The latest news about “American Idol” might be disturbing to some viewers. And that refers not just to the veteran performance show’s ratings. While the show struggles to compete against “The Voice,” the latest news that singer Katy Perry kissed a male contestant, who clearly wasn’t into it, is probably not helping the show keep viewers.
That one performance show is more popular than another might be significant. Certainly, there are critics and fans who think that the formula of weeding out singing contestants until the arguably best remains is one whose time has come and gone. But it just seems that there is something about “The Voice” that people like better than they do the dynamics of “American Idol.”
“American Idol” in brief
When “American Idol” began in 2002, it was one of the most exciting things that viewers of a certain generation had seen. It was vaguely reminiscent of “Star Search,” but that show didn’t have call-in votes.
On “American Idol,” at least in the original version, singing hopefuls came with their best acapella versions of songs they loved, and waited while judges dissected aspects of their performances.
Judge Simon Cowell, lately of “America’s Got Talent,” made a name for himself for brutally telling singers what he thought of their performances. His brand of tough love made for hurt feelings and good entertainment. People watched. Viewers waited for performers to stand up to the Judge Judy of performance shows. Some singers, though, were so bad they were endearing, William Hung, for example.
But something went wrong, and celebrity judges couldn’t save the show. Originally, the show aired on FOX, until it was canceled in 2016. In March 2018, the show was revived and airs on ABC. Still, it seems to be struggling for traction, especially against relative newcomer, “The Voice.”
“The Voice” and its appeal
While “The Voice” functions in much the same way, there are some differences between “The Voice” and “American Idol.” One thing that adds to the dynamic tension of the show is the chair-turn aspect of “The Voice.” Watching the judges listen to singers without seeing them, is relatively exciting. On “American Idol,” judges stare at contestants and there is a great deal of attention paid to the performers’ appearance, or at least there used to be.
Seeing that singers are being chosen on the basis of their sound alone no doubt helps the appeal of “The Voice.” In an age of body-shaming and other acts of appearance-based bullying, making the judges face away seems fair.
The judges sometimes seem to have a better rapport with singers. Maybe this is because the judges form teams with the singers. It should be noted that both “American Idol” and “The Voice” both seem to choose contestants who are supportive of each other. Unlike “The Four” in which trash talk is expected.
Maybe it is too soon to judge the success of the new “American Idol.” But even with the emotional judges that sometimes find their way into the red chairs of “The Voice,” nothing on the show has been as cringe-worthy as Perry kissing the reluctant contestant. And while that moment alone might not signal the end of the show, for viewers who simply want to cheer for the best singer, certain behaviors are just distractions.
So far, there seems to be no shortage of shows for would-be singers. Time will tell how long the programs remain relevant.