I tried to think that simply not being a gross reality show was some redemption for the American Idol phenomenon. In view of the big season 2 finale, this thin reed does not hold up.
American Idol does not in any significant way even try to pick someone with something to say, an artist. Bob Dylan or Eminem would never, ever have come out of any of these tv talent shows. They’re not looking for artists at all, but with someone who can do a certain type of rote emoting.
Jebus, look at the songs they’re picking. “Imagine” and “Bridge Over Troubled Water”? I’d be hard pressed to think of two less imaginative choices of songs to sing. This is besides the fact that they’re not doing any songs of their own composition, nor bringing in original outside songs at all.
I could not pick out even one hint of an original thought or quirk in word, deed, performance, anything. I don’t know when I’ve seen two performers more utterly devoid of personality than Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken. They are both technically cable of carrying a tune in a bucket. One’s a chunky black guy. The other’s a geeky looking white kid. That’s about all there is to say about either of them.
They’ve both got recording contracts. Like the Clarkson chick, they’ll probably sell a couple of copies of their first record just from the momentum of the Fox publicity machine. Then after a few weeks they will sink, never to be heard of again. They’ll have a new crop. Hey, there are at least a couple of kids in every high school glee club in the country who could do this just as good.
The only hope for any lasting or meaningful career for any of these people will have to come from the miracle of modern technology. Studio engineers can already do a lot to fix performance mistakes in the studio. They won’t need them that much, though. Again, these kids can carry a tune.
What they need is a personality. Hopefully, the record companies can get some Personality 1.0 software to inject at least some fabricated individuality, even just a tiny spark of something not utterly generic into their recordings.