Film and TV

Turning 10, American Idol Struggles to Make New Stars -- But Mostly Misses

It's hard to imagine it now, just a shade less than a decade later, but at one time American Idol was able to crank out star after star in a succession of seasons. Most people couldn't name at least one of the last five winners of Fox's cash-cow pop show, even as ratings have remained healthy (if not blockbuster like they once were).


Top 5 People Who Should Be Judging American Idol

Upon the show's debut in the summer of 2002, it was at once plastic, peculiar and oddly absorbing. Chances are the only people in your life who watch Idol now on the regular are on your birth certificate or gave you socks this past Christmas.

Even still, thousands upon thousands of singing hopefuls come out to the auditions whenever they get anywhere near where they live for the chance to become the next Kelly Clarkson or Carrie Underwood.

No one wants to be Clay Aiken, you have to be born Clay Aiken.

Adding Nicki Minaj, Keith Urban, and Mariah Carey to the judging dais is an attempt to freshen up the series, but who will be batshit crazy like Steven Tyler was last season?

My pick is Carey, with Minaj a close second, and it's only a matter of time before someone slashes someone's throat. Urban seems to be Idol's answer to The Voice's use of Blake Shelton on their Idol biting pop series.

Then there is that X Factor crap that I have never seen, with Britney Spears and ex-Idol mastermind Simon Cowell.

The Idol machine just doesn't crank out ready-made stars the way it used to. For every Clarkson or Underwood, there is a Fantasia or Jordin Sparks, people who exist on the periphery. Or ones who started as singers but turn into actresses, like Katherine McPhee and Jennifer Hudson.

The last male to truly make his own mark away from Idol was Adam Lambert, guesting with Queen in Freddie Mercury's place and turning in a glam-rock debut album that isn't a pain to listen to.

But achieving status from Idol can give you an amount of longevity and bankability, even if you don't become a massive stadium act. Taylor Hicks and Aiken can fill smaller venues nightly, Constantine has done Broadway, and Chris Daughtry still makes ladies swoon on the rock circuit.

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Craig Hlavaty
Contact: Craig Hlavaty