Has Idol Jumped Shark? Yeah Yeah Yeah

This week’s radio chat with CHML’s Scott Thompson follows up on the preceding post: Jack Duffy‘s lost legacy on Party Game. Gardiner Westbound, again, we salute you. You can listen in here.
There’s also a brief mention of tonight’s big event, the finale of American Idol, the results of which can be found someplace else. Some guy named David won.
I was stumped on the radio when Thompson asked when Idol jumped the shark but I have the answer now: it was back in March when these bland wannabees booted all those Beatle songs. That was the last week I watched and apparently a lot of other viewers bailed then too. That wasn’t how it was supposed to happen. After six previous Beatle-less seasons, the producers finally landed the rights to pop music’s biggest catalogue. It should have driven the show to new heights. Instead, you can track the steep rating decline of Idol to the weeks following the Beatle bust.
More than any other moment, Idol’s Beatle Week underlined the essential weakness of the singing competition: that it is a karaoke charade, a contest to see who can be the best pop poser.
In 1964, The Beatles didn’t conquer America, they rescued it from the stale doo-wop repertoire gumming up the charts at the time. It was an era when music was fake and Payola ruled. The Beatles were real, genuine and inspired. They sidelined all those over-groomed and manufactured American Bandstand bands. They put their leather black boots to pop karaoke in the ’60s. Their music spoke to a generation because it was real and now and connected in a very personal way. That’s way too much reality for a reality show, especially in an era of musical shallowness and fakery. Mariah Carey beating The Beatles for most No. 1 records? It’s a marketing and accounting trick, and nobody is fooled, certainly not the downloading public. Asking these kids to sing Beatle songs only drove home the reality that American Idol was getting tiresome because it was less and less about the music and more and more about getting kids to speed dial somebody named David to victory. Sitting through two hours of product placements for that is way worse than two hours you’ll never get back, and more people seem to have finally come to that conclusion.
Where does the show go from here? Back to Barry Manilow? Back to Paula sleeping with the finalists? Idol will come back next January and Fox promises changes (Simon will start wearing coloured T-shirts?) but it will never get back to where it once belonged.

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