“The Problem is with American Idol”

That was the conclusion made by one of my Thanksgiving dinner guests during a conversation we had about the Adam Lambert AMA controversy.  Not surprising, since I’m one of the few people who will admit to religiously watching American Idol, and my friends tolerate my ODD as some kind of benign chocolate addiction – heh.

But I must admit that I was surprised that one of my guests saw the problem as less an artistic issue and more a “handlers” issue.  The full comment was as follows:

“The problem is not Adam Lambert but that godforsaken enterprise that is American Idol! I mean, who else had the means, the clout, and the irresponsibility to put out an untried and untested performer to close out an established awards show? Just so they can promote their brand? But no one wants to talk about that!” 

My other guests concurred. They don’t just not watch the show, they loathe American Idol, even though I’m always trying to convince them that there is genuine talent that emerges from the show – not just our David but Melinda Doolittle, Jennifer Hudson, Ruben Studdard, Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Fantasia, Daughtry, Jordin Sparks, and a host of others.  But the talent isn’t what bothers them; it’s that these contestants are seen as not having “paid their dues,” and so, there was an overall rejection that any of these artists are worthy of their “hype.”

Obviously, their view of Adam Lambert is that he’s “derivative.” Another guest was appalled, not by the gay kiss or the simulated BJ but by how he completely ripped off Madonna – “down to the same damn mirror on stage! And I’m sorry, but who the hell is Adam Lambert to think he even measures up to a legend like Madonna, or even a Britney, to be complaining about ‘double standards’!”  


With such anti-Idol sentiments expressed, I’m rather relieved that David isn’t fully embraced by the 19 Machine, given there is this perception out there.  If the distance increases between him and the show, then the negative backlash against the show won’t necessarily affect him, not to mention his talent will stand the test of time.  David is young enough to recover from the Idol stigma and will be able to flourish even more so once it’s off the air.  Still, I do think it’s unfortunate that, rather than be known as a legitimate discoverer of rising stars, they are now only known for hyping up “untried” talent, shoving said talent down audiences’ throats, and bullying the music scene with a preponderance of Idol contestants (the AMA featured a total of five out of the roster of performers and presenters) – not all of whom are respected, simply because they are seen first as reality-TV personalities and second as music artists (if even that). I mean, on the Kaleidoscope show, David was still being introduced as an Idol alum (but then, the show was aired on FOX, so I’m going to let that slide). 

What I took away from this conversation was an aspect of the Glambert controversy not often discussed, which does reflect a mix of homophobia and general outrage at what is often perceived to be “too much sex” in the current pop music scene, but one that is combined with American Idol fatigue.  After all the build-up of AL’s “shocking” debut, only for people to be really “shocked,” just goes to show that the American Idol machine will do anything it can to pimp out their artists so it can remain in the public conscious.  Meanwhile, its continued focus on sales, cheap publicity, cheap gimmicks on the show, high ratings, and yet another season of hype, hype, hype will ensure that the show will go on – whether or not we want it it to.

In all this hoopla, I’m just grateful that David came off the show with his unassuming humility, integrity, and incredulous Voice still in tact.

Posted on November 27, 2009, in American Idol. Bookmark the permalink. 35 Comments.

  1. Happy Black Friday 🙂

    CFTH is #45 (overall) on my iTunes
    #3 for holiday albums

  2. Rascal did a mashup of David’s “Fields of Gold” (taking the audio from SnarkyMawg’s vid and the visual from YouCanCallMeTina’s vid and mashing together).


  3. If I could I’d make everyone I know listen to that performance. Stunning doesn’t even cover it.

  4. HG

    Thank you for sharing the discussion. Your friend put their finger on the core issue.

    “The problem is not Adam Lambert but that godforsaken enterprise that is American Idol! I mean, who else had the means, the clout, and the irresponsibility to put out an untried and untested performer to close out an established awards show? Just so they can promote their brand? But no one wants to talk about that!“


    David Archuleta 24/7 video/chat go here and bookmark the link http://bit.ly/6jULZS especially if you have had issues finding us.

