Since 2002, American Idol has been a powerhouse in television reality competition programming. The first champion, Kelly Clarkson has gone on to award-winning success, winning Grammys, AMAs, and selling millions of records. Subsequent winners like Carrie Underwood, Jordin Sparks, and David Cook have all sold millions of tracks, while non-winners like Jennifer Hudson and Chris Daughtry have all gone on to equally impressive success. So what's the problem? Idol hasn't had a successful winner in years, and its ratings are plummeting. Let's take a look at why American Idol is doing so poorly and why it should bow out gracefully.
Things Just Haven't Been the Same Without Simon
Ever since Simon Cowell left to bring his other series, The X Factor to U.S. soil, Idol just hasn't packed the same punch. Yes Simon was mean, and crass, and could be downright cruel. But ya know what? He was usually RIGHT. His instincts when it came to the singers' abilities were pretty spot on and he wasn't afraid to say so.
The Other Judges Don't Have Any Guts
Simon may have been harsh, but he told it like it is. Randy Jackson has tried to fill that role since Simon left, but to no avail. The other judges just don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. Sure, Paula Abdul was notoriously nice to the contestants. But the problems all started when dear, sweet, Ellen DeGeneres came on board. She didn't believe herself worthy of crushing anyone's dreams, and always had a positive spin. While that's a nice trait, it wasn't conducive to the criticism the performers and audience needed. Since her exit, Jennifer Lopez, who it was hoped would bring some Bronx sass to the table, was equally agreeable. I somehow doubt that sweetheart Mariah Carey will bring any edge this round either.
The Judges Keep Jumping Ship
Ellen, J Lo, and Steven Tyler all have one thing in common: They quickly realized that judging Idol isn't all it's cracked up to be and decided to peace out pretty quickly. Ellen only lasted one season. Steven and J Lo each made it two. Tough-as-nails Kara DioGuardi (who probably had the most clout to replace Simon and would have equaled his spice) was infamously fired after only two seasons. Only Randy remains to hold down the fort. But with a revolving door of judges to get used to, audiences are wondering, "If the judges won't stick around, why should we?"
The Voting System Has Destroyed Everything
Since Jordin Sparks took home the crown back in Season 6, the subsequent five winners have all been adorable white boys who play the guitar. Aside from David Cook (the first in that pattern) the rest of these boys haven't achieved the usual success expected of Idol winners. The problem plaguing the system? Multiple votes by those texting dynamos, the tweens. They've notoriously jammed up the phone lines voting for the cutest boys in the competition, leading to our present "White Guy with Guitar" problem. If Idol really wanted the best singer to win, they'd find a way to tweak it so that the votes are limited. After all, why should the rest of us keep watching if our votes don't count?