Wednesday, May 21, 2014

What's Really Wrong with American Idol

What's Really Wrong with American Idol

     Ratings for American Idol are far below what they were a few years ago.   A number of theories have been put forward to explain that.  One is that they miss the sarcastic but talented and witty Simon Cowell. Another is that the show has lost its edge--they no longer insult the less talented contestants as they used to.  
"Ha!  I knew Idol wouldn't be as big a success without me!"

      But I don't think all those theories are off the mark. I think the judges (Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr) are incredibly talented.  And the contestants are way better than back in the day.  
     I think that the audience is the problem.  Over the years, the show has managed to program them, so that they have become typecast and campy, totally predictable and dull.  Every time a contestant takes the stage, the audience treats him/her like they are a new singing sensation, a la Susan Boyle.  The have this mindless dull cheer:  "Waaaaaaahhhhhh!!"

     Then one of the judges says something nice, "You have an impressive star quality.  I really like you."


     "You're just what this show is looking for!"


     If, on the other hand, a judge says something not quite complimentary, the audience has a corresponding canned boo.  

     "I didn't think this was a good song choice for you." 

      "This key might have been a little too high for your voice."  


     It doesn't seem to matter which contestant it is, the audience reaction is basically the same.  It seems totally preprogrammed and dull.  

Has the American Idol audience lost its edge?  Yup. 
I would like to see the audience having some more important role with the show rather than mindless cheering and booing.   Perhaps they could be given some kind of on-the-air voting responsibility so that the live audience reaction could be compared with the at-home audience.  The judges can probably do a better job if each negative comment is not booed, even if it means not cheering for each positive comment.   

     I think it might be more interesting if the live audience reaction were a little less predictable.