Friday, April 8, 2016

So long American Idol... and good riddance!

American Idol has finally come to an end after being on the air for far too long... painfully, woefully  long. I was never a fan of the show. It was just a high-end karaoke contest! It was a masterpiece of reality television, filled with beautiful people, smug assholes, over-hyped marketing, obnoxious product placement and long, drawn out episodes designed to milk the actual five minutes that audiences would want to see into an hour-long spectacle of clips, commercials and occasional singing.

You might say I'm being overly harsh on what was at best a cultural phenomenon and at worst a guilty pleasure. In a way you'd be right. A lot of this is just my opinion. I have never subscribed to major reality television shows like Survivor or Who Wants to be a Millionaire. Those reality shows I do (or did) watch are more along the lines of Mythbusters, Storm Chasers and Ghost Adventures. Actually, I've noticed that most reality TV I watch involves people doing stupid things, whether it be the guys from Jackass or lunatics driving into tornadoes or people deliberately taunting spirits to attack them. But I'm getting off track... why did I hate American Idol?

The biggest problem I had with the American Idol is the damage they did to the music industry. They pushed this mass marketed factory of disposable pop stars, most of whom really has little to offer the world beyond their singing. Yes, I admit the people on Idol could sing well... they wouldn't have been there otherwise. The problem is the music industry needs artists, not just singers.

Put it this way, how many Idol winners actually went on to do anything substantial with their awarded recording contract and fame? I count Kelly Clarkson (the first winner) and Carrie Underwood. A few who didn't win, like Daughtry and Adam Lambert, went on to have music careers too. That's about it. That isn't the greatest track record given that the show was on for 15 years! Maybe actual fans of the show can name more successful contestants from Idol, but I guarantee they aren't household names.

You see, season after season of American Idol churned out the same crap over and over with very little variation. It was this cookie cutter mold of producing new pop stars, using ratings to justify what the people must want from the music industry, signaling record labels to follow suit. Is it any wonder that since American Idol started airing that the music scene as a whole has stagnated? They don't deserve all the blame, but Idol is at least partly guilty. You can sing as loud or as boisterous as you want, but karaoke doesn't push boundaries... you're just singing other, more talented people's songs.

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