‘American Idol’ slides downhill

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What was once the most popular show in America has begun showing signs of aging.

“American Idol,” which was the No. 1 show on television for nearly a decade, has seen a downward slide, week after week, during this year’s 12th season.¬†With a revamped judging panel that includes rapper Nicki Minaj, country singer Keith Urban, pop icon Mariah Carey and long-time judge Randy Jackson, increased competition from shows like NBC’s “The Voice” and FOX’s “The X Factor,” as well as a lack of memorable contestants, the show has struggled to stand out as TV’s must-see talent competition.

Veronica Abello, a public health major, used to watch the show regularly but has stopped tuning in this season. She said the show’s failure to successfully reinvent itself has made it begin to feel stale.

Keith Urban, Nicki Minaj, Randy Jackson and Mariah Carey from the singing competition series, 'American Idol.' (Associated Press)
From left: Judges Keith Urban, Nicki Minaj, Randy Jackson and Mariah Carey of the singing competition series “American Idol.” (Associated Press)

“Over the last few years, they’ve changed the judges so much that I don’t know them, and I don’t look forward to watching,” Abello said. “And I didn’t watch from the auditions this season, so I don’t know the contestants either. I just stopped putting in the effort to watch it.”

Abello also said younger, similar shows have challenged “Idol’s” dominance and contributed to the significant dent in its ratings.

“I think ‘The Voice’ has had a big impact, and ‘The X Factor,’ to a lesser degree, has as well,” she said. “People really like watching Adam Levine and Blake Shelton as judges on ‘The Voice.’ Britney Spears and even Simon Cowell were big draws on ‘X Factor’ this year. ‘Idol’ sort of tried with Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey, but it hasn’t worked.”

Caitlin Mitchell, an American studies major and longtime “Idol” fan, said the show still has an edge over other shows because of its familiarity to viewers.

“‘American Idol’s’ simplicity is its strength,” Mitchell said. “I could honestly not tell you how ‘The Voice’ works after auditions. Like, teams and battles, but only one person wins? ‘American Idol’ has been around for so long that people know exactly what they’re going to get: you sing on the show, America votes, people get kicked off, someone wins in the end.”

Mitchell also said that “Idol’s” long track record of creating genuine stars in the music industry is something other competitors still lack.

“Those other shows have not produced anyone of the same caliber as Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Daughtry, Jennifer Hudson; I could go on and on,” she said. “People on ‘The Voice’ or ‘The X Factor’ may be good, but they haven’t had a single winner with the same success as anyone on ‘Idol.'”

Benjamin Pugh, a facility and property management major, said even with its many successes, the era of “Idol” worship may be over.

“Yes, it’s been really successful in the past, but no one is watching it right now,” Pugh said. “It’s no longer what people our age are talking about or care about. It’s past its prime, and the ratings definitely show that; after 12 years, viewers are finally getting tired of it.”

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