The return of American Idol for its 15th and final season gave us a mix of nostalgia and self-loathing. It’s a fitting representation of the current mindset driving the show. They want to repeat their successes of the past, but don’t want to admit that they’re not the cool kid on the block, they are not cool at all.
We had returning idols interacting with the hopefuls. Taylor Hicks jamming, Ruben Studdard chatting. Harking back to the origins of the show, where the search for someone relatable was the name of the game. Contrast this with the awkwardness of Scott Borchetta. While STANDING NEXT TO last year’s winner, he states that this year they are not looking for another cookie cutter winner. Say what? Bet that made Nick Fradiani feel real good, huh?
Ok, let’s talk Nick Fradiani for a minute. Here was a guy who screamed pop/rock artist and yet at the end of the season, Borchetta started talking about how he saw him as a country artist. Why, you ask? Probably because he could then be plugged in as an opener for Borchetta’s Rascal Flatts. I think they are already setting the stage for a country winner this year. Probably the genre with the easiest path to success for an Idol winner. Speaking of country, isn’t it always funny how J Lo is always so clearly unfamiliar with the country songs? She seemed to be hearing Kacey Musgraves’ Follow Your Arrow for the very first time.
I’m not sure what J Lo meant when she said the contestant “sang like a heavy girl.” But I do know what she meant when she said “you liked me chunky” to the very large man. Ummmm…maybe that could have been edited out? And this ties in to how J Lo doesn’t really fit with this show. I like her very much as a personality and performer, don’t get me wrong. But J Lo is all about being cool, being fly, being hot. American Idol is none of those things and never has been. American Idol is about finding those Everyman and Everywoman contestants who are extremely relatable. The show was at its best when it embraced this identity. Idol is ending because they can’t accept that they are not hip and trendy.
This self-loathing was apparent with the appearance of Kanye and Kim. They are truly the anti-Idol. Not just the bleeped lyrics, but the fact that no one making the kind of music Kanye has had huge success with, will ever be on Idol, let alone win. So they ended their season opener highlighting that Idol has nothing whatsoever to do with the cutting edge of musical success today! Their self-loathing is what has hurt the franchise. Let’s hope that as they continue the season, they stop worrying about looking cool and get back to finding a relatable person who sings in a genre where they can have an easy path to success (ahem, country, cough, cough).