Bring On The Drama – This Is American Idol!
Once again FOX brings back its rating juggernaut for Season 11. The show that brings all kinds of people from across the country to find their inner singer inside them, or at least see if they can have 15 seconds of fame in front of over 20 million viewers. Singing is the name of this game, but the results does not always bring hit songs to the radio, although you can count on lots of drama before a winner is decided. This Is American Idol!
Tonight is the start of the process to find the next Idol. Will their star shine with the likes of Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, and David Cook – or will they flame out like past winners Ruben Studdard, Taylor Hicks or Lee DeWyze. Finding out is what makes the show work so well, but the key has to be a high level of singing talent.
Sure it is fun to watch the tryouts to see the great and the “not even close” who make up the entertainment of the first few shows. You can forget William Hung during the Season 3 tryouts. His performance of “She Bangs” still resonates as one of the classic moments of Idol. He showed heart – saying to the judges “I already gave my best, and I have no regrets at all”. He turned his lack of talent into a YouTube sensation with around 3 million hits for that memorable moment on Idol, recorded an album, got to star in a movie in China, and may have had more success than that season’s winner Fantasia Barrino.
Hollywood week has brought all kinds of fighting among the contestants as the singing starts to get serious. One great performance could be enough to get you through Hollywood Week. Take Andrew Garcia who may have had one of the most creative moments in the show’s history when he took Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up” and flipped it from a dance track into acoustic pop magic. Andrew did not match that moment, but that performance helped a great deal to get him into the Top-12 in Season 9.
The Top-12 brings the best usually that Idol has to offer, although you sometimes wonder how some got through or even survive as long as they did. Sanjaya Malakar was one of the most polarizing finalist ever on the show. He managed to get to the Top 7 in Season 6, and many thought how he kept surviving each week. Sanjaya was a personality in his style, and has managed to cash that in through reality TV like “I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Og Here” and “Celebridate”, but singing has not happened for the 22-yr-old.
On the positive side are those great performances you may never forget from the finalists. David Cook seemed to have one every week. He took a rare version on Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” that brought him all the buzz in Season 7. He took Chris Cornell’s take of the song, which the Soundgarden lead singer went on to say was better than his version. Cook went from rock, to pop, to Andrew Lloyd Webber (his version of “Music Of The Night” is haunting), to champion!
Then there is the moment when your jaw hits the floor when a contestant destined for the Finale is ousted way too early. Chris Daughtry was so good in Season 5 that the band Fuel wanted him to become their new lead singer. He seemed destined to win when the shock came that he was voted out in 4th. “Soul Patrol” propelled Taylor Hicks to the win, but Chris has since formed a band you may know that has had at least a dozen hit songs, 4 Grammy nominations, and the last laugh!
Last year Pia Toscano was being touted as the one to beat, and yet she was eliminated in 9th place. Country music has received the rewards of last season’s Finale between Scotty McCreary and Lauren Alaina, but Pia may become the biggest star yet, like Daughtry is now.
The hope for Season 11 is a Finale that can re-capture the true drama of Adam Lambert vs. Kris Allen. America seemed divided over the clean cut Midwestern boy that is Kris against the flamboyant and ofter over-the-top Lambert with the mad vocals. Allen won Season 8 and had a couple of hit songs (his cover of Kanye West’s “Heartless” in wonderful) but Lambert is already a pop culture icon who has become a news-maker and Pop Star.
You may be tried of this show, but it’s always changing because of the talent, and in the end it’s a competition with drama. No guarantees the show will produce superstars, but American Idol has its share of success. Percentages say there have been more failures as far as pop hits, but the ratings keep this show going, and I’m sure by the time we get to the Top-12 we will be listing what to do to fix the show (First Thought: Kelly Clarkson to be a judge in the future!)