  5. CFTH is #43 on iTunes.

  6. What a strange tweet from David:

    Ann Arbor, Michigan show! I’ll be performing with the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra tonight at the Hill Auditorium! Anyone coming??

    Don’t ever remember him inquiring about who would show up for one of his shows. Usually it’s along the lines of, “Hope you enjoy the show!”

    I really hope somebody higher up isn’t putting the pressure on him just because the Ann Arbor show didn’t sell out as expected. Especially when the blame falls squarely on his handlers since little was done in promoting this show.

    I mean, had he gotten half the hype the Glambert is getting, a sellout is a no-brainer (not to mention the main audience they’ve been targeting has been tweens, and from the looks of the venue, it’s not exactly “tween-friendly.” Isn’t the Hill Auditorium on the campus of U Mich? When have they ever promoted David to the young adult college-age audience? I’d be amazed if they even know he’s got a Christmas album out).

    I dunno – knowing that Disney is behind this, I’m especially annoyed at their lack of promo.

    • HG,
      David has tweeted that question on more than one occasion. I can’t remember when exactly, but he has for sure.
      Just scrolled my collection of non-erased as yet tweets – I found one recent occasion – Nov 23, wanted to know if anyone was coming to Abravanel Hall.

    • Wow. Adam Lambert has really gotten the better of a lot of people! I don’t care what kind of David spin is put on this but the bitter barn appears to be filling up! I think there should be some discussion about the attempt Janet Jackson made at trying to resurrect the exposed boob scandal (oh my! the children! their eyes!) by grabbing her dancer square in the fun part of the crotch. Or was she just honoring her brother’s incessant habit? Anyway, I blame Idol for that too. They had to be involved in it.

      Sorry, my tryptophan just wore off…

      • Oh, you children of the millennium who 1) don’t recognize that Janet Jackson was merely recreating the dance from her “If” music video and 2) don’t recognize all the 80s pop stars Adam Lambert wishes he could emulate!

    • Recreating or not, what of the children’s eyes?? I guess it depends on who is doing the grabbing. I wonder what Shakira was recreating?

  7. Again, a very interesting post HG.

    Over the summer, 19E announced a new contract w/R. Seacrest & his company. Between, 19E, Fox, Seacrest (e.g., KIIS radio) and the Ellen Show, American Idol is poised to continue it’s media domination in the way that Dick Clark Productions did during the 70’s & 80’s. Dick Clark started the AMA’s & New Year’s Rockin Eve to provide more platforms for the entertainers in his stable. Seacrest is now exec prod & partial owner of Rockin Eve. Let the AI pimping begin!

    • All these AI connections make me sick. Season 9 will be yet another never-ending Adam Lambert commercial, because the 19 Machine needs to work hard to make his album go gold and possibly platinum. He is not getting radio play, so it’s Seacrest to the rescue, and the ever-so-smarmy Ellen.

  8. From IDF, a dress rehearsal photo from Ann Arbor.

  9. CFTH is #40 on the iTunes main chart.

  10. chicagoarchie08 from Ann Arbor…….

    http://twitpic.com/r7y8v – Program they gave us for tonight. Spoilers alert!
    less than 5 seconds ago from TwitPic

    Waltz of the Flowers
    Sleigh Ride

    Why oh Why aren’t they doing a professional video of this show tonight?
    or televising it on PBS??? Why?

    • frogcooke

      RT @PriErikaKothari Just got out of the meet and greet NO CAMERA POLICY enforced. There will be a bagcheck. < time 2 get creative archies!
      half a minute ago from TweetDeck

      • Men usually have lots of pockets on their clothing; I hope someone can sneak a cell phone in the venue.

        Re. that program, I wonder if #Ricardo is working for Disney. I thought Disney was doing the arrangements???

      • How about one of those nice victoria secrets bras? hehe

    • That’s what I’d like to know! 😦

  11. David is getting older & wiser…….

    “I think where I have changed in the past two years is learning how to speak up for myself,”
    “But I’ve learned how to ask for things. To tell people I want this or that. You have to or you would get walked on. You realize that it is a business.”


