October 5, 2009

Instant Idol

When I first started this blog, I intended for it only to be about indie music. However, I soon found myself drawn to other genres of music that I found appealing and a bit taboo. As a recovering indie addict from High School, pop music became a natural obsession, mostly because I refused to listen to it for the better part of seven years (yes that's middle school and high school). So American Idol has also become a slight fixation of mine, not because I watch it --I don't, but I follow it. Here lies the difference.

To me the idea of watching people get all teary eyed and glammed up to sing unoriginal songs is a bit mundane. It's sort of like watching a beauty pageant, all glitter, no substance. So with the 1000th season of Idol upon us (well a few months away I guess?) I felt it was time for me to come out of the closet about the show. No, I don't hate it, but don't count me in as a fan either. I do resent it, mostly for allowing so many annoying spin offs that plague my television time...really, who watches "So You Think You Can Dance?" As someone who writes about music (obviously as a hobby..don't worry my ego is not eclipsing the sun --yet), I do find it hard to take winners and contestants of the show seriously as musicians.

To me, American Idol is less about music and more about "Star Power" it's instant fame. Furthermore, it's no surprise to me that the majority of runner ups and some winners quickly fade into obscurity, end up singing at state fairs, get dropped from their record labels, or end up hosting lame "Idol' themed shows on the TV Guide Channel. If the show was never about "the music" in the first place how does "Idol" expect the audience to remain interested in the "contestant's music" once the cameras are turned off and everyone is done with their scripted television sob stories?

It's true that Idol has also launched a few careers, we all know Kelly Clarkson, Carry Underwood, Jennifer Hudson and a few others. But for every Kelly there is a Justin Guarini, some sad has-been still trying to hold on to his name on the D list. I know its a bit harsh but let's be honest; if the all American girls and boys who audition for Idol really sincerely care about making music like they say when Ryan Seacrest interviews them at the auditions, they wouldn't be on Idol.

A person who really wants to make music and be known as an artist versus a celebrity is militant about getting that music heard, on MySpace, on Youtube, on mixtapes, on the street--they are not smiling for the cameras on Idol. People who want to be celebrities first and singers second are the ones who audition for Idol, that's why Justin is still hosting that stupid show on TV Guide and not making albums. And look I'm not talking about multi-platinum records here, as we all know a great album is an accomplishment within itself whether a million people hear it or a thousand. This is what American Idol has yet to grasp--music as an art form not as a tool of mass consumption.

So as we all turn on, tune in, and drop out for another season of American Idol, keep this in mind: would you still buy one of these contestant's albums if they were not associated with the show?

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