Telling It Like It Is
A hhh...The scrutinizing of performance under pressure...the analytical judging of voice tones, body language and level of nerves...The judges watching from all over the nation as they get ready to pick the person best suited to inspire them for years to come...
No, this is not only what happens when you watch the presidential and vice presidential debates – it's what most Americans anticipate every January as American Idol returns. Despite the intensity of predicting who's best to lead our country, it’s a shame that we have more people voting for the next American Idol than we do for the next president, or anyone else running for public office.
While it's much more important for citizens to “Rock the Vote” as the campaign encourages, it's obviously more fun to sit by the TV twice a week for those five months, listening to youngsters belt out tunes that will possibly be the soundtracks to their lives. Plenty of commentators are sitting by, analyzing how many times Vice President Joe Biden laughed (when they gave a number, I could only think – wow, someone got paid to sit there and count?). And we're waiting to see how much passion and fact-checking follows the next debate.
Let's get real. When the debacle between Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj hit the airwaves a couple of weeks ago, American Idol fans were probably more excited to see where the duo will clash when it comes time for live judging segments next year. First of all, youngsters winning American Idol aren't stuffy, rich, political figures whose statements and promises sour within a few years after they take office. Second, many songs released by American Idol finalists – sometimes not even the winner – are sentimental tunes played at weddings, proms and graduations, events that represent a precious time in our life. If you ever hear the best man at a wedding recite the last quote from Obama's State of the Union address, then maybe there's some hope for those who are politically out of the loop.
No one is walking through the community with headphones on, rocking audio clips from the presidential debate and trying to listen to whether or not the candidates missed a critical point on healthcare. Would YOU download a Paul Ryan speech on YOUR iPod for that long road trip? I don't know about you, but even non-American Idol fans would choose a Scott McCreary single over listening to someone who's possibly spewing empty comments that don't mean much in the long run.
It's also so much easier to vote for an American Idol than it is for the president. But would you go to a polling location to vote for the next Carrie Underwood? What if you had to register to vote for Idol contestants? The best part of American Idol is that anyone – at any age – can vote as many times as they want! Unfortunately, you can't legally vote in the political world until you're 18. I don't think there's a concrete age for being “America's Future.” However, most of the people who will vote for the future of America are NOT America's future.
Teens are inspired by Idol contestants who make it big – and they see themselves in the winner's place. Some contestants give heart-wrenching stories of how they had nothing, overcame illnesses, raised children on their own, and struggled with their talents at small town bars. Sure, many rooted for President Obama's mantra for “Change” and his nomination meant someone of a different background could lead the nation in a different direction. Four years later, some are arguing that he's not banging out some of the “greatest hits” the way he did when he was first elected. Come on – Kelly Clarkson was the first American Idol to represent a generation of artists who rose from the “girl/boy next door” image. She's still releasing tunes that represent the most critical moments in a young woman's life.
Much like presidential and vice presidential debates, American Idol is the water cooler talk of the workplace. Everyone has their favorite and you know how passionate some people are when their candidate gets “voted” off. We analyze not only the judges' banter, but the body language and natural movements contestants make as they sashay across the stage. The critics can't wait to pick apart each performance.
Another attractive quality about American Idol is the judges. With the exception of teddy bear cool Randy Jackson and former, cocky and arrogant judge Simon Cowell, the judges have been performers who also inspired the world through their music.
Surprisingly, the New York Times stated that over 50 million people watched the vice presidential debate last week. But American Idol slacked off earlier this year with viewership falling just under 20 million despite winner Phillip Phillips having a world-record 132 million votes. Do you think Obama or Romney can rack up those votes?
If moderator Candy Crowley made like Randy Jackson and said “You're in it to win it dawg – it's all YOU!” maybe you'd get some more youths pumped up about the debates. It doesn't matter if you're an Idol fan or not – the show, which is already up to its 11th season, will turn out more voters than any upcoming election. Someone might think about teaching the candidates how to sing for the next debate, or they might lose potential viewers.