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RealityTV: Are Singing Shows Headed Out?

As reported recently, television ratings for the reality sining competition show American Idol have hit all-time lows, with Today.com claiming the show will be cut to 1 night per week next season. Meanwhile another vocal competition show, The Voice, has also been recently hitting it’s lowest ratings since the show began. Judges on both shows have left and been replaced. And left and replaced again.

So we have to ask: are the singing competition shows going away?

With a follow up question: would that be a bad thing?

Most music fans are aware of Dave Grohl’s recent public opinions over the state of music and music culture, especially in regards to these types of outlets:

“When I think about kids watching a TV show like American Idol or The Voice, then they think, ‘Oh, OK, that’s how you become a musician, you stand in line for eight fucking hours with 800 people at a convention center and… then you sing your heart out for someone and then they tell you it’s not fuckin’ good enough.’ Can you imagine?”

And he’s not wrong. Things change over time… sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. Usually I support change as a means of progression. We moved away from kids in garages-playing in crappy bands, hoping to make it big someday-and graduated to slickly produced television shows where kids now compete to impress the judges with their pleasant pop voices. I remember American Idol touting Daughtry as “the rock” singer… trying to make him edgy and different. When in reality, he’s just as pop as all the rest.

It’s all so formulaic, and in the end all we have to show for it is more of the same. Another pop singer singing songs that I can’t distinguish from last year’s batch of singers/songs. It’s the most bland/boring/uninspiring/trite and predictable change that music could have gone through.

Obviously I’m excited over the prospect of these shows disappearing. But from a more unbiased point of view, are these shows flailing? Not only are the audiences dropping, but what good does it even do for the contestants anymore? If you’re not a die-hard fan of these shows, can you name off some of the winners from the last few years? The runners-up? What have they done since the show?

Former American Idol host Simon Cowell brought up a very good point in RollingStone recently, saying, “The awful stat is in stars created by these shows… The last true breakout artist we had was Carrie Underwood on Idol. That was eight years ago.”

So where will our next stars come from? YouTube? Garages? Dive bars or clubs? Or another variation of this tired “reality TV” formula?


What do you guys think?