As one of the most successful television shows ever prepares to kick off – can you believe it – its 10th season, many are asking, is the show still relevant? After all, who needs a talent showcase like American Idol to find fame and fortune when it can perhaps more easily be found by merely posting yourself singing on YouTube (hello, Justin Bieber).
Whether you like the show or not (I stopped watching years ago), I would argue instead that “American Idol” still means something special with the show representing both the American dream and the American work ethic.
American Idol contestants get a shot at stardom not through chance or a lucky break but by hard work and true talent. Thousand upon thousands of ‘wanna-bes’ stand in line in ever city around the country. Only a very, very elite few make it and, even those that do are not guaranteed lasting fame beyond the Idol Stage. Where are Justin Guarini and Ruben Stoddard today, for example?
And why have Carrie Underwood and Jennifer Hudson and Chris Daughtry, on the other hand, stood the test of time over an Adam Lambert or a Fantasia Barrino? By continuing to exhibit all-American values and serve as role models, both on-stage and off. Further, their talents have translated well from TV to radio, records and even the Silver Screen.
Finally (and I’ve said it before but it bears repeating), no other show continues to serve such a mass media audience. “Idol” is the Ed Sullivan Show of this century. Whole families sit down together to take it all in and, later, enjoy the recorded music and concerts. That’s a pop culture phenomenon that is sure to continue – most likely for as long as the show continues to hit the airwaves.