Tuesday, April 5, 2016

American Idol Finale Part 1: American Dream

Welcome back. This is it! This is the final week of American Idol. This is also the last week of this blog I'dol Be The Judge. Crazy, I know, but true. This is a 3-part finale week. Tonight is Part 1, which is basically a sendoff to the show, having nothing to do with the competition. We will see some behind the scenes moments, past contestants, mentors and judges will be back to share memories in a retrospective of the singing competition. I don't really know what to expect, but I am ready.  I will try to streamline as many points, tidbits of information and notable contestants, producers and judges as I can.

First Segment
*Pop Idol was the genesis of American Idol. Prior to 2002 the industry was traditional. Simon Fuller, Executive Producer of American Idol tells us how exciting it was to bring Pop Idol to America. Star Search was the only singing show that made it in America. Survivor opened up about what made American TV. Cheap, non-scripted programming.

*Judges-Randy Jackson was first called, he was A&R at MCA at the time. Paula Abdul was good at spotting talent, she saw Simon Cowell annihilate contestants with no shame. Executives knew that Simon Cowell needed to be on the show.

*Shoe String Budget-Two hosts because there were 2 in the U.K. Ryan was excited and didn't care if anyone watched. Randy and Paula didn't know what to expect and were so worried. After second kid they had to take a break because it was insane. Paula quit 8 times the first day. It was real and genuine, the fighting behind Paula and Simon.

*Begged people in Malls to come to audition. Justin Guarini almost got out of line because no one could sing. Ended up somewhere in Dallas and thought it was hopeless until Kelly Clarkson walked in. Kelly was living out of her car, worked in a bar, couldn't make it in L.A. When Kelly came in they knew they had a winner. Paula couldn't believe the power and pipes. Judges felt Kelly couldn't be anyone but herself who can just flat out sing.

Second Segment
*Still healing from 9/11 wanted to hang onto something that gave hope and Idol did that. Families coming together to watch together and enjoy songs that family members of all ages could enjoy. Fox executive wanted to get rid of Simon Cowell right away and only show good auditions. The Idol producers told them "No", it wasn't this show.
*Simon exposed looksists and ageist realities of American music. Randy didn't like when Simon told people they didn't look like an American Idol. ALl he was interested in was who won and get them signed on the record label. Didn't care about being a loud mouth.
*Power To Choose-No Itunes or Iphones, just dial as many as can. Got 2 million votes the first night, were expecting only a few hundred thousand. American voted against Simon Cowell's votes. If couldn't handle Simon Cowell then not going anywhere in music industry. Justin had star presence, as did Kelly. Simon remembers her being goofy, but couldn't remember her voice at first, but feels she grew over time. By Top 10 Kelly grew week after week and defeated whatever she had to each time. Cowell didn't expect her to do what she did. Carrie Underwood remembers seeing great singers on Season 1.
*Ratings, hits top ratings right away. It went from 9 million into 20 million in the first season. Show got bigger and bigger. At the first finale they didn't know what they were gonna sing right before they started singing. Ryan wanted to make sure that he was the one to say the winner of American Idol, because he knew its place in history. The first year set the standard and Kelly set the tone for what American Idol could be.

Third Segment
*Kelly Clarkson gave the show legitimacy. Idol was the biggest rating hit for FOX.
*Totally unprepared for number of people that showed up for Season 2. Had to go to much larger venues. Ken Warwick and Nigel Lythgoe listened to every contestant that made it past the initial quick audition, prior to the judges. Only wanted the very best or the very worst, they didn't want anything boring. Early stages were total jokes getting through.
*Jordin Sparks had to audition 3 times before she made it to the judges, had to follow the show to 3 different cities.
*The schedule gets crazy. Duets, choreography, live shows made it super hectic.
*The shocking eliminations were heartbreaking. The look on Chris Daughtry's face when he was eliminated was how the producers felt. But their allegiance was to make sure America's voice was being heard no matter what.
Simon Cowell thought the most exciting finale was Ruben versus Clay in Season 2 because it was so close, it went back and forth and was so close. Closest finale ever had. 30 million votes, and the difference between Ruben, the winner, and Clay was less than 130,000 votes.
*Ryan remembers a night when he realized he didn't have the card that said results, so he cut to the judges so someone could give him the card. He then ran off and got the card without anyone knowing.
*The most dramatic judge's save was Casey Abrams. Producers thought he was going to vomit on stage.
*Nigel is diabolical but he likes to play with people's minds. In Season 3 there were 7 people left and 3 people including Fantasia, LaToya London, and Jennifer Hudson were on one side and 3 other people were on the other side, George Huff was in the middle and was forced to choose the side that he thought was safe. He chose wrong. That was the night that Jennifer Hudson went home. The 3 divas split the voice. Jennifer Hudson going home made everyone cry and emotional and mad.

