Erik Gronwall of Swedish Idol 2009 Attempts Michael Jackson's Beat It
Did He Hurt His Chances to Win?
In my first article on Erik Gronwall, I boldly predicted that this kid might be a legitimate rock star. While I still feel that he has that potential, a show like Swedish Idol, just like all of these Idol shows, tends to bring out the worst in a singer. These shows force the contestants to sing songs outside their comfort zone by having various theme nights. And they make it worse by giving the contestants limited song choices and even rejecting as many as five song choices. Danny Gokey, from American Idol 2009, stated that he had five song choices rejected in a single week. So we really don't know why Erik ended up singing Michael Jackson's "Beat It," but it is safe to say that it was not a wise choice regardless of how the choice was made. Scroll down to see a YouTube video of Erik performing "Beat It."
Erik is principally a rocker with a nice, versatile mix of pop sounds to his voice. He is very versatile from what I have seen so far, but taking on and trying to pull off "Beat It" is a whole different story. "Beat It" is such a stylized type of song that very few people anywhere could do the original recording justice. I say "recording" because I have serious doubts that Michael Jackson himself could pull this song off live on an average day. Indeed, I have heard stories that he didn't even do the song during some of his concerts back in the 1983/84 time frame, the height of Jackson's career as a result of the massive success of the Thriller album.
I think Erik failed in many respects in his performance. While his voice and his nice growl were still present in the performance, it just didn't quite fit this song. The song is a unique mix of pop and rock flavors, which I think is generally right up Erik's alley. But the fast pace of the song called for something different - proper stage presence.
Did Erik display the right stage presence? No. He hardly moved around, and a song like this simply calls for some kind of visual dancing routine that was absent in Erik's performance. "Beat It' is a song that is not really a pure singer's song. It is a radio and visual performance song, and Erik apparently does not have the dancing skills to go along with this particular tune.
Has he hurt his chances of winning? I don't think so, and I really don't care if he wins or not because his success does not depend on winning. I think Erik is similar to Chris Daughtry, who finished only fourth in American Idol 5. Chris has now sold about 5 million albums in the US with his band Daughtry. That is a massive number in this day and age of illegal downloading, free YouTube songs, and the like. So Erik's long-term success will likely depend on getting the right band together, being the frontman for that band, and making good music. In other words, I don't see Erik so much as a solo artist as I see him the leader of a rock band. Following Daughtry's path is the best way for him to succeed.
In the end, I don't think that this mediocre performance has hurt Erik Gronwall overall. I just think he needs to get back to picking songs that fit his style. I'm still rooting for him to be successful regardless of the path he takes to get there.