We're about to head into the show's 10th season. The franchise just changed partners from Sony Music to Universal Music Group. The judges table is in total flux. Steven Tyler? J. Lo? Ratings went down last season. The majority of the idol winners or finalists have been dropped from their label deals. So, what's the problem?
For a show that continuously claims to not be karaoke, that is exactly what it is. Being an artist today, or ever actually, takes a hell of a lot more than a passable voice on a cover song.
Plus, the "Idol" formula is stale. The judges never say anything real, except for the exiting Simon Cowell. (Let it be noted, that artists are notoriously bad judges, because it's difficult for an artist to publicly judge another). Plus, the parade of veteran acts making appearances to boost their catalog sales and teach the amateur contenders how it's really done is tired and used.
The biggest issue is the lack of the ever illusive it factor. Last season's winner Lee DeWyze and runner up Crystal Bowersox, simply don't have it Aren't the judges supposed to have it radar? The list of non its is long: Taylor Hicks, Kris Allen, Clay Aiken, Ruben Studdard, etc. Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood started with a glimmer of it and went on to nurture their its after the show.
Hopefully Nigel Lythgoe can save "Idol." All he has to do is give it just a little of the soul "So You Think You Can Dance" has. The dancers on that show have it. They are hungry. They have dedicated their lives to dancing - strained their bodies and their souls to succeed. They didn't just stumble onto the stage after playing a few local pubs or practicing in their basements.
"So You Think You Can Dance" is a true test of talent. The dancers are forced to perform out of their comfort zone and deal with the consequences. All the choreography is original, not rehashed. And the judges are experts - not famous people, not morons. This is their business.
"American Idol" needs to take a 360 view of an artist. Can they sing? Can they dance? Can they read music? Can they write music? Can they play an instrument? Do they have a mind for business? Do they have it?
How do you find it?
When an artist walks in a room and takes the air out of it and your neck hair stands on end when they perform, they have it. It's not rocket science. It's just "American Idol."
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