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September 5th, 2002

American Idol

Everyone has guilty pleasures. Perhaps my guiltiest of the summer was American Idol. Since this is the Ping and we have a knack for cynicism, I’ll refrain from saying what I liked about the show and instead focus on the many things I still managed to find wrong with it.

  • The Hosts… Ryan Seacrest and Brian Dunkleman have good chemistry as hosts, but that doesn’t change the fact that they’re gigantic tools. But what do you expect from a show whose theme is to “find” the next pop star.
  • Excess… The weeks leading up to the final 10 contestants were well done, but the final widdling-down took entirely too long. Instead of only booting one person a week off, they should have done two. By the last few weeks, it was starting to drag a bit. In addition, the Wednesday night “result shows” were nothing more than a 20-second moment stretched to a 30-minute show. Lastly, the final episode could have been cut down by 30 minutes by getting rid of the extraneous crap that ruined the flow.
  • Voting… The phone voting had no system in place to avoid fraud. While there are only so many votes that phreakers could fix in a two-hour period, how hard would it have been to disallow more than five votes from the same telephone number? At least they were smart enough to avoid online voting without a good system in place.
  • Fire the songwriters… The two “American Idol songs” that were written for the final competition between Justin and Kelly were beyond atrocious, seemingly crafted by picking up Roget’s Clich?s and randomly picking lines. They made Burt Bacharach look like a lyrical genius.
  • End the Shameless Shilling… If the endless shilling for Ford and Coke on American Idol are any example of what’s to come in the world of product placement, I might as well turn off the television forever (well, except for Card Sharks reruns). My television was the recipient of at least one middle finger a week courtesy of the stupid vignettes based around promoting the show’s sponsors.
  • Replace 2 of the 3 Judges… Randy Jackson has a vocabulary of about ten words and Paula Abdul’s lines were so scripted and painfully delivered that I stopped taking her seriously after the initial try-outs. Simon Cowell was the show’s sole “real critic” who wasn’t afraid to tell someone they sucked any more than he was afraid to praise someone who actually had talent.

As I said, I actually liked most of the show. The contestants displayed some great talent and I think that five of them will walk away with record deals (how many of them will be around a year from now is another story). But hey, everyone’s a critic.

And I’m the Ping’s version of Simon Cowell.

Posted in Television, Movies, and Music

FROM: Matt
DATE: Thursday September 5, 2002 -- 2:13:18 pm
I thought advertising and ad placement were out of hand 10 years ago. It's only gotten horribly worse. Seeing the ads makes me never want to buy the products that they are shilling.

FROM: Ryan
DATE: Thursday September 5, 2002 -- 3:54:02 pm
I agree, Matt. It's gotten to the point where it's a distraction.

I'd think there's at least one intelligent advertiser that can come up with a non-intrusive way to market products in our so-called "new" world...

FROM: Paul
DATE: Thursday September 5, 2002 -- 5:41:32 pm
Me too, Ryan. Me too.

DATE: Friday September 6, 2002 -- 12:09:12 pm
Have been subjected to the whole "idol" phenomenon throughout the latter stages of 2001 & early 2002 here in the UK.
We had Simon Cowell too (it was his concept, I believe) and he became Britains Most Hated for some time, although he would usually give credit where it was due...
The two finalists here are still riding pretty high on the crest of the whole thing, but who knows if any of them have the staying power.
Well, first we had Pop Stars (to find a four or five piece of "beautiful" people). Now we've had Pop Idol (as it was called in the UK. We are now waiting for the next incarnation. I believe it is going to be "PopStars-Rivals", where the format is to put together a boy band and a girl band and pit them against each other...
It will be the same pap as before, but will probably be just as compulsive viewing.

FROM: Gene
DATE: Tuesday September 10, 2002 -- 6:52:57 pm
this is the embodiment of pop-culture in america. the only reason i watched the first episode was to watch teenage america get their hearts and dreams split in two by a conceited forty-something idiot. How i loved all those britney wannabees coming out, all crying and upset I laughed at them for hours on end.

FROM: Douglas W. Colt
DATE: Sunday March 9, 2003 -- 11:45:51 pm
Douglas W. Colt
We have definitely hit rock bottom with this show. And please- does Ryan Seacrest have the biggest mouth anyone has ever seen??? There is a reason this guy was on the RADIO. Whose bright idea was it to put him on tv????

Douglas W. Colt- reply to msg 12932448aSDSD

FROM: Paul
DATE: Monday March 10, 2003 -- 3:47:47 pm
Be sure to include that reply number, kids.

FROM: Bill
DATE: Wednesday May 7, 2003 -- 7:56:48 pm
The first American idol had nothing in place to avoid America from fraudulently voting hundreds of times each. The second AI is no better. In order to truly reflect America’s choice is to somehow, prevent more than 5 to 10 votes per phone. It would then and only then show America who the real “AI” favorite is. Under the current format, it’s discouraging to those who don’t want to hug the phone for 2 hours straight, dialing time and time again to assure that their favorite is voted in.

Fraudulent voting aside, the show is very entertaining, and the contestants for the most part are very talented. As of this writing, I believe that there should be a three way tie for the new American Idol, Ruben, Clay, and Kimberly. I would buy an album from all three of them. Neither is a Kelly Clarkson though, KELLY RULES ! As a point of interest, wouldn’t it have been a travesty if Justin would have been voted the Amer. Idol. It very easily could have happened with the means of fraudulent voting that is available right now. I believe that is what happened to Tamyra.

Something needs to be done or another means of voting introduced.

FROM: Ryan
DATE: Wednesday May 7, 2003 -- 8:47:10 pm
As far as I know there *is* a limit on the number of votes that are accepted from a single phone number...

FROM: sheri
DATE: Thursday May 22, 2003 -- 11:39:14 pm
when is the next american idol and where?!!!!!!!!!

FROM: jk
DATE: Friday May 23, 2003 -- 9:57:29 am
The Ping is not and never will be affiliated with Fox TV, Sheri. You should direct your question to them.

FROM: Dave Walls [E-Mail]
DATE: Friday May 23, 2003 -- 11:07:27 am
For all I care, I hope any future Idol shows will be hosted live from the seventh layer of hell, since Ryan Seacrest has already sold his soul to the devil to be famous.

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