It’s trendy for people to turn their noses up at this show, it’s somehow beneath them. But its overpowering ratings in almost all demographic groups reveal its enduring popularity. It was the top-rated TV show for five consecutive seasons, a feat matched only by All in the Family and The Cosby Show.
The talent show format is as old as broadcasting: Major Bowes hosted the Amateur Hour on radio, and it was continued on the Dumont Network in television, starting in 1947. The concept has continued on TV with Star Search, America’s Got Talent, and most successfully, American Idol.
Idol is essentially an Americanization of the British show Pop Idol. One of the reasons for the show’s success has undoubtedly been the acerbic criticism of judge Simon Cowell, who tells contestants the truth as he perceives it without sugar-coating. The 2010 season will be his last, and the show’s producers decision on who replaces him will be critical to American Idol’s future.
Winning is everyone’s goal, but history has shown that many non-winners have also had success they wouldn’t have experienced without the show. Some of these talented singers include Clay Aiken and Kimberley Locke (Season 2), Jennifer Hudson (Season 3), Katharine McPhee, Kellie Pickler, Elliott Yamin, and Chris Daughtry (Season 5), Melinda Doolittle (Season 6), David Archuleta (Season 7), and Danny Gokey (Season 8).
So far, American Idol participants have won one Academy Award, 8 Grammys, 15 American Music Awards, and 38 Billboard Music Awards.
As for the winners? Here’s my ranking in terms of sheer talent:
1. Carrie Underwood (Season 4)
2. Fantasia (Season 3)
3. Kelly Clarkson (Season 1)
4. David Cook (Season 7)
5. Kris Allen (Season 8)
6. Ruben Studdard (Season 2)
7. Taylor Hicks (Season 5)
8. Jordin Sparks (Season 6)
Having said that, for pure singing ability, I think Melinda Doolittle is the best who’s ever appeared on American Idol…