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Is There a Reason to Watch Season Six of American Idol?

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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.

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About Sherry Lipp

Sherry Lipp is an entertainment and food writer who specializes in film and television reviews. She has published the gluten and grain-free cookbook Don't Skip Dessert.
  • Carol

    WWill Taylor Hicks be there next year?
    No so there will be no paticular reason
    to watch. He was the reason for the larger
    than normal ratings this year. One of these
    days others will wake up to what an incredible
    talent this man is.

  • brandon

    Have you gone to any concerts? Based upon what you have said absolutely not. The most popular Idol at these concerts is actually Chris Daughtry. He has been getting the best fan reaction and also the BEST newspaper reviews. There are a few concerts where Chris is second only to Taylor in crowd response but they are just a few.

    TPTB know what they are doing and that is to make money. Chris Daughtry is their money maker this year NOT Taylor. Taylor’s Soul Patrol is as big as is DIMYP’s CD sales which is around 500,000. In order to sell in the millions he would have to GROW his fan base which because of his lack of marketability, TPTB just don’t see that happening. Where are they going to market him? Easy Listening stations?…LOL!

    TPTB signed Chris because he IS marketable. Chris will be EVERYWHERE when his CD comes out: MTV, VH-1, on radio, and on Magazine covers. I predict he will be on the cover of Rollingstones.

    There is a reason why 19E sent Taylor to the Firm and kept Chris because they plan to use their budget to MARKET Chris HEAVILY. Why do you think that 19E decided to release Taylor’s, Kat’s, and Kellie’s debut CD the same day but will release Chris’ separate. Because they play to market Chris majorly.

    Taylor is NOT THE REASON why there was such high ratings this year but rather that there was diversity in all the Idols as you pointed out. That attracted a variety of viewers.

  • Ty

    “What’s the point in spending time watching the show and voting for hours on end if they’re going to go ahead and pick the winner(s) they want after it’s all over anyway?

    It would be foolish for 19 Entertainment not to make it so that their own label has first crack at the finalists.

    But the point of watching (for me and many others) has NOTHING to do with post-AI happenings, but rather the competition DURING AI.
    That is what makes it fun. That is why we will all tune in to AI 6. We love the competition itself, the drama, and our interest for the most part only goes until a winner is crowned.

    I could care less about the future of Taylor, Katherine, Kellie, etc, I just simply enjoyed the battles they waged, and look forward to a great group of finalists in AI 6.

  • dayoftay

    Yes, Hicks has raised the bar. In fact, the talent was so diverse and great this year. I cannot imagine that AI 6 could top this year. So many getting deals….TPTB signed them up early ‘cuz they got lots of cash to make.

  • mike

    Taylor was the biggest draw this year. During the competition if you did a google search, there were always the most articles discussing Taylor,whether it was his hair, his voice, his marketability. Chris was the PTB favourite, but the public’s favourite was Taylor.

  • Cherie

    I’m sick of all the boo-hoo about Chris didn’t win and did the right person win, and are the judges backing the losers.

    TAYLOR HICKS IS THE ONE THE HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF VIEWERS VOTED FOR!!!
    IT’S THOSE SAME VIEWERS WHO WILL CONTINUE TO BACK TAYLORS CAREER!!! FURTHERMORE, IT DOESN’T MATTER WHO THE JUDGES WANT OR WHO THEY BACK – THEY AREN’T BUYING THE RECORDS OR PAYING FOR CONCERTS.

    IT’S A SHAME THAT THE MOST POPULAR IDOL HAS TO CONTINUE HEARING THIS GARBAGE BY WHINERS.

    AS FAR AS KATHERINE, SHE WANTS TO BE AN ACTRESS-HAS BEEN SWIMMING, SCHED. FOR THE VIEW, GETTING PHOTO-SHOOTS, HAIR COMMERCIALS, TV WITH A PSYCHIATRIST, WAS MADE EXEC.PRODUCER OF NY PLAY 3 CONCERTS WITH ANDREA BOCCELI WHILE ALL HER ‘FANS’ HAVE PAID FOR TOUR TICKETS FOR A ‘NO SHOW’. SHE SAYS SHE CAN’T TALK BUT SHE COULD HAVE APPEARED ON TOUR AND SIGNED AUTOGRAPHS AND SHOOK HANDS FOR HER FANS…BUT SHE JUST WANTS TO BE ‘AN ACTRESS’ – BUT I’M SURE SHE WILL FIND TIME TO ATTEND THE WHITE HOUSE. ELLIOTT SHOULD HAVE BEEN 1ST RUNNER UP-SHE SHOULD HAVE DROPPED OUT.

