Turning 10, American Idol Struggles to Make New Stars -- But Mostly Misses

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Ugh.
It's hard to imagine it now, just a shade less than a decade later, but at one time American Idol was able to crank out star after star in a succession of seasons. Most people couldn't name at least one of the last five winners of Fox's cash-cow pop show, even as ratings have remained healthy (if not blockbuster like they once were).

Rewind:

Top 5 People Who Should Be Judging American Idol

Upon the show's debut in the summer of 2002, it was at once plastic, peculiar and oddly absorbing. Chances are the only people in your life who watch Idol now on the regular are on your birth certificate or gave you socks this past Christmas.

Even still, thousands upon thousands of singing hopefuls come out to the auditions whenever they get anywhere near where they live for the chance to become the next Kelly Clarkson or Carrie Underwood.

No one wants to be Clay Aiken, you have to be born Clay Aiken.

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Never Forget.
Adding Nicki Minaj, Keith Urban, and Mariah Carey to the judging dais is an attempt to freshen up the series, but who will be batshit crazy like Steven Tyler was last season?

My pick is Carey, with Minaj a close second, and it's only a matter of time before someone slashes someone's throat. Urban seems to be Idol's answer to The Voice's use of Blake Shelton on their Idol biting pop series.

Then there is that X Factor crap that I have never seen, with Britney Spears and ex-Idol mastermind Simon Cowell.

The Idol machine just doesn't crank out ready-made stars the way it used to. For every Clarkson or Underwood, there is a Fantasia or Jordin Sparks, people who exist on the periphery. Or ones who started as singers but turn into actresses, like Katherine McPhee and Jennifer Hudson.

The last male to truly make his own mark away from Idol was Adam Lambert, guesting with Queen in Freddie Mercury's place and turning in a glam-rock debut album that isn't a pain to listen to.

But achieving status from Idol can give you an amount of longevity and bankability, even if you don't become a massive stadium act. Taylor Hicks and Aiken can fill smaller venues nightly, Constantine has done Broadway, and Chris Daughtry still makes ladies swoon on the rock circuit.


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5 comments
goodvibes27
goodvibes27

Good article. It should be noted that so far, every Idol winner is still actively working in the music field at various levels, additionally,  many runners-up are  still going strong.  Idol has made a mistake in perpetuating the myth that if you don't sell records like Clarkson or Underwood, you have not succeeded. In fact, Idol alum like Aiken, Fantasia, Hicks, Daughtry, and Lambert  who still draw a good live audience can make more income from concerts than record sales ,and end up with a more long-term career than the fickle pop charts will normally allow. The numerous people from idol you mentioned in this article with active careers could be used by Idol to boost their credibility in the now crowded singing competition genre.

sweetsmoke11
sweetsmoke11

Taylor Hicks will be filling the Indigo showroom at Bally's Las Vegas for the next year.  He's the first and only ex-Idoler, winner or otherwise, to secure a long term headliner residency.  He's doing more than fine.  In fact, I'd put him up at the top as far as long terrm success stories.

Jimi Austin
Jimi Austin

Should have never happened to begin with. Leave the karaoke to the dark, smokey bars.

Laura Carrasco
Laura Carrasco

They let the public vote. That's where AI goes wrong.

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