Thursday, April 12, 2007

I surrender to American Idol

I think I’ve decided to reenter the world of American Idol and start keeping up with it. I once was an American Idol fan as in I actually watched the program (I watched the 03-04 season during the year that I took off school because it was the only thing me and my coworkers all had in common) but the thing is when you stop watching the program, you never really leave American Idol because it’s just inescapable at this point. It’s such a pervasive phenomenon. Just think about it: Every year, American Idol adds 3 or 4 new celebrities to the pop cultural landscape to keep track of. Some of them don’t even do it through singing well. Alternative routes include being really, really bad (William Hung), claiming you slept with a judge (Corey Clark), quitting the show early (I don’t remember that guy’s name, maybe Mario-something). I can just name off the top of my head: Bo Bice, Carrie Underwood, Kimberly Locke, Clay Aiken, Rueben Studdard, Tamyra Gray, Kelly Clarkson, Justin Guarini, Elliot Yamin, Taylor Hicks, Chris Daughtry, Catherine McPhee, Kelly Pickler, and the following first names: Bucky, Constantine, Ace, Mandisa, and RJ without seeing a single episode of their respective seasons. I could have used that space in my brain to memorize the names of world leaders or something.

Seriously, I would’ve thought American Idol would have run its course by now. It seems like Ryan, Paula, Randy, and Simon just keep getting bigger and bigger and bigger. Every year they do a profile on them in every outlet, because they think this is their year. An example of what I mean by “their year” is that People Magazine runs an annual issue of the 25 most interesting people of the year and Time Magazine has a similar feature. Time has figures such as Kanye West, Stephen Colbert, Lance Armstrong, Bono, Terrence Howard and Steve Carrell under 2005 and Nancy Pelosi, Sacha Baron Cohen and Stephen Colbert on 2006. The four above-mentioned people can be featured in any given year because they keep growing and growing in popularity. They think this is the year that Idol finally arrived, but what happens is that the next year is even bigger.

What I also don’t get is where do they keep getting all these contestants from. I thought the national talent pool of singers would have been drained by now. Logically, I would have assumed that if you sang as well as Carrie Underwood or Taylor Hicks you would have been confident enough to try out the first time. Did it take them four years to work up their confidence? If I was really hopeful about singing, I would have tried out for at least the second season thinking that the show might not be around forever.

So anyway, I’m rejoining the American Idol contingent now not because I feel the need to fit in and join in on American Idol conversations. I just want to know who this Sunjaya character, and I want to know what everything and everyone else on the show is about so it’s not entirely irrelevant to me. When you hear about something often enough, like the Iraq War, for example, you just tend to naturally want to know what the hell all the big fuss is about. And American Idol has pulled me in to that degree.

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