  • Linda

    Chris is getting great response sure, but I have been to four concerts already and let me tell you…Chris may have the loudest cheers (you know teens really can scream louder than this mom), but the only idol on that tour that has everyone out of their seat for their entire set is Taylor, not Chris. Just because I choose not to act like a fool and scream everytime I see Taylor does not mean I am not a huge fan. Just remember that.

    I see Taylor having a lasting career, I see Chris having a successful but short one. Three albums tops!

  • LMK

    LIKE MANY, I HAD NOT WATCHED IDOL AT ALL UNTIL THIS SEASON, AND LIKE MANY I WATCHED EVERY TONGUE-BITING EPISODE BECAUSE I WAS FASCINATED WITH TAYLOR HICKS. I STILL AM. I DON’T INTEND TO WATCH AGAIN. MY INTEREST IS IN TAYLOR HICK’S CAREER, NOT IN AMERICAN IDOL. I ENJOYED THEM ALL BUT HE’S ‘THE MAN’ IN MY BOOK. I THINK THE SHOW HAS PEAKED AND WILL FADE OVER THE NEXT FEW YEARS.

  • Linda

    And I firmly believe Taylor was the main reason the ratings were so high this year. Not only were teens watching the show, baby boomer like myself started watching with our kids.

    The beautiful thing about being older. I got to watch the show. My kids may of liked other idols (Chris not being one of them BTW), but I pay the phone bill and I don’t have a bedtime. Unless, they can top Taylor I will go back to my normal life and just let my kids have fun and vote.

  • Amy

    Taylor is THE reason American Idol’s ratings increased so drastically this year. Let Chris Daughtry fans continue to believe otherwise … it won’t change the facts.

  • Phyllis

    I think Taylor will have a nice career ahead, but it’s Chris I see rocking his way into the future. The thing about him is he can and did conform to the boundries of the show, however without EVER losing who he is. Hicks is a good AI. Chris is a fantastic performer( way too much cool to be the AI) with a whale of a voice. He is the only reason I watched this year. I had not seen previous AI’s and don’t anticipate any more. It was Chris all the way for me. I stopped watching after his elimination.

  • Chuckie

    I think maybe the point of the article is being missed. The way I read it, the issue at hand is not so much ‘did the right person win?’, but rather – does is matter much who wins, considering that four (instead of just the top two, as with pervious seasons) contestants have been signed by 19E. The voting public picked the top 2, who were both signed. Elliot Yamin’s 3rd place accomplishment didn’t end up meaning much because the AI people went with the #4 and #6 contestants for contracts. I think the bigger picture being asked in this article is not who deserves a deal and who doesn’t.

  • James

    Time will show that Kellie will be the most successful of all the 2006 singers. She is a genius.

  • http://www.charlotte.com/mld/charlotte/entertainment/special_packages/american_idol/14518397.htm Chris

    To answer the question, “Why did Daughtry and Pickler get signed to the same record company as the winners before Taylor’s album even has even been recorded?”

    Simple. Because Chris and Kellie are highly talented, great singers in completely different genres. Taylor and Elliott are the best soul singers. Without question, Kellie is the best country singer this season. She also proved that she’s a great pop/rock singer with her 3 pop/rock performances. I’m the Only One continues to be a crowd favorite on the tour. Myself and many people think Kellie is the best female singer and even the best singer this season because we prefer her voice. For anyone who still doesn’t realize this, click on my name/URL and play the video “Kellie Pickler returns home, sings anthem”.

    Chris is the best pure rock singer and he’s getting rave reviews on the tour. Of course he also plays guitar so he packs a double punch.

