Monday, March 23, 2009

New American Idol Rule

I know that reality television should not be the first place I go for honesty, but I've been frustrated by the to-do over the new American Idol rule. The judges this year have been granted a "save" - that is, if they feel a contestant is good enough to win the whole contest but they got voted off, the judges can save them and give them another chance.

The example they keep giving - on the show, on talk shows, in interviews - is Chris Daughtry, who was surprisingly eliminated in the final rounds of the show despite being favored to win. The expression on his face when he finds out he's been voted off is priceless ego-check television - he really couldn't believe that he was cut. He went on to become one of Idol's most famous success stories, and the judges keep using this as the example of how they plan to use their save this year. "If we'd had the save back then," one of them mentioned in an interview the other day, "we definitely would have saved Daughtry." This is supposed to be important because whoever wins Idol is supposed to become the big star, and the producers feel that having a runner-up exceed the success of the winner devalues the competition (and, I suppose, it does). But Idol is always going to be beneficial primarily to easygoing, likable singers like eventual winner Taylor Hicks, who America consistently voted for but lacked any sort of commercial marketability. The same is true of this year's likely winner, Danny Gokey - he's talented, warm, and has a heartwrenching backstory, but nobody's gonna buy his CD. And Daughtry, though not quite likable enough to hold through to win the competition, is much more clearly the sort of artist who's capable of making records that people would actually buy. Though if the judges had had this save rule back then, maybe he would have won the competition, too.

Of course, it's not true - the new rule wouldn't have saved him at all. Daughtry, famously, finished fourth during the fifth season of Idol. The new rule only allows the judges to save people up until there are six people remaining.



At March 23, 2009 11:55 AM, Blogger caryl said...

I haven't read anywhere else the fact that Daughtry came across as unlikable on Idol. That's really interesting. Idol is supposedly looking for a marketable singer, yet the winner always comes down to who America likes the most. The show is flawed.

Yes, lots of other people have written that Idol is a popularity contest, but I didn't realize others thought Daughtry came across as arrogant and unlikable. Interesting read.

At March 23, 2009 1:50 PM, Blogger Wyman said...

I don't know that I actually said that. Daughtry didn't come across as unlikable, he just wasn't as likable as Hicks, and he was a little more overly sure of himself than he apparently should have been. Of course, it's all how you read somebody - lots of people are reading Danny Gokey as arrogant this year, though I'm not.

At March 23, 2009 4:19 PM, Blogger Erin said...

Daughtry's arrogance and "diva attitude" came through more so after Idol. It was talked about a lot on Hollywood "news" shows for the following 6-12 months after the show was over.

Interestingly, I've heard mixed things about Adam Lambert. Some have absolutely hated his singing (I'm thinking "Ring of Fire" especially), while others think he's already singing like a professional and too advanced beyond the other contestants to be in the competition at all.

I'm not usually one to watch AI (or reality TV in general, for that matter), but this season is intriguing.

At March 24, 2009 12:49 AM, Blogger Wyman said...

It's tougher now that people who are really already professional singers (Lambert, Gokey, Matt Giraud, etc.) are in it, making the contestants with all raw talent and no experience (Alexis Grace, probably Alison Iraheta soon) go home early, even though they're still raw and have great potential, whereas people like Gokey are really at the limits of who they're gonna be.

Lambert certainly is divisive, right? I think he's incredibly talented, but he's not my cup of tea, and I would never vote for him.

At March 24, 2009 12:50 AM, Blogger Wyman said...

And likewise, AI is the only reality show that I think I've ever watched - going back to the year that my roommates and I watched the entire season of "The Bachelorette" from start to finish.


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