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’.