Can Someone Tell Me Who This One American Idol Dude is Ripping Off?

03/04/2011 9:48 AM |

I’ve refrained from writing about American Idol so far this year because once you start, you’re sort of in it for the long haul. If you decide you’re gonna be one of those people who writes about American Idol, you’re stuck with that decision for months, and it’s fucking exhausting—for you, for your spouse, your regular readers… pretty much for everyone except the gazillions of people who will help pad your Google analytics until the next Kanye record or whatever. Anyway, now that they’ve gotten it down to the final thirteen contestants, I’ll probably start my regular coverage next week. Before I can do that, though, I need help with something.

There’s this one guy, Paul McDonald. And let me just say, he seems like a perfectly decent dude who’s enjoying this whole thing while also being freaked the fuck out by it, just as any other reasonable non-egomaniac would be. He seems pleasant and humble and he is not obviously stupid, which is nice. But he also bothers me more than probably any other contestant, because I’m positive that there’s some very specific person, or a combination of people, he’s totally ripping off, and I cannot figure out who it is. From his spastic dancing and his messy hair to his actual vocals, which alternate between obnoxiously breathy and purposefully raspy, unless you are an American Idol judge, it’s obvious there’s not an original bone in his body. But who’s he stealing from? I find myself hung up on images of James Mercer from The Shins, Charlie from Lost (and the band Drive Shaft, obviously), Thom Yorke, some faceless member of Kings of Leon, and, for some reason, one of those recent female soul singers like Duffy or someone. I feel like I’m missing something very obvious, though. Thoughts?