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The American Idol Phenomenon

Guest Author - Ingrid Stamatson

American Idol debuted on June 11, 2002 and was actually an offshoot and franchise of Simon Fuller's UK show, Pop Idol. The franchises continued to expand worldwide: Idol (Poland), American Idol, Canadian Idol, Australian Idol, Idols West Africa, Indian Idol, Indonesian Idol, New Zealand Idol, Philippine Idol, Nouvelle Star (France), Deutschland sucht den SuperStar (Germany), Singapore Idol, Malaysian Idol, Music Idol (Bulgaria), Ídolos Brazil, Ídolos Portugal, and Super Star (Arabic World, TV show based in Lebanon).

The sixth season of American Idol just ended, and I must confess that this is the first season I have watched it. I did enjoy it, however, and wondered about the attraction here.

In The Beginning
For one thing, the initial selection process as contestants try out in each city is a hoot, especially with Simon Cowell's antics! Simon is an executive for BMG in the UK and judges three Idol shows in his inimitable acerbic style for a comfortable salary of 43 million dollars! I can be a grouch for far less.

This first elimination process is entertaining, but at the expense of the hopefuls who turn out in the thousands. It is a simple ratings ploy that pushes the outlandish and amazingly bad performances to the forefront. People just love to see the bad and the ugly before the good, at least in this show. They also encourage the complaints which result from this early stage, elevating bad behavior. This is not such a good thing; just ask any parent, but it is a proven ratings boost.

Hoping to replicate American Idol's success, the same producers will be airing The Search for the Next Great American Band and Nashville on Friday nights on Fox.

The format quickly changes to a home viewing audience vote format to eliminate contestants. It is a sad truth that, as with any election where voters are involved, the best person is not necessarily the victor.

Sanjaya Malakar stayed in far too long, only as a result of the pre-teen votes. Perhaps there should be a minimum voting age! Don't get me wrong, Sanjaya has his place in the recording industry, but his voice could not, and cannot, pull off most genres of music.

I liked Phil Stacey, but ironically, he was voted off after one of his best performances, Bon Jovi's "Blaze of Glory." The other outstanding performance was "Where The Blacktop Ends." Yet, I realized that he did not have the makings of the American Idol either, but Melinda Doolittle did!

I was disappointed when Melinda Doolittle was voted off. She had the best voice, personality, and talent. But I am just one voter, and I know that she will have a fabulous career, so it is not such an earth-shattering moment after all. This is TV and despite the moniker of "Reality TV", it is still a contrived and somewhat scripted fantasy, devised to hook the viewers to keep tuning in (and buy the stuff that the sponsors sell). Yes, I am keeping it real.

Jordin Sparks was a good choice in the end though. She has an amazing voice and a great career ahead of her. Congratulations Jordin!

We need to remember that television is fantasy entertainment and accept it as such. Let’s watch the shows, enjoy them, but move on after it is over. After all, there is so much more TV to watch and there is always next season.
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Content copyright © 2014 by Ingrid Stamatson. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Ingrid Stamatson. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Katy Rosedale for details.

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