January 30, 2006

Why is "American Idol" even more popular now?

You'd think people would tire of the formula. But no. The popularity of the already top-rated show is way up. The linked article doesn't offer any real ideas about why this is happening. I'm in too much of a hurry to come up with anything at the moment, so comment away.

29 comments:

tiggeril said...

There's nothing else on? That's why I'm watching.

bill said...

It's like McDonalds. Not particularly good, but always consistent; and sometimes it is nice to just zone out on a big ball of crap.

res_ipsa_loquitur said...

Meh. It's the latest equivalent of the carnival sideshow. Back in the day, you'd look at the bearded lady and the dog-faced boy and take a certain satisfaction in knowing you're "better" than them. (I don't intend to justify superficiality, but many people do enjoy a certain smugness at other's deformities.) In the 90s, it was Jerry Springer. Nowadays, it's no-talent singers with no self-concept of their lack of talent.

Heck, what kept myself and my wife going last season was Scott, whom everyone kept expecting to get the boot each week. He made it to what, 6th place?

Jen Bradford said...

I think people got worn down. The insta-sneer people had about "reality shows" became silly once every other show fell into that category. Given the options, I'd prefer to watch someone sing than eat bugs.

vw: devoogl. Someone who's had more coffee could surely do something funny with it.

Paddy O. said...

I think it is because unlike almost every other "reality" show, AI is actually positive and uplifting.

People instinctively like to see the best rise to the top. Other reality shows have winners, but the "best" are generally defined by who is the most political, selfish, and socially manipulative.

American Idol is about who can sing the best. Except for the beginning weeks when the riff raff are weeded out, the show is a celebration of talent, and improvement, and even working together. The finalists aren't competing by tearing each other down, they are competing by being their best.

It is comforting without filling our souls with the negativity of back stabbing and intrigue. We get our fill of nastiness from Simon, but its a peculiar type of nastiness. He's nasty because he's utterly honest. His praises also mean more because of this total honesty.

We want to cheer people on, not tear people down. We want to see people at their best, and getting better, not people at their worst and becoming lesser.

American Idol is popular because we watch it and we all become cheerleaders, rather than manipulative bastards. And that makes us feel good about ourselves. It is very cleansing.

Essentially, American Idol is popular because it is exactly what we would want the Senate to be.

hoosthere said...

I think it's a pretty safe show to watch...i.e. little chance of awkward sexual inappropriateness (who wants to watch that stuff with their wives or family...or really at all) as in other reality shows, and especially scripted shows. So it can be refreshing.

AJ Lynch said...

Could not tell you because I have never seen even a single episode.

Julie said...

Haven't we all grabbed the hair brush and belted out some favourite tune along with the radio, and imagined singing to a packed stadium? Some of these kids, who actually have talent (unlike most of us), will actually get to live that dream. I'll admit to a vicarious thrill when the crowd goes crazy after a good performance. I never feel that same vicarious thrill when a player makes a clever move on Survivor. I appreciate it, but it doesn't resonate with an inner childhood dream like Idol does.

PatCA said...

It's entertaining! And you can do your laundry during the show and not miss anything important.

More people are watching, I think, because of positive word of mouth. I didn't watch the first couple, but people seemed to like it, so I tuned in.

realdebate said...

Because America loves a train wreck.

paulfrommpls said...

What paddy o. said. For me the early shows always offer a glimpse at a very nice, energetic America, people from all different backgrounds living energetic happy lives, it seems. It's become like a collective celebration of the dream and of putting ourselves out there, pouring energy into whatever, taking a chance, and of course those happy people in those cheering crows know they're not going to be the Idol.

Plus, Ryan Seacrest is a very funny guy. Very low-key humor.

bill said...

Ryan Seacrest is a very funny guy.

As sarcasm, that's very funny. If not meant as sarcasm, I hope you're not operating heavy machinery.

paulfrommpls said...

People who focus on the pathetic singers: it's only half the story, in a thematic totality sense. It's necessary, though, otherwise it's Happy Fun Time. It's life and life only: somebody better-looking and way more succesful than you might tell you you're ugly and have no talent. It actually may happen. And it might not be fair or true, even, or it might be.

Bill; Humor taste is like music taste. If I see some kind of it, it's there. I'm not even gonna get into details.

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
reader_iam said...

Why is "American Idol" even more popular now?

Because there's no acc-

Nevermind. I know I'm definitely in the minority in my views on this show.

