Why “American Idol” doesn’t work and how to fix it:
This week, there were tryouts for the TV show “American Idol” here in Charlotte, North Carolina. AI coming to NC has, in the past, brought some pretty neat results. Fantasia, Clay, etc. This week, the reports weren’t about some breakout new talent. It was about a reported argument between Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey.
If reports are to be believed, then clearly, the judges have entirely too much time on their hands, which is sad. If this is, as some have suggested, a planned “beef” to get ratings back up, then that’s even worse.
The thing nobody wants to admit is this: the music industry doesn’t need a new “Idol”. the fact that Mariah Carey and Keith Urban are alive and well enough to sit on the panel means we’re sorta good for the time being with great voices. And Nicki Minaj has the performance art thing held down really well. Hope Bjork is enjoying the time off, because her beat is well covered.
You know what the music industry really needs?
American Idol will never get us a better songwriter, because every year they choose either a dude with a guitar or an attractive female singer. This show should be the alternative to the music industry, but instead, it suffers from the same ills as the majors: redundancy, lack of creative integration of brands who want to pay to reach music lovers, falling interest from the public, yet a focus on ‘what sells’.
Meanwhile, you have Keith Urban, Randy Jackson, Nicki, and Mariah, all people who know a good song when they hear one, in one room. And they’re listening to people sing.
What a waste of everyone’s time. Of COURSE there’s gonna be friction. Creative people are BORED. When the main focus of a music show is the fighting, you don’t have a show.
The problem: It’s a singing competition. Everyone’s gonna get in front of four talented people and sing songs we all know by heart. And these creative people, who would rather be making something new, have to listen for inflections in a Beyonce song that’s different than the last 1000 people who sang the same song. Or, we’re gonna get ”Pants on the Ground”.
The solution: Stop, and focus on songs. No, seriously. Stop with the “they don’t have the stage presence blah blah blah”. Change the name of the show, turn the staff around, and go around the country looking for 20 of the best songs any of us have ever heard - EVER. Cross genres. Mis it up. Go traditional. Just make it GOOD. Nicki knows a good beat when she hears one. So does Mariah. And EVERYBODY on this panel is qualified to say “Hey, that would be a great song for…” and so the goal should be THAT. Get the best songs ever written, and guarantee some songwriter from Kansas City the opportunity to have a fully produced original SONG on a Mariah Carey album. Get some unknown producer from Seattle a shot to do a track for Nicki Minaj. Get a songwriting duo in a room with Keith Urban and WRITE something.
The backbone of the music industry is PUBLISHING. And what do we publish? SONGS. get these experienced artists up there and get them to guide some careers. Change some lives with more than a trip to Los Angeles.
Of course, the ad money is WAY too sweet for anyone at Fox to take us seriously on this, and we get it. But when this show falls off, maybe this idea will be enough to save some jobs.