Wednesday, March 14, 2012

American Idol: Who Is Really Even Watching Anymore?

American Idol.

Not long ago, this show was the supreme ruler of television. Year after year, it drew in massive amounts of viewers, and year after year, it remained unbothered as the #1 show in the nation with literally everyone watching it. And I mean EVERYONE. My dad, my mom, my little brother, my uncle, my aunt, my first cousins, my second cousins, my great uncle, my great aunt, my grandpa, my grandma, my neighbors, my friends, the popular kids, the nerdy kids, even my teachers. It was one of those special shows that just brought people together in front of a TV screen to watch a regular person perform on a live stage week after week for the coveted crown. And what made it even more interesting was the interactive nature of the show, which allowed viewers to vote for their favorites to move on in the competition.

So yeah, we have had winners like Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Jordin Sparks, and David Cook all achieving great successful careers around music. Even some non-winners were able to achieve success, such as Daughtry, David Archuleta, and Adam Lambert. The show was just so exciting that it captivated a huge portion of America on a weekly basis. Everything culminated in season 5, which had about 37 million viewers watching on average, marking the show's peak performance. But from then on, people became less interested. Some did not tune in on a regular basis. Some were too busy with the everyday trials of life. Some did not like the inconsistencies of the voting basis. Some just found new shows to watch. Then from out of the blue, the mastermind behind the success of Idol, Simon Cowell, decided to leave the show at the end of season 9. And then people just stopped watching the show altogether. Nobody talked about it anymore. It lost that initial powerful spark. And then the show was gone.

But wait. Is the show really gone? NO! It is in its 11th season with new judges Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler sitting along side with veteran Randy Jackson. But why has it disappeared off the map? Where's the buzz? I mean, although the numbers have dropped drastically, it is still being watched by 18 million viewers per episode! But no one talks about it anymore. Why is that?

I don't have a complete answer, but I do know that the public is becoming increasingly bored of American Idol. Nowadays, the market is saturated with many talent shows, including The Voice, X-Factor, and America's Got Talent. People are just overloaded with the amount of new faces presented to them. This sensory overload just puts too much stress upon their minds, causing them to slowly leave the Idol audience. And sadly, American Idol's reign as the #1 TV show for the past decade is about to come to an end. Especially noticeable this season, its ratings have dropped so low that it is almost comparable to The Voice. And as The Voice picks up steam and anticipation, American Idol might not last much longer. But we will see how long Fox can keep Idol above the surface before it finally drowns and becomes lost from sight... forever.

Until then, we can still count on American Idol to produce stars with selling potential. Last year's winner on The Voice, Javier Colon, had a past and unsuccessful history in the music industry. After winning The Voice, he sold less albums than his previous effort! How embarrassing for him! What a waste! Surviving week after week of elimination only to get nowhere in your career. On the other hand, last year's winner of American Idol, Scotty McCreery, became a country superstar. His album, Clear As Day, hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 with sales of 200,000 copies sold in a single week. To date, his album has sold over a million copies and has been certified platinum by RIAA. 2 of his songs have gone gold with sales of 500,000+. So yes, although American Idol ratings are plummeting, superstars continue to emerge and have successful careers.

Let's see Idol's trajectory this year. Although The Voice represents stiff competition, Idol can still make memorable superstars. Maybe it will be Jessica Sanchez, whose version of Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You" has been hailed by Interscope executive record producer Jimmy Iovine as the best performance ever done on the Idol stage. Not sure of her possible talents and future success? Maybe you should check her out for yourself:

Although it seems like American Idol has long been forgotten in the dust, it still maintains and produces stars with massive selling potentials despite a fall in ratings. The future for Idol is unclear. But one advice. If Idol wants to keep people interested, then tell Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler to actually give real critiques to the contestants because not every performance is "beautiful". If edge goes back into the show, the show might save itself from total imminent destruction. Until then, I hope for the best.

-Brandon Vu :)

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