Except for the first couple of seasons and one when Nicky Minaj was a judge, I’ve been a pretty faithful watcher of American Idol. The success of Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood and Daughtry legitimized the reality show/talent hunt and it’s fun to watch these impossibly young kids develop into potential stars.
The show is a month away from crowning its last ever Idol. After fifteen years, it’s wrapping up. A recently-aired highlight reel of the AI legacy was very telling: It didn’t include some of the more recent winners! Kris Allen, who inexplicably beat Adam Lambert, wasn’t mentioned. Neither was season 9’s winner, Lee DeWyze, whose career sits like a turd in the kitty litterbox of life, despite putting out six albums since 2010. They say “America always gets it right”, but sometimes America messes it up.
The show has actually improved over the years. It loosened up and shared more real moments from behind the scenes. It allowed the contestants to talk about the gruelling schedule of public appearances, rehearsals and meetings. Some of them are just fifteen years old. Their poise and resilience is pretty amazing.
But they screwed it up a few years ago by bringing on Nicky Minaj to feud with fellow judge Mariah Carey. Minaj has the maturity of an eggplant and the depth of a shot glass. The last trio, Keith Urban, J-Lo and Harry Connick Jr., was the best, in my opinion. Although, last week, Connick’s own performance fell flat and wouldn’t have “passed the audition”. They all can’t put their money where their mouth is 100% of the time.
American Idol is merely the old Star Search on steroids. Undiscovered talent getting a shot at the big time is nothing new. Matthew McConaughey wasn’t even thinking about becoming an actor when he was cast in Dazed and Confused because the director saw something special in him. Now he has an Oscar. What matters is whether people want to see him in movies. For American Idol, what matters is whether music lovers want to hear the Idols sing. When it comes to Kelly Clarkson, Chris Daughtry, Jennifer Hudson, Fantasia and Carrie Underwood, the answer is a resounding yes.