American Idol

I admit it. I watch American Idol and I vote each week. The bigger question is why.

You have to know my history with American Idol to understand. It goes back to Season One … and it really doesn’t involve me.

Yes, my dearly departed wife became a devotee of the show from day one, which, by extension, meant I was likewise hooked.

The format was similar in that the contestants performed and the next night were eliminated. Performance night, however, was my production night, so Karen would Tivo the show so I could “watch” it the next night before the elimination. With the marvels of Tivo, she could skip to the actual performances. “You have to watch. She was great!” Or, she could skip the pretenders, “He was terrible.” And if I would somehow rest my eyes during one of those stellar performances, she would dutifully get my attention and replay them. “Wasn’t that a great performance?”

And she had her favorites. She was solidly behind Kelly Clarkson in Season One … thought Ruben Studdard was tops in Season Two … was stunned when Jennifer Hudson was eliminated early in Season Three and never latched on to Fantasia Barrino, the season’s winner … absolutely fell in love with Carrie Underwood {that’s a fact, I watched her performances over and over again with rapt attention} in Season Four … thought Chris Daughtry Katharine McPhee, Mandisa or Kellie Pickler should have won Season Five (won by Taylor Hicks) … was obsessed with how Sanjaya Malakar could even make the top 10 in Season Six and thought Phil Stacey should have made the finals with eventual winner Jordin Sparks … and  half-heartedly favored David Archuleta as she battled cancer in Season Seven.

So, after she died, I continued the tradition of Tivoing American Idol. I was drawn to Danny Gokey — partly because of his widower status but also because of my lack of interest in the styles of Season Eight runner-up Adam Lambert or winner Kris Allen … favored runner-up Crystal Bowersox over winner Lee DeWyze in Season Nine … thought Pia Toscano should have won Season 10, although I was okay with Scotty McCreery as the ultimate winner … felt Angie Miller left too soon in Season 11, won by Candice Glover … and walked through the competition in Season 12 where Caleb Johnson was announced the winner and Jena Irene as runner-up.

I am sad to say Season 13 is shaping up as watching out of habit and not for enjoyment as well. I just don’t see any breakout talent. My personal favorite — and I use the term loosely — is Nick Fradiani. My only excitement this season thus far has been the elimination of 15 year old (he turned 16 last Thursday, April 2) Daniel Seavey last week. I don’t know how he lasted this long (actually, I have a theory I’ll explore later), nor can I explain the fascination with quirky Joey Cook and raspy “Jax” Cole. Qaasim Middleton is entertaining, but lacks a real voice, in my opinion, while Quentin Alexander has a haunting quality about him that could advance him. Quite frankly, I don’t recognize most of the songs the contestants sing … either because I never heard them before or the contestants’ interpretations are so far from the original, it becomes almost unrecognizable.

American Idol has been on the decline … and there some real reasons. I think it outgrew itself. Early competitions were just that … competitions. In the later years it has become more choreographed and staged.

Part of it is judging. Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell critiqued the Idol wannabes for eight seasons — with Cowell’s acerbic comments a highlight of the show. Since then, the judges have included Ellen DeGeneres (more of a fan than a judge), Stephen Tyler (who was more interested in shock value language), Mariah Carey (who turned out to be more of a diva than a judge) and Nicki Minaj (who was hard to watch, but at least knew what she was talking about). I think some of the consistency has returned to the panel over the past two seasons, Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr. I think Urban was signed because the show was taking a country turn — although he has shown a breadth of musical knowledge. Lopez is, well, Jennifer Lopez, a pretty face and an exceptional judge of heart. Connick sometimes takes on the Cowell role, although half the time I have no idea what he is talking about.

On the subject of judges — and I’ll touch on it a little later — give them a chance to critique. Ten second sound bites are not adequate. Give the viewer some of the insights the judges have. I sometimes wonder if I’ve seen the same performance they did.

The turning point of the show in my mind, however, came in Season 10 when the age limit was dropped to 15. Although McCreery has done well — graduating high school and attending college — it seems the drop in age has not made the show better. Let’s face it, a 15 or 16 year old high school student does not have the life experience needed to interpret lyrics. Jessica Sanchez, runner-up in Season 11, came across as a spoiled high school diva. This year, Tyanna Jones and Seavey have to juggle high school work into the rigors of competition. Seavey, in particular, looked good and performed well, but he looked like a little robot going through the motions. At the end, his voice gave up, which was probably a blessing. As he matures, I am sure that baby-face voice will morph into an entirely different sound. There were three others 16-17 year olds who made the top 24, but not the Top 16. And, as the camera scans the audience, you’ll notice the guests are getting younger and younger as well.

I suggest contestants must be 18 and/or out of high school. If they want to put their life or college plans on hold, that’s okay, but let’s not push high school students into the spotlight too soon. Give them a chance to grow up.

My final suggestion is programming. The biggest waste of time is the auditions. I couldn’t really tell you who auditioned where or how they performed. Those first couple of weeks are chaotic, interspersed with bleeps by the losers and jumps of joy for those with the golden ticket … never to be heard from again.

I would suggest starting the show when the finalists are named. Spread over a couple of nights, each finalist could be “unveiled” including some of their personal background, their audition, their performances to date — including Hollywood Week. If we, as viewers, saw the whole package in a 15 or 20 minute segment, maybe we could get to know the contestants like the judges do.

I admit it. I watch American Idol and I vote each week. The bigger question is whether I will continue to do so next year. The jury is still out.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Pay off your credit cards every month.

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About wisdomfromafather

I'm just an ordinary guy walking along the journey of life.
This entry was posted in Music, relationships, Review, television and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to American Idol

  1. edithhucks says:

    I enjoyed this since I share most of the same feelings regarding Idol although I didn’t watch most of Season 1. It does seem to be losing the attraction it once had for both my husband and myself.
    I only watch bits and pieces and am pleased when contestants praise God for their success. Also we pay off our credit cards every month. Praise God!

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