Well, that was fun while it lasted. American Idol had its worst season premiere ever, coming off the heels of its first season where winning didn't translate to commercial pop success. Turns out J-Lo and fossilized Steven Tyler are pushovers trying to make their own careers as much as anyone auditioning. So now that Idol is irrelevant, what is the biggest kingmaker in pop music?
YouTube. That's where Justin Bieber got his start, as did heir apparent Grayson Chance. Songs are never going to go viral in quite the way videos can, especially on the level of undiscovered talent. Credit Idol for turning the pursuit of success in pop music into a freak-show spectacle.
A bunch of hits on YouTube, even millions of hits, would never have been enough for a major label deal ten years ago before Idol showed up. Labels didn't choose their bets by crowd sourcing. But here was a show with competitors in a circus ring and the outcome at least partially determined by a fan vote. And it worked! Kelly Clarkson, season one winner, has sold north of twenty million albums!
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So now we live in a world where this kid can play a Top 40 cover and incite a bidding war because of a skyrocketing view count. Seriously, have you watched the video? It bores us almost as much as it bores that girl in the green shirt who shows up in the frame around 1:15.
Noted chart-slayer Susan Boyle presents an interesting bridge between the reality singing contest and the viral video. Her success is based mostly on a five-minute clip of her first appearance on Britain's Got Talent. As a pop star, we hate Susan Boyle with a deep and abiding passion. But that clip is still great. Compare that with the video from her barf-worthy "Perfect Day." It's good that we as a society were able to make that woman in the first movie achieve her dreams, we suppose, but look at her! What are we doing still indulging this crap?
The lesson, for anyone hoping for a big-budget pop coronation, is that you do not make it with music. You make it with cognitive dissonance, by getting a decent talent and masking it in an unexpected frame.