Cover article: We love our singing competitions

NBC’s “The Voice” will star Cee Lo Green, Christina Aguilera, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton as celebrity mentors.

HIGHLIGHTS OF HISTORY

  • There is a new crop of singing competition shows vying for the success of “American Idol”
  • TV producer says viewers want a helping hand picking the next big star
  • “Idol” producer says shows are “very much the American dream”

(CNN) – It is an emblematic scene from the 1983 film “Risque Business”.

A young Tom Cruise slides across the living room floor, dressed only in a button-down shirt and a few tight whites, and synchronizes Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock & Roll” lips in a candle holder.

The moment brought to light a common dream that fueled the popularity of singing competitions: a love of singing and a desire to take the stage.

The concept behind these reality shows is simple: Take strangers, men and women, put them on stage in the national spotlight and watch them wow the world with their talent. Or they can fail miserably, which is sometimes even more fun to watch and satisfies a human urge to judge.

If the contestants are good enough, and sometimes not even, the rewards include fame and fortune – well at least fame.

From “The Gong Show in the 1970s to” Star Search “in the 1980s, the giant who is still” American Idol “,” America’s Got Talent “and newcomers” The Voice “,” CMT’s Next Superstar “and” The X Factor, “The love affair with song contests continues even as album sales decline.

“Basically, these shows give ordinary people the opportunity to become stars,” said Mr. Tye Comer, editor-in-chief of Billboard.com. Whether or not that person becomes the ‘American Idol’ or wins ‘The X Factor’, you give them a platform to sing in front of millions of people, which a lot of people aspire to even if they verbalize it or not. “

Despite declining ratings over the years, “American Idol” reigns supreme as one of the most popular television shows in its 10th on-air season. According to the website TV by the Numbers, for the week of April 4-10, “Idol” “was the top rated show of the evening in all key demographics and outperformed the next top rated show of the evening by + 103% (in the coveted demographic of 18-49 year olds).

Waiting backstage with hopes of emulating the success of NBC’s “Idol,” “The Voice,” due out April 26, and “The X Factor,” which premieres in the fall.

Like “Idol,” which recruited new judges Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler this season, “The Voice” will also feature a few notables – in this case pop star Christina Aguilera, Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine, singer Cee Lo Green and country star Blake Shelton, who will mentor the show’s contestants.

“The X Factor” shares an even stronger bond with “Idol”; the creator of the new show, Simon Cowell, was an original judge on the latter.

But the program that can boast of the greatest “Idol” pedigree is “CMT’s next superstar“, whose executive producer, Nigel Lythgoe, was the co-creator of” Idol “, itself derived from the popular former British show” Pop Idol “, created by Simon Fuller, the founder of 19 Entertainment.

Lythgoe and his son Simon (who was also a producer on “American Idol”) are the search engines for country music talent, which young Lythgoe says does not sound like “Idol” at all.

“It’s not the glitzy, glitzy show you are used to seeing at a singing competition,” said Simon Lythgoe. “We’ll get dirty on this show.”

This includes the change of location with each episode and different challenges for the contestants, Lythgoe said. He said he wanted it to be different from the start.

“I don’t think there was a need for another series (like ‘Idol’) with the release of ‘The X Factor’ and ‘The Voice’,” Lythgoe said. “To be honest, we’re looking for a different type of artist.

“It’s not ‘American Idol’ where Simon Cowell knocks people down or you got bad singers. We’ve turned the country upside down and found what we think are the top 10 country singers in the world.”

Finding these key differences can be important to a show’s survival, said Lyndsey Parker, who writes the “Reality rocks“column for Yahoo!

“I watch them all and give them a chance because I’m a glutton for this type of show, like I think a lot of America is,” Parker said. “One thing I think is a kind of worry is that there are only so many hours in a day to watch TV and so much mental or emotional space to invest in the candidates, to vote. for them and root for them. At some point people are going to burn out because … they start to become interchangeable and dilute. ”

Parker said that viewers love to watch a competition, but also help change the direction of the lives of competitors.

“People love a Cinderella story and have an interest in it,” she said. “The biggest example of that is Fantasia (Barrino, American Idol winner in season three) who was an illiterate and struggling single mom, and we voted for her. Now she is a Grammy winner. . “

Richard Drew is a television producer who writes on reality shows for his blog “Remote patrol. “In his native England, he worked on the singing competition show” Fame Academy “, hosted by Cat Deeley, known to fans in the United States for hosting” So You Think You Can Dance “.

Drew said the musical competition shows are enjoyed around the world.

“When we watch TV and get caught up in people’s stories, watch them week after week and connect with them, I think it’s exciting,” he said. “That’s why so many of these shows are so story-heavy. We love to see people develop week (after) week and get better and better.”

He said he also believes social media is playing a role in increasing the popularity of these shows.

“With Twitter and Facebook, we want to have our say,” Drew said. “We don’t want record companies telling us who the next star will be, we want to be part of that decision.”

At a Facebook page dedicated to “American Idol”, Shelley Mattes posted: “Ok tomorrow all the fans vote for the only two girls there, Vote for Haley (Reinhart) and Lauren (Alaina) !!!! Bring these guys out !!! I protest !!! For PIA !! !!! ” in honor of favorite Pia Toscano, who was surprisingly knocked out of the Top 9.

Ellen Smith tweeted: “Dear Idol fans, after watching idol, let’s vote for the best performance please instead of trying to save some of the worst ok.”

No show seems to elicit as much anticipation as Fox’s “The X Factor”. The Cowell-helmed series won’t air for months, and already huge media attention has been paid to the judges (Antonio “LA” Reid is the only name confirmed to date) and whether “Idol” fans will follow Cowell on his new show.

Alan Frutkin, Editor-in-Chief of Media week, covered the first round of auditions for “The X Factor” in Los Angeles, which he said drew a crowd of 15,000 and said interest was high.

“Most people identify with these shows because almost everyone is singing,” Frutkin said. “Whether they sing badly or well, in the shower or in their car, we can all imagine ourselves in these contestants’ shoes, and there is a thrill of inspiration. There is also this transformational aspect involved.”

Britain’s Simon Lythgoe of “CMT’s Next Superstar” has a theory as to why the shows have found such a strong fan base in this country.

“This is the story of the rags to the rich, which is truly the American dream,” he said. “And the very fact that you can vote is very democratic and American.”




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