Fourth Segment
*American Journey-America loves seeing a contestant grow in front of their eyes. Taylor Hicks and his fans the "Soul Patrol" were a perfect example of this.
*Text Messaging and Phone Votes. This was a new phenomena by Season 2. Ryan Seacrest had to teach America had to text. Jordin Sparks says her Mom learned how to text by voting for American Idol. Averaging 40+ million votes a night.
*Hometown visits. Always the most emotional aspect of a contestant's journey. Seeing people from their area support them. American Idol tour brought it all full circle, having fans see their favorites on screen to touring right in their hometown made even more fans. Adam Lambert made a lot of core fans when he was on tour with American Idol. Carrie Underwood still gets people telling her that they voted for them. Jennifer Hudson has fans feeling like they know her and relate to her.

Fifth Segment
*There was a lot of resistance from the music industry in the beginning. The labels weren't fans of the shows.  A critique that comes up is that it's fast track of success but this is a big crash course and they paid their dues. The show is a school for the music industry.
*Kelly couldn't handle looking at the right camera. Scotty always turned the microphone the wrong way. Carrie learned a lot about singing live in front of people from American Idol.
*Early on it was about finding people, but by Season 4 there was a shift to telling the backgrounds of the contestants. 
*Nigel Lythgoe tells us that Carrie Underwood won each and every single week she was on. She was always going to be the American Idol. Chris Daughtry was working at a car dealership before he started Idol. He used Idol to attract to record labels. Adam Lambert wanted to go right to the people not the labels.
*Winning doesn't mean career is set in stone. The show was a good way to trial and error being an artist. Have to keep proving yourself every time, doesn't get everything just because they were on the show.

Sixth Segment
*Tons of success to the contestants from earlier seasons was more than anything else in the music industry. Grammys, number one hits, millions of albums sold came to almost every winner in the beginning and many other non-winners. The labels were giving the Idol contestants as much hype and promotion as other non-Idol artists.
*Idol Gives Back raised over $189 million in their first 2 seasons.
*Long list of established artists wanted to come on to Idol to give them a platform for their new material and/or albums. Katy Perry, Gaga, Stevie Wonder, Beyonce, Queen and so many more. Queen and Adam Lambert turned their appearance on the show into a world tour together. The next closest show to Idol's ratings were about 35% less.
*Were wary of where to place focus, whether on kids or on the judges. Made mistakes at times when pulled away from the talent.
*Kara Dioguardi made the judging panel grow into 4. Paula gave a huge amount of heart and she left the show, it was a shock to Idol. Ellen Degeneres then came on. Ellen brought the heart, but deep down she didn't like the part when she had to criticize them. Simon left as judge when it was getting to be too much. So much of the show was Simon Cowell, and he knew it wouldn't ever be this way again, but knew it was time.
*Without Simon Cowell the show did a shakeup. They were looking for people that had creditability and expertise. Jennifer Lopez had a different lens to look at the contestants. They wanted an unpredictable person and that was Steven Tyler. He never watched the show and he didn't know what was happening or what was going on. He had a tender, affectionate spirit mixed with a wicked sense of humor. He didn't want to discourage anyone. Ratings barely changed when Simon left even though the tone changed. Jennifer didn't like judging people, wanted to encourage. The show turned more towards the judges instead of the talent as the judges became more famous.
*Nigel Lythgoe said "working with Mariah and Nicki was exceptionally challenging". They got to the first show and they were screaming at each other. It was a confrontational year. Nothing stopped them, and the public didn't enjoy it. Randy knew he was done after that year.
*Keith knew the experience after being on reality shows himself. He wanted to be able to be on the other side.
*A year ago there was an honest discussion about bringing the show back. FOX wanted to bring it back but make it more cost effective. Can't do that and preserve the show. At that point Idol decided to go out with their heads high and the party was still going.

Last Segment
*"The show helped relations between Britain in America than anything in the past 200 years"-Simon Cowell.
*Idol is a trend setter. 15 years ago the music industry was seen then what it is now. This crew is tight, they have been together for 15 years.
*"[Idol] was an opportunity for all my dreams to come true"-Ruben Studdard
*Kelly and her song "Piece by Piece" a few weeks ago touched America. Her story is the story of American Idol. The girl next door becoming one of the most successful people in the music industry. Everyone wants to have that story when they are in Idol.
*Kelly hoped this would happen but had no idea.
*American Idol keeps the American dream alive.
*There is a new chapter to begin to make things different and to make a new revamped American Idol.

THAT'S IT!!! Tomorrow will begin the 2-night finale where either La'Porsha, Trent or Dalton will be the last American Idol winner. Don't miss any moment, don't miss our blog, we are so close! So come on back tomorrow and until next time, see ya!

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