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This page contains a single entry by Westley Annis published on February 1, 2007 11:15 PM.

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American Idol: Truly great or truly outrageous?

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The sixth season of American Idol has started which means the water cooler conversation is going to start heating up again (at least it will have to heat up again once we get through the boiling point known as the Superbowl - Go Colts!).

Just in case you have just returned after being abducted by aliens for the past six years, American Idol is a tv show that purports to find the next great singer in America. Thousands of people will audition in front of the shows panel of judges, Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul, and Simon Cowell, for a chance to go to Hollywood. Once in Hollywood, they will then go through several days of learning new songs and performing them in front of the judges again until they are whittled down to 24, twelve each of male and female performers. At this point the judges become commentators and no longer directly effect who will stay on the show and who won't. The television audience will now have the opportunity to start voting for their favorite performer via phone or text messaging. The performers will sing on Tuesday nights and then come back on Wednesday night for the results.

As the show wears on, they will start singing longer songs and more songs. Finally, we reach the last week, two contestants battle it out to be crowned the next American Idol.

There has been controversy at times over the voting. Only the shows producers know the actual tally of votes and they never reveal the actual numbers, so with the exception of knowing who got the fewest votes week in and week out, they get booted off, you never know how the performers ranked among the survivors.

The first couple of weeks are taped performances from the actual auditions that are held across the nation. You also never see the people that can actually sing. The clips usually feature some of the most god-awful singers. Besides not having a voice to sing with, they almost always walk out complaining that the three judges don't know anything about singing.

Some will try to plead their case, hoping the judges will change their mind (happens like never). A few come dressed up in crazy costumes, but I always laugh at the ones that want to dance at the same time they are singing. It's a singing competition, not a dancing competition.

As bad as some of the singers are, some of the entertainment columnists and critics can be as bad. They want every American Idol to walk off the stage with two Grammy awards sticking out of their back pocket.

I think these writers are missing the point of Idol. America is not using the show to musical geniuses, we want to find people who can truly sing and entertain.

Season 5 is a great example. The two finalists, Taylor Hicks and Katherine McPhee were both fantastic singers. Taylor Hicks pulled out the win, not because he was a better singer, but because he was a better entertainer, something my daughter still doesn't understand.

Another complaint ofter lodged against the show is that the music chosen for the contestants is so "sanitized" as to have no musical value, being disposable.

I think they are missing the point completely. There is a place in the world for musical experimenters, those artists who want to change the way music sounds. But there is also a place in the world for "POP" singers. Sometimes people just want to listen something that is pleasing to the ear.

Case in point, Mickey Mouse Club Mouskateer Annette Funicello. No one ever thought she would win a Grammy every year, yet she had what has to be considered a successful career with twelve albums released. I don't think any of her recordings won any awards, but thirty years later they are still selling. Annette has a very pleasing voice and she sang catchy upbeat songs that you could listen to with your parents around and years later with your kids.

Although only the final winner, the American Idol, is guaranteed a recording contract, a number of contestants who have made the final ten have gone on to sign a recording contract. In fact, I would say that Season Two's runner-up, Clay Aiken, has had a better career than winner Ruben Studdard.

When all is said and done, American Idol is doing exactly what it aims to do, find the next undiscovered singing talent in America. Now excuse me while I go order Katherine McPhee's new album.


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