    Simon is the man and Chris, Kellie, and Taylor were almost always his top 3 picks to win. So you are correct that #4 and #6 are the same as #1 or #2 this season, and I’ve said this many times before. There’s always room for more than 1 genre and there is no reason to debate over it. This season was chock full of talent and there are many great singers in their own genres. In fact, being forced to sing outside their main genres on odd theme nights is a big reason why some great singers left early.

    I can’t believe some are commenting that Taylor is the only reason why ratings were up this year. This is not true because millions of people also tuned in only to watch Chris and Kellie. In fact Ryan stopped talking about vote totals and many fans refused to vote or watch the show after they left. This is the 1st year I’ve watched every show and voted for 2 hours every week, and Kellie is the reason. Many other Chris and Kellie fans have told me the same thing. Sure Taylor is a big reason why ratings are up this year, but not THE only reason. Remember that Kellie was almost always in the top 2-3 group with Taylor, and Chris was usually up there as well. Many other viewers tuned in only to see Elliott, Bucky, Kat, or their favorite.

    So while Taylor is the official winner, there are many winners this season. I’m sure Taylor would agree.

  • Sara

    I, like most of the people I work with, have seen AI on and off over the years but it has never really been a topic of conversation. This year was different because of Taylor Hicks. We not only discussed his performance each week but also started downloading some of the original songs he covered in the show. Taylor somehow got us all buying music and concert tickets.

    I think we will always be Taylor Hicks fans to some degree or another. Whether or not we are AI fans next year is yet to be seen.

  • sherry5150

    I have been a Taylor/Chris fan from the beginning, however, I thought all of the idols seemed pretty cool. The sad thing is the fans. Ok, Chris was sent home because 3 OTHER PEOPLE GOT MORE VOTES. Plain and simple. All the whining is what makes people not like other idols! That’s too bad because they all seem like really nice people. All the bickering among the fans is ridiculous and embarassing.

  • YoYo

    I didn’t even watch TV – thought it’s a waste of time- but I surprised everyone who konws me – I watched AI 5 and became a Taylor’s fan

  • Toni

    Taylor Hicks is not why American Idol was so popular this year. The diverse talents of the top ten contestants this year had something for everyone; pop, rock, soul, jazz and country. The talent pool this past season was amazingly deep.

    Alot of people “got” Taylor, but alot of people just like Simon, simply did not get the Wedding Singer with the bad dance moves.

    But to each his own. That’s what makes America great.

    Taylor won and he is making a fine American Idol, but don’t be mistaken, the increased viewership this season was not all about Taylor.

    Chris Daughtry got signed because TPTB and millions of Americans recognize the amazing vocal talent, awesome stage presence and marketability that is Chris Daughtry.

    Kellie Pickler can sing. She has a bubbly, simple personality that excites people and makes them laugh. The competition in the Country market is less than say in the pop/rock genre, thus she should do well.

    The writer is asking is this fair?

    Since it’s inception the Idol machine has always had the option to sign any of the top twelve they wanted. Why would any company that finds undiscovered talent want to just throw it away to competing labels?

    Does winning American Idol mean anything then?

    Of course it does. The publicity that Taylor has received is what is making that poor song DIMYP such a hit as well as its “dedication” to the troops. The American Idol title and the enormous marketing that comes along with winning ensures a guaranteed chart topping first CD.

    After that his longevity in the business will be like everybody elses. It will be based on having a great CD and the market for it.

    I wish them all well, especially my favorite Chris Daughtry.

    And I guarantee that the masses will tune in to American Idol 6 looking for that new Taylor Hicks, Katherine Mcphee, Elliott Yamin, Chris Daughtry, Paris Bennette, Ace Young, Kellie Pickler, Bucky Covington ,Mandisa and/or Lisa Tucker who will grab their attention and make “normal” Americans burn up the internet and vote endlessly for hours.

  • Betty

    I have watched American Idol from Season 3 on, but have never been so invested in a contestant as I have been with Taylor Hicks. Taylor has brought back music of another era and is an amazing singer and entertainer. Taylor BECOMES the music and when he performs he goes to another place — music, to Taylor, is his life. Taylor has a wonderful future ahead of him. He is bigger than life itself when he performs. He knows how to keep the audience in the palm of his hand. I wish him the best of everyting in the future. One can believe what they want, but Taylor Hicks is the reason for the most successful season ever for American Idol. Seems that Season 5 is the first year AI has been nominated for Emmy awards — hmmmmmmmmmmm.

