Idol Chatter

Idol Chatter


“American Idol”: Tryouts, Trainwrecks, and Schadenfreude

posted by Ellen Leventry

The season premiere of “American Idol’s” sixth season was the show’s most-watched opener ever, with nearly 15 percent of the country watching at one point in the evening. So, is it any coincidence then that the Minnesota auditions featured on the show were some of the most egregious, deafening tryouts of the contest’s history, being dubbed “The Midworst” by media outlets? As judge Simon Cowell says to many a contestant: No.

In fact, the producers are counting on the rubber-necking watchers, courting them with ads devoted to the musical misfits and zooming in on the horrified, wide-eyed, deer-in-the-headlights stares of the judges. (When you can see the whites of Paula Abdul’s usually sleepy eyes, you know you’re going to be in for something truly awful.)

The producers must have been salivating while witnessing the Minneapolis massacre, knowing that they had more than enough choice talentless tidbits to use in ads for the show. The following evening, Seattle unseated Minneapolis as the worst audition city ever, being dubbed a “vacuum of talent” by preternaturally peppy host Ryan Seacrest.

Unless you’ve been living in a cave or in one of the countries that does not have its own version of “Idol,” the show’s format is already familiar. The first several weeks focus on the national tryouts and then they bring the chosen few finalists to Hollywood, put them through a song and dance bootcamp, and whittle them down to the final 12. Then the competition really begins.

Minneapolis yielded such characters as Troy the Urban Amish guy, the opera singer who channeled “Rocky’s” Apollo Creed, and the contestant who decided that he needed to go get a drink of water and walked out of the audition, only to return later to more than lackluster reviews, such as, “What do you think we are looking for, a 2-year-old who can’t sing?”

But why would an audience want to sit through two hours of tone-deaf jugglers and diva-wannabes? For the same reason people watch “Jerry Springer” and that NBC just gave Springer’s “bodyguard” Steve his own talk show: schadenfreude. The German word means “shameful joy,” but no one has any shame about it these days. In other words, people love to watch trainwrecks.

I remember reading an interview in some celebrity magazine wherein the interviewee said that, as much as people are rooting for you on the way up, they are rooting more for your failure on the way down. With “Idol,” this satisfaction is instantaneous; we don’t have to wait years for the cycle to unfold a-la one-time Hollywood golden boy Ben Affleck circa “Gigli.” Humiliation is served up in quick 30-second soundbytes, perfectly packaged for consumption; a collective smack-down for those who dare think they are talented enough to earn our adoration.

On the other hand, there are those, like myself, who watch the auditions with one hand on the remote, ready to change the channel the moment these musical miscreants come on. Not because of their lack of talent, but because it physically pains us to watch the contestants’ eventual humiliation, ridiculous tirades about the unfairness of the judges (the show has been on six years, afterall, so they shouldn’t be surprised), and the heart-breaking crying jags shown in all their snotty glory.

Love or hate the audition rounds, every once in a while a sob story can turn into a success. Just ask Wiliam Hung.



  • http://yahoo.com Carol

    As a mother who had two very talented daughters try out for American Idol in Minneapolis, I thought the show was shameful! Not only were my two daughters turned away from the initial auditions, but they told me that most of the singers in their sections were extremely talented and also turned away. It seems like the show is not about talent anymore, but as you said, another “Jerry Springer” wanna-be.

  • http://HASH(0xfc495c4) chuck

    In the old days they took paid tours of madhouses so that people could laugh at the inmates. Now we have American Ido where people can laugh at the lunatics for free.

  • http://www.craigslistz.org/riverside.html Craigslist Riverside

    Thanks you give me great information about American idol i read your article and i found many interesting stuff.That was exactly what i needed to know – thanks to you for sharing it here.

Previous Posts

Big Faith and a True Father-Son Bond
The film "Little" Boy is based on a seven-year-old boy working to move mountains to end World War II so his father and best friend can return home. Regardless of his size or age, this youth’s faith is unstoppable. Executive producers Roma Downey and Mark Burnett team up with the producers of

posted 11:01:58am Dec. 19, 2014 | read full post »

#MARCHON
In light of recent occurrences in addition to our day-to-day - we need, more than ever, to march on. #Marchon is a national platform for justice. It's the opportunity to let the world know what and how you feel. What are you passionate about? What do you believe needs to change? Where does the actio

posted 2:28:57pm Dec. 15, 2014 | read full post »

Classic with a Modern Twist: What to Expect from Annie
It's a film that the whole family will enjoy. It's a film that will inspire you to look at life in a different lens. Moreover, it's a film that will keep you wanting more - what film are we talking about? None other than Annie. The talented cast include Jamie Foxx, Quvenzhane Wallis, Rose Byrne,

posted 8:00:55am Dec. 15, 2014 | read full post »

Get Excited For the Holiday Film of the Year - Annie
Everyone is excited to see Annie, in theaters Dec. 19, staring Jamie Foxx, Quvenzhane Wallis, Rose Byrne, Bobby Cannavale, and Cameron Diaz. The film is a modern retelling of the story about an orphan who seeks optimism within the adversity that she faces every day. While you're waiting for the f

posted 9:30:10am Dec. 11, 2014 | read full post »

'Unbroken' is a True Gift This Christmas
// After 57 years of being hung up, now a war hero’s story is on the big screen. Unbroken, a true story based on U.S. POW and 1936 Olympic runner Louie Zamperini will be released on Christmas Day. The timing could not be more perfect said director and producer Angelina Jolie, who was emotionally e

posted 9:57:52am Dec. 10, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.