Fans tuning into “American Idol” this week locally on FOX 5 NY, have to agree that this season’s crop of contestants isn’t just the youngest but also may be the best in recent memory. It was a wild few days as for the first time in the show’s history, almost half of the show’s cast was cut in one night. Although when all was said and done and all the votes had been cast, America was left with a stellar “Top 13.” Here are the top 5 things we’ve learned about what to expect from them and the show this season.
A DECADE OF DOMINANCE
In reality TV, nothing is certain, least of all continued success. Although for nearly a decade “American Idol” has stuck to a very successful formula that has yet to let them down. Yes, the ratings have slipped a little over the years, but it still remains the most watched reality-competition series on TV. Still many had anticipated that this season was finally going to be the one did in the franchise, especially with the departure of lead judge Simon Cowell. Then again, as we’ve already established, in reality TV nothing is certain and despite a season of turnover, many critics and fans are adamant in their opinion that “Idol” is back and better than over.
For years “Idol” has been toying with the minimum age requirement for auditioning. With every passing season over the last few years, they’ve made a tweak or two, but lowering the age to 15 this season proved to be the right one. It takes a special type of person to survive Hollywood and many believed subjecting 15 year olds to this was a cruel ratings ploy, but in true Darwinian fashion, it was actually survival of the fittest and of the thirteen contestants who made the big dance, only three are teens. Yet those three are actually the frontrunners. Go figure!
IT IS ABOUT THE TALENT
Normally America gets fooled into putting through a handful of people who have no business being on the “Idol” stage and it takes a while for them to be weeded out of the competition. This year that wasn’t the case. It is safe to say all ten of the contestants voted in by America have earned their spot. Even the judges were for the most part on the mark with their wildcard selections, which many feared could have backfired. The end result is going to be the most tightly contested race for the crown possibly in the show’s entire ten year run (and that’s saying something).
RESPECTING THE FANS
“Idol” has always been a two–way street between the show and the fans, but that balance hasn’t always been equal. This season the fans respected the show and put through the right talent and so far it looks like the show is paying back that respect tenfold. While “Idol” will still keep the length of their result shows at an hour (despite continued promises to the contrary,) they took the extraordinary step of getting right to the point for once. Instead of dragging the top 13 reveal out over a couple of weeks (as per custom), the network decided to just make it a one week affair. While that may not seem like a big deal, to longtime Idol fans, it’s a welcomed change and a sign that maybe the show really is finally listening to its viewers.
CHANGE IS GOOD
Many were not sold on Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez being selected as judges, but as it turns out, it was the right call. Both have settled into their spots and quickly found their niches. It was also the right call to retain Randy Jackson. It has never been clearer than this week, that Jackson is the anchor of the three. When Tyler and Lopez were looking for a positive spin, he quickly kept it “real” as he always had. In fact, it began to look like the others took his cue and began to tone down some of their compliments except for when it was 100% deserved. Fans have also responded to the new panel as Jennifer Lopez’s popularity is at major high and sales of Tyler’s “Aerosmith” CD’s and digital downloads have gone through the roof, reaching triple digits increases. That’s the magic of reality TV’s unpredictable nature.
You can watch “American Idol” locally every Wednesday and Thursday on FOX 5 NY at 8pm EST.