  • Barb

    AI was blessed with a lot of talented performers this season but they were all like some other performer that had come before, except one, Taylor Hicks. Taylor was different. He tapped into a generation past and brought on board a new generation too. He has a style that appealed to a whole lot of people. That is why he won.

    Taylor has so many good qualities, family oriented, a caring and respectful young man and super talented. He has touched and renewed the spirits of a lot of older “soul patrollers”. I am one of those “old enough to be his mother” fans.

    I never watched AI until I heard Taylor was going to be on the show. Yes, I am a Birminghamian. Shows huh? Well his singing stirred something that’s been missing for a while and I liked the feeling. Almost forgot how it felt. When he was dancing, I was up and dancing. His music does that to me. The feeling he puts in his music and the “Taylorizing”, I like it.

    I guess I don’t understand the belly aching from all of you who’s guy or gal didn’t win. They didn’t get enough votes. It’s that simple. They didn’t have enough fans. They were not talented enough to keep a loyal following that were ready every week to vote for two hours.

    I plan to keep on dancing now that Taylor got me feeling alive again. Thanks Taylor. I will be there buying his new albums as long as he keeps them coming. And all you belly aching folks can bet the farm the only place our “Soul Patrol Man” is going is GOLD!!

  • http://www.taylorhicksblues.blogspot.com Jewels

    Taylor Hicks to date – the Best thing Ever to happen to American Idol.

    Groove on Soulman.

  • http://aol.com tina

    This season’s AI had a lot of winners, not just number 1. Chris Daughtry is the great Rock Star with his tremendous and incredible vocals, and Kellie has the country charm and voice. Taylor is good at entertaining, dancing all over the place. It will be interesting to see how many fans will support their favorite’s CD. I wish them all well. Chris is my favorite and the whole reason I watched and voted every time. I feel he will outlast the others as his future will soar.

  • Sally

    What? Are you serious? They are still going to air American Idol next year. I wont be watching, Taylor is the only reason I watched and voted this year. I got my American Idol, so the rest of ya have at it. BTW. Chris and Kat didn’t win because they were boring as hell. Chris sounded like he was screaming the same song over and over and over and once someone mentioned to Kat about her “smouldering look” she had for the camera that was all we ever got to see from her. So predictable. Rock on Taylor!!!!!!!

  • Kath

    Kellie Pickler gets a recording contract?!?!?!?!? What about Elliot? Elliot deserves the contract, not Pickler. The girl could not hold a note in a bucket. She was embarrassing to watch when she butchered “Bohemian Rhapsody”, and did terrible the following 2 weeks and was mercifully voted off.

    Elliot Yamin should have the recording contract. Elliot is awesome and I would buy his CD in a minute!!! It should have been Taylor, Chris and Elliot in the top 3. The guys were ten times more talented than any woman this year, with the possible exception of Mandisa (who was shoved off way too early because she was a threat to Katharine).

    Katharine had no business in the top 4, much less in the finale with Taylor. She too was an embarrassment and couldn’t hold a candle to Taylor. She’s more interested in acting than singing.

    Taylor will be one of the most successful AI winners. He is fresh, unique, talented and so much fun to watch in concert. He will go far.

  • Brian

    Elliot Yamin? “Great soul crooner”??? That’s one of the funniest things I’ve ever read. Thanks for giving me a laugh during a tough day at work.

  • sally atticum

    I think Elliott will have the last laugh. 😉

  • Kelly

    I think the issue at hand is whether signing #4 and #6 to an AI associated record label hurts the show. It doesn’t matter who anyone’s favortie is. The winner is the picked by the audience voting. If the show goes ahead and awards the prize to some of the runner ups what’s the point of voting?

    The show was accused of wanting Chris to win all season. That seemed to be disproved when he ended up leaving at #4. Now it’s like, they did want him, it just didn’t matter if he lost.

    I wonder if the Chris fans who are saying how great this, would feel the same if he had won and the #4 and #6 person were getting signed to the same label, before he even puts out an album. Kellie fans too. She came in 6th.

