‘Idol’ Worship: Lessons Learned

Another season of ‘American Idol’ is behind us. It’s been a season where we’ve seen some big changes – some for the better, some for the worse. We got new judges, the ability to vote online, and Jimmy Iovine. We also saw the standard old stuff: sappy stories of small town kids and family challenges, dumb Ford commercials, and network actors strategically placed in the audience. Here are some of my observations on the season and some of my thoughts on ‘Idol’ success.

While nice judges were refreshing in the auditions, once the competition was narrowed to the top group, true feedback would have been better. Instead, we got mealy-mouthed disappointment, tired chanting of catch phrases (I never want to hear “In it to win it” again), praise of the “emotion” of performances, and odd agenda pushing to sway the vote, which didn’t seem to work.

Having deeper knowledge of music and rock and roll history only gets you so far, and actually seems to hinder you in getting to the top. This season we saw Casey, Haley, and James fall into this bucket. The judges also seemed involved; if it wasn’t mainstream Top 40 music, the judges didn’t want to hear it.

Although some of us in the Northeast would like to ignore the existence of contemporary country music, clearly it’s a huge genre and popular with the younger crowd. Every season has seen at least two contestants excel in this category. Another good source of talent is the gospel choir scene. This year we had Jacob. Previously we’ve had Fantasia and Ruben.

Never discount the voting power of ‘tween girls. They like cherub-faced teen idol boys. The addition of online voting only seemed to amplify their power this season. Scotty McCreery hits the ‘tween population on all counts: a swoon-worthy voice, a Howdy Doody innocent face, and a bit of ham and cheese for the camera.

Scotty’s win was well earned and I’m sure he’ll do well in the industry. However, I can’t help but feel a little jaded about ‘Idol’. Yes, the changes this season helped prop it up, but the show still feels stale. Was it me or were the result shows more painfully boring music industry schlock than ever? Perhaps I’m just getting too old for the demographic.

We’ll have to see how ‘Idol’ continues to do next year with the competing shows out there – ‘The Voice’, ‘X-Factor’, ‘America’s Got Talent’, the various dance shows, etc. I’ve watched a few episodes of ‘The Voice’, and it’s okay, but I’m most curious about the reunion of Simon and Paula on ‘X-Factor’.


  1. I think the only thing that really bothered me this season was the judges inability to come up with a single negative or constructive comment. We had 13 outstanding artists (although I was really upset when Jacob tried doing mainstream stuff – so did not suit his personality – Luther is NOT gospel despite the judges insistance that it was similar), ONE mentor who worked with the contestants from week to week, and Steven’s odd comments. The results show was tons better this year – I actually watched most of them rather than just skipping through to the results. And Idol this year managed to stay in their timeslot, which was nice as I tend to watch on a time-delay.

    Of course, the Ford music videos were as bad as always (I get the show is sponsered by Ford, AT&T and Coke, enough already!)and a lot of the group-songs were horrible. But all in all, the show was spiced up nicely this season, revitalizing a show that many were wondering at the end of last season if it would get canceled.

    Last year, the tour had so few people there, that our seats got upgraded. This year, we were unable to get tickets in any city that was within 6 hours of us – all were sold out.

  2. This is one show I’ve never watched, I’m still in awe at how popular its become and how many people STILL watch it after this many years, how long can this keep going?

    I hear about it all the time because I have a good friend that watches it and my mom is a BIG fan, but she informed me that she is done after this year because of the James Durbin debacle, from what she said he was NEVER in the bottom the whole time he was on there, but when the last 4 hit he was magically voted off the show entirely, I dont get how that happens myself, just doesnt seem possible, but of course we have no clue how things are tallied and if our votes even really count, reality TV like this is never reality, TV Execs will always do whats best to get the most ratings, but to have the problems he does and to sing like he did, IMO, should have easily put him past anyone else, instead we get mainstream country voted through to the end again….hence the reason I never watch TV shows like this

    Dancing shows, singing shows, regular people showing off useless talents, why has America fallen into this stuff? I just dont get it and most likely never will

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