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macro
03-14-2007, 03:19 PM
Although we already have an AI thread going, this is less about the most recent show and more about the future of the franchise. Has the show really peaked, or is this year just an anomaly? You would think that, out of a country of 300,000,000 people, that they could find 24 who would capture our attention, but they certainly didn't this year.


http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17351018/

American Idol has begun its decline
Show's still a ratings powerhouse, but is showing its age

COMMENTARY
By Andy Dehnart
MSNBC contributor

Updated: 1:36 p.m. ET March 13, 2007

Seven weeks into the sixth season of “American Idol,” one thing is very clear: The phenomenon is over. This is the beginning of the series’ end; the show has peaked. At least it was fun while it lasted.

To be clear, “American Idol” (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11813015/) is not going anywhere. FOX is not going to cancel it; viewers are not going to stop watching tomorrow; Paula Abdul is not going to return to her home planet.

In fact, the show has already been renewed through a ninth season — and possibly two more after that — and it regularly destroys its direct competition in the ratings. The show may even remain at the top of the ratings chart for another season or two.

After 200 episodes, however, there are clear signs of age and fatigue in the series, ones that signal “American Idol”’s time at the top is waning.

Right now, the world is talking about only two things related to “American Idol”: photographs that show a semi-finalist in different states of undress (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17351591/), and how boring the singers are. Nothing else has captured viewers’ attention.

Antonella Barba’s popularity isn’t surprising, but considering that she was one of the competition’s weaker singers, the fact that she’s become synonymous with this season is very telling. Discussion of Antonella and those photographs has all but consumed the coverage of the show, because there really isn’t anything else to talk about.

While “Idol” has always been personality-driven, which is why it’s more of a reality series than a straight talent show like “Star Search,” the show depends upon more than just allegedly scandalous photographs of a 20-year-old. It needs incredible talent to power a stunning conclusion, and the stunning moments that will inevitably come along the way.

Will anyone really care or be surprised if any one of the 12 finalists go home prematurely? Melinda Doolittle is quite talented, for example, but an undeniable part of her front-runner status comes from the weakness of her competition.

And what kind of conclusion will this season offer? Not much of one, considering how flat and uninteresting this group of 12 is as a whole — and how flat the group of 24 before it was. Perhaps one of the boring finalists will grow to mediocre and then even good, and that person’s growth will be so impressive that America will award that person the title. At best, a third of the top 12 are interesting performers with distinct styles; the others are forgettable.

There’s also been relatively little drama, and the show desperately needs that to remain engaging. The auditions — all 10 hours of them — were rather dull. There were no weirdo standouts, and not really many surprisingly amazing singers, either. The delusional singers who paraded before the judges were just like every other season’s delusional singers.

America, it seems, has run out of both talent and creative attention-seekers. Viewers noticed: From the first night of the auditions to the final “best of the rest” show, almost 10 million viewers tuned out.

The top 24 didn’t give America much more to be excited about. In fact, about six million viewers who watched last Wednesday cared so little about which four people went home first that they didn’t bother to tune in Thursday, giving “Idol” its lowest ratings yet for the season. Again, to be fair, 24.2 million people watched and the show easily destroyed its competition. Those are great numbers, but for “American Idol,” they’re weak. Perhaps most tellingly, “Grey’s Anatomy” drew more viewers when it aired later that night.

Last season, Paula Abdul’s unpredictable behavior at the judges’ table gave the country something to tune in for. After she gave a series of televised interviews while slurring her words and swaying at the beginning of this season, she seemed on track to top herself.

Instead, she’s been relatively normal, praising the singers for things that have nothing to do with their singing and hitting Simon Cowell whenever he says something mean. While both she and Randy have been more honest this year, they’re still overshadowed by Simon Cowell’s blisteringly blunt assessments. Most of the time, the judges seem as bored as we are.

Other signs, too, point toward the series’ slipping appeal. A Billboard analyst predicts that Taylor Hicks’ poorly performing album (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17384652/)may be the first winner’s album to not sell 1 million copies. Season-five winner Taylor’s first single debuted last summer with respectable numbers, but compared to other “Idol” winners and runners-up, his first-week single sales were easily beaten by Clay Aiken, Ruben Studdard, and Kelly Clarkson.

Someone who lost to Taylor, Chris Daughtry, is topping the charts, and has almost sold 2 million copies of his album. While he (and Carrie Underwood, and others) prove that Idols can still sell records, what’s the point of a talent competition where the losers are better than the winners?

Part of the show’s contract with viewers is that the show is a legitimate “idol”-maker, even if the show’s contract also makes viewers responsible for the outcome. Without winners who succeed, the show’s title will become as irrelevant as that of “America’s Next Top Model,” which produces engaging drama but has yet to produce an actual top model (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10298815/#antm). If “Idol” can’t bring the drama, which it certainly isn’t doing this year, then FOX better start selecting a nice tombstone, or at least looking for a replacement.

“American Idol” is, of course, far from a failure. It produced an Oscar winner, several Grammys, some CMA awards, hundreds of hours of entertainment, and literally billions of dollars. The show and its cast have also offered enough material to flood radio waves, magazine pages, web sites, cable news shows, message boards, and books with news, gossip, and endless discussion year-round, even when the show is off the air.

Every season, FOX network executives — and executives at other networks — wait to see if the viewership will continue to increase. “American Idol” has defied the odds so far, growing from year to year.

Plenty of other shows, reality and otherwise, start on top and then slide to a comfortable position; they’re watched by a solid group of viewers and are occasionally talked about on a national level. But they are no longer phenomenons. That is now “American Idol”’s destiny.

