There will be victory laps and guest performances and final countdowns and one last winner crowned on that final show. Plenty of tears will be shed on the way to that FOX TV moment around this time in 2016, you can be sure.
Also, many, many words of derision and hate will be directed at “American Idol” and all that is has meant in the 15 seasons it will have spent on the television sets and the minds of America.
Fox officials announced earlier today that the plug will be pulled after one more year of good singers and bad singers airing it out in auditions in front of judges Jennifer Lopez, Harry Connick Jr. and Keith Urban, a flock of contestants being handed golden tickets for arduous tryouts for the holy trio in Hollywood, and finalists going after their hearts in live shows with host Ryan Seacrest, coming down to America doing the voting.
You know, a popularity contest. The kind of thing that started with Kelly Clarkson winning season one and then becoming a pop star … wound its way to Carrie Underwood winning season four and then becoming a huge country star … averaging 30 million viewers a show when other programs were dwindling.
And then losing the biting tongue of judge Simon Cowell, changing judges in musical chairs, losing viewers, awarding winners who failed to win the nation’s fancy thereafter and becoming an even bigger target for those who’d always said this was no way to identify who had lasting talent and who didn’t.
They all had a point. The devoted lovers and the adamant bashers.
I was the music and entertainment writer for the big daily in Syracuse when “American Idol” came about in 2002, and also being a father of a 12-year-old, I thought it was a good thing to have a show that young people could sit down and feel comfortable watching with their parents. Not only that, these young singers performed songs from older generations, introducing them to teens and tweens, too. I wrote about that.
The big daily dived into syracuse.com, and I called my blog Music Notes. “American Idol” was ready-made for that. I predicted who I thought would be eliminated each weeks and who I thought would win the season. They were my most-clicked items without fail.
The show started a live tour in the Underwood-Bo Bice season, and it came to the Onondaga County War Memorial. I wrote a review. It kept coming for several years, even switching to the larger New York State Fair Grandstand, and I wrote more reviews and interviewed contestants ahead of time.
In season eight, though, one of my bosses told me that she didn’t want me to review the live show that night, after it returned to the War Memorial. She instead sent me to an afternoon media conference to write a blog. I watched as Allison Irehata jumped onto the back of runner-up Adam Lambert and rode him around the concourse. There were plenty of people who thought that Lambert should have beaten out Kris Allen.
Even after I got laid off from the big daily at the start of “American Idol” season 12, we remained close. Shortly after I started this blog, a teen singer from nearby Norwich auditioned and got a Golden Ticket. Kaitlyn Jackson kept advancing through Hollywood until the very end, and I kept following the curious case of Fox never showing her again. If you click her name in the category listing below, you’ll see that I also wrote about her releasing an album that came out this year, but it was those posts about her Idol audition that pulled in big numbers.
This season, Kohlton Pascal of nearby Auburn won a Golden Ticket with his well-worn bluesy voice, and I got huge views again with my posts. He decided not to go to Hollywood in the interim, though.
This is finale week for “American Idol” season 14. The announcement today may bump viewership. I’ve been watching, half-heartedly. The singers left — Clark Beckham, Nick Fradiani and Jax — are all very different. Beckman is a throwback pops guy maybe reminiscent to Connick Jr. Fradiani is more in the cool rock man mold, comparable to Rob Thomas. Jax is a woman who can rock and deliver modern pop edge. I like Fradiani the most, but would not be surprised if Jax takes the crown.
Next year, with many guest appearances from former judges and you can bet former winners and other key personnel, just got more interesting. I watched in the beginning because I thought I should. I watched a long time because I enjoyed it. I watched for a while because I didn’t want to let go. I don’t know what I’ll feel when I tune in for the last season.
Here’s the link to an Entertainment Weekly story about Fox’s decision to cancel “American Idol” and the source for the photograph above.
Have you watched “American Idol” for a long stretch of time, or have you give up on the show, and why? If you’ve watched this season, who do you think will win, and why? Do you think you’re more likely to watch next season because you know it’s the last year?