    Yes, they reserve the right to sign anyone, but this seems a little soon.

  • http://counter-point.blogspot.com Scott

    “Time will show that Kellie will be the most successful of all the 2006 singers. She is a genius”

    Are you trying to be ironic?

  • Janet

    Taylor Hicks was a big reason that I chose to watch American Idol this season (I had never watched the show in prior seasons), and HE is the reason I recently bought my first POP CD in years! This season had a great deal of talent to showcase, but HE is the one that I chose to vote for and spend my money on. Taylor is extremely marketable, and if they haven’t figured that out by now, then I certainly don’t need to waste my time and energy watching next seasons show, and make the numerous phone calls for my favorite, only to have my opinion outranked by a company of snobs. “Hot” comes in a lot of different packages – it’s about time they start to see that!

  • John

    Kellie getting a contract before Elliott
    is the biggest JOKE. She has absolutely
    NO talent and can’t sing worth a darn.
    She’ll BOMB even quicker than Mcphee has.

  • LU

    TAYLOR IS DIFFERENT AND THAT IS WHY THE WORLD IS FALLING IN LOVE WITH HIM–I FEEL IT IS A PLUS THAT TAYLOR IS SUCH A FREE SPIRIT——-NEXT YEAR WILL BE FUN TOO!!!!!—REMEMBER THERE IS SOMEBODY OUT THERE WHO IN THEIR EVERYDAY LIFE DOING EVERYDAY THINGS-RIGHT NOW–JUST WAITIN TO BE DISCOVERED—AND THAT IS WHAT AI DOES FOR THESE YOUNG PEOPLE—-WOOOOOOOOOOO—TAYLOR AND AI—GOD BLESS

  • http://billdollarmusic.com Bill

    Some home truths about AI…
    It’s not a contest to find the best singer, it’s to find the singer that will sell the most albums.
    And just how “creative” are these contenders? Not very. Copying a famous singer’s version note-for-note is not being creative, but rather what a parrot might do.Yes, you’ve got to be able to sing in tune, or at least well enough until we can get you to a studio and wrap some AutoTune around you.Taylor Hicks understood the value of really selling the song and was smart enough to put his own spin on it without losing the essence of the song.
    And lastly, will people tune in to AI v.6…?
    Probably. But what they should really be looking at is a yet-to-be-formed show called American Songwriter, where there are only 25 contenders.Every show, each contender gets a page randomly torn from a novel and has to find a theme on that page, and write a song based on that theme, and record it with the band provided, in 5 days. Some shows will be themed: eg: write a beach boys song…an environmental song…a reggae song…a power ballad… Make the age limit 25 to 40. Keep crap like rap and R&B out of it.
    Think of the great new songs we might hear. Maybe some new additions to the Great American Songbook that’s being gangbanged to death by Rod Stewart, Michael Buble and all the other singers with no other place to go.

  • Cheryl

    I have watched AI since season 2, I have laughed, I have picked my favorite each year. This year, however, was different – Taylor Hicks made it different – this year I VOTED and NEVER missed a performance. Taylor made you smile! He has a GREAT VOICE and brought back that soul sound we have all been missing. Chris was good, if you like that kind of music – I don’t. I thing any young bald guy could scream into a mike. Taylor is the real deal!

  • Mary

    Taylor is awesome. I just watched the Blues Brothers again, and I think it was this movie that gave Taylor his inspiration.
    Taylor and Chris…different genres, different sounds. Both will soar.

  • David

    I see one problem with Taylor’s future. When me and my family sat down and watched AI, I enjoyed listening to Chris sing. They didn’t care much for Chris, but they don’t like Rock anyway, so that stands to reason. But when Taylor sang, they would say they love WATCHING Taylor. He’s so entertaining. Well, it’s that word “watch” that gets me. Taylor is a singer, right? People will be buying his CD to “listen” to him him sing, not watch him sing. I think he is much more entertaining to watch than to listen to. We’ll have to see how many people buy his CD that doesn’t have videos attached to it.

  • Fido

    WOOF!

  • Losers

    you people are all ridiculous, who really cares!