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True test of talent happens after competition

/ 10:22 PM May 25, 2012

Here’s the thing about “American Idol”—it’s not really a singing contest. Sure, there are contestants, and they sing, and there are judges, and they seem to make judgments about the performances. But we all know that they don’t really have a lot of say as to who gets to walk home with the prize. It is something of a popularity contest, because whoever gets the most votes wins, but that’s not the only thing that it’s about, either.

“American Idol” is a TV show, and like the vast majority of shows out there, its main goal is to entertain (and to rake in as much cash as it can for the folks who run it). When you watch it with this in mind, you can  save yourself from needless heartache and enjoy it better. And you have to hand it to the “AI” producers—they do know how to put on a show.

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Discussion

This season, its 11th, has been a success by all accounts. Viewers have been glued to the screen, millions have been voting, and there’s been a whole lot of post-show chatter. The more discussion there is about who should win, who performed better, who sucked, what J.Lo was wearing, etc., the greater the chance of even more people watching the next episode.

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So, yeah, Phillip Phillips won, and Jessica Sanchez wasn’t able to break the guys’ four-year winning streak. Did he deserve to win over her? Maybe, maybe not. Certainly, Jessica has a more outstanding voice, but she hasn’t been very consistent.

At the finale performance, when she sang Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing,” Celine Dion’s “The Prayer,” and a rather forgettable pop song called “Change Nothing,” she seemed to keep changing her approach to whatever song she was singing while she was singing it. Maybe it was just nerves, who knows, but it was rather disjointed.

As for Phillip Phillips, who sang Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me,” Billy Joel’s “Movin’ Out,” and a complete-with-marching-band number called “Home,” he didn’t really overwhelm either (marching band notwithstanding).

And what does he have against melody anyway? Why choose melody-rific songs like “Stand By Me” and “Movin’ Out” and take away one of their defining elements? The mind boggles.

Joshua Ledet, who had previously been eliminated despite being the best overall performer, would probably have done better than either of them.

Then again, “AI” isn’t really based on the principles of a meritocracy. It only appears as though it is and, you have to admit, this is part of what makes it work. “AI” has got viewers believing that the “best” person will win, and it also puts the power of deciding who that best person is in the hands of viewers.

Past winners

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In any case, based on the show’s past winners, the true test of real talent, of whether or not you actually have the “it” factor that will make large numbers of people want to shell out money to watch and listen to you, happens after “American Idol.”

Let’s see—Clay Aiken, Kris Allen, David Archuleta, David Cook, Lee DeWyze, Ruben Studdard—have any of these names gone on to superstardom? Not really. Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood are the only two winners whose names evoke instant recognition.

As for the male “AI” alumnus, Adam Lambert seems to be the only one who’s really on his way up (his new album, “Trespassing,” just debuted on top of the Billboard 200)—and he didn’t even win!

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TAGS: American Idol, Entertainment, Jessica Sanchez, Noelani Torre
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