Friday, January 15, 2010
by Jean Henry Mead
I love watching "American Idol," although the auditions from various parts of the country are often difficult to watch as well as heartbreaking.
The first two shows of season nine premiered this week with a few good singers as well as the usual untalented ones who basically made fools of themselves. I have to wonder why so many people need their fifteen minutes of fame. And do viewers really enjoy watching those with terrible voices ridiculed by Simon Cowell?
As a former singer, I cringe at the off-key notes and poor delivery, but I've shed a few tears of my own when some of them leave the audition heartbroken because of shattered dreams. I wonder how damaging it is to their self confidence and whether they give up on other pursuits as a result of losing their chances to go to Hollywood.
The program ended Wednesday with a 62-year-old man named General Larry Platt, who entertained the panelists with his catchy, self written song, "Pants on the Ground." (See video below). He was 34 years too old to be eligible for the competition, but left everyone smiling. Was Platt's performance arranged by Simon Cowell, as was Susan Boyle's the previous year on "Britian has Talent"?
Curious about Simon's background, I did a bit of research. He began his career in the UK at EMI Music Publishing, where he was promoted to record producer from his job as assistant to an A&R representative. During the early 1980s, he left to create his own label, E&S Music, which soon went bankrupt, so he returned to EMI. He tried again in 1985 with Fanfare Records, which was more successful but went under when its parent company closed its doors.
Cowell then worked as an A&R consultant for the British Music Group, where he was relatively successful producing novelty records by stars from other areas of the entertainment industry, such as professional wrestlers and children's TV personalities. He also signed a number of well known bands to his label, and began working on other music-based projects such as the British show "Pop Idol," later known across the pond as "American Idol."
His third attempt at owning his own music company resulted in Sysco Records, with the plan to feature winners of both "American Idol" and "Pop Idol." Cowell was also behind other competitive reality series, "Britian's Got Talent," "America's Got Talent" and "American Inventor." Next season he'll be appearing on "X Factor."
I'll continue to watch "American Idol," and enjoy viewing those who make the cut. The program has changed the face of American music and will hopefully continue to do so for many years to come. With the disappearnce of Cowell, who's leaving the show after this season, and Paula Abdul's replacement, Ellen Degeneres, season ten will no doubt take on a kinder, gentler format laced with humor. But will it survive?