 2005 trial. One of Jackson’s housekeepers had testified to having seen Jackson sharing his bed and showering with Robson (and Macaulay Culkin, and some other kids), and Wade, his mother, and his sister all took the stand to deny it and to proclaim Jackson’s innocence and goodness of heart and world-changing generosity of spirit like everyone who’s really drunk the MJ Kool-Aid does.
So why is he changing his tune now?
Last week my Facebook news feed was overtaken by Prince. The little fella was going to be playing four shows at the teeny-tiny DNA Lounge in San Francisco, and since I used to live there and still have a lot of super-cool music-loving friends there, they went into a social-media frenzy, first debating if the $250 ticket price was worth it, then as the day drew near, scrambling to get some of those tickets they realized at the last minute they couldn’t live without (No judgment, I would have probably done exactly the same thing), then excitedly anticipating the experience of seeing a universally adored, unquestionably virtuosic musician in such a small venue, then gushing about what an amazing show it was.
Amid all this excitement, I noticed the following exchange (names blurred on the way off chance they get mad at me):
The incident being referred to is when Prince played Late Night With Jimmy Fallon a couple of weeks ago and borrowed a guitar from “Captain” Kirk Douglas of Fallon’s house band, The Roots. Then, to end the performance, he tossed the guitar straight up in the air and let it drop to the floor, breaking the headstock and ruining the valuable, rare 1961 Epiphone Crestwood. Adding insult to injury, Douglas good-naturedly asked Prince to sign the broken guitar, and Prince refused.
Informed of all this in that Facebook thread, my friend replied, “there’s two sides to every story.”