I'm callin' it. Like one of those "Grey's Anatomy" doctors, who've just realized their patient isn't going to pull through after a failed surgery. I'm pronouncing the time of death. Asystole. The patient died in 2013.
"American Idol" is dead.
Done. Unless they (Fox) pull the plug now, take the show off the air for a few years, and bring it back revamped, "Idol", in it's current form, is a cadaver.
When did the dying start? When was the first fatal (self inflicted) wound that led to the slow, ugly fall?
I'd argue when Adam Lambert didn't win the "Idol" title in 2009. I understand that America (supposedly) makes the final vote on who wins "Idol". But, "Idol" lost all credibility when Lambert lost the title to Kris Allen. Here was Lambert, who was Freddie Mercury 2.0, bursting with talent and rock star charisma, and he lost to Allen, a...really nice guy. Right then and there, "Idol" seemed to be saying "We are in the lite rock, middle of the road business". The gifted, the extraordinarily talented, the special, now it seemed they didn't have a shot to win "Idol".
You could argue that the fatal wounds started as far back as 2006. That's when Chris Daughtry and Katherine McPhee lost the "Idol" championship to Taylor Hicks. A guy who became a rock star, a woman who would star in a television show, lost to a guy who's stillborn post-"Idol" moves became the stuff of legend. Or, when Jennifer Hudson was eliminated from "Idol" in 2004. And became one of the biggest stars of her generation.
Either way, "Idol" has been slowly dying for a number of years now. And what's tragic is that this could've been prevented.
When "Idol" was king, the magic of the show was the possibility of American talent getting chances that the modern music industry doesn't really allow. Music labels got killed financially in the early 2000's due to internet file sharing (and iTunes), so they stopped sending label reps out in American communities to scout talent. So, if an aspiring singer didn't live in a big media market, like New York, California, or Florida, their chances of getting discovered were slim at best. And also," Idol" gave chances to hopefuls who didn't come out of central casting. Many "Idol" contestants in the early days were tall, short, heavy, straight, gay...a real cross section of Americana.
During this time frame, America was treated to a competition that became a cultural moment. In 2003, two of the most unlikely stars emerged: Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard. Aiken started out awkward and gawky. Studdard was the hulking, Goliath ex-football player. As the months went along, we saw amazing developments in the lives of these two men. Aiken blossomed right in front of us (the nation) into a bonafide sex symbol (I knew a die hard Claymate). Studdard morphed into a symbol of hope for any contestant who may have been heavy, Southern, or...Black, that thought they wouldn't have a shot at stardom in the music industry. We got to see two talents that the major labels wouldn't have even thought to look at dazzle us with their talent. And "Idol" reaped the rewards in the ratings:
"This season's (2003) finale episode still ranks as the most-watched single episode in "Idol" history at 38.1 million, the finale night itself averaged 33.7 million when the pre-show special is taken into consideration. The show also helped Fox become the season's number three network in total viewers for the first time.
" (Courtesy Wikipedia, NewsOk.com, RealityTVWorld.com)
Ruben Studdard won the 2003 title. But Clay Aiken, and "American Idol" won big. Here, it seemed, was a dream factory for the 21st century. We'd see talent from all walks of life get the chance to show their talent, and we would walk with them during their journey. It seemed that "Idol" could, in years to come become America's new pastime.
Nah. That didn't happen.
Instead, the gangrene started to spread. The hosts started to leave. Simon Cowell inadvertently became a superstar, got bored with "Idol" (He phoned in his last season. He looked as if he was in jury duty in every episode), and left. Paula Abdul, everyone's favorite flake, soon left. All that was left was Randy Jackson, who, despite his obvious knowledge as a decades long producer/session man, never really had star wattage. So, "Idol's" producers started plugging in hosts. Ellen DeGeneres had a disastrous brief stint. Kara DioGuardi didn't get enough time to develop. Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler blatantly used "Idol" to repair their stalled careers. After two years, and increased Google hits, Tyler and Lopez hit the door as soon as they could.
Which leads us to the current incarnation of "Idol". The judges (excluding stalwart Jackson) are Keith Urban, Mariah Carey, and Nicki Minaj. Urban has actually been pretty good. Carey isn't fooling anyone: you know she's on "Idol" only to plug her upcoming album, get a few thousand more sales on iTunes, and she's gone. Minaj? Sheesh. She's been a disaster. A living, breathing, streaming train wreck. Her judgements on contestants are incoherent at best. And her mannerisms and ticks are grating. Whenever she speaks, Twitter explodes. In horror. Many people want her gone from "Idol" next year, although one person in the media loves her.
I mentioned it earlier in this article, the only real way to save "Idol" is to put it on hiatus, let the bad taste leave the public's mouth, and bring it back revamped in a few years. "American Idol" needs to go back to it's earlier days, and cast one judge who is famous, and two other judges who are music industry lifers, but the public knows nothing about. That way," Idol" can get away from the current problem of the judges being bigger than the show. Most importantly, "Idol "would have to return to finding diamonds in the rough. We want more left field stars from Montana. Or didn't-see-them-coming kids from Nebraska.
Maybe the only way to save this patient is to put it in a coma.