I used to be the kind of girl who dreamed about auditioning on American Idol and becoming a real singer on television. But that was when three well-known, well-respected artists and producers gave real advice, and the winner was selected based on his or her talent alone. That was back when American Idol was a talent completion, not a reality show.
I was appalled at the start of season 12 of American Idol. Although Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul have been gone for several seasons now, I had been able to tolerate the newer celebrity judges who came in to take their place. My favorite years were when Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler assessed the contestants because they gave genuine suggestions.
This season, however, I could not believe how little attention was paid to the contestants and how much time was dedicated to the snarky, stupid, prima-donna banter between judges Nikki Minaj and Mariah Carey, in addition to Randy’s blunt, useless comments as, “That was terrible, dog. Singing is not for you.” The only credible judge at the table was Keith Urban, but his opinions were consistently shouted down by the other three.
If one of the celebrity judges resorts to hiding under the table not once but twice, it is safe to say the panel is not working. More time was spent watching what happens when people were not auditioning than watching people audition! And when they did audition, they were the sort of people who wear duct-tape tuxedoes and have terrible singing voices. There were several times during the episode when I was seriously considering turning off the show.
In short, American Idol has become a comic reality show about people trying to sing in front of judges who do little more than tell them, “You are a beautiful person.”
I cannot deny the judges know the music industry, and I can appreciate that producers select judges who can represent almost every genre of music to be on the show, but at times it seems like the intentionally selected clashing personalities have been chosen to make the show more interesting. These catfights grew tiresome after the end of the first episode, and I cannot imagine an entire season of it. There is a very good reason why, according to The Wall Street Journal, American Idol’s viewership dropped 19%.
Music is the something that can be made by anyone, anywhere. It brings people together and is one of the most expressive forms of communication. If the producers want to make a quality television show that people will watch, all they need to do is round up a group of talented individuals, put them on a stage, hand them a microphone and perhaps a guitar or two and have them do what they love to do: Sing.
Written by Sarah Fornshell’15