I’ve watched American Idol for about half of the show’s 14-year run, with an increasingly predictable if odd viewing pattern: I enjoy the early audition weeks, and then I steadily lose interest as the contestant group keeps getting winnowed down toward the winner.
Once the judges must give way to the audience vote, my interest wanes considerably. The audience voting patterns are downright bonkers at times, and it appears that the biggest voting bloc is made up of young women and girls who madly stuff the ballot box for their top Idol crushes.
However, the audition weeks, during which the judges go around the country to pick the most promising contestants based on short performances, are easily my favorite part of the show.
Yes, I know that the producers shamelessly create rags-to-riches stories or tales of overcoming huge odds to describe contestants’ paths to Idol, but I fall for them just the same. I enjoy rooting for those folks to get their ticket to the next step — Hollywood Week — and thus move toward becoming potential finalists.
In recent years, Idol has cut down on its practice of making fun of offbeat or untalented auditioners, and I’m glad about that. The real pleasure is in hearing what comes out of the mouths of unknown performers, and sometimes being blown away. And for successful contestants, getting that ticket to Hollywood makes for moments of pure joy.
So here’s to the new season of American Idol, or least the first few weeks of it!