"American Idol," a reality television show designed to discover stars, broke a record at the end of its ninth season in 2010. It emerged as the most-watched program on American television for six years in a row, shattering the previous five-year record held by "All in the Family" and "The Cosby Show." "American Idol" has had its ups and downs since it debuted in the United States in 2002, but changes in the format keep fans coming back. Viewers may love the program — or just enjoy criticizing it — but, regardless of their reasons, they still tune in.
They Enjoy the Raw Talent
Viewers want to be entertained. They know that a few diamonds in the rough just might be discovered. A televised talent show is certainly not unique. Stars such as Gladys Knight and Pat Boone were discovered on programs like "Ted Mack's Amateur Hour." Untapped musical talent has consistently emerged from "American Idol." Contestants such as Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Hudson, Carrie Underwood, Chris Daughtry and Adam Lambert might never have reached the public's radar without "American Idol."
They Want to Witness Crazy Characters at Auditions
"American Idol" goes too far when it comes to showcasing no-talent hopefuls, but apparently that's a ratings-booster. It is painful to watch judges literally laughing in some singers' faces. Some viewers no doubt sit at home commenting, "Is she serious? Does she really think she can sing?" However, occasionally—as in the case of William Hung belting out "She Bang"—a star is born amidst the humiliation. More often than not, however, fans giggle at "bikini girl," types who never seem to realize they're being insulted.
They Become Attached to the Contestants
Especially when it gets down to the top ten contestants, fans become emotionally involved. Entire cities and states jump on board when one of the vocalists hails from their area. Fans become sideline cheerleaders, rooting for their favorites. They hold their breath when contestants take risks or attempt high notes. Idol fans come out in droves on blogs, battling it out over which singers they believe should end up in the "American Idol" finale.
They Are Interested in Critique from Judges and Mentors
Some "American Idol" viewers have set their own sights on musical careers. Comments and suggestions made by the judges may apply to these wannabes as well. Guest mentors will be eliminated in season 10, in lieu of an in-house mentor, music producer Jimmy Iovine. He is expected to lend his expertise behind the scenes on an ongoing basis. This could be a mistake, as the mentors have added a nice diversion from the routine. Fans often tune in simply because of the guest mentor.
Will "American Idol" hang on to enough fans to continue the #1 Nielsen rating? We'll have to tune in on January 12, 2011, as the tenth anniversary season gets underway.
Official Webiste, "American Idol"
Wikipedia, "American Idol"
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