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American Addict

Okay, I admit it. I was addicted to American Idol. I'm not proud.

I started watching the show in the beginning because it was funny. Thousands of people, many of whom had little to no talent, made for a hilarious bunch of shows. I cheered for Simon Cowell every time he told them, blatantly and honestly, his true opinion. I groaned at every overly-sensitive let-them-down-easy comment from Paula Abdul. I paid no attention to Randy Jackson because he was boring.

So much of the show was cheesy and ridiculous that it's hard to understand why I enjoyed it. Every slice-of-life piece about the contestants, every manufactured Ford- or Coke-sponsored interlude made me roll my eyes. The corporate sponsorship was rampant, but that's to be expected: "Make sure every time someone takes a drink, it's from a Coca-Cola cup. Make sure every contestant has as much Coca-Cola brand beverage as they want, and make sure you get them on film when they're drinking it." The whole thing was just one big cash cow for Fox and EMI Music, and while I am generally in favour of Fox succeeding (hey, they gave us The Simpsons, Futurama, Malcolm in the Middle, and for a while, The Family Guy, so I hope they do well enough to keep churning out shows like these) I'm generally against the idea of Big Music, and EMI falls under that label (ha ha).

Towards the end, the shows themselves began to drag and become slow and dull with seemingly 90% filler and 10% content, if that. And yet, I couldn't stop watching. The contestants, while definitely cute and fun to look at, were all good singers but mostly far from exceptional (I have to admit that Kelly Clarkson's voice always impressed me: she has excellent control, a huge range, and can project powerfully), and only time will tell if any of them actually have all the other qualities needed in a music sensation: good dance abilities, a memory for choreograhy, and the sheer physical endurance to put on three-hour performances followed by photo shoots, press conferences, awards ceremonies, etc.

So while I wish Kelly Clarkson and the rest of the American Idol ten (most of whom probably have record deals already lined up) the best of luck, I can't help but figure they'll have a couple half-hearted top-10 hits, an album or two, and then fade to obscurity. But in the process, they'll have had a fantastic trip through a life that most of us will never experience, for better or for worse.

So congratulations, Fox et al. You've done a fantastic job taking the Making the Band idea to a whole new level and hooking millions upon millions of viewers. You'll make plenty of money on album and single sales, I have no doubt, and the second round of the show may well be as popular as the first. I, for one, have no intention of watching. The first was fun, even though I don't know why, but also a huge drain on my time. The second, I fear, will just be the same old thing to me, so I don't plan to tune in at all.