Different strokes, and all that.

VW: eglxa

David Boyd said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
David Boyd said...

In addition to the above, the show has achieved water cooler status. To be in on the joke the next morning, you need to have watched.

paulfrommpls said...

I think people who don't watch the show assume it focuses on the humiliation more than it does, or assume that's the entire attraction for a lot of fans. Is it at least slightly a variation on blue-state-mind condescension born out of some degree of ignorance?

It seems undeniable, Sippican, that not watching the show would mean you would have almost no chance to pick up on the fun elements I see in it.

paulfrommpls said...

It would also be possible to see the happy, hopeful people I do, even most of the rejected, and see them as misguided and sad. Who knows, maybe that's more accurate.

paulfrommpls said...

Oh heck, forgot something: There's also the treasure hunt aspect. Us fans *want* the finalists and the winner to be genuinely good, which is not guaranteed. To say the least. (I don't think Carrie Underwood has much of a notably great voice.) But it's also not hopeless.

All the show does in the end is give the best finalists and the winner a chance. A shot.

Clay Aiken is a genuinely weird, 'never-quite-seen-that-before' cult phenomenon. And watching him sing with Barry Manilow once was like stepping into the Twilight Zone.

Which reminds me: I loved it when they focused their 12-finalists shows around specific writers and producers, and had those folks on. A nice bit of education. And actually the Barry Manilow show made me think: you know, the guy can write a song.

They didn't do that last year. Although I think they did have Clive Davis on again toward the end, giving his benediction to the whole process.

XWL said...

Why has the popularity of Idol increased while other reality shows have started to decline (Survivor, Bachelor, Amazing Race, etc.)?

I think the show works on two tracks.

For the teenage girls who latch on to the dream it's a fun night of fantasizing on being the contestant (or on being with the contestants (much has been written about how teen and pre-teen girls will try on their sexual fantasies on asexual men like Clay. Bo's popularity was an abberation, and I suspect got his votes from the moms watching more than the girls)).

For the adults with those girls in the house it's a chance to watch something with their daughters, something increasingly difficult to do.

For everyone else it's a chance to see how good or awful pop music has become depending on your perspective.

It's bad enough to enjoy hating, and it's good enough to enjoy liking, it's all a matter of perspective.

Plus the editing is exciting and the 'live'ness of the event makes it sports-like in its immediacy.

It's undeniably cheesy, but the show doesn't apologize for that cheesiness, and I think more Americans are attracted to honest cornballery than who are not.

God Bless America.

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
paulfrommpls said...

By "fun" I should have said "uplifiting." I think you're willing to grant it's got its attractions, with the entertainment alternating between people humiliating themselves and people participating with dumb optimism in a rigged game, the music business. My take is it actually strikes something hopeful and yet realistic in the American soul. I'm kind of protective of my take, don't mean to insult anybody.

PatCA said...

I think lots of people besides Americans like cornballery--Idol is a hit in the Arab world and now even Ethiopia--so let's think first before we fling those cheese-related aspersions around.

XWL said...

Where in my comment did I deride cornballery or cheese (or corndogs covered in cheese?)?

I like cornballery and cheese in the proper dosage.

I happen to think American Idol delivers cornballery and cheese in an appropriate dosage.

And as it so happens, the oh so sophisticated Europeans have the motherlode of cornball, cheesy competition shows with their Eurovision competition which definitely does not get the dosage right (but is so wrong as to be endearing)

Cheesy isn't always bad, at least in my worldview.

(mmmmmmm, Cheez Whiz)

I'm very lactose tolerant.

(The 'God Bless America' was sincere at the end of the post, I find how God seeps into Idol of interest as well)

PatCA said...

Okay, forgiven.

I have never in my life had a corndog, much less one covered in cheese. It's now a point of obstinancy with me. I intend to go to my grave without having tasted one.

Rick Lee said...

One of the things I've noticed about American Idol is that it has this "arc". The beginning is completely different from the middle and the middle is completely different from the end. Each phase of the show is fun and entertaining for different reasons. At the end of each season it seems a little anti-climactic but next year I'm all set to start again. The journey is more fun than the destination.

reader_iam said...

"uplifiting ... with the entertainment alternating between people humiliating themselves and people participating with dumb optimism in a rigged game ... actually strikes something hopeful and yet realistic in the American soul."

paulfrommpls said...

You understand that the middle phrase is not my opinion, right? It's my summary of Sippican's?