Reality Check: Are Too Many Affected Teens Ruining American Idol? Plus: Can the Show Take Credit for Tori Kelly?

Are you suffering from American Idol farewell season fatigue?

Perhaps it’s the glut of not-ready-for-primetime teenage contestants draining your enthusiasm for Fox’s reality-singing staple? Or maybe it’s the epidemic of “affected singing” — that hiccuping, squeaking, off-putting style that crushes emotional connectedness under its overly adorned boot?

On this week’s Reality Check, my cohost Melinda Doolittle and I discuss these nagging issues, pick our favorite auditioners from Week 2, and use our imaginary veto power to strip certain contestants of their Golden Tickets.

Plus, we get into some salty conversations about Idol grads Clay Aiken and Tori Kelly.

Press PLAY above for the full episode, then hit the comments with your thoughts!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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27 Comments
  1. Boiler says:

    I have not watched Idol in a long time. One big complaint I have on The Voice is how young many of the contestants are. They are basically out of their league. However they advance due to the teen voting so I suppose they won’t change

    • Larc says:

      Too bad Idol standards are so low for who goes through. But maybe they really don’t have much choice. If they sent only the truly good singers to Hollywood, Hollywood Week would have to be shortened to Hollywood Day.

  2. znachki says:

    Overly adorned has been going on since everyone started imitating Mariah Carey. Which is to say, since Idol started.

    • kevstar says:

      I don’t think you can blame Mariah Carey anymore because that type of singing isn’t popular anymore.
      As much as I love Ed Sheeran, I think that he has influenced a lot of the kids today. That singer songwriter type and everybody trying to be “unique” is more to blame these days.

  3. Timmah says:

    I’m totally stealing “hot-buttered wreck” :)

  4. DarkDefender says:

    Excellent RC. Spot on, as always.
    .
    #periwinkleblues #whynot #hiccupsinging

  5. Mark says:

    There is a certain amount of hiccupping I can tolerate on Idol. I actually like the fact that a talented young person can get a ticket for an experience in a music capital where they will feel out of their league.

    That sort of experience can give anyone a more realistic idea of where to aim the arrow in the pursuit of their particular dreams. All this is a legitimate part of a show that deals with aspirations.

    Admittedly it’s a drag when a “cute” and all too green novice makes it too far and gets too far in over their head. Uncomfortable for them and for us to have to witness.

    But how about this: After Idol we could follow with a show just about creative youth out of its element and call it “American Cringeworthy!”

  6. DS says:

    Russian guy reminds me of Anthony Fedorov 2.0
    Please dear god lets not go through that again

  7. Bill says:

    Why has Idol tanked in popularity the past few seasons? Perhaps the loss of Simon Cowell was a big factor, but the choosing of contestants and finalists is the biggest factor. Inexperienced, young kids who are probably great in a karaoke bar but have no business, or talent, becoming a recording star. Can anyone name a recent winner? (The fact Idol featured over-exposed idiots Kanye and Kim proves how much of a joke the show has become.) The show has been indulging in self-parody for years. It needs to go.

  8. collectcall says:

    I haven’t watched Idol since Season 3 but I always Reality Check, Michael and Melinda have such awesome chemistry.

  9. Simon says:

    Did anyone else notice season 13 semifinalist Malcolm Allen in the latest episode? He was Melinda’s (and my) favorite that season, and he got out just before the top 13. But this time he was in the montage of contestants that didn’t even make it past the audition! I was so confused!

  10. idol gave up on pushing any of their winners years ago.Just like the voice they do nothing to promote the new talents that makes it to the finals it’s pretty sad. I mean William HUng’s album sold a shocking 240K copies to Candice Glover sold only 27k and Caleb the winner on season 13 sold 21k did anyone know he even put an album out?

    • HTGR says:

      Yeah it used to be that top three would get you decent sales and even plenty in top ten. By already maybe almost 5 seasons back even top three gets basically nothing automatic. Even winning gets you nothing guaranteed now. Not only not sales but maybe not even an attempt at promotion. As you say William hung will outsell most winners now by an order of magnitude.
      .
      Speaking of season 9, it’s too bad that single/video from Didi Benami never got any push.

    • HTGR says:

      I think also some part of it is that there started to be too many of these and too many seasons. I mean there were four seasons of these shows in one year a couple years ago! It’s hard to push that many people, so you can’t have most of the top ten having at least some quick initial success. Heck unless they all took over the entire hot 100 chart it wasn’t even numerically possible. That said there is more to it than that.

