'Idol' judges need the 411 on 311

Blake_lIf you’ve checked out Slezak’s TV Watch today, you’ll know the men of American Idol pretty much bricked it last night, but for my money, the worst offense was not Sanjaya Malakar baby-puking on John Mayer or Sundance Head’s assassination of "Jeremy" — give that kid bonus points for getting the line "bit the recess lady’s breast" into the family hour! — but rather the judges’ reaction to Blake Lewis’ (pictured) rendition of 311′s "All Mixed Up," in which all three admitted to having NO IDEA WHO 311 IS.

Now. I’m no huge fan, but even I know that 311 is a platinum-selling stoner-ska band, and that "All Mixed Up" is one of their bigger hits from the mid-90′s. I also know that while Blake’s performance had the rather unfortunate side effect of making 311 sound even more like a Sublime knock-off than they already do, it was still an amazing, Bobby McFerrin-esque feat in which he managed to replicate every sound on the record, add a few more, and bleep out the word "ass" for himself. Phenomenal.

But for Randy, Paula, and Simon, the more important point to be made was essentially, "Wow, I don’t know what that crazy newfangled sound was, but I liked it!" And in light of that, PopWatchers, I ask you, which is the worse crime: Being the judge of a singing competition designed to find someone who best represents the sound of contemporary American music and not knowing who 311 is… or admitting it?

addCredit(“Blake Lewis: Frank Micelotta”)

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  • girard31

    Last year, they credited Chris Daughtry with rearranging “Walk The Line” when in reality he “borrowed” the arrangement from the band LIVE. So, basically, if the song is from the alternative genre, the judges won’t know anything about it. Not to mention Chris Sligh’s baffling them with all sorts of Christian and folk choices.

  • Emily

    I am dying of laughter here at work between this Popwatch and Sleazak’s TV Watch. So good. But it is so true! They always tell the contestants not to sing Aretha, Celine Dion, Steveie Wonder, etc. But no wonder they do! If they veer even SLIGHTY off the Adult Contemporary staples, the judges act like they might as well be singing death metal. Honestly. It isn’t like 311 is some obscure band dude. Seriously.

  • jake

    I had to crack up when one of the judges, I think it was Simon, commended him for “keeping it current”, which really made me feel young if 3-11 is still a “current” band

  • Stacey

    Considering I have never heard of the band 311. It’s not surprising the judges haven’t either. Especially if they aren’t familiar with that type of music. Blake did okay. But not phenomenal. And I wish he would just straight up sing. And not do the “special effects”. Let us see his real voice more often!

  • kc

    I couldn’t believe that Randy, the king of name dropping, couldn’t recognize the song. I thought he knew everyone in the music biz?

  • Elizabeth

    It wasn’t clear that they had never heard of the group, just that particular song.

  • Marshall

    311 kinda sucks, but that was a crazy cool idea and he’s cute too.
    I think the judges are kind of in over their heads at this point. Not to say that the boys are all that great this year, but clearly the show needs some major judge talent overhaul. They say the same things, offer little insight to performance. It’s all getting so redundant. Randy’s meaningless yapping and “Dawg” is cringeworthy. Poor Paula just looks excruciatingly bored at this point. Even Simon cannot be counted on anymore to say anything interesting. His judging has evolved to just schtick. “here’s the evil thing I’ll say” “here’s a random simile for being bored” “here’s a out of left field gushy compliment”
    Randy doesn’t know who 311 is? He calls himself a producer? He could learn a thing or 2 from that band’s sound and stop talking about f**ing Journey. Good Lord.
    Anyway, this show could be a lot better. They need to FIRE all the producers and talent scouts, get better judges on the live show. OVERHAUL!

  • Ryan

    You’d think between ‘All Mixed Up’, ‘Down’, ‘Amber’ and ‘Love Song’ that one of the monstertard judges would’ve heard of 311. Blake butchered the song and can’t sing for crap. Hopefully more people would listen to 311 now and realize how gifted this band is.
    http://www.myspace.com/311
    http://www.311.com

  • Bill

    I think the biggest crime is beat-boxing on American Idol. Unless you’re one of the Fat Boys, you really don’t need to be doing that…
    This is the first week I’ve caught this season. Please tell me this clown doesn’t beat box everything freaking week.

  • Lucky7

    Marshall – I agree. The show’s feeling really old, with all the outdated song choices and the scant traces of anything youthful (besides Blake). Are they trying to find a pop star or not? I love Doolittle and I wouldn’t want an Idol that doesn’t have a place for her, but the show is skewing way too old.
    I think the producers should step in on song choices. It’s not like the winner will have complete control over the kind of record they make anyway. Also, there should be one night when the fans pick the song. Each contestant would field requests online for a week, choose 3 songs as options (not limited to the suggestions, but taking them to heart) and then have fans vote on which song they’ll sing. This way, the contestant isn’t stuck with a song they’d never have chosen. It’s a nice compromise. And the result wouldn’t be revealed until the night of the show.

  • Tammy

    I know the song, but it didn’t make much of an impact on me back in the day, it was just aural wallpaper to me. I would’ve never been able to say who performed it, and I’m not embarrassed to admit that.

  • Joe C

    I’ll play along, Whit. This isn’t a rock and roll oriented contest, this is a pop/R&B contest, so I’m not surprised they hadn’t heard of 311. Hey, I hadn’t heard of them either until last night, and I was pretty up on music in the 90′s.

  • Tammy

    Oh, yeah. Ryan? I’m not trying to be a jerk, but you do know that Love Song was originally by the Cure, right? I might not know 311, but I do know the Cure.

  • betsy

    Whitney – are you that naive? It is 19 records who produces the show, right? Why would they have any interest in alt music? It’s against their financial interests (why do you think the early 90′s alt music craze “died” within a decade and pop returned?) At least until Blake busts this competition wide open and wins. Then Clive will find a way to manipulate his alt style to sound crappy and mainstream. If only he could work it to get 3rd place like Elliott so he’ll have more creative control over his album. Just keep picking “obscure” songs that the public loves but the judges “don’t get.” That’s what Elliott did!

  • Hey Tammy

    I don’t think that has anything to do with it being a Cure song first- Ryan was just stating that that song was a hit when they performed it. Geez.

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