Australian Idle?

September 21, 2009

Let’s play a bit of a pop-quiz. Who has watched Australian Idol lately? Personally I can’t talk, I haven’t watched a full episode since my curiosity factor ran out six years ago, but now it seems that the rest of Australia is following suit. So why now? Have we finally run out of talent? Are people tuning out because Kyle is no longer a judge? Or are people realising just how shallow and manufactured the show is?

Now I have to admit, didn’t watch the show last night (or any other time, for that matter). Only 976,000 people did. For one of the network’s premier shows in one of the weeks most prolific timeslots, that figure is pretty unacceptable. Even in the all-important demographics, it didn’t even win 18-49 (TEN’s target audience), and only nabbed 16-39 by .1%. All season the ratings have been pretty similar. But why is this happening now?

Many people have been attributing it to the loss of shock-judge Kyle Sandilands. Personally I think the show was better off without him, as do many others, but it is true that he does have his supporters. But enough so hundreds of thousands of people are tuning out solely because of his departure? I highly doubt it. There wasn’t that big a drop when Mark Holden left. Granted, you could hardly understand a word he was saying, but still.

I think a much more likely reason is simple: The Talent Sucks. I checked out a couple of performances on their so-called ‘rock’ night last week. Not that anyone was inherently bad (ok, there were some, this one for example)…but the real problem is none of them are actually good. At all. A lot of it just reminded me of a bad karoake night, or a shopping centre talent quest. Not a multi-million dollar national television show.

Right from season 2 there was always the underlying question of whether there would be enough talent in a country as small as ours to sustain the show each year. The show’s predecessor American Idol never faced have the same problem, but they have 300+ million people to pick from. Each year the talent pool in Australia gets smaller and smaller, and younger and younger.

Which leads me onto my next gripe- why are we letting teenagers still in high school be the face of a national television show? These guys are 16 and 17, and they’re being berated by judges and put on a pedestal each and every week. Surely that couldn’t be good for the moral development.

Seriously, how old are these kids?

Ok, i’ll admit. I’ve actually auditioned for idol. Now before you hit the X button in disgust, it was a dare. I was there with a friend who was actually seriously trying, and I thought I may as well give it a crack (for anyone who’s heard me sing that’s pretty hilarious in itself). What amazed me though was the first thing the hosts of the day said to the hopeful crowds: No ‘alternative’ songs, no original compositions…only pure, pop hits that everyone would know. After all, we’re here to sell records.

And here lies one of the inherent problems. They’re so busy looking for the next young thing that can turn into a polished, manufactured superstar. What’s so wrong with being a little rough around the edges? Or actually being able to write your own songs? I saw a lot of people that day with real talent go home rejected.

(And amazingly enough, I got through to the judges! I must have been one of those ‘unforgettables’ they love to pay out so much. No TV appearance for me though. Maybe next year)

…that’s if there is a next year. After a format change, two judge shuffles and now a(nother) timeslot shift, ratings are still declining rapidly. They axed Big Brother on these sorts of figures. Maybe it’s time to put idol on the back-burner and head back to those shopping centre stages, guys. They’re much more forgiving.

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One Response to “Australian Idle?”

  1. Lyndellnm said

    I used to watch Idol, but I got married this year and moved in with my husband, who hates it. Part of me is actually a little disappointed that I haven’t watched it this season, it’s bound to be just that little bit better without Kyle, isn’t it…?

    Trouble is, I think, we’ve run out of talent. We’re only a small country after all. The talent is getting younger, and 16 year old kids aren’t as compelling to watch as people who actually have some life experience. Maybe I’m just showing my age…

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