Friends, Romans, countrymen. Lend me your ears. I come to bury “American Idol,” not to praise it.
While “American Idol” technically is still alive, the “parents” of the show would be wise to think long and hard about how much longer the show should live. Its heartbeat is slowing and its luster is fading.
Last night’s episode (May 5) was the lowest rated episode of the show since its inaugural season in 2002. The Fox reality competition show was viewed by “only” 17.1 million viewers, the lowest number since Aug. 27, 2002. Most shows would kill to get 17.1 million viewers. But for one of the benchmark shows for the Fox network, that number was just one sign that the show is on its way out. The powers-that-be should let the show die with dignity, rather than trying to milk it for all its worth until it is left as nothing but a shell of its once great self.
Personally, I am so apathetic about this season, I can barely muster up enough interest to even write this blog post encouraging the end of the show. Most years, there are 4 or 5 contestants who I am excited to hear what their CD sounds like. This year, front-runner Crystal Bowersox (from Ohio) is the only one who seems like a real artist. No matter what genre of song they have thrown at her, she has found a way to stand out with her performances.
And with Simon Cowell on his way out to start the American version of “X Factor,”there will be even one less reason to tune in next season. His honest, to-the-point assessments of each wide-eyed, starstruck hopeful contestant make him the object of many “boos” from the audience. But he is just being direct and telling the contestants what they need to hear, not holding their hands and stroking their egos. Without him, the show will lose its heart and soul.
But before “Idol” breathes its last breath, let’s remember the show as it was.
“American Idol” was brought into this world on June 11, 2002 by Simon Fuller. From the beginning, “American Idol” tapped into something in the American psyche like no other show currently on TV. Millions of Americans dream of being the next Michael Jackson, the next Madonna or the next Shania Twain, and this show gave the average American the chance to literally have their voices heard.
I didn’t start watching “Idol” until Season 3 in 2004. But for the next six seasons, it was “must-see” TV for me. When I was working nights at the newspaper, I would tape (yes, tape. Remember VCRs? LOL) the episodes and watch them the next day. I was invested in the contestants and had to see who’s dream of superstardom was going to come to an abrupt end based on the whims of the viewing and voting public. Two of my favorite artists had their start on “Idol”: Chris Daughtry and David Cook.
While some have accused the show of ruining the music business, you have to admit that at least a few of the contestants have certainly been deserving of the stardom “Idol” has brought them. Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood and Chris Daughtry certainly have proven they have star power and just needed the right platform to put them over the top. Other contestants, such as Sanjaya Malakar, have inexplicably made it much farther than they should have because Americans are easily swayed by a cute face and personality. This is supposed to be a singing competition, after all. But too often appearance and personality have won out over actual talent. Nonetheless, there is quite a legacy left behind by “Idol.”
“American Idol” is survived by winners Kelly Clarkson, Ruben Studdard, Carrie Underwood, Fantasia Barrino, Taylor Hicks, Jordin Sparks, David Cook and Kris Allen; other famous show alumnus, Chris Daughtry, Clay Aiken, Kellie Pickler, David Archuleta, Adam Lambert and Jennifer Hudson. Also surviving are judges Simon Cowell, Kara DioGuardi, Randy Jackson and Ellen DeGeneres; former judge, Paula Abdul; and host, Ryan Seacrest.
“Idol” was preceded in death by the scores of talentless finalists who have since faded back into the obscurity from which they came and former host, Brian Dunkleman, who decided to leave the show after Season 1. What was he thinking? Have any of you actually heard of him? He could be as big as Ryan Seacrest but instead he is nothing but the answer to a trivia question.
Funeral services will be held at a later date once the show is officially declared dead.
Fox asks that in lieu of flowers donations be made to the Former American Idol Contestant Charity Fund.