• Sophie Stekel

American Idol is the Best Talent Search Show on TV

American Idol is without question the best talent search show on television. With new singing competition shows coming out each season like The Voice, The Masked Singer, and The World’s Best, Idol is the only one with true staying power.


American Idol is considered one of the most successful shows in the history of American television. Its first episode aired nearly twenty years ago. Although Idol took a brief hiatus and switched networks from FOX to ABC, it is back and better than ever, having just returned for its 17th season this past Sunday. Seacrest still hosts and Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan sit on the dynamic judges panel.


There is something so pure about American Idol’s stripped down audition process. When a guitar clad hopeful with a numerical sticker across their abdomen turns the corner of the audition room, the audience has no idea what to expect. Nerves run rampant as the contestant prepares the right chord, opens their mouth and begins to sing in an attempt to impress the judges panel, make it to the next round, and hopefully become the next (*cue Ryan Seacrest’s voice) American Idol.


I have been an American Idol fan ever since I watched a VCR tape of the season one highlights on my grandparents chunky old TV. I immediately became captivated with Kelly Clarkson’s charisma and the overall structure to the show. It was one of the only shows my parents let me watch past my bedtime so I watched the next nine seasons religiously.


Imagine my excitement when they announced they were rebooting the show.


These past few years, I have found myself rolling my eyes and busy myself by checking my phone whenever a singing competition show comes on the television.


While The Voice may have mega star power, it is obvious contestants go through a highly vetted process in order to audition. Contestants have almost always had training and it takes a certain amount of practice to be able to sing with a live band right away, making me raise my eyebrows when they claim that their contestants are “amateurs”.


What I love most about American Idol is that anyone, from all walks of life, can come in off the street and audition. A rival TV executive said that American Idol is “the most impactful show in the history of television.” This season of Idol promises auditions from a fast food cook at In N’ Out Burger, a strawberry farmer, a war veteran and a janitor. Stars have the potential to be born from the most modest of upbringings and stories of struggle, which automatically make us root for them and will them to achieve.


On the flip side, there is always an abundance of whack jobs with a lot of guts who strictly aim to entertain. Idol has produced classic TV moments like engineering student William Hung’s unforgettable rendition of “She Bangs” or 62 year-old General Larry Platt’s original song “Pants on the Ground” that made Cowell howl.


American Idol is far superior because of its distinct theme nights. Contestants put their own spin on songs from artists we know and love like Disney and Michael Jackson. This way the audience, which are also the people who are voting, can compare the contestants version with the original, allowing the voters to properly gage the artist’s talent and watch them shine.


American Idol has shot artists mega-famous recording artists like Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson and Jennifer Hudson into superstardom. According to Billboard magazine, in its first ten years, “Idol spawned 345 Billboard chart-toppers…while remaining a TV ratings juggernaut.” Can you name a single artist who has had a record-setting career stemming from The Voice?


Instead of fighting each other for a personal win like they do on The Voice, American Idol judges are genuinely there to help contestants’ dreams take flight. Their main goal is to discover a star and grant them a lottery ticket to change their life.


On American Idol, there are no gimmicks. Just pure talent and humble individuals who are hungry to achieve their dream of becoming the next American Idol. That, and all the success that comes along with the title. As we have seen from American Idol winners in the past, there is a lot to go around.


American Idol airs Sundays at 8/7c on ABC.

 
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