Jordin Sparks’ “This Is My Now.” David Cook’s “The Time of My Life.” Taylor Hicks’ “Do I Make You Proud” (not so much). Kelly Clarkson’s “A Moment Like This.” What do they have in common? All terrible, schmaltzy songs that even the superfans who instantly downloaded them have probably deleted from their iPods long since.
And then there was Tuesday night’s addition to the canon, “No Boundaries,” a titanic mound of turgid clichés co-written by none other than judge and professional songsmith, Kara DioGuardi. This über-“Idol” winner’s song had it all: opening lines about time slowly ticking away and wanting something (Simon’s approval?) forever! But having to wait for it! (Typically 58 minutes.)
Losing your way (see Danny Gokey’s scream), then maybe fearing your chance is already gone! (Anoop who?) Losing faith in yourself (ah, poor Lil Rounds), but then getting that one good reason to fight another day (cue Matt Giraud montage) and never walking away (or in the case of Megan Joy, swiveling away).
If you’ve made it that far, the payoff really comes in the chorus, which, amazingly, required the efforts of three professional songwriters — who between them have written “Toxic,” “I Kissed a Girl,” “I Do Not Hook Up,” as well as hits for Daughtry, Faith Hill and the Jonas Brothers:
“Every step you climb another mountain/ Every breath is harder to believe/ You’ll make it through the pain/ Weather the hurricane/ To get to that one thing/ When you think the road is going nowhere/ Just when you’ve almost gave up on your dreams/ Then take it by the hand and show you that you can.”
Take what by the hand? The road? Who is going to show you that you can? Your dreams? What’s with the awful grammar (“you’ve almost gave up”)? Were they throwing darts at nonsense phrases on a dartboard, because these lyrics make less sense than a Paula Abdul rant.
It gets even worse, though.
Go deeper, higher, no boundaries, break every rule, nothing between you and your dreams … As long as we’re at it, might I suggest another chorus: “Unicorns can fly in the bright blue sky/ Love is the answer to all your burning questions, but can make you cry/ Butterflies are like dreams that come true in living color/ Rainbows are fantasy dream rides to a land of enchantment and wonder/ Ain’t no stopping you now/ Reality-show winners are just like real pop stars, except they’re not.
How bad was it? Well, while Adam Lambert sang the magnetic poetry lines like they were Bob Dylan’s gospel, Kris Allen stumbled and gave a half-hearted effort that had a number of outlets predicting that “No Boundaries” could be the deciding factor in the tight race, or, quite likely, the worst “Idol” coronation song ever.
If Allen loses because of “No Boundaries,” it will be a shame. But even if he loses, he wins, because that means he won’t have to release it as his debut single.