The “Glee”fully “Duet”ing “Voice”s of America’s “Next” “Talent”ed “Idol”

Seventeen. That is the number of music shows, both scripted and non-scripted, that air on American television. This eclectic mix of programs is spread out across ten different networks. NBC (The Voice, Smash, America’s Got Talent) ,Fox (American Idol, The X Factor, Glee), Disney (Shake It Up!, Austin & Ally, A.N.T Farm) and Nickelodeon (Big Time Rush, Victorious, How yo Rock) lead the pack with three shows each. These numbers do not account for the various specials and award shows that air on MTV, VH1 and other music based channels. Eighteen outpaces the combined number of crime and medical dramas that crowd the alphabet networks. With all these shows competing for ratings and record sales, it’s hard to feel emotionally invested in the contestants and their subsequent victory. What started out as the quest for a dream has now turned into a lust for fame. As I mentioned in my last piece, singing competitions have become a venue for the artists of yesteryear to reestablish themselves. The contestants are merely filler to support a celebrity’s need to kick-start their waning careers. All this star power, however, will eventually burn out. In fact, there have already been warning signs that the genre of musical television is about to explode. The winners have limited chart success and the shows themselves have experienced a dip in ratings.

Look no further than American Idol. The popular Fox show made its television debut on June 11, 2002. It was the North American incarnation of the British show Pop Idol. Initially, the idea of a singing competition was rejected by the major networks. American television was mired in the world of dramas and sitcoms. Reality shows like Survivor were popular, but no executive was ready to take a shot on a talent show. Rupert Murdoch, the head of the Fox Broadcasting Company, picked up the show and slated it for a summer debut. Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul were hired as judges. The show originally had two hosts, Ryan Seacrest and Brian Dunkleman, but the latter quit after season one.

American Idol was the only show in television history to have been number one for seven consecutive seasons. The ratings steadily climbed following season one until season five where it topped out at 30.6 million. Season six marked the first time the ratings started to dip. The 2010 Olympics and show like Dancing With the Stars beat American Idol in their shared time slot. There were a lot of factors that contributed to the loss of viewers.

The show’s decline began with the appointment of songwriter Kara DioGuardi as the fourth judge in season eight. At the conclusion of that year, Paula Abdul quit and was replaced by talk show host Ellen DeGeneres for season nine. Both DioGuardi and DeGeneres did not return for season ten which saw the departure of Simon Cowell and the addition of Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler. Cowell left the show in order to bring The X-Factor stateside. This revolving door of judges, did not help peek viewers interest and the ratings dropped fast.

Record sales of American Idol alums are not what they used to be. The past two winners, Lee DeWyze and Scotty McCreery have failed to generate much buzz. Their lack of sales and chart topping hits is proof that American audiences are no longer paying attention. On the other hand, judge Jennifer Lopez saw the revival of her music career shortly after she began her stint on Idol. Below, I have outline the sales figures for all the American Idol winners in order to visually document the declining success.

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About Brittany Tenpenny

Brittany Tenpenny has wanted to be a writer for as long as she could remember. Aside from brief fantasies of pop stardom and becoming the female Indiana Jones, Brittany was dead set on writing. She pursued her dream all through her academic career, becoming a staff writer for "The Argo" at The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey where she graduated at the top of her class with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Last year, Brittany's fictional pieces were published in the e-book "A Calm Whisper."

Brittany is now a graduate student at Rowan University and is currently working on a novel.