Saturday, January 19, 2008

American Idol - A Perspective

So what do the following names have in common?

Kelly Clarkson, Ruben Studdard, Fantasia Barrino, Carrie Underwood, Taylor Hicks, and Jordin Sparks.

If you're an American Idol fan then you know that they are, in order, the winners of the past 6 American Idol contests. And as a result of winning, have seen their respective music careers rocketed to new heights. Last week kicked off the seventh season of the very popular series. And in addition to putting a few pennies in the bank for the winners, Idol has been a veritable gold mine for the Fox network. If there's any doubt about Fox's winnings, the next time you watch the show take note of how many, how often, and how long the commercials are and then factor in the revenue for each. Other benefactors of the show are the several other popular finalists that have been able to parlay their time on the show into some notable fame and dollars as well. Think: Chris Daughtry, Elliot Yamin, Clay Aiken, Jennifer Hudson, and Bo Bice to name a few.

So as I tuned in this past week, I shamelessly took note at how many seasons I've suffered through- (Don't get me wrong, there have been many enjoyable and entertaining moments) If I make it through this season, It will mark my fourth full season of Idol. And along with that note, I reflected on some brutal irony of the show:

  1. Sanjaya Molakar, after displaying very little talent, threatens the credibility of the show when he makes it into the final 24 based entirely on his looks and appeal to a very large population of teen aged girls.
  2. Elliot Yamin, after displaying truck loads of talent, doesn't win because some say he needed dental work. (He's taken care of that now and looks great)
  3. Jennifer Hudson, after not winning on Idol, goes on to win countless awards including - A Golden Globe and an Oscar, for her performance in the movie Dream Girls.
  4. Taylor Hicks, a season winner who captivated audiences and warmed hearts with his soulful R&B sound, has just been dropped by his record label (J Records) a fate that fell upon another winner Ruben Studdard.

I also remembered how I started this journey. My introduction to Idol started with a laughing hysterical telephone call from one of my cousins. When she was able to control herself enough to talk, she asked if I was watching American Idol. Of course I wasn't but I turned it on at her request and the journey began. My adventure included the following dialog and audition:

Simon Cowell:

"Not only can you not sing one note in tune but you have one of the weirdest voices I've ever heard in my life"

Mary Roach:

"Well, weirdness is originality too!"


Over the years I've wondered what possesses some people to audition for a show that they have absolutely no chance at winning. Is it resolute faith? Fanatical encouragement from friends and family? Delusional interpretation of reality? Or is it all just an act to entertain the viewing public and secure their 15 minutes of fame? I've also had my doubts about the tipsy trio - Randy, Paula, and Simon. What's in those Coca Cola cups? Are they just role playing for our benefit? Or is everything so perfect in Paula's world, moderate in Randy's world, and condescending, egotistical, and arrogant in Simon's palace? Who knows? But in this "Brave New World" of reality shows I find it increasingly more difficult to distinguish reality from fantasy.

I'll leave you with some more funny auditions,

Enjoy the Season!


josey said...

OY! LOL. i really dont know what to say. hehe. i myself, a singer (pretty good--but definitely NOT AI quality. LOL.), enjoy listening to others sing...sing WELL that is. it really actually embarrasses me to see the deluded folks who go up and actually think they can win. you know, cause some really DO think they can win! it's sad. their families should be punished for letting these poor people be crushed!! :P obviously some of them are hokey and just want to be on tv. LOL. (my fave guy so far-- nick zitzman. i still cant decide if he's for real or not--im thinking, sadly, yes. LOL. he's so stinkin nice...almost robotic...LOL...poor guy.)

but still, i enjoy watching the competition once they whittle it down. most of the time its a popularity contest; but it seems usually at the very end they end up choosing the best singer (...usually.).

i definitely wonder about what's in the coke cups. LOL. paula's a total freak (i've seen clips of her reality show), simon's rich and he doesnt care, and randy--well, honestly i think randy's the most honest of them all. he's probably the most legit as far as the music industry goes. im sure some of it is an act; cause of course, the purpose of the whole show is really revenue for Fox, right? good tv = money for someone.

and...if there is something kooky in the coke cups, i suppose i dont blame them--how would you feel after listening to hours of these insanely insane auditions? hehe!

great post!!! (sorry i rattled on. haha!)

intrepidideas said...

Josey, you are right on the money. I must admit - nick zitzman is one of my favorites too. Thanks for the link. I really love his "killer" dance moves. Frankly, I don't think his voice is all that bad. He just needs some coaching. (no laughing) And when you can't sing .... It helps to have a great personality!

Jane Turley said...

This might be of interest to you Mr I as you're a pop idol fan; I don't think it's the same "weird" situation as you mention but that clip wouldn't show so I can't be sure-but I don't think so.

Looks like this time Mr Cowell did someone a big favour.

Of course some contestants are genuinely doing it for kicks and a bit of fun but I do feel sorry for the ones that genuinely believe they are talented when they are obviously not. Over here I believe this is due to consistent lowering of standards...non comptetive sports, medals for losers, "dumbing down" of education etc. It would be seen as as very politically incorrect to tell a child (even in a nice way) that perhaps they weren't A1 at something. So society (particularly with regard to education) lowers the standards, instead of raising them and "average" is deemed acceptable. Too many people are deluded into thinking their academic acheivements (and their singing!) are absolutely fabulous!..Because no one is prepared to speak the truth anymore.. except for the likes of Mr Cowell who I pretty much agree with 99% of the time. In the real world it is all about competition but sadly in the UK very little is done to prepare children in state schools for what lies ahead. It's a natural process for children to discover what they are good/not good at and then decide whether they'll continue with it just because they enjoy it, not because they're going to be the next Whitney Houston. At the moment it seems mediocrity rules over here and boy does it make me mad, mad, mad!

Oh, and the cult of celebrity doesn't help either; girls used to want to be nurses, now they want to be a footballer's wife or a pin up.