Katharine McPhee: "Over It"


By Mark Abraham | 27 February 2007

Kathy and I skip double-dutch before heading to the coffee shop across the street where she tells me first about her recent break-up (she’s so over it) and second about whether Simon Cowell and Ryan Seacrest are actually as sweet on each other as they seem to be on television. Other topics of conversation: whether when she was dueting with Andrea Bocelli hands-in-lap and looked as relaxed as if she was she was singing Christmas carols with the family on a snowy evening if she knew just how damn absolutely heart-rendingly awesome she looked and how, yeah, even though I agree with the American Idol judges that she kind of pooched “I Have Nothing” I still loved it because I. Love. That. Song. Then we do each other’s hair (well, she does what’s left of mine) while we watch Breaker High, bedazzle some sweet corduroy jackets (dark green for me, mauve for her) to adorn before we head out to the skating rink to flirt with boys and girls over steaming mugs of hot chocolate held in cupped wool-sheathed hands. In my head, the soundtrack for this dream day with my Idol was whatever “Over It” could have been.

What I thought could have been is definitely not this.

Here are the things Katharine McPhee is over: (his) lies, games, eyes, smile, hands, mouth, words; (her) self-doubt, hurt, crying in the rain; and of course she is so over It!

Things Katharine McPhee is apparently not over: mawkish artifice; vaguely Latin inflections of the words “ain’t” and “time”; that intro-to-“Strawberry Fields” organ quote that has become, like, the universal bad-pop symbol for “introspective,” where it acts like an audible “bring the band in behind me” and everything gets dreamy -- the semiotics hurt me, Kathy -- but really it’s just another generated noise to go along with the overly synthetic guitars and string pads; saying things like “crying in the rain” in a song that is about as wet as the Mojave; stealing melodies from the Celine Dion adult-pop fakebook, as if that’s, like, not the most depressing fucking thing ever; dressing like a coked-out bumblebee on the cover of her album; and saying ludicrous, deplorable 19 Recordings press-prepared shit like this: “it’s a term that everyone uses, especially young girls. I didn’t even realize just how much I used it. A lot of people will be able to relate to this song.”

I could make the obvious joke about what I’m over or what I can’t relate to, but let’s face it: as long as McPhee is wrapped in the hype-tastic but quality-overcontrolled grasp of 19 Recordings she’s fucked, doomed to making music that no Tipper Gore could possibly see as possibly having any kind of edge. Which of course is the great irony of Idol -- make ‘em famous with songs full of sexual angst and political insight and (hey) great composition that the effects of the big chill have recontextualized as standards and then market ‘em on watered down, weak, mopey bullshit about five years behind the times. Thanks, Simon. I mean, I agree with your on-show comments, but every time you refer to a contestant as “cabaret” I can’t help but wonder why you give the victors and runners-up this kind of artificial cruise-ship Teen NBC California Dreams-style bullshit.

Ugh. Let’s think of happier things. Wouldn’t it have been awesome if Ryan Gosling had been introduced last night as “star of Breaker High”? And where the hell was Jimmy?