Music Competition Shows: Are They All Just Trying to Outdo Each Other?

When “American Idol” first premiered in 2002, it quickly became a massive hit and is considered to be one of the most successful shows in television history.  It originated with three relatively unknown judges: music executive and manager Simon Cowell, singer and dancer Paula Abdul, and record producer Randy Jackson.  Within the last decade they went from being relatively unknown individuals to household names and reality television icons.

Fast forward to present day and the new season of American Idol is premiering in January 2013 with 3 brand new judges along with veteran Randy Jackson: Nicki Minaj, Mariah Carey, and Keith Urban. All of these new judges are wildly successful artists in their own respective genres. It seems the past few years American Idol has been known for their shakeups with regard to their judges. In January 2011, they completely revamped their judging panel by getting rid of everyone but Randy Jackson and adding Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez. This seemed out of character for the American Idol brand because their judges tended to be people who worked behind the scenes in the music industry, rather than the talent themselves. Regardless, throughout the years “American Idol” has always maintained high viewership.  However, in the last few years, with the premiere of several other music competition shows such as “The Voice” and “The X-Factor,” the ratings have been progressively declining.

“The Voice,” which premiered in 2011, has their very own star-powered judging panel that includes the likes of Christina Aguilera, Adam Levine, Cee Lo Green, and Blake Shelton. Simon Cowell’s show, “The X Factor” which also premiered in 2011, generated a lot of buzz in the press, but failed to bring in high viewership. Season one was not nearly as successful as he had predicted it would be, which then resulted in him dropping the former judges in season two for pop sensations Demi Lovato and Britney Spears. It’s obvious that by adding such famous faces, he hoped that he would garner more viewers. With all of the famous musicians on these singing competition shows, it seems like every show’s goal is to one-up the other in terms of star power.

Most recently, there have been reports of a feud between American Idol’s newest judges, Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj. A video of the judges arguing and threatening each other leaked online late last week and most people aren’t buying it. When Cee Lo Green and Steven Tyler were asked whether or not  they thought the fight was fabricated, they both unanimously replied with “Of course!” Cee Lo Green said, “This is Hollywood, California. Hardly anything’s legit.”

Has American Idol purposely created drama in order to attract more viewers? Or do these two women really not like each other? Whether it was a publicity stunt or not, most people believe that it was the producer’s intention to have two feuding divas on the show in order to attract more viewers. This is out of character for the show because their brand has always been about showcasing the talent, not the drama. It begs the question, is American Idol “selling out” or are they simply just keeping up with the times by providing entertainment? What do you think?

Rachel Betterbid, Nicole BetterbidLucy Rojo, Sierra Scellato, Shauna Seaver