Monday, January 12, 2009
The Problem with 'American Idol'
If you know me, you are probably already aware that I hate 'American Idol'. If you do not know me, well... I hate 'American Idol'. I do not hate the show in and of itself, but I do hate the show for what it represents and also for what is has spawned in the world since its inception. The eighth season of 'American Idol' will premiere tomorrow nite and I for one can only hope that it does not get any worse than it already is.
'American Idol' began as an afterthought in the summer of 2002 and has grown to be the #1 show in the United States. That is a problem. 'American Idol' is simply a hidden agenda to manipulate the buying audience. Case in point: In an interview on '60 Minutes' on March 17, 2007 judge Simon Cowell openly admitted that the underlying primary purpose of the 'Idol' franchise (including American Idol) was for 19 Entertainment (the parent corporation that produces the Idol TV shows) to discover new singing talent that can be signed to recording agreements that the corporation maintains with a major record company (Sony/BMG), and benefit from the record sales of contestants and winners who are exposed to the worldwide marketplace through the TV shows. Cowell indicated that revenue from recordings by performers associated with the Idol franchise has already exceeded $100 million.
Simply put, the purpose of the show is to make money while acting as if they are sincerely searching out the new rags-to-riches story. 'American Idol' spoon feeds their audience what they want them to hear, not what the audience wants to hear. This would not be so bad had the ripple effect not reached so far. How far? 31 million households in the United States. 31 million households being spoon fed what they will like, how much they will like it and how much of it they will buy. A true mass manipulation/brainwashing of the buying audience.
98% of modern pop music is pure trash. It is produced in hopes of creating a financial gain, not to create emotions within the human heart and mind. 'American Idol' has become a formula for that financial gain. Naturally, when that much money is being made...others are going to want in on it. Thus the ripple effect of 'American Idol' financial gain through cookie cutting pop music in the modern era has spread: product placement. AT&T has paid an estimated $30-$50 million to have their products advertised within the show. Coca-Cola and Ford Motor Company have also helped to transform the show into a 60 minute commercial with commercials.
Another factor in my hatred of 'American Idol' is the technique of using old songs to create new emotions within their audience. This has become a staple of the 'American Idol' scam. Case in point: I was at the bank one day when I heard a 30-something female in the back signing a Bon Jovi song that was on the radio. I thought "that's great that she still feels that passionately about a song from 20 years ago". I later found out that Bon Jovi songs were the showcase on 'American Idol' the previous nite. Now here is the thing, all of those Bon Jovi songs have been available for the past two decades, yet 'American Idol' reintroduces them and they become pop hits all over again. 'American Idol' is simply giving people what they already had and it makes me sick.
The worst ripple that 'American Idol' has created is the "Guitar Hero" and "Rock Band" video game craze that has swept the nation over the last 2-3 years. Both games provide you with pre-selected songs for you to pretend to play on plastic instruments. I will never forget the first time I heard a Nirvana song being played on "Guitar Hero" and cringing for the late Kurt Cobain. The very thing that Cobain did not want his music to become...it had become: a musical footnote used as a pop song in a bloated commercial product. Is nothing sacred?
I see modern pop music as a small, dirty and disease ridden pond. I see the world of music outside of 'American Idol' and Top 40 radio as vast as the Pacific ocean, deep and filled with many things to discover. My suggestion, turn off 'American Idol' and never turn it back on. You are merely a dollar sign in their eyes. Put down the plastic instruments and put on YOUR favorite song that YOU choose to listen to, turn it up real loud and rock the fuck out! There has never been a better or easier time to look for new and exciting music that will move you. Become one of the millions that do not rely on a popular television show to tell them what to like or buy.
at 8:13 AM