Dom Heffner
03-14-2007, 04:53 PM
Especially if the get out the vote for the worst person continues to work.

The only good news is that the good people seem to be outpacing Sanjaya.

WMR
03-14-2007, 05:15 PM
Die American Idol!! DIE DIE DIE

I don't watch the show, but Howard Stern is campaigning for that Sanjaya character b/c he/she sucks so bad, so I might hafta cast my first AI vote. ;)

rotnoid
03-14-2007, 05:46 PM
Die American Idol!! DIE DIE DIE

Amen. :bash:

Ltlabner
03-14-2007, 05:52 PM
As if often the case, shows with a new twist that suddenly become huge usually die for the same reason: they run out of new ideas.

In this case, they run out of new tallent and the formuals that make the show work. Simon gets bored. Paula drifts in and out of lucidity. Ryan is more annoying than ever (makes one long for the days of Foglesang). At lest Randy says "dog" and "pitchy" a lot.

remdog
03-14-2007, 05:53 PM
I can't believe anyone watched this piece of drivel in the first place. :evil:

Rem

HumnHilghtFreel
03-14-2007, 05:56 PM
I hate this show, but even if it's in a decline, it's had an impressive run as a media juggernaut.

I think having it as a yearly contest burns it out quick.

RichRed
03-14-2007, 05:59 PM
Seacrest out. No, I mean it. Get out. Now.

Chip R
03-14-2007, 07:29 PM
I don't watch the show but the premise seems to be valid. You have 3 professional music people deciding on who can be the next big star. That's much better than having the contestants voting each other out. But it seems now like since they gave the public a vote, it became less valid and more of a popularity contest.

Yachtzee
03-14-2007, 07:43 PM
I don't have a problem with AI the concept. I just hate how the other networks feel the need to hide good programming for fear fo putting it up against AI.

macro
03-15-2007, 01:56 AM
I can't believe anyone watched this piece of drivel in the first place. :evil:

Rem

I'm starting to question my decision, rem. I guess I just got tired of not being in on the water cooler talk for so long.

It's starting to feel like an enormous waste of time.

Ltlabner
03-15-2007, 07:56 AM
I'm starting to question my decision, rem. I guess I just got tired of not being in on the water cooler talk for so long.

It's starting to feel like an enormous waste of time.

No need to applogize. It's a fun esacpe. Drivel...absoutley!

But I understand what you mean. This is the first season I've really invested in the show for a longer term and it is dissapointing that it's also the same season things are starting to deterorate.

KronoRed
03-15-2007, 03:04 PM
I would think on a show like this that after a few years it would seem like more of the same, pretty people barely being able to carry a tune.

Even that has to get old.

IslandRed
03-15-2007, 05:12 PM
I don't watch the show but the premise seems to be valid. You have 3 professional music people deciding on who can be the next big star. That's much better than having the contestants voting each other out. But it seems now like since they gave the public a vote, it became less valid and more of a popularity contest.

The public vote has always been there, which means the occasional wacky results also trace back to the first season. Having said that, the public usually gets the right people to the endgame. Not always, though.

I haven't watched the show faithfully, but after its initial splash, it hit a lull in the third season. Similar to this season, actually -- a couple of standout female R&B types (Fantasia, Jennifer Hudson) and not much else. The following season, AI raised the age limit and seemed to be more open to those outside the pop/R&B mold, and the diverse styles of the contestants seemed to give it a shot in the arm. Now it's in a lull again. It'll be interesting to see what they change, if anything, for the next year.

Strikes Out Looking
03-15-2007, 06:45 PM
I hate the show because it is responsible for the death of some really good television, such as the Knights of Prosperity.

Dom Heffner
03-15-2007, 06:55 PM
I hate the show because it is responsible for the death of some really good television, such as the Knights of Prosperity.


It's probably killed off 4 or 5 Andy Richter series all by itself.

Strikes Out Looking
03-16-2007, 02:41 PM
It's probably killed off 4 or 5 Andy Richter series all by itself.

And I love Andy Richter. His new show on NBC is pretty good.

smith288
03-17-2007, 11:31 PM
I watched season 1 to now pretty closely and I can tell you now, this years sucks worse than I can remember. They kicked out some quality folks in the auditions and kept losers. I dunno, just real disappointing.

The fan vote has to be re-evaluated. The votefortheworst.com has given us a horribly feminate Indian dude who thinks he is Michael Jackson.

Red in Chicago
03-18-2007, 12:07 AM
i watch the show every week and still enjoy it...not really sure why...i personally have never voted, though i came close once...very rarely does the best singer ever win out...this year, i'm rooting for lakisha, but i doubt that she can pull it off...the dude who looks like justin timberlake keeps me glued to the set:evil:

macro
04-05-2007, 12:55 PM
The ploy of putting Sanjaya on the show is working like a charm for Fox...so far. NBC Nightly News had a feature on his role on the show last night. How often can you get a plug from a rival network? Do you think NBC would have been doing a feature to say "meanwhile, American Idol is moving right along, with a completely normal Season Six..."?

In the end, this will backfire, as those (like me) who wanted to take the show seriously won't be able to do so anymore. It kinda reminds me of the old Phil Donahue show. He started in the early days with a good show with serious topics. But then when the Springers of the world started getting better ratings with their bar room brawls, he resorted to the same tactics, and his show became a trash fest. Not saying Idol will become a trash fest, but I think its legitimacy has been compromised. Stories like the one at votefortheworst.com that reveal the inner workings of the show further that compromise.