American Idol part of continuous cycle, says telecommunications professor



American Idol winners:

Season 1- Kelly Clarkson

Season 2- Ruben Studdard

Season 3- Fantasia Barrino

Season 4- Carrie Underwood

Season 5- Taylor Hicks

Season 6- Jordin Sparks

Season 7- David Cook

Season 8- Kris Allen

Season 9- Lee Dewayze 

Season 10- Scotty McCreery

Season 11- Phillip Phillips

Season 12- Candice Glover

Season 13- Caleb Johnson

Season 14- Nick Fradini

"American Idol" is nothing new. While arguably the most popular talent search show over the past decade seems to be on its last leg, it is important to remember the impact it had in its 15 season run. 

For stars like Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson, the show was a major success. Each were able not only win multiple Grammys, but also became household names in the process. For the vast majority of participants, however, the show was not nearly as successful.

In the early rounds, the strange and seemingly untalented contestants were put on display. In later rounds, popularity reigned supreme. Only a small percentage of those even made it onto the actual show. Despite the success of the show, it did not really change any ideals but rather continued the cycle of talent competitions.

What "American Idol" and other talent shows like it has done is push the idea that it is all about talent, said Dom Caristi, professor of telecommunications.

“They have a talent and it doesn’t take thousands and thousands of hours of rehearsal," he said. "It doesn’t take working in small clubs for years and years to refine your art. What it takes is standing on a stage and making sure that a music industry executive sees you.”

Cecelia Westbrook, a sophomore English and German major, has watched the show for years and noticed this trend as well.

“The show gives almost a false hope for young singers,” she said. “The show makes the whole thing look so easy and simplified... it depicts the golden ticket to Hollywood as being so easily obtainable."

This “golden ticket” is really a cycle, one which is no new concept, as Caristi is quick to point out. This type of show and the dream that manifests with it have even predated television. “Going back to the 1940s, we had something called 'Amateur Hour' which started in radio and then went over to television.” 

There have been numerous shows similar to "American Idol." Each of these shows were popular in their own right and never did more than to promote the dream of instant stardom and making money, said Caristi.

"American Idol" was not a bad show, said Caristi.

“It caused no harm to the entertainment industry," he said. "It was an hour long show people got enjoyment from, and it made money.” 

The issue seems to be that people believe it was one of a kind, that 15 years ago when "American Idol" first graced TV screens, it was revolutionary. Caristi said it is all part of a continuous cycle. While some are calling the end of American Idol the “end of an era,” it truly is not. 

What it is, is a shift in the cycle.

“The Voice is doing quite well,” Caristi said. This is truly not the end of "American Idol" as it has branches in numerous other countries in the world. Even if Idol ends in America, the market for talent competition is still as strong as ever. 


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