Dave’s Music Report: Can American Idol Survive?

Dave Iannacone

There are very few television shows that become embedded in pop culture and truly define a generation. For almost the past decade, American Idol has been that show. Having produced artists such as Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Chris Daughtry, and Jennifer Hudson, the show truly has left a lasting impact on the music industry in multiple genres. However, as the show enters its 10th season, the question of whether or not the show can continue to be successful has never been more pertinent.

While the show has seen incredible ratings, it’s no secret that it has been slumping in recent years; so this season is truly going to be make or break. With the show’s star judge, Simon Cowell leaving to bring the X Factor (another Idol-like singing competition which is wildly popular in the UK) to America, as well as the departure of fellow judges Kara DioGuardi and Ellen DeGeneres, American Idol is completely in popularity-limbo. Two replacement judges have already been all but officially confirmed, Steven Tyler of Aerosmith and Jennifer Lopez. While both will no doubt bring a new dynamic to the show, whether or not the public will like it is a whole other issue. There is no arguing that Cowell was a huge draw to the show, with his brutal honesty and witty metaphors, but was that the show’s only appeal?

On the other hand, American Idol has only ever produced two megastar winners, Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, while others such as Jordin Sparks, David Cook, Kris Allen, and Fantasia Barrino have only experienced limited success. In fact some non-winners like Daughtry, J.Hud, Adam Lambert, Clay Aiken, and David Archuleta have experienced greater success than many Idol champs. Yes, the show’s success stories have been incredible successes, winners or not, but there is certainly no guarantee of superstardom just for making the top-12, let alone winning (Taylor Hicks, anyone?). So maybe the draw truly is the talent and the audience interaction, but once the season is over, the interest is easily lost.

What the show needs to do is figure out exactly what its appeal is and come up with a formula to make it work, or else it will inevitably sink like a stone. Both new judges and new talent are definitely in the cards for the 10th season, and coming this season America will see if that will be enough.