by Allie Lincoln
People file into endless lines full of millions of unique possibilities as they hope for that golden ticket. Each individual carries his or her own story, but they all have something in common. They want to be remembered.
American Idol began in 2002, and the television phenomenon has brought countless stars to the music industry ever since. Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, and Jordin Sparks owe their careers to Idol. Although not every winner has become a popular star, many artists find their musical identities during the run of the show.
Many fans of the reality show have been watching Idol since the very beginning. It’s become a family tradition, allowing the family to root for their favorite contestant from the first auditions.
“I thoroughly enjoy it because it’s very real and shows when the contestants make mistakes. It seems a lot more real than other competing vocal shows,” said junior Gage Griffin.
One student watches the show specifically for the true life situations of the auditions.
“I used to watch American Idol, but for the past few years I have just watched the audition episodes. They’re so crazy,” said sophomore Jacqueline Owings.
The fact that some people like Owings are simply watching American Idol for the auditions may be one sign that the show is in a ratings decline. According to USA Today, Idol is averaging a little less than 10 million views per episode which is a lot lower than normal.
“I’ve been watching since about 2006, and I sadly do think it has become progressively worse. It’s lost a lot of the things that used to make it appealing, such as the original judges,” said Griffin.
Ryan Seacrest remains the only member of the beginning cast that is still involved with the show. The judges have changed multiple times in the course of its fifteen seasons. Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson, and Paula Abdul helped the series begin, but American Idol has seen judges such as Ellen DeGeneres and Mariah Carey since then. Now Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban, and Harry Connick, Jr. will judge for the show’s finale.
“The new judges are not nearly as interesting as the old ones. The constant changing of judges made it feel unorganized and didn’t have the same flair as the original seasons,” said Griffin.
This change may be an aspect of why the series will come to an end this year after its fifteenth season.
“When it was Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul, and Simon Cowell, it was good because they all balanced each other out. It was the worst when Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey were judges because they argued a lot and it was very annoying,” said Owings.
An article in USA Today explained that competing vocal shows like The Voice may be taking away from Idol’s viewers overall. Idol’s own Simon Cowell left the show in 2010 to continue work with the British vocal series, The X Factor
“I personally enjoy The Voice more because it’s based on the quality of their voice. Also, it’s more modernized, which makes it more interesting to watch,” said freshman Sarah Seay.
American Idol may be coming to a close, but that doesn’t mean all singing reality shows will be. Griffin said that he thinks that they are still popular because they give ordinary people the idea that they too can become famous.
This may be a primary reason why the producers are adding so much into this last season, such as including both past judges and winners on stage as explained by USA Today. Seacrest also is looking forward to making this the best season yet.
“All of us [realize] this is the last time we’ll do each one of these episodes. This year, I want to make sure I am present and enjoying every single aspect of what makes this show great,” said Seacrest in an interview with USA Today.
Griffin believes it will be bittersweet for fans, past contestants, and those who owe their careers to American Idol. He does think the show is ending at a perfect time, though.
“It’s bittersweet, but I feel like now is the best time to end. It produced countless stars and that is something none of the other shows have been able to accomplish. So yes, it had a great run.”