mic1.1American Idol suffers setbacks from changes in judges, talent of contestants, leaving some fans to wonder if the popular TV show is in decline

Zoey Whitmeyer

American Idol has been one of the most popular TV shows in America since it began in 2002 . However, the show has recently received some major changes to its format. Such changes include long-time judge Paula Abdul leaving, and more recently the news that judge Simon Cowell will end his time on the show after this season. The talent of the contestants for the current season has also been questioned. All this has left some American Idol fans in limbo as to whether their favorite show is on its way out.

Senior and American Idol enthusiast Wes Cannell said there are many factors as to why he thinks the show is declining.

“The show is failing due to three factors: a) Simon is leaving, b) Kara and Ellen go off topic too much, and c) the talent was better last year,” Cannell said.

Not only are the judges and talent in question this season, but the viewers are quickly decreasing. According to the USA Today article “Nielsen’s: Ratings slip for ‘Idol,’” 28.8 million viewers watched the May 20, 2009 American Idol finale which is the lowest since the series’ first season in 2002.

Some faithful viewers still remain like Cannell; however he said he is disappointed by the lack of talent in this year’s contestants. Cannell further said he normally votes weekly, but this year the talent is not worth his votes.

“I do feel like a couple of the judges are uncertified,” Cannell said. “Specifically Ellen [DeGeneres]. And when the judges do not know what they are talking about, I don’t care to vote for anyone.”

The reason for the lack of talent can be attributed to several things.

Cannell hypothesizes that it could be because all the good singers are going to other singing shows to display their talent.

“Maybe the talent is going to Acapella Glee or America’s Got Talent,” Cannell said. “I wish people still watched American Idol. It’s a fun show that brings family and friends together.”

Junior Emily Fitz is also an avid American Idol fan and said she still believes in the show and hopes to share her talent on American Idol someday in the near future.

“I love this show. And I have said I wanted to try out, but when I do I won’t tell anyone,” Fitz said. “I would try out for American Idol rather than any other show because the people that are on American Idol [end up] really successful in the music industry, even the people that didn’t win the show have become really successful, like David Archuleta, for example.”

Blogger Richie Whitt of The Dallas Observer said in an article titled “This Just In: American Idol Sucks. Seriously, They Missed Her?” that he believes American Idol has gone downhill in recent years.

“I just think the show jumped the shark when it started fabricating contestants,” Whitt said. “I think the ‘Pants on the Ground!’ sensation is choreographed orchestration, not bolt-of-lightning happenstance.”

According to Whitt, Cherisse Symonds is someone with real talent that the American Idol judges denied. The 17-year-old Dallas student is a local superstar who did not even get to perform in front of the judges.

“At the audition, Cherisse went into a curtained stall with three other contestants and sang ‘Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone’ for one minute before two male, college-aged judges,” Whitt said.

According to Whitt, perhaps all of the talent that viewers hopes for on American Idol are being rejected by casting directors in the auditions process and not even seeing the judges.

With two of the three original judges gone next year and disappointing contestants on the rise, many wonder what the future of the once-popular TV show will look like. According to Fitz, the talent on the show must improve first before viewers will return to the show.

“I think [American Idol] is kind of losing fans because I feel like the singers that are on it, especially this year, aren’t as good at they have been in the past,” Fitz said. “People don’t get as excited to watch it every week because the talent isn’t as impressive!”