Idols and Grammys
The Grammys airs tonight, but I won't be watching it. I have an annual ritual where instead of watching the awards show I turn off all the lights, stand in a box of broken glass, and spray Windex into my eyes for two hours. As much as I'd love to watch the music industry congratulate itself, this just seems like a better use of my time. However, there is something interesting about tonight's telecast, which is that if either Kelly Clarkson or Fantasia Barrino wins, it will be the first time a made-by-TV performer will have won the coveted award.
What does this mean, exactly? Well, the Mercury News thinks this marks a new era where TV has a greater influence on music. As one promoter states, "TV has created an entirely new audience, beyond the normal concert goers."
I don't think the "new audience" that has formed around American Idol could really be described as "music fans." I'm not making a blanket statement about all AI viewers, I'm saying that the show, despite what it claims to be, doesn't really cater to real music fans. It's about drama and record deals, and while the talent involved may be good (or great, or amazing) singers in their own right, they're merely part of the juggernaut. Television didn't just make people like Clay Aiken popular, it also made William Hung popular, too. It wasn't until some distance was put between Idol and the likes of Clarkson and Aiken that they began to garner a fanbase that wasn't just made up of people wondering what barbed witticism Simon Cowell was going to toss out next. American Idol has been a springboard for many, but ironically, it's those artists who have forged an identity separate from the show that have had the most staying power. Rather than American Idol ushering in some new era of music, I see it becoming less and less relevant.