prof. e.

Mass Communication, [multi]media, methodology and much, much more!

Fans Idolize American Idol

Posted by prof e on May 19, 2008

American Idol is a cultural phenomenon in nearly every culture in which the franchise has been licensed (about 40 to date). American Idol (AI) came to America from England in 2002, and has spread around the globe at the speed of sound, from Armenia to Vietnam. If AI were a book it would be a best seller– if a movie, a blockbuster–and if a record, it would have gone platinum! Season after season, AI ranks at or near the top of the Nielsen ratings. As we approach the end of season 7, the two Davids are set to take the stage for the final two nights May 20 and 21. But many are left wondering what is the appeal that keeps fans glued to their sets? Can it be the lure of imagining oneself taking the stage and finding fame and fortune? Or perhaps the guilty pleasure of seeing contestants humiliated week after week. Whatever the allure, AI is only beginning to show signs of ratings weakness. While Fox struggles to tweak the show’s format, fan continue to tune in and vote.

Another interesting thing about AI is the way that it so conveniently demonstrates some of the leading trends of TV programming, such as interactivity (phone voting), product placement (Coke, iTunes, Ford, AT&T, and even Kellog’s Pop Tarts!), and spin-offs (programs that are derivatives of the original program concept).

What do you think? What makes the AI franchise so successful, marketable, and universal?

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10 Responses to “Fans Idolize American Idol”

  1. Amanda Peltier said

    I think that American Idol is a joke. Yeah these people will have to deal with some one like Simon, but it doesn’t need to be pubicly made. The only reason it is so popular is that it takes nobody makes them famous so quick that they actually don’t do anything afte American Idol. I feel American Idol is not fair for those who play the bars and go to the record labels day in and day out trying to get their big break and once they get it they keeping working hard to stay on the label. the only successful american Idol winner that has made soemthing of her self afterwards is kelly Clarkson and carrie Underwood. Where are the rest of these winners? I think the should do a “Where Are They Now? American Idol” just to let people see that American Idol has possibly ruined their lives or not.

    On a side note American Idol is boring now because they don’t do anything new. They need to reinvent themselves. maybe take those CEOS and record label representatives and put them in the same boat.

    Amanda Peltier
    May 20, 2008

  2. Danette Sheron said

    I only watch the last few episodes of American Idol when they’re down to the really good singers. Here are a few reasons why I think the show is successful:

    1. Seeing people who think they can sing humiliated themselves (America is a sad, sad place)
    2. To hear what Simon is going to say. Simon is just one of those people who viewers “love to hate”.
    3. To watch the contestants themselves and vote for their favorites (ratings probably wouldn’t be as high if it were up to the judges who continues).
    4. To watch the guest singers

    As long as there are talented singers out there, I don’t see the show slowing down until after season 10 or so. As for the ones who you never can hear from again, I would love to know what happened to them too.

  3. Kimberly Finnie said

    I have often wondered this myself. I barely remember watching the dated popular show “Star Search” as a kid. It was basically the same concept as American Idol, yet didn’t come close to generating as much buzz.
    I do believe the judges are a key factor to the shows success. The entertainment value of being able to tune in and watch the judges respond to obvious talent-challeneged contestants is hard to dismiss. Watching Simon’s sarcastic and snappy comments keep I think most people tuned-in because it seems he is breaking their social norm of basic human tact. Watching an auditioner stand completely behind his or her actions while completely lacking the self-awareness that others are judging their performance poorly is entertaining. Mostly of course because it is not me who is on the stand.
    People bond over the contestant(s) they like – and hate. More than other shows, American Idol encourages that viewers have opinions on everything from the best singing to the worst hair. Also, the show fosters the illusion that viewers have the power to choose the next singing star, rather than having the star chosen by some faceless music producer. That illusion makes people invested in the show and hooks viewers – viewers feel like they must fight for their favorite contestant.

    Kimberly Finnie
    June 3, 2008

  4. Julie Melton said

    I personally do not watch American Idol, however I have caught a few episodes in the beginning with all the terrible singers and it makes me smile. This Show is successful due to the fact its reality. Or staged reality but reality none the less. People enjoy watching other people’s lives and with the so called “intense” judging, with Simon being the brutally honest/mean guy, it keeps people entertained. It is entertaining to go and see someone who is talented, and don’t get me wrong all that singing in one show allows people to get hooked. (not everyone however) Another reason why the show would be a success is because people can call in and vote for who they like the most, that gives the viewer some kind of interaction with the show and they feel as though they have an input in the show.

