It was a special night in our household - the first night of the new season of Fox's American Idol. I've been an avid fan of the show since the very beginning, which is not always the easiest position to be in and still remain credible as an entertainment journalist it seems.
There are a lot of naysayers out there, talking about how the show is fake, a sham, and an insult to "real" musicians, but I can't help myself. The situation is getting better and the show continues to grow as a viable showcase for talent. I'm not talking just about the contestants either, although of course, they are a major part. The music business 'suits' are more interested in A.I. each season, too. You see Idol has become a credible marketing tool for already established artists as well.
In April of 2006, Sandy Cohen wrote for the Associated Press reporting "Barry Manilow's ‘Greatest Songs of the Fifties’ soared from No. 24 to No. 4 on the pop charts — a sales increase of 140 percent — following his March appearance on the program." Cohen went on to note that celebrity performances on the show weren’t the only thing boosting sales. Just being a guest judge or allowing the contestants to sing their material is generating new interest.
It may have started off with classic pop performers like Rod Stewart and Barry Manilow, but even newer music superstars are reaping the benefit of Idol exposure. Others, like Mary J. Blige, Toni Braxton, Live, and Shakira have appeared on the show and seen for themselves how important it can be. In that April 19th, 2006 article Sandy Cohen said "Shakira's new album, Oral Fixation Vol. 2, jumped 11 spots on the Top 40 charts after her hip-shaking Idol performance." Media outlets as varied as the U.K.'s New Music Review, VH1 and the Internet Movie Data Base are chiming in with their two cents worth on the subject.