‘American Idol’: Competence Is Boring, But Could It Be Profitable?

220px-American_Idol_logoAs a huge American Idol fan, I’ve been disappointed in this season, but for all the wrong reasons: I love the judges, who have been so articulate and competent that they ended up with nothing but truly talented vocalists going into the final weeks. I think the women who ended up in the top spots have amazing voices, classy presentations, and impressive ability to interpret songs.

And I haven’t cared for weeks about who wins or loses. From what I can tell, this is because they’re all so darn good, I can’t whip up much emotion. Kree? Sure, she’d be a good Idol. Candice? Heck yeah, why not. Angie? Yep, I can see her having a competent and successful career as well, and I wouldn’t begrudge her that for a second. I haven’t felt much at all about Idol since the overdue ousting of Lazaro, and that was mainly because it was starting to feel like cruel punishment to keep the so-so vocalist around just because he had a compelling life story.

It turns out I miss the rage brought on by, say, a finals consisting of two teenagers with preternaturally mature voices but otherwise devoid of the life experience necessary to sell the country songs they keep trying to sing. As an example that may have resulted in the crowning of a person named Scotty McCreery.

I wonder, however, if this could be the new model of American Idol: churning out genuine talent so as to capitalize on record sales and longevity instead of the quick-but-huge ratings hit of past seasons. Phil Phillips seemed to usher in a new era in Idol with his win last year. It marked the first time I thought America had chosen impeccably well, and even his first single — a spot traditionally held by the schmaltziest of schmaltz — was great. His album was even better — well-crafted, artistic, of the times.

If the financials work out such that the network and the producers rake in enough money over the long term from crowning more relevant, talented artists, we could see even a scaled-back Idol last for years beyond its ratings dominance.

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