An Idol Rant

by Melissa Minners

            Okay, I have to admit, I have not watched American Idol from the very beginning.  I was not glued to the television when the show had two hosts.  I wasn’t watching as Kelly Clarkson went from being criticized by Simon Cowell for everything from clothing choice to weight issues to winning the title of first ever American Idol.  I didn’t watch the second season either, though I did catch snippets from when my brother watched it.  It was pretty much the same thing with Season 3.  I began watching more often with the coming of Season 4 and the audition shows.  These performances caught my eye, so I paid more attention to the rest of the season.  Now, as we are in the midst of Season 7, I can admit that I watch the show almost every week.  And yet, I won’t consider myself a fan of American Idol.  For that reason, I am writing An Idol Rant about the numerous issues I have with this reality show.

            Let’s start at the beginning with the auditions.  Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t the contestants screened by a special panel before they are even allowed to appear in front of Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson?  One would expect that you wouldn’t make it past this panel if you had no talent at all.  However, year after year, we see incredibly hideous talentless performances in the auditions segment.  Now, mind you, some of the performances are rather funny, but when you think about it, they are supposed to be screened.  Simon, Paula and Randy shouldn’t even have to speak with these people.  Thus, the only possible reasoning behind allowing these people time in front of the judges is to gather some ratings based on the absurd, hilarious, or downright preposterous.  I have to admit, the first time I saw the failed auditions and the judges’ reactions, I had to laugh.  However, this got old very quickly.  Every year, there are at least 5 shows with numerous good auditions and a multitude of failed ones.  Why not just have one show with failed auditions that never made it past the original panel – you know, the one that is supposed to screen out these talentless wonders.

            Now, I have also noticed a rather nasty trend over the years.  With the exception of Ruben Studdard, there have never been any overweight performers in the top five.  In fact, most of the people who make it to the top five are either cute, pretty, or downright gorgeous.  Now, since this is a show in which the viewers of America vote for their favorites, I have to say that I am sincerely disappointed in Americans.  How can you ignore talent in preference to the way someone looks?  What does being overweight have to do with having a talented voice?  The show is supposed to be a singing competition – when did it become a beauty pageant?  When did having a huge nose have anything to do with talented vocals?  When did gaps in teeth start overriding the ability to sing?

            While we are on the subject of voting, why is it that people are allowed to vote numerous times in one night for their “favorite idol”?  Once should be enough.  Especially since I know people who have voted more than ten times for the same person in one night!  This should be against the rules.  Once someone has voted from a specific phone number, that particular phone number should be banned from calling again until the next week of the competition.  Of course, that won’t stop someone from calling in from numbers in the household or from using numerous cellphone numbers to call in, but at least it would keep the competition more honest.  Instead, we have the honest people (people who also don’t have a great deal of money to pay for each call) calling in once for their favorite of the night, while other people call in ten and twenty times.  Ridiculous!  If this were monitored better, we wouldn’t have people like Sanjaya Malakar making it to the top ten, harming the integrity of our eardrums week after excruciating week, simply because a website called for Idol-Haters to stack the votes for the worst singer and throw the entire competition. 

            So many talented people that should have stayed in the competition get voted off thanks to this problematic vote tallying system.  Chris Daughtry was voted off of Season 5 and Taylor Hicks ended up winning the competition.  Taylor Who?!  Who has the top ten hits on the radio right now?  Who is really the American Idol of Season 5?  Daughtry, that’s who!  Who was the talented one?  I watched most of Season 5 and I can honestly say that Taylor Hicks performed like Joe Cocker on crack and was not vocally talented enough to be in the top ten, let alone win the competition.  In Season 6, Melinda Doolittle was voted off the air near the very end.  However, are you going to say that this woman, who could sing just as well as Gladys Knight, was less talented than beatbox-boy Blake Lewis.  No?  Then, why was she voted off the show before Lewis, a rather ungrateful second place winner if you read all of the comments he’s been hurling toward gossip columnists every time they bump into him.  And can I just say – SANJAYA!  $*%(^&*@#  Who the hell decided he should be in the competition anyway?!  What the hell were the judges thinking by putting him through so the viewers could vote for him?!

            Looking at Season 7, I can see the same thing happening again.  I actually know someone whose only reason for voting for Ramiele Malubay is that they are of the same nationality.  Does that guarantee that she has talent?  Obviously not.  As much as I like David Cook for his innovative handling of song choices, I can’t help but notice that he can be flat every so often.  I thought that the last two performances of his were horrible, yet the judges loved them and the fools at home voted for him.  Not that I want him off of the show, but he should at least know what it is like to be in the bottom three – he’s getting way to cocky and cockiness amounts to sloppiness.  This past week, the American viewers voted off the extremely talented Carly Smithson after an amazing performance of the Andrew Lloyd Webber song, Jesus Christ Superstar.  You must be joking!  Are you seriously going to say that Jason Castro is that much more talented than Carly?  Jason isn’t even in her league, but he does have adorable eyes and dimples, right?  That has to be the ultimate reason to vote him into the top five, right?  WRONG!!  And that twerp David Archuleta – are you kidding me?  Brooke White is an understated talent, true to herself in every performance and, as much as I love her, she is not half as talented as Carly.  Once again, people are not voting based on talent – they are voting based on looks.  The little teeny-boppers out there are voting for the hot teeny-boppers.  The rockers are voting for David Cook.  The Whitney Houston fans are voting for Syesha Mercado.  And I must say, though I am not a fan of Syesha, her performance this week was perfection and yet, she was in the bottom two – nonsense.  We all know that Jason and Brooke should have been the bottom two last week.  This show is less a talent show and more a popularity contest.

            Now, let’s discuss the bickering between the judges.  Enough already!  It was funny in the beginning, but now it’s old hat.  No one cares anymore.  Paula - stop interrupting Simon when he talks.  He’s the only judge worth listening to anyway.  Yes, he may be “rude” but he is the only person who tells these kids exactly how he feels about their performances.  Most of the time, I find Simon reiterating the same observations I have made throughout the performance.  All Paula ever does is look half-wasted and say uplifting things…often the same things over and over again…and most of the time she makes no sense.  I haven’t found her to be critical of the contestants often enough to help them.  After all, the advice of the judges is supposed to be helpful.  If you constantly tell someone that they always do everything right, they will never try to improve upon anything.  And Randy…Yo, yo, yo, what can I say about you, Dawg?  Dude, I’m just not feelin’ you, you dig?  You’re just aiight, Dawg.  Seriously, knock of the Dawg Pound slang – it’s getting really old.  We can also stop the bitchiness between Simon and host Ryan Seacrest – the secret’s out!  We know you two are friends!  Give up the act already!

            It remains to be seen whether I will continue to watch this show after this season.  If American Idol doesn’t do something to control the multiple-voting issue they have, they just might lose a viewer.  I know I’m just a drop in the water bucket for American Idol, but if enough fans start to get annoyed at the way the votes are tallied, you may be in for a huge plumbing emergency come next season.  Don’t say I didn’t warn ya!

Note: Since writing this rant, Brooke White has been voted off of the show, once again proving my point that this is no longer a talent competition but a good-looks competition.  Guess who's still in - Jason Castro, the least talented member with the most gorgeous eyes of the group.  Oh, and Paula seemed drunk/drugged again, screwing up and thinking that she was judging two songs from Castro instead of one.  Oh brother!

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