  12. I just discovered this website while cruising The David Chronicles and ONCE AGAIN, I lost my stupid password and getting another one is just a big headache, I get absolutely nowhere (does anyone know how–again?) HG, this website is every bit as good as TDC, and I don’t have to remember a ridiculously long password that I can’t even choose by myself. I hate assigned passwords because I can never remember them (I use the same password for just about every website that allows me to decide–getting older has its drawbacks!)

    As for Adam Lambert and the AMA, etc. My honest opinion is: WHO CARES WHAT THIS GUY DOES? I never paid attention to American Idol until March of 2008 when I stumbled upon David by chance and after one performance–Smokey Mountain Memories–I was hooked (for life). I knew after Season 7 that no one would ever be able to hold a candle to his talent and refused to waste my time with the show any more. I knew about Adam Lambert & Kris Allen because the show is so heavily publicized that you cannot escape it (although, now that I think back, I don’t remember hearing anything about Season 7 until late March–weird!). I did hear about Adam’s antics at the AMA and wasn’t surprised. And I also realize the criticism that AI has endured because it’s considered a “shortcut” to stardom and no one really pays their dues. That’s not completely true; AI gives needed exposure to the contestants but that doesn’t mean they’ll get recording contracts or, even if they do, sell thousands of CDs. Dues are paid one way or another and, IMHO, David has been paying his dues since May 2008. He’s not a superstar (yet). His CDs sell, but not on the same level as other musical artists. He’s overlooked by the music world as a young, “pretty boy” with a good voice. But we all know there’s more to David Archuleta than that. It doesn’t matter what others think about him; they can reach any conclusions they want. But NO ONE can deny David’s incredible voice. My oldest daughter (who just moved to Murray and who I’m visiting with right now) thinks David is funny-looking and weird and doesn’t care for him as an artist. But even she had to admit he can sing.

    Enough of this! I was able to attend David’s opening night concert on SLC on the 24th and the next day my friend Dorothy and I went to a brunch at the Lion House attended by other David fans. It was so nice to be having a delicious meal in a beautiful place surrounded by other fans and being free to talk about David to our heart’s content without being embarrassed or anyone giving us strange looks. I got to meet SandyBeaches and Cutter12 from TDC. One woman at my table had seen David 5-6 times; another had flown in from Calgary, Alberta. Richard Parkinson (David’s arranger) was there with his family and he talked and entertained us. Someone gave Dorothy and me tickets for that night’s performance so we were able to go again–we couldn’t believe our luck! Dorothy said David sounded a little tired but I didn’t notice it. He has grown so much as a performer, he commands the stage and is in complete control. What a difference between the boy on American Idol almost 2 years ago (has it really been that long?) and the young man now on a concert tour.

    My daughter lives a few miles from the Archuletas but I think they are selling their house. This can’t be an easy time for David, especially this time of year. My prayers are with him.

    • Wow! Thanks so much for sharing your experience, Lulu, and welcome to my blog! 🙂

    • lulu, i enjoyed your firsthand story. one of these days i’d like to attend an opening night concert in slc.

      to change your password on tdc, go to where you would normally log in. at the bottom of that page are 2 bullets. one says “register” and the other says “lost password”. hope this works!

      • haha, I had the same problem with the password thingy, had lose it so I didnt comment though I still lurk often, enjoy the articles there too !
        Listening to the cell cast at Ann Anbor now, its funny how we can hear David ‘s Voice clearly at times but not the orchestra lol

  13. no cameras at Ann Arbor allowed tonight

    hehe….somebody’s got a good hiding place

    the stage


  14. FYI …

    “Oh ya to clarify where David ate Thanksgiving dinner. He ate it at the symphony’s conductor’s house. Said they were very kind! Aww!”

    “Oh by the way this concert totally disproved the theory that David only has teens and women as fans. So many men there!”

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