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Saturday, September 15, 2007

American Idol, Reality TV and What it Takes

The electric nature of Taylor Hicks' fierce and brilliant rise to the top on American Idol, season 5 can't be more defined than in this performance of "Taking It to the Streets":

this is the performance in which Taylor Hicks sold America, sealed the deal with the growing fanbase dubbing themselves the Soul Patrol.

This energetic, lightning caliber groove seen on the tube that night cemented in my mind that this man wanted to win this show. This is the performance that had me rallying to the phones for the fully allotted time, every week, multiple phones in motion, dialing like a fool - into a bloody reality show. Taylor Hicks sold me, caught me hook line and sinker and created a desire within me to help him achieve this goal. Obviously... it worked on many people. Taylor Hicks in this video embodies the type of drive and passion that absolutely captivates the reality music show genre audience. Contestants on these shows must create that furor, instill a belief into the viewers of their dream. I think, to date, Mr. Hicks owns the honor of being the most effective at accomplishing this goal.

Little Sanjaya from last season gave it a worthy shot. He managed to muster National attention when he cut loose and did "You Really Got Me". This was the week which would decide whether the kid would make the tour or just go home. Sanjaya's performances to that date had been rather subdued; although he was drawing a fanbase of tweenies, and comments about his Kelly LeBrock locks,he wasn't getting recognition for a lot else. Pulling off this performance got him the tour and even more National attention:

it also scored a prestigious "Saturday Night Live" parody (also provided Taylor Hicks) and created mini-celebrity, Little Crying Girl, Ashley Furl. This performance, definitely one of the highlights of American Idol season 6.

Sanjaya, unlike Hicks, did not go on to win the season, although perhaps he could have if he had given viewers more more of "You Really Got Me" as well as more of this type of performance:

instead of Jordin Sparks, Sanjaya would have been the one singing, "This is My Now".

Season 4 of American Idol had some memorable performances too, creating a mega-star in Carrie Underwood, although Bo Bice overshadowed her by most of his performances. In this brilliant, gorgeous delivery he made Idol "history" and established a benchmark ideal for other contestants to follow:

now whenever speculation turns to contestant strategy, question asked, "Should he/she pull a Bo Bice?". (Translation, should they sing accapella.)

To win the hearts and minds of the audience in these types of shows the contestants have got to pull that special moment, give that unique part of themselves that pull the television viewers into their dream, into their moment and compel them to be a part of it. It's as magic as magic can get on television, one of the secret ingredients that keep this type of program popular. It keeps me tuning in year after year, curious to see if another unique, visionary young talent will create headlines and make television history. I'm a bit jaded now regarding the judging and the manipulations in place that were becoming increasingly apparent, especially last season, but hey, it's showbiz. Season 7 of American Idol begins in a mere 3 and a half months.


  1. Anonymous5:59 PM

    Sorry, I disagree about Sanjaya. Taylor can sing, but Sanjaya was mediocre, in my opinion.

  2. Regarding Sanjaya - it's not about the kid's having the best voice rather he had the best attitude out of the whole bunch during the competition. He knew he was coming out from behind the 8th ball and just went for it with daring. That's what caught up most of the folks who began supporting him.

    American Idol is more reality show than music competition. To compete successfully you have to have the ability to entertain and make the television audience believe in you, cheer for you.

    That said, I picked Jordin Sparks to win this during the early days of the show and wrote it in my article featured in blogcritics.org. It was glaringly apparent that the show wasn't going to allow Sanjaya to win this and represent the show. The boy made the season bearable - without him Season 6 would have really tanked.

    Here's the link. I predicted the outcome of this show in March.