When the reboot of American Idol was announced in May 2017, thoughts of "too soon" crossed my mind immediately. The long-running singing competition show went off the air in April 2016 after 15 successful seasons. The show needed to be away a lot longer for me to miss it.
Why did ABC need to revive the show almost immediately after Fox canceled the show? It doesn’t make any sense to me. Even in the last few seasons on Fox, the show felt tired and the excitement about who would win the show was long gone compare to the first few seasons when Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood became stars.
In its absence, NBC’s The Voice and Fox’s The Four changed up the typical singing competition show format with fresh new angles. While neither shows have produced superstars like Idol has, they certainly have drawn audiences in.
For ABC, their success has come in the dance competition show genre with Dancing with the Stars. They have done two full series a year, totaling 25 seasons. By investing so much money in the reboot of American Idol, they have sacrificed their top-10 sure-bet ratings winner for something I am not sure anyone cares about.
While American Idol premieres March 11, DWTS is relegated to a four-week spinoff featuring all athletes premiering on April 30. A full season of the show will be back in the fall. The budget for Idol took precedence over DWTS.
Let’s also talk about that judging panel. Katy Perry is earning $25 million to sit at that table. If this were 2011 with Perry fresh off her “Firework” single, this would be a huge casting coup. Unfortunately, she struggled with her last album release and she's not the top pop star in the world right now.
Luke Bryan is a country superstar and considered to be a nice guy in the industry, but I have yet to hear any Idol viewer screaming with excitement over his addition to the panel. He has an important role as a judge, but will country fans light up the ratings for him?
I must admit I love Lionel Richie. There is something smooth and carefree about his personality, but he’s not going to add any drama to the judges table either. He's going to be rock steady, but I think all three judges are playing the same role.
The reason Idol originally worked so well is that there was a villain in Simon Cowell, a nurturer in Paula Abdul and a realist in Randy Jackson. This panel feels thrown together and lacks the chemistry that the original judges had.
ABC had to work extra hard to hire these three after other music stars turned the opportunity down — including the original Idol winner, Clarkson. Much of the music industry seems to be feeling the same way as me — the show is played out.
In fact, I watched the two-hour premiere hoping to change my mind. The press screener that was available confirmed what I was dreading — it’s all the same. There’s no fresh take on the show that started a revolution in competition shows. Ryan Seacrest popped on the screen and I wondered if it was 2003 or 2018.
The three judges are all great at what they do in the music industry, and they are largely supportive of the contestants auditioning for the show. While no one needs to be snarky like Cowell was, I was hoping for one of the judges to have a few zingy one-liners like Clarkson has added to The Voice this season.
ABC has not only put money behind Idol, they’ve put a lot of muscle behind promoting the show. They want to prove to the naysayers the time is now and America is ready for a reboot of the show.
For me, I am taking a hard pass. It's just too soon.
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