Open Letter to American Idol…

Dear American Idol,

The relationship with you began in the summer of 2002. There was Ryan Seacrest with his frosted hair tips and Dunkleman. There was also one of my favorite musicians from my childhood, Paula Abdul, and this mean British guy named, Simon and another guy named, Randy who seemed kinda cool and called people, “dawg”. It was perfect and everyone was in it to win it even if the judges argues. Then there were those musicians, young kids around my age performing and being awesome. I was rooting for a top three of Kelly Clarkson, Tamyra Gray, and Justin Guarini. It was amazing. Kelly Clarkson hitting that otherworldly note in “You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman” and bringing “cool beans” into the American vernacular, Tamyra Gray’s chill-inducing voice, Justin Guarini’s slightly cocky, impressive voice which backed up anything he said. Sure, I cried a little on the inside when Tamyra got voted off way too early. I remember the night she got voted off. It was super emotional and not just because I had a horrible date with a creepy guy that week that made me contemplate alcoholism as an escape….but also because of Tamyra. So I was crying partly because of that.

But the ending proved to be perfection. I had made a bet on Kelly Clarkson to win. I bet a friend twenty dollars she would take it all the way and she did and it’s been thirteen years and I still have not seen my money. I’m not sure about this but with interest added and late fees, I’m pretty certain this friend owes me like a bazillion dollars plus…..a puppy. Just ’cause I want a puppy. Anyway, yeah, okay, back to my point. I was thrilled Kelly won. She appeared bubbly, sweet and convinced me that I should start including, “y’all” in my every day in my everyday language. Even though, it’s weird in Los Angeles. I was immediately on board, even if Dunkleman was not. I would watch every season because it was showing a group with a talent that I will never have.

I was on board with Kelly and then Ruben and Fantasia was unbelievable. Remember when she sang, “Summertime?” Oh, goodness and also,  Jennifer Hudson. Yes, she got voted off way too early but I think she’s done okay.  Then okay, Carrie Underwood was the best. Her country style was just pure class and while I don’t think I’d ever grab a burger with her because I think she would secretly judge me, I would love to just have every outfit in her closet. Then season five with picking Pickler who made me literally laugh out loud, “Sal-man” and Daughtry and Katharine McPhee who grew up in my neck of the woods. I remember there being a sign on Ventura Boulevard in Sherman Oaks telling people to vote for her. American Idol was appointment television, at least for me. There were discussions about contestants and who was awesome and whose talent you questioned and also Sanjaya.

What happened? Far be it from me to second-guess anyone’s vocal abilities because mine suck nutball sacks of glory in July but what happened? What went wrong? I don’t know what’s happening this season? I love J.Lo, Harry Connick Jr., and Keith Urban. Much better than the feuding Mariah Carey and Nikki Minaji season. That was uncomfortable. I love watching judges mess with each other. It’s my favorite thing on The Voice but what happened here? What are the chairs? Having fancy chairs definitely gives off a Voice vibe. I don’t really know the contestants very well. I don’t get a sense of their personality. With Kellie Pickler, you got a sense she was hilarious yet at the same time had this backstory that was crushing. You could tell she had this amazing amount of inner strength, same with Fantasia. With Kelly Clarkson, she became the girl you wanted to hang out with, everyone’s best friend and who did not want to hug Ruben?

So how will next year be different? Will there be a next year? I’m not giving up yet. I will stay until the bitter end even though I’m not sure who is even competing this year. Maybe next year, step it up? Pick talent that reminds me of the days of Clarkson and Underwood and Fantasia. Maybe go into the back stories more? Set up the personalities and let us root for them? I don’t know, I’m not a producer but a fan who wants to keep watching and getting excited and hearing songs that will make me want to talk about it the next day.

If you’re back next year, American Idol……please go back to what you once were? The glory of what you once were….finding talent that makes you stop and go, “how were they not already discovered?” I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed. I will keep holding on because when it gets tough, you TiVo and then watch it three weeks later in little segments.  I’m holding out hope because “this is American Idol” and it indeed is….




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