Substance was thrown out the window for pyrotechnic vocal tricks. Angie sang Gershwin’s “Someone to Watch Over Me,” an ode to vulnerability, in full-power voice. She hardly came off as “a little lamb who’s lost in the wood,” as the lyric says. More like a John Deere tree cutter.
The point Connick tried to make, which Jackson didn't want to hear, was that the show’s contestants didn't know these classic songs well enough to take liberties with their melodies and lyrics. In doing so, they were murdering the music.
On a recent NPR interview Streisand talked about how, when interpreting a song, she never violates its melody or lyrics, even when putting her own distinct spin on it. That’s why she's so great. And that's why Connick got so frustrated with the Idol contestants.
The problem, as Jonathan and Curtis have pointed out, may indeed be the format in which these singers are allowed to explore these songs. They don’t really have the luxury or time (and perhaps the maturity) to develop a relationship with the material. They are sort of on jukebox-karaoke mode, forced to pick songs out of the ether with no relevance to them. I don’t think any of these shows on television are designed with the intention of creating a great singer or an artist. It’s filler—between dinner, sex, and bedtime.
I recently viewed the film, A Late Quartet that touches on this issue. A recommendation by way of Richard Hatch via facebook. Basically, you need to live with your art and the material you select. These are not one-night-stands. Nothing of lasting value ever is.