American Idol: A Eulogy

11 May

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Oh, American Idol, how I will miss you. Oh wait, I have not watched you in several years. Actually, the last American Idol I remember was back when I was an undergrad in college; that just demonstrates the show’s fortitude and perseverance. I post the picture above not out of ignorance but out of nostalgia for a time where Paula Abdul’s ridiculous ramblings about nonsense were persistently chided by the abrasive Simon Cowell. Nostalgia for a time when Randy Jackson’s “dawgs” were held in such high esteem by the show’s wide audience. Nostalgia for the American Idol of old, the show that spawned the superstar talents of Kelly, Carrie, Phil, Jennifer (even though she did not win), and many more.

Ok, I sound like a total fanboy, but let me explain. As much as American Idol, which has just announced that its 15th season on the air will be its lost, has jumped the shark so many times that even Henry Winkler would be disgusted, the show has represented a quintessential model of successful television; it has been tremendously malleable while keeping its initial frame. The show’s point is still the same, to be crowned the top singer and receive the American Idol crown, but the judges and format has changed. Actually, let me emend my statement; Ryan Seacrest has not changed. No one has benefitted more than Seacrest who is conservatively worth $300 million and has turned into the next Dick Clark, which is a title he deserves; I happen to think he is an excellent television host.

That said, after 13 years on the air – yes, the show premiered in 2002 – the show has not garnered much viewership in the last few seasons, and Fox has decided to cut it. The talent-show Ozymandias will finally be buried into the annals of time, and it is about time. Will it be missed? Sure. However, the time is right for it to be brought out to pasture. It was a great run.

So, consider this my haphazard, odd eulogy to a show that, as much as I sometimes hate to admit it, I grew up with. American Idol, in a twisted sort of way, represents family. Seriously. For many years, American Idol was a two (often times 3)-day-a-week tradition. My mother, sister, and I would sit down, mockingly hum the opening, laugh hysterically at the awful performers, provide astute observations of early favorites, chastise those contestants who only got by on looks and had no talent, and cheer – well, my mother would cheer – contestants we found to be fantastic. There was joy in watching the show, some strange sense of familial togetherness all because of American Idol. And, for that, I thank American Idol. You became a pretty boring show, but you had a great run.

Music Court, out.

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