  5. Gentry Simons said

    I can honestly say that I have never been a part of the American Idol phenomenon, although during the AI season it is almost always rated #1 every week. It seems like everyone I know is always glued to the televison on AI nights watching to see if their favorite AI star will come closer to fame and fortune. AI allows members of the general population the opportunity to become rich and famous which I think adds to the appeal of the show. Perhaps it is the entertainment factor of the harsh judges when they give a contestant the boot. Or maybe it is the fact that audience members themselves are “judging” the contests, giving their two cents to the television screen before them. Or better yet maybe it is the interactivity of the show that makes missing the show turn into a life or death situation. Who really knows though? But thing is for sure, American Idol is a show that probably will contine to entertain the world.

  6. Kyle Archer said

    American Idol is so popular because evryone loves that rag’s to rich’s story or geek to sheek. Along with watching others suffer it brings all aspects of social fears and dreams together. chrarcter like Simon who is always negative and ready to bring you down is the hard nosed jerk. Paula is every mom’s cookie cutter for supporting your children, and they hired Randy because of his resemblence to “chef from South Park. Ha

  7. Kraig Brownlow said

    There are so many things that have made American Idol so popular. One of the biggest in my opinion is the first episodes and the people who think they can sing. From the beginning that is what brought people in to watch and enjoy the show. I remember watching season one, and loving it. What made me watch the show was the commercials showing people try and sing, who think they can sing, and ultimately being shut down by Simon Cowell (another huge reason for the shows success). Simon is so blunt, and has become such a familiar figure in American culture. Impressions of the celebrity are not only on television and in comedians stand up shows, but i have heard people simply saying things like “that is ghastly, or how pathetically aweful” in british accents in small talk. Another large reason for the shows success is the music, what the show is actually about. Dating back to Kelly Clarkson who kind of started it all. Watching the show draws people in, and the stories they see really get viewers emotionally attached to their “favorite” who they can vote for from week to week. This is another huge reason for the success of the show. It is reality TV that people actually care about. Vote for who you’re going to hear on the radio next. Don’t watch people race, and yell at eachother around the world. Don’t watch people try and “survive” while “stranded” on an island. Music is something that people really enjoy, and are interested in. Maybe they’ll be there one day?

  8. Joseph Foley said

    I personally am not a fan of the American Idol show. I find it boring for someone to be singing others peoples songs every night and hearing the criticism for their work. The whole idea of the show just never striked an interest in me. It’s awesome people are trying to pursue their dreams in music especially when there are some people who have an immense amount of talent and have been overlooked their whole life. But to me personally it’s just not a show that I’m very interested in. I view the show as either you hate it or love it.

  9. Brad Dick said

    I personally have never been a fan of American Idol, but I understand why the show has so many viewers. It’s pretty simple, people like to watch other people humiliate themselves on national television. When American Idol broadcasts the early auditions that showcase average Joes who don’t have an ounce of singing talent in them embarrass themselves, it creates an audience. Also, American Idol gives the public the hope that someday they will become rich and famous. Although it’s a false hope, it allows the audience to dream and imagine if they one day became a house hold name. This idea of normal citizens becoming famous over night has been a growing trend ever since reality shows hit big in the United States. The culture in America has changed, it seems everyone now is fighting for their 15 minutes of fame.

  10. Deann Panotya said

    Even though I do watch American Idol, I don’t think that it is the greatest thing in the world like everyone else does. However, AI has became a huge hit over the past years. AI has been on the air for 10 years now and is still going strong. In my opinion there are many things there are many things that keep viewers watching AI:
    1. Probably the first would be all the horrible people trying out for AI who think they are amazing at singing, but actually they can’t sing one bit.
    2. Another thing was probably when Simon was still on the show. People used to love hearing all the rude and funny comments he would tell the contestants.
    3. People love watching the contestants sing and voting for their favorites.
    I believe as long as there are still talented singers out there, it will continue to shine.

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