Okay, I’ll admit it. I am a fan of the reality show/singing competition, “American Idol.” I have been watching it for years, back to the days when Simon Cowell, who everyone loved to hate because he was so frank (and sometimes just plain mean), Paula Abdul (who was too gushy and nice) and Randy Jackson were the judges. Why do I watch it? Because I love seeing a 15-year-old girl with raw talent, who has never performed outside of singing in the shower, bring the judges to their knees. Or, a kid from Texas whose singing is so good, it makes you cry. And, I love how the show makes me laugh and brings a little sunshine to this “gray” time in our lives with the pandemic and so much political division in our country.
I love “American Idol” even more with the new judges – Lionel Richie, Luke Bryan and Katy Perry – because of the compassion they share with the contestants (the good and the bad) and their kindness to those who don’t make the cut, encouraging them to continue to pursue their talent and not give up on their dreams.
I also love the quirky contestants, those who dress in weird costumes and have not an ounce of talent, who sing so badly that you can’t help but cringe a little and laugh in spite of it. On the last episode, I watched a contestant who sang Pit Bull’s “Fireball” inspire the judges to a dance-off. That performance also brought my four-year-old grandson to his feet, singing along and dancing, while his mom laughed hysterically. Yurisbel, a native of Cuba who currently lives in Miami, FL received a Golden Ticket to Hollywood, not for his singing ability but for the element of fun he brought to the competition.
There are the contestants who come with stories of courage – of hard luck, overcoming addiction, or bringing themselves back from a dark place. The last contestant on the show I watched reminded me of one of the early winners, Reuben Studdard. Willie Spense, singing Rhianna’s song, “Diamonds’’ in a powerful, crystal clear voice had faced a health scare and with the encouragement of his family had recently lost 180 pounds. His performance brought tears and he was told by the judges that he was “an undeniable star.”
Perhaps the worst and most memorable “Idol” performance was that of William Hung, who sang Ricky Martin’s early hit, “She Bangs.” When Hung finished, Simon Cowell commented, “What can I say? You can’t sing.” Hung, however, quickly became a household name and has since become a motivational speaker.
Many of those who competed and won the popular competition have become superstars, including Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson and Jennifer Hudson (Oscar winner), to name a few. On the top of the list of the most successful, Clarkson has won several Grammys, is a judge on “The Voice” and has her own talk show.
The search is on! Who will be the next “American Idol” superstar? No answer to that question, yet – but I look forward to being entertained on the coming Sunday evenings. I will continue to be inspired by those talented individuals who are out there chasing their dreams. If you haven’t watched it yet, tune in and enjoy the fun!