It seems to be a popular trend that whenever the UK does something, the rest of the world has to follow. This is especially true for popular M-net TV show, IdolsSA. Over all, the show has been a success with its viewers and is a huge topic of discussion whenever it airs (Generally yearly) but the question I want to ask is has it lost its touch?
Now for the first 4 seasons I was an avid watcher. I really enjoyed the hype whenever it came to the top ten and especially enjoyed the initial stages where you could have a good laugh at all those who shattered the glass with their cat like shrieks or be stunned by the surprising amount of vocal talent we have in our country.
Now, however, I’m starting to think that the whole process is derailing and losing touch with what it’s there for. The recent seasons have come into a lot of disrepute for their structuring of the show. No longer interested with just talent, they need to get ratings too. Now I can tell you that I am no singer but I do know a few friends that have tried out and I came along with one of them to the auditions of the previous season. How they work is quite contrary to popular belief. There are two primary rounds of auditioning before you actually reach the TV judges, both of them are initially meant to eke out talent and make the job easier for them. Round one is the prelim stage, usually groups of ten people are sent to sing in front of a panel of judges who then cut that group down to a smaller number. After they have sifted through the thousands of potential singers they then send the chosen few through to the Director’s cut stage where they send, again, groups of ten in front of the director who then cuts them down to an even smaller number. This process takes the most part of two days and leaves our popular T.V judges with about 80 – 100 prospective auditions as opposed to the idea that they see over 3000 people provincially.
There isn’t anything dubious about the process it’s just simple logistics and is the basic template used by all divisions of the show. The really interesting part is who makes the decisions and contrary to popular belief it isn’t the TV judges. In fact the numbers of people who go through are already determined by the director after the final cut. The TV judges just receive a basic script as to what they say and how they respond to each individual audition. So how on earth do the dregs make it through you ask? Simple: ratings. These poor people are lead to believe after two rounds that they are good enough singers and then are publically humiliated by a group of self-righteous celebrities who actually have no say in who makes it through. M-net covers their asses really well on this one because if you make it through to the TV judges you are forced to sign a waiver and a non-disclaimer form basically allowing them to own you throughout the duration of your presence on the show.
But the overall trait that the show wants isn’t simply a good singer mixed with a good character anymore. The later seasons now discount anyone who doesn’t fall into their idea of a good “role-model” or “what the drive is” by who would make it through to the top ten. I witnessed brilliant singers receiving “No’s” because they just didn’t fit the role of what popular trends and demographics would vote for. The latest show is actually case and point because IdolsSA definitely hit the “racial” card due to the tantrum Mara Louw had when she left the show because of the fact that no black contestants ever won or the recent rantings of Gareth Cliff selling out his votes to whatever black singer came along just to look good. I mean who the hell cares? I for one don’t. Because, to me, it’s your ability as a performer that counts. I often voted for black singers because I liked them, not that it should even matter. You guys remember Sindi? I loved her individualism. Let’s just face it; last season was a blatant cop out.
At the end of the day however and regardless of who wins the same thing happens; the winner rides off into the sunset in a Ford and no one ever hears from them again. It’s almost like the retard’s mini biography of how a star is born and how they die. Sometimes you hear about them doing a mini gig here and there but they never really truly make it big, even by our standards. State side it’s different because over there they have a platform to access because of the multitudes of genres followed and enjoyed. Here we’re either enveloped by international stardom or we simply don’t have enough genres getting equal exposure. If that’s the case then why have the show in the first place?
But here’s the really interesting part. Joe Soap comes along and auditions and in two seconds he’s a house hold name country wide and on TV every week for 3 nauseating months before he's thrown a cheque and told to fend for himself. There goes the exposure and the limelight because in reality he reached the peek and decline of his singing career the moment he was declared that season’s winner. These people aren’t conditioned stars like Madonna or Katy Perry. They aren’t people who had to do all kinds of crazy things to get to where they are and maintain it for the rest of their lives. They say Idols is a hard ride but they had it easy. A true star takes years to get to where they are because they REALLY want it. Idols winners get all they ever wished for served to them immediately and then all of a sudden it falls away leaving them with nothing but their own half-assed drive and often its just not enough.
In my own opinion, Idols exposes people to too much way too soon. None of them are ever truly ready for what they’re about to be exposed to and that’s why they fail. I believe the whole system is a farce because at the end of the day it’s all down to a popularity contest and not about the performer. Only 1% of anyone who has ever auditioned is truly the genuine article and the truth is that 0% them have ever won.