Even though we just wrapped up the eleventh season of “American Idol,” Monday marks what is a rather crazy moment in the history of television. After all, it is the tenth anniversary of a show that effectively changed the way that many people watch TV.
If you look at the talent competition today, there are very few that have not borrowed from “American Idol” in some shape or form — whether it be fan voting, the panel of judges, pre-taped packages to lead into performances, or even audition rounds featuring giant masses of people all screaming outside of a theater. The program set the gold standard for what a singing competition should be, and despite the tricks attempted by other networks with swivel chairs and whatnot, nobody has really been able to equal the feeling of watching a full season of Ryan Seacrest and company and getting to really have a chance to know the contestants.
That first season in 2002 also featured a winner who validated the idea of a singing competition for years to come — Kelly Clarkson. We still hear her songs on the radio, and she has 73 #1s across multiple Billboard charts. That’s not only more than any other former contestant, but it is more than the vast majority of singers out there. She, Carrie Underwood, Jennifer Hudson, Chris Daughtry, and Adam Lambert have all managed to rise their profile to superstar status thanks to the show, and there is also another level of former contestants who are all poised to have great careers. When you look at most of the shows to come after “American Idol,” Melanie Amaro and Rachel Crow from this past season of “The X Factor” seem to be the only ones with similar potential to be in either group.
On this fine day of celebrating TV’s landmark singing competition, we ask this question — is there any one moment from the show’s eleven-season history that excites you more than any other? We can’t necessarily name one, but we still have fond memories of everything from Kelly’s “A Moment Like This” to Fantasia’s “Summertime” to Adam’s “Mad World” and even Joshua Ledet’s “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” from this past season. These are the sort of performances that get you talking, and have made live reality TV something more than just cheesy variety shows.
So happy anniversary, “American Idol” — let’s hope for ten more.