Do you watch American Idol? I've been a regular viewer for the run of the show and I'm definitely sad to see it end. It's boring sometimes, predictable sometimes, and just dumb sometimes, but it also can be very entertaining and I enjoy the crash course in popular music I get every season.
Last week American Idol concluded its audition rounds and as everyone constantly reminds us, this is the last season of Idol
and thus the last audition rounds. Like the past couple of years the
producers have reduced the number of "bad" auditions they show, taking
the time to build up characters and audience recognition of the singers
who will go to Hollywood and presumably also those who will make it to
the live show. Because in real time, those decisions have already been
made and thus the makers of Idol know whom they want to showcase
and promote. So you know for example when they have footage of a
contestant's home town that that contestant is going to make it to
Hollywood, and if they don't, if they only have convention-center
footage, or no footage, it's less likely he or she will make it through.
There's a lot you can complain about about American Idol, but the thing that bothers me about this season is the number of what used to be called "plants." In 2004 during Idol's third season a great American Idol blog
launched, called Vote for the Worst, VFTW for short. Its writers
encouraged the public to vote for the "worst" singers, to call out the show as a mockery of a talent competition. The site ran for almost ten
years, closing in 2013.
Over time VFTW expanded to
cover other talent shows and became a forum for reporting on them alongside the snark. Its
writers exposed a number of competitors who had had prior professional
relationships with judges or others associated with the show, and whose
presence on the show were therefore thought to be contrived or planned
as opposed to having been based on talent. This year we have seen a few
contestants, miraculously all making it through initial auditions, who
were either related to former contestants, related to celebrities, or
former contestants themselves. And these weren't people who had only
appeared on the early phase of auditions. I really wonder why Idol
needs to insult us by not just acknowledging that they decided to bring
someone back, or decided to feature the child of an 80s one-hit-wonder,
or what have you. I mean, these people all walk into the room knowing
they're going through. The drama of "will he or she make it" becomes so
boring and pointless. But they need to maintain the illusion that there
is something democratic about the show. Because anyone can be an
American Idol, right?
So we'll see what this season
holds. I've watched at least some of every season, and I'll watch some
of this season too. I don't know yet how much! But there are some really great singers in this year's competition, so I'll stay tuned for now.