American Idol 2016 Season Review: An End Of An Era or A Great Marketing Ploy?

I don’t want to say I told you so, but I told you so.

American Idol 2016 season finale

I predicted Trent Harmon would win American Idol 2016 on February 2. People called me crazy. People called me sexist. People scoffed in general. Other blogs didn’t even predict Trent to make it to the finale. Until they realized what I realized long ago.

But enough bragging. I’m here to talk about what was one of the best seasons of American Idol in years. The energy was up, emotions were high and the talent was phenomenal. And I don’t care how bold this statement is, but Trent and La’Porsha are the best final 2 in history of the show. Think about what I’m saying here before you call me crazy. Sure Season 1 had Kelly Clarkson, but it also had Justin Guiarini. And I guess Bo Bice was OK standing next to Carrie Underwood, but where is he now? Then there are the final twos that arguably resulted in the wrong winners: Ruben/Clay, Taylor/Katherine, Kris/Adam … you get the picture.

Another highlight of the season was finally pulling back on America’s control. Sorry, America, but you just can’t be trusted. Look what happened to Jennifer Hudson and Chris Daughtry in your hands. I might be in the minority here, but I loved how much more control the judges had this season. I liked that they got to pick four of the Top 10, even though that four probably would have been voted in anyway. But my favorite part was the judges deciding who stays and who goes in the bottom 2. It’s kind of a perfect formula: America decides who they like the least and the judges decides who goes.

American Idol's Top 5 at the NASCAR race

The biggest thing that stood out to me this season was the heart. The show regained a lot of its heart. That was achieved by including way less camp are really amping up the editing and production value. I loved how much more we got to know the contestants each week and I especially loved all the flashback moments we saw throughout the season.

And then there’s Scott Borchetta. While I don’t understand why it was necessary Ryan Seacrest awkwardly interview him every episode, I did feel like Scott understood the contestants. He is a pretty successful producer, so I think he was a great addition to the show as far as guiding the contestants down the right path. That being said, I don’t love the idea that he is taking Trent into a full-on country path. I get it that Trent is from the South, but he’s got so much soul that I hope he isn’t too boxed in. But overall, aside from the creepy thumbs up he loved to give, Scott was great for the show.

IDOL-WGWG

That takes us to the finale. It was a pretty amazing spectacle. They really pulled out all the stops with the returning guests. And I would give it an A+ had they not put former judge Kara DioGuardi on stage with a mic — with Jordin Sparks singing back up to her nonetheless! That was totally bogus. But my FAVORITE part of the finale was the silent jab at itself the show made. I don’t think many people even realized it, but the five White Guys With Guitars performance? Surely you noticed how on purpose it was to put Kris Allen, David Cook, Lee DeWyze, Nick Fradiani and Phillip Phillips all together with their guitars? Hilarious.

And speaking of the finale, how bout Seacrest’s cryptic “for now” sign off? If this whole “final” season was just one big marketing ploy to give the show a rest before rebuilding it and relaunching it, then that’s just brilliant. We have already speculated that Idol might not be done for good and after that tease and Simon Fuller’s discussion on the topic, we know that we will be seeing American Idol again in the future in some format or another.

And we will be there. So be sure to join us!

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9 Comments

  1. Trent is my favorite winner since Phillip, and as much as I love PP, my love for Trent has tied him (gasp). That man’s voice is just TOO good! Hot damn it’s fine.. anyway, I can’t wait for his album and country music already has a lot of soul and Trent’s MS accent makes everything he sings southern anyway, Harry pointed that out after Simple Man. (which could easily fit on a TH country album.. heck, Waiting Game could too when you take in account he sang it with a southern lilt and the lyrics). I agree that it’s the best final 2.. I may be a little biased being from Mississippi, but both Trent and La’Porsha have the vocals to sing the roof off the Dolby, and I don’t know another final 2 that could say that.

    • This might be a strange choice, but all season I’d hoped he would sing Dan Hill’s “Sometimes When We Touch”. Love his voice, and I’m so glad he won.

  2. It can be argued that idol began its downfall after season 9, but
    thats not the case. The real decline began when the same male
    contestants started winning every season and not producing album sales.
    In return radio ignored idol winners and this ultimately killed the
    younger demographics. Then it was like dominos, ratings suffered, idol
    lost major sponsors.

    The key too keeping the show the way it was to leave the formula
    alone. The show was played with too much. Idol did fine with having the
    winners it did the first 7 seasons. Some here will argue that it’s not
    true, but it is cause some may be biased for these contestants, but them
    winning idol had no benefit for the show. The only winners that sold
    were the first 7 and Phillip Phillips but that was because he had a
    radio friendly single and was heavily featured on one of the most
    popular Olympics seasons ever.

  3. IMO, the music industry lost interest in recruiting talent from talent shows
    like these because the rise of Web sites like YouTube slowly reduced
    Idol to irrelevance.

  4. Another factor for the decline is that the 18-49 demographic, which is the demographic that advertisers love most, moved on to The Voice, which presented itself as a younger, fresher, hipper show.

    What ultimately killed Idol was the Mariah-Nicki fiasco. They tried to make up for that with these last couple of seasons but it was too little, too late.

    • Uhhh.. no, many of us did not defect to Duh Voice. The whole “The Voice is way better than Idol” was a huge distraction. In my opinion, Duh Voice had nothing to do with Idol’s decline.

      Idol died on its own.. starting with Season 10, in particular.
      ・They attempted to control the narrative too much.
      ・The final 4 were no longer chosen by the masses.
      ・Side stories, background stunts, etc. became such a distraction to the main gist of the Idol program that it became harder and harder for everyone to focus on the singing contest itself. This last season was a penultimate testimate to that.
      ・Audio quality went down, not up over time.
      ・Videography was all over the place. It was overly obvious the directors / producers were attempting to favor some contestants over others with the camera shots and frequency.
      ・In the final years, JLo herself was as much a subject as the contestants themselves. Why not rename the show “JLo Idol”?

      ・American Idol, though, really lost sight of what they were when Simon left the bench. While some might argue whether Simon’s critiques were overboard or not, Simon gave the show credibility. The judging after Simon left was no longer ‘judging’.. just flowery, the sky is filled with rainbows, glowing praise no matter how awful the performers were. The only ‘drama’, then, became when performers would do something like Quentin Alexander’s “Dat’ is whack!” tirade. Not a word was said when the two ladies Maddie Walker & Adanna Duru were cut in Season 14.

      The whole show just went into a spiral of antic after antic and never recovered into a vote-inspired singing contest that it used to be.

      Idol killed itself. Period.

  5. I definitely agree that it was a combination of things that did the show in.

    >Judging panel changes
    >Format changes
    > A lot of sub-par contestants during the last few
    seasons
    >Other shows came on the scene and viewers flocked to
    those
    >Less interest from the music industry and radio
    >Fatigue – the show felt stale after a number of years

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