American Idol Sucks

The other day I received an email, ostensibly related to my post on how publishing is getting the American Idol treatment.

Dear blog author:

We recently came across your site,, while searching for bloggers who blog about the hit tv show American Idol, now starting its sixth season.

A small group of us have started a new site called American Idol Bloggers. Our intent is to bring American Idol bloggers closer together, and make a positive contribution to the Internet community.

Would you be interested in joining American Idol Bloggers? Please take a few minutes to have a look at what we are trying to do, and if you are interested, there is a sign up page to get the ball rolling. We would greatly appreciate your support in this endeavour.

If you do not feel that your blog would be a good fit for American Idol Bloggers, but are an American Iool fan, come visit us and one of our member bloggers. You can also check our FAQ Section to learn more about American Idol Bloggers.

We look forward to hearing from you and seeing you on American Idol Bloggers.

Craig Cantin
American Idol Bloggers

Please note: you will receive this email no more than twice. If you do not respond to this email, we will send out a second and final email in approximately 3 weeks time. If you respond, by joining or by declining the invitation, we will not intentionally send this invite a second time.

You can join or visit American Idol Bloggers at any time, but we do not believe in spam, and will not intentionally send this invite more than twice. If you have any concerns regarding our anti-spam policy, please do not hesitate to contact us.

I went to the site American Idol Bloggers. The purveyors of this site, who say they do not believe in spam, clearly do not believe in actually reading blog posts that mention American Idol. In my defense, I should have been more explicit in my denunciation of the show and the publishing business’ attempt to mimic it. American Idol has been denounced very cleverly and intelligently here.

But what they hell, I’ll throw in my own positive contribution to the Internet community:

American Idol sucks because it promotes mediocrity by finding the blandest, most inoffensive, singers, to sing the schmaltziest trite songs that will keep corporate music and corporate radio alive and well to the detriment of all things new and vibrant. It also continues a long tradition of the music business making gobs of money while the singers they employ get little to nothing.

They let all those singers compete on television and in front of live studio audiences for the chance to land a contract with a record company. These shows rake in millions in advertising revenue, providing large profits to the producers and the network. Meanwhile, all of the singers, who do all of the performing (that is, the real work), get nothing more than a few minutes in the spotlight plus some criticism from a panel of so-called “judges” of musical expertise. The only person who has a shot at making money is the winner of this contest. And even that’s not guaranteed, because if the album doesn’t sell, well, then no money.

Personally, I don’t care if people want to watch this garbage. That’s the beauty of the free market. People can watch garbage or they can watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Office or Frontline. If they think bitchy Simon Cowell, bumbling Paula Abdul, and the former bassist for Journey Randy Jackson can judge talent, well, then so be it. I do admit that I once owned a few Paula Abdul albums while I was in college. But in my defense I was doing a lot of heavy drinking in those days. It was also around this time that I believed Ayn Rand was some sort of visionary, W. Axl Rose a true god, and that Cocoa Puffs, Skittles, and Pepsi were all a great source of nutrition. We all make mistakes, especially in our youth, and especially under the influence of gallons of alcohol.

So let me state this as unequivocally as possible: American Idol’s success condemns the taste of our age. There are many people and things whose success condemns the taste of our age. From Fox News to Michael Bolton, to Andrea Bocelli, to Whitney Houston, to Metallica’s career post-And Justice for All… to Rush Limbaugh. It just shows that even the clueless and willfully ignorant are entitled to their heroes, too.

If publishing wants to try the same thing, then best of luck pandering to the lowest of expectations. It was Mencken who said “No one ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public.” I don’t mind a good mindless page-turner every once in awhile. But I doubt the likes of Joyce, Woolf, Hemingway, Morrison, Pinter, Beckett, Algren, Sebald, and Erdrich could have ever survived an American Idol-style competition to win a publishing contract. If that makes me a snob, then so be it. That’s where my tastes reside. I can live with that.


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