Losing Credibility: Why Idol Doesn’t Sell Big (Like It Used to)
Someone on the previous thread posted a link to an article about some former Idols only attracting a crowd of 50 (older audience members at that), really projecting an idea that former American Idols are now just “has beens” (and they haven’t even reached middle age!).
So, why is it that only Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood (and to a lesser extent Jordin Sparks and Fantasia) are the only Idol winners to really achieve what the show promised them – pop stardom – while the male winners have yet to reach their level? Indeed, in the wake of David Archuleta’s season, it would seem that the Idol winners – all cut out from the same WGWG cloth – are not reigning supreme like their female counterparts, even though audiences have been picking them as winners.
In short, why are the latest Idol winners not “selling” or “crossing over” into pop stardom like they used to?
Perhaps this is all tied to what I think is the loss of credibility that the latest wins reveal about the competition.
Consider: When Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood won their titles, nobody but nobody questioned their rightful win. Sure, a runner-up like Bo Bice gave Carrie Underwood a run for her money, but Justin Guarini was no where near Kelly’s level. Their wins were a foregone conclusion.
People were still biting their nails during David’s finale, and critics even called the competition for Archuleta. After Cook won, the media still treated David as if he were the defacto Idol winner.
It just goes to show: the audiences might want “the guy next door,” but everyone else recognizes a star when they see one.
When “the guy next door” beats out the “obvious winner,” wouldn’t you say a show premised on finding the “next big pop star” has a credibility problem?
And say what you will about Adam Lambert the following season: he definitely had more “star” potential than “guy next door” Kris Allen. Crystal Bowersox the next season may not be “star quality,” but her talent definitely trumped eventual winner Lee DeWyze.
Season 10’s “Country” finale doesn’t even count, as far as I’m concerned since neither winner Scotty McCreery nor runner-up Lauren Alaina come close to pop crossover country like Carrie Underwood.
And Season 11’s Phillip Phillips as a “pop star”? Sorry, but – despite her imitative performances – runner-up Jessica Sanchez could easily fit the “pop songstress” mold.
In short, Idol has stopped becoming a “star finder” and instead became a “pick-your-favorite-coffee-shop-or-bar-singer.”
And you know me: in my David-centric universe, I blame David’s loss of the crown on this state of affairs as well. Had he won his season, justice would have been served, and all would be right in the Idol world following his wake. 😛
So, I’m saddened to hear that really talented Idol finalists like Elliott Yamin and former Idol winner Ruben Studdard – two male contestants who I really admired during my early Idol-watching days – are struggling for an audience (and for promotion). Sadly, their soul-singing talents have been trumped by the mediocrity of WGWG in recent years, and no one is as interested in genuine male vocalists anymore.
Will this uninterested audience be equally uninterested in David when he returns in 2014? I really am hoping for a culture change by then. Perhaps David picked the best time to “disappear” while completing his mission in Chile.