I know it’s been awfully quiet here in Idol Guy land, but then again we are right in the middle of the Idol silly season. There isn’t much of substance to take about. (And before you write: yes, I know the tour’s still in progress. And that David Archuleta just put out his new single out to radio. However, as far as the TV show is concerned, there’s not much to report on, really.)
However, there were two interesting articles that I saw today worth commenting on. First up is a report about this season’s auditions – specifically, Puerto Rico. TMZ reports that the auditions over there were, well, a flop. According to them – and you have to take just about anything TMZ reports with a huge amount of salt – only 300 people showed up.
While I’m just a bit skeptical about the exact details – the “300″ number was probably pulled out of someone’s rear – it’s not much of a surprise that the Puerto Rico didn’t do so well. Why? Numbers, numbers, numbers.
One might be tempted to explain away the low numbers by Puerto Rico’s low population (right around 4 million), but that’s not the case. Hawaii has less than half the population, but sent more people to the semis than Houston did back in Season Three.
Some pundits and naysayers are, I’m sure, saying this means bad things for the Idol franchise. Us? It’s a spot of extraordinarily bad planning, but not much else. Puerto Rico’s about two and a half hours out of Miami, about four out of Atlanta. That’s not an easy trip. The seven other audition cities are extraordinarily well spread out; it wasn’t as difficult or expensive as a Puerto Rico trip would be. San Francisco and Phoenix out West, Louisville and Jacksonville in the South, Salt Lake City and Kansas City in the middle of America, and East Rutherford for the East. Who, exactly, was supposed to fly out all the way to Puerto Rico?
However, this is something that was easily predictable. It begs the question – what on earth were the Idol PTB thinking? They can’t be this dumb, right?
I have no evidence to back it up, but I’m just a wee bit suspicious about this whole thing. There isn’t much you can say 19E won’t do. Our gut is telling us that Puerto Rico was a poorly-planned, last-minute addition – just as Beatles Week Redux was this year, if you believe the rumor mill. Thinking on their feet is not one of 19E’s strengths. They probably saw a golden chance with David Archuleta’s success this year to kill two birds – target both the teen market and the Latino market. It is, after all, a successful play.
This is the type of manipulation that drives us, well, mad. Nick over at What Not To Sing pretty much said it all in their July 13 editorial, around the time all the news about the auditions first came out. His words still ring true a few weeks later. Haven’t they learned from this past season when the winner was not one of The Pimped Ones and came out on top? Are these guys stupid, or just in denial? We’re not sure which is worse. At the rate things are going, the unsubtle manipulations of the two seasons past may look downright subtle by this point next year.
That brings us to the other topic: Nigel Lythgoe’s departure from his day-to-day activities was first reported (again) by TMZ, but since then has been picked up by more reputable outfits like CNN as well.
What will this mean for us Idol viewers? Right now, it’s hard to say. We like Nigel – certainly, he’s the most open among the Idol producers – which, we have to admit, isn’t saying much. Despite that, though, he has to receive a fair amount of blame for all the mistakes Idol has made of late. If I were giving him a grade, it would be a pass – by the skin of his teeth, but a pass.
The thing that worries us isn’t so much Nigel leaving, but more who replaces him. For all the mistakes the gang of Brits running Idol have made, the Fox record when it comes to reality TV manipulation is dismal. There’s no other word for it.
Given all the rumors that have swirled around this past season – “falling” ratings, the aging songs and audience – we have to wonder just who will replace Nigel. More than a producer, Nigel was probably one of Idol‘s showrunners. Who replaces him will be key; but we would be surprised if it wasn’t someone more pliant to Fox. In short, we may have only seen the beginning of cheap stunts and manipulation. In two words: uh-oh.
Oh, and one more thing. Sometime in this summer we’ll finish up our long-promised study on Idol song ages. It’ll be worth it, we promise.