Friday, April 13, 2012

American Idol does it right

American Idol
American Idol (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
American Idol is so inspirational, even to those of us who will never sing a note on a stage

When Jessica Sanchez almost became a victim of the nationwide vote, it was amazing in itself. From her first performance, it was clear that she could easily become the singing sensation of a nation. It was heartwarming to see the judges rush onto the stage to "save" her.

When the show was over, and my last tear had fallen down my cheek, I realized that I really love watching American Idol. It always makes me cry when somebody does their very best or tries their hardest. It is just who I am. No apologies. Immediately following the show, I got to thinking about American Idol and why I enjoy it so much.

American Idol has taken the classic old-time television variety show, combined with the classic talent show, and added a 21st century spin.

Like so many other viewers, I'm hooked on American Idol for so many reasons. Viewers have been watching television talent shows for decades. But what Idol has that that other shows didn't was to combine all-around entertainment into the mix.

It is one thing to sing well, which has been the standard for talent contests for eons, but that is no longer enough as American Idol hones its production standards every year. Now in its 11th season, American Idol just gets better and better.

Singing--good singing at that--is one thing, but today potential idols must now produce an overall performance, complete with Las Vegas-style showmanship that dazzles both the judges and the voting public. This year Jimmy Iovine, who can put his money where his mouth is with regard to the music business, was introduced because of his vast experience in the music business. He has worked with artists from John Lennon to Lady Gaga and so many in between.What had been casual appearances on Idol has turned into his being a resident expert. His skill and advice has certainly fast-tracked the performers' overall public presentations on stage. The same is true with Tommy Hilfiger who has added a touch of style to Idol competitors. These two have been brought in to mentor the potential singing stars in much the same way  musical icons have mentored them in the past.

It is my opinion that American Idol has it right when it comes to providing an overall package for viewers. Not only are we entertained by spectacular singing, humorous interactions among the competitors and judges, but we are also given a peek into the real personalities behind the voices with videos of interviews with and about contestants through their friends and family.

I have to say that I hardly miss Simon Cowell, which surprises me. I enjoyed his banter with the contestants. Cowell had his own style and I thought his loss would really detract from the show. Instead, I find that his often snide remarks which he considered much like 'tough love' for competitors is really unnecessary. These kids have so much to deal with that positive mentoring is really much more advantageous, not only to them, but to the audience. With all the personal contact we have with them, we develop feelings for our favorites. We have a tendency to want to defend them if they are attacked.

Randy Jackson has always been a phenomenal judge, not only because of his own musical background and expertise, but because he is an honest critic. Like Cowell, he tells it like it is, although with much less abrasion than Cowell could ever muster. Jackson is such a likable character.

To me, and I admit it surprised me, the best judge may be Jennifer Lopez. Not only is she making a fine living as a performer herself, so she knows from whence she speaks, but she demonstrates a well-rounded understanding of music, dance, and overall performance,. Her vulnerability, which is not unlike a typical mother, resonates with these young performers. She has proven that she has a much deeper understanding than may be perceived. Her advice is given with only the best of intentions.

While Steven Tyler is more limited in his comments to singers, his persona rounds out the judges' bench. He knows what he likes and says so. I've really enjoyed seemingly getting to know this hard core rocker on a more personal level.

With all this thought, I really can't narrow down who I think the next American idol will be. Truthfully, it doesn't matter. The remaining seven performers are all excellent. Any one of them could win. I believe all of them will do well in their future singing careers.

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