  11. Funky Chicken says:

    I don’t think Idol should be taking credit for Tori Kelly when they unfairly cut her in season 9 (in favour of another contestant who they quickly realised “wasn’t ready” either).

    • Timmah says:

      To be fair, there was a lot of strong competition among the girls that season. I blame the public for letting Dewyze win.

  12. Mary says:

    Yes this week was kind of blah, but thanks M & M on making me laugh. I think I will miss Reality Check more than the show itself.

  13. Amy says:

    In answer to your title question above: YES.
    (to me, even your “quirky blonde girl” was affected. Didn’t interest me either. I really hate the “affectation” stuff that’s been so popular in recent years.) And yes, 15 y.o. singer after singer is just, ugh.
    Your “are we just emotionally distancing ourselves from Idol knowing it’s the last year?..”…or is it the last year cuz viewers have been emotionally distancing themselves to (mediocrity, tween idols, over-hyping of judges etc.. ) year after year?

    John Wayne guy…yes, a beautiful, unembellished, vocal. I found it telling and amusing that you two waxed-poetic over this…when the vocal world becomes “much too affected” …”singers” become the novelty, I guess. (Which btw is why Season 7 was my last favorite Idol year…when for me, it was “a singer’s singer” that made that year for me…and all the other good top 10 contestants that year too.) (ps. on that, I digress but…in the Idol promos you’d think the famous “David vs. David” year was made by only ONE David. hm? Somethin’ up there.

    And lastly….the Clay thing confused me too. Whatever.

    I was SO BORED by last week.(fell asleep and didn’t bother to go to On Demand later cuz I’d have to sit through the first hour again.)

    • Amy says:

      disclaimer…yes Season 7 remains my favorite year.
      However, last year was probably my last best year before it goes away, and it ended on a high note, only cuz Nick was a hometown guy for me, and “Idol came to town”…so that was a once in a lifetime chance that would happen to us before the show went away. And…I do like Nick.
      This year, I’m feeling might be just a cluster-you-know-what…but then too early to tell.
      I’m sure I may have some bittersweet feelings by the time they roll out their, sure-to-be all too sappy, FINAL FINALE! (wow, just got a little vaclempt.)

  14. Margarethe says:

    The thing I will miss most about American Idol is Reality Check. I’m sure I’m not alone here.

  15. darcy's evil twin says:

    Thank you Melinda for calling out Idol for taking credit for Tori Kelly. I don’t always remember contestants but I absolutely remembered her and I thought “I thought she got cut in Hollywood”.
    Seriously, you two were the best part of the program this week. I hope things start improving.

  16. Of course Idol is looking for wet behind the ears not ready for prime time teenie boppers. Look who’s on the charts. Sales doesn’t equal quality and we’re loosing “good” voters.

  17. Joey says:

    I’ve watched Idol since season one. I don’t know exactly when it started, but the entertainment value of show has plunged in recent years. I think it pretty much coincides with the J Lo era.

    The production values have gone up: Harry is prettier than Simon; J Lo is prettier than Paula; Keith is prettier than Randy. That’s about it. The entertainment values have plunged.

    The show used to be contestant focused. Now it’s judge focused. Just look at where the camera focus is. It should be on the singer, but it moves back and forth between the singer and the judges. That’s what has been missing in recent seasons. The show sucks.

    • HTGR says:

      Yeah basically when JLo came on and then Nigel went insanely over the top with his scheming the Haley year (although it didn’t really go off track until half way through when they got scared their pre-planned script was not going to work out, suddenly JLo did a 180 and the fakeness of the show became so in your face, Randy also went totally off the rails that season and became a pathetic sell out, it was sad to see) they just made the show so over the top beyond fake and scripted and all about making up fake drama and trying to force this and pretend that. It always had that, at least past the first season or two, but it had never been so in your face blatant. And they never learned their lesson. That season was the first season they didn’t get the full mega huge ratings spike for the finale and had such a huge drop to start the next season and then they did more of the same (never quite that bad in scripting, but not so far off) and wonder why ever year it just sank away. If you view the first season it’s almost unrecognizable. It was like this little show from out in the country all innocent and natural and by the end it’s some phony as hell, glossed up Hollywood as Hollywood could be monster.

      • HTGR says:

        Although they were already doing lots of scripted tricks that were fairly in your face by season 9 and less in your face already maybe just by 3-4 seasons in.