Time to Seriously Look at What is Wrong With American Idol [VIDEO]
American Idol crowned Phillip Phillips as the winner of Season 11, wrapping up a year that may have been the least successful since the Fox series debut back in 2002.
Phillips seemed to be the destined winner when you see that he had female appeal, was a top vote-getter all season, and can you remember him ever in the bottom 3? Fact is Phillips is safe - his sound is easily compared to Dave Matthews. His version of "Give A Little More" really reflects that, and it is a cool version of the Maroon 5 song.
Phil's sound will find an audience, but will it produce pop hits? I would not bet on it, but having a niche should help him. Look at Scotty McCreery - his country twang paid off with 2 country hit singles that sold nearly 2 Million combined, and his debut CD is also approaching 2 Million sold.
So the question is could Phil's style be embraced by Rock radio? Does not seem likely, so all the eggs are in the Pop basket - the last Idol winner to have a Billboard Top-10 hit was David Cook in '08 ("The Time of My Life" reached #3).
Phillips could suffer from the lack of support for the FOX series this season. The show opened with about 22 Million viewers, which was over 4 Million less than the previous season and the lowest season debut since Season 1. Tuesday's final battle with Phillip and Jessica Sanchez saw only 15 Million viewers - the lowest viewership in the franchise's history! Wednesday's finale drew about 21 Million viewers - tops in the ratings that night but worst for the show's history. When the highlight of the finale involves former finalists of the past Ace Young and Diana DeGarmo (a very sweet moment that saw Ace propose), that reeks of a problem.
There are many problems with American Idol, but not all of it is their fault. Success breeds copies - take The Voice and The X Factor. Idol is not the only game on TV anymore, but it is still the standard bearer. The X Factor is the biggest problem because it took the strongest part of Idol away - Simon Cowell. Love him or hate him, he is missed terribly at the judge's table.
The closet the show could come to replace him is Jimmy Iovine. The mentor to the talent on Isdol the last 2 years is opinionated, has a personality, can be snarky like Cowell, and is well respected in the music industry. Jimmy says he does not want to judge - FOX needs to convince him otherwise.
Randy Jackson and his "What Up Dog!" has gotten old, J. Lo is ready to leave, and Steven Tyler ruffled too many feathers with his "dirty old man" moments during the tryouts. Fresh blood is needed to join Iovine, but familiarity has to be key as well.
Kelly Clarkson is doing Duets for ABC, possibly killing that obvious choice for Idol. The first winner who stood up to one of the most powerful men in music (Clive Davis) and released her 2nd CD when that man wanted her to scrap it definitely has the stuff to judge.
Shania Twain judged in the tryout phase one season, and has been a guest mentor before. She would bring a stronger player to Lopez's seat, a major likability with a strong opinion, and a sales record that's hard to top - her 1997 release Come On Over is one of the most successful selling CDs in music history (over 40 Million worldwide).
Those 3 would be a more affordable option at the judge's table, and the bottom line is something FOX has to start and look at. The days of Idol with 30-35 Million viewers has came and left - part due to the "popularity contest" that the show is and will not change.
Other things for FOX to look at would be a more modern selection of music to possibly get new people to this party, stop trying to stretch episodes with "filler" to get to 2 hours, and maybe consider putting some power in the judge's for the final winner (50% audience votes and 50% judges ruling in the Final 2 only).
American Idol is still a success, but it's hard to see that against the mega success of the past. Idol will not go away, but it should reconsider the way they do things (especially if Simon and Paula Abdul are not coming back ever!)