I’ve watched American Idol consistently since it began way back when I was in high school. And when I say consistently, I mean I didn’t miss an episode for about 5 years (thank God for DVR).
But a few weeks ago I decided to stop watching Idol. It had been a long time coming because I had been talking about stopping each of the last 3 seasons, only to find an artist I couldn’t help but watch (think Danny Gokey).
Since then I’ve been thinking about why Idol worked so well for so long, but just doesn’t have “it” anymore. Here is what I’ve come up with:
- Deciphering between talent takes a lot more than 2 to 3 minutes. About 2 minutes is the length of each song on Idol. They do this for 2 reasons: One, they have time constraints to meet. Two, most of the people on the show aren’t talented enough to hold an ADD audience for longer than a minute.
- Character development is extremely limited. Other than how well he or she sings, how much do you really know about the person you absolutely love on the show? Not much. Idol has done a horrible job of providing the reality behind their reality show.
- The whole thing is a little cheesy. I kind of looked beyond this fact because I enjoyed the competition element of the show, but the cheesy group songs, drawn out elimination process, and Ryan Seacrest…let’s just say it all got old.
- It is more of a popularity contest than a talent show. Think I’m wrong? Guess again. I have proof. Yes, proof. What is it you ask? Tim Urban is still on the show this season. I’m fairly sure I could teach that kid a thing or two.
- Too performance oriented and lacking authenticity. This kind of goes back to point #2. I’m all for hearing multiple genres from an artist, but asking an acoustic singer-songwriter to do a 2 minute version of a Stones song is ridiculous. You can see it in all their faces. They have no idea how to turn a world-beater song into “their own” in 2 minutes in a genre outside their comfort zone.
- They have done a horrible job of using the internet to their advantage. Their website is horrible. Loads of info, no free songs, no songs on video. Just this season they decided it would be wise for all of the top 12 to have Twitter accounts. That lasted one week until they were combined into one Idol account. You could summarize all their tweets with this: “Thanks to all my fans, please vote tonight. You guys are awesome!” Pretty pointless right? I thought so too. A perfect opportunity to get to know the contestants outside of the competition, but clearly Idol told them they couldn’t talk about anything but the show and voting.
Well enough with the Idol bashing. I’m over it, and I’m fairly sure the show will die out after Simon Cowell leaves. He made it work in the first place.
I did happen to find a show with a somewhat similar premise, but I enjoyed it much more because of the depth of character development. It is a new show created by Idol creator, Simon Fuller: If I Can Dream. It follows the lives of several artists (musicians, chefs, models, actors) as they try to make it in Southern California.
The show seems to be a cross between American Idol, The Real Life, and Big Brother.
If you go to their website, you can watch inside their house from live cameras 24/7.
As Idol dies off, I think you will see shows just like If I Can Dream gain in popularity. Here is an episode of the show for those of you who want to check it out (come here to watch if you can’t see the video):