Matty’s Musings: Is ‘Idol’ just fancy karaoke?

Matt Busekroos

For eight seasons, I watched “American Idol” almost religiously. It was an event to gather in front of the television to watch the disastrous audition episodes. Now that the new shine of the show has faded and each successive winner has failed to reach the heights of early victors Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, there is less desire on my end to sit through an entire season for a mediocre winner. It doesn’t help that regular train wreck Paula Abdul left the judge’s table this season.

At first, I thought “Idol” was just a classier karaoke contest, but I saw some of the earlier talent and they helped eclipse any preconceived notions I had about the show. I saw the careers the show created and the awards these singers won. “Idol” legitimized itself as a realistic avenue to break into the business whether that led to a recording career or acting on television or film or Broadway.

This season I primarily skipped every episode until the top 24 performed separately: 12 females on the first night and 12 males on the second. I couldn’t believe the awful performances from the contestants and how every performance sounded like – gasp – bad karaoke. The lack of drive and passion seemed to be missing from these contestants. It didn’t seem like any of them truly cared whether or not they delivered even though this is probably their best shot at any sort of exposure. Perhaps these contestants think mediocrity is enough to get them through. And they wouldn’t be completely incorrect to believe that given some of the more terrible contestants to make the top 12 in seasons past (I’m looking at you, Sanjaya.)

I don’t think I am asking for too much when I want to watch a talent competition to see, you know, actual talent. Maybe one week’s worth of dull performances will wake some of these contestants up and make them realize they are probably competing in one of the weakest seasons in years. It is frustrating to watch an opportunity like this get blown away. Essentially, “American Idol” is all about timing, luck and song choice. They will have an easier time for themselves if they just pick the right song (and please not, Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” which is beyond cursed).