As Lee DeWyze was announced winner of “American Idol,” a realization began to occur. My time with the show has officially come to an end. After nine years of watching, cheering, calling, and getting angry with this show has culminated into a season of disappointment.
First, let’s be fair. Lee is a pretty good singer. And he came on in the final weeks from almost obscurity to winning the whole thing. That takes talent and I hope he sells millions of records. I really do.
But this season, which had some of the weakest singers in history, had a shining light in Crystal Bowersox. Virtually every week she was if not the top singer, she was one of the top three. When Crystal did have a bad week, it was criticized more by the judges and it was considered to be beneath her to sing badly. This, in turn, opened it up for other singers. And Lee took advantage.
My problem and the biggest criticism that “Idol” has always had is that it does not cater to unique non-rock singers. Sure, there are singers that don’t go rock and have been successful (see Underwood, Carrie) but for the most part it ends up being about a boy who can make the preteens go wild.
More Harry Connick Jr. and less Justin Bieber would give the show a lot more credibility.
The last three winners (DeWyze, Kris Allen, and David Cook) are all essentially young, safe rock singers. The days of a Ruben Studdard or Taylor Hicks shocking the world have passed. The record industry knows what will sell to teenagers and work the show in their favor.
Are viewers getting tired of this vanilla karaoke contest? Well if you go by the ratings and the drop off that’s happened this year (including getting beat several times by “Dancing with the Stars”) it seems like “Idol” has hit its peak years ago and has nowhere to go but down.
And we haven’t mentioned the problem with Simon leaving the show. With “X Factor” coming next year, “American Idol” will be competing against a newer, sexier version of itself. That usually doesn’t work out for the older show. And unless a really shocking judge is brought in, most people won’t be tuning in for Randy, Kara, and Ellen.
So American Idol I thank you for nine years of springtime weeknight entertainment. It’s been a fun ride. But I miss the old you, when Fantasia and Kelly made us smile. Hopefully, you’ll do well without me, because after tonight I know I’ll do well without you.