It’s amazing how things work out. I remember how I was soooooo not in a celebratory mood when David lost to Cook (as the above pic reminds me), but I also still held out hope that these Idol contestants would have successful careers, parlaying something out of their exposure on American Idol.
Who would have ever predicted that – six years from that moment – David would be recovering his music career after a two-year stint on a religious mission and that Michael Johns would no longer walk this earth at the young age of 35?
Unpredictable realities. But in a way, American Idol has always been unpredictable. Had it not been for Kelly Clarkson’s successful music career, I think this show would have wrapped up after a few seasons – even before David had a chance to audition for Season 7.
Alas, Kelly made a name for herself, as did Clay Aiken as Season 2’s runner-up, as did Fantasia and Jennifer Hudson, who finished 7th during her season.
But, when you really think about it: how regularly has Idol churned out stars? Out of 13 seasons, only two of the winners became household names – Kelly and Carrie Underwood – while two others have been fairly successful with a steady career – Phillip Phillips and Fantasia.
The rest (including finalists) are doing their thing but very much below the radar. So, when you really think about it, American Idol is not really the star-maker it’s been marketing themselves to be, when the vast majority are not in the mainstream of the pop world.
What they can all say, I’m sure, is that their time on Idol opened up doors and opportunities to do albums, Broadway shows, TV shows, etc.
But that’s about it, I think. The few who became vastly popular lucked out like any other artist/entertainer who DIDN’T have a stint on reality TV.
At the end of the day, reality shows – Idol, The Voice, Dancing with the Stars, etc. – are just entertainment vehicles with enough mileage to promise the brass ring to thousands who’re willing to grasp for it. Some get a chance to spend weeks on TV and some just disappear into the ether.
We held out hope when we saw genuine talent (like David) appear on our TV sets, but then had to make serious adjustments when we confronted the real struggles of making a career in the entertainment industry.
No wonder I’ve lost interest in Idol. After 13 seasons, it’s inevitable. Besides, there isn’t a vast supply of “super stars” that could be churned out assembly-line style, as thirteen seasons of a talent competition suggests. There are a few who’ve got it, and even those few have to find the perfect alignment of luck, talent, and purposeful management to really shoot off into the stratosphere.
Still, it warmed my heart to know that, whatever was promised the Season 7 contestants, they kept doing what they loved – making music and doing entertainment – and sustaining themselves off of that love.
Perhaps that ought to be the goal, especially when longevity (in life or in music) is not promised.