Season six of ratings juggernaut American Idol is just around the corner – an exciting prospect, considering the success of Season five.
Season Five had a diverse and talented group, with everything from rockers, like Chris Daughtry, to great soul crooners, like Elliott Yamin. Winner Taylor Hicks, whose soulful voice and engaging personality, created one of the most loyal and strongest fan bases ever.
Taylor Hicks was also the most unconventional idol the show has produced, and I’m not just talking about his gray hair. Musicians who spend ten years toiling away in bars aren’t usually what people think of when it comes to American Idol, but Taylor may have changed everyone’s perception about the show. But is that what they want?
Soon after Chris Daughtry was voted off American Idol, some of his fans started the mantra that #4 was the new #1. And while I don’t think anything can usurp Taylor Hicks’ popularity, they may be more right than they thought. While it may not be #1, #4 and #6 can almost be called the new #2. Consider it a three-way tie, with only one being picked by the voting audience.
On July 13th, it was announced that fourth place Chris Daughtry had signed a record deal with 19 Recordings/RCA Records, which is owned by Clive Davis. On July 17th, it was announced that sixth place Kellie Pickler signed with RCA group 19 Recordings/BNA Records.
19 Recordings was founded by American Idol creator Simon Fuller. No matter how you break down the companies, they all go back to 19 Recordings. So with two more contestants being signed to companies associated with the show, does it matter who wins? Not as much.
Yes, Taylor Hicks is getting more press, more marketing, and hopefully a bigger budget for his album, but certainly Chris Daughtry and Kellie Pickler are winners too, and they didn’t even have to finish the competition.
Why did Daughtry and Pickler get signed to the same record company as the winners before Taylor’s album even has even been recorded? In the beginning, there had been a lot of questioning about Taylor’s potential for marketability. With his faithful legion of fans, his first album is bound to be a pretty big seller. None of us can see the future, but Taylor has talent and drive and there is little doubt he can have a successful recording career. But being the mostly unlikely American Idol to date could make some of the powers that be nervous.
Katharine McPhee’s single, which was changed to Somewhere Over the Rainbow after her performance of My Destiny impressed no one, didn’t do all that well. It debuted out of the top ten, at #12, and is out of the top 40 after only three weeks. Perhaps American Idol and RCA executives were losing confidence in their runner up. It doesn’t help that she has missed nearly the first three weeks of the tour so far, due to of a case of laryngitis and bronchitis.
Perhaps those same executives still don’t believe in Taylor’s potential for success. Maybe they did really want Chris and Kellie all along. So if they don’t believe in the people’s choice for the winner, why should we believe in them? What’s the point in spending time watching the show and voting for hours on end if they’re going to pick the winner(s) they want after it’s all over anyway?
I say there’s a strong chance for voter and viewer apathy next season.