Why I Don’t Watch American Idol


We are in the midst of cementing some details for our Make-A-Wish trip in November, so I call my mom who asks if I am watching American Idol. I then call my aunt, who asks if I am watching American Idol. My wife calls her sister-in-law, who is a Disney fan and is booking the character meals, and she does not answer. Why? She is watching American Idol.

A few weeks ago, Tiffany told the nurses that she had never watched one episode of American Idol. They gave her a look like you might expect if someone said "I have never driven a car" or "we have never owned a television".

Everyone is watching American Idol! Except us, it seems.

Here are the winners of Idol since it started in the US.

Season 1, 2002 : Kelly Clarkson
Season 2, 2003 : Ruben Studdard
Season 3, 2004 : Fantasia Barrino
Season 4, 2005 : Carrie Underwood
Season 5, 2006 : Taylor Hicks
Season 6, 2007 : Jordin Sparks

Notice that only two of these are producing viable albums today: Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood. And, that is if you consider My December (Clarkson) viable. No matter who wins this season, I doubt either will have a long career as an idol. I am basing this on the few performances I have watched on You Tube, so this is by no means a "final answer", but I see both having work to do to get over the dancing monkey problem. Based on what I have seen, Cook is more likely to do it than Archuletta.

Why do most of the "Idols" fail after they have left the show? Because we like to watch dancing monkeys, but we don’t like to listen to them. While it is fun to watch someone thrusting extra lyrical moments into a song, it is nerve wracking to listen to it without the visuals. The focus is on winning the show, of course, which requires one to be a dancing monkey. But few can remove the monkey suit successfully.

Remember the show Star Search. It was another dancing monkey show. Sam Harris singing "Over the Rainbow" in a "Patty Labelle on uppers" style was a winner. It was fun to watch. He always used the "Star Search" moment properly – that is, advancing to the audience during the bridge. Yet, when his album was released, one found out how truly irritating it is to listen to someone singing in monkey style when you cannot see the movement.

Idol no longer uses the bridge as the canned moment to "advance" the song, so the performers invent one. Last night, for Archuletta, it was adding an extra "blinded by the light" to "Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me". Nice moment to stand up to audience cheers.

I imagine some of you are not convinced, so I offer you this experiment to try on your own. Go to You Tube and find the videos from this season. Click on one and minimize the browser. Now go about your work. After you listen to a few, ask yourself "if I were listening to this in a music store, and had never seen the performance on Idol, would I buy this?" I would imagine that most of you, if being honest, will answer "not only no, but hell no!".

As music only, the dancing monkeys are screechy and completely destroy the beauty of many of the songs they sing. They are breathy, and often flat. But, you can ignore than when you watch them dance. When you remove the visuals, and only the music is left, you find yourself wanting to see the dancing monkeys dance. Perhaps this is why the American Idol tours do better than the Idols do in their own careers.

I wish both of the contestants on the show the best of luck. But if you want me to watch your show, Simon, I want substance, not dancing monkeys.

Peace and Grace,
Greg

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