Column/’Idol’ addiction no passing fancy

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 4, 2007

After two years of hiding my addiction it’s time to confess my sin, one that millions of other people in the country succumb to every week.

Yes, I admit it. I’ve become addicted to the wildly popular, spectacularly mesmerizing television show “American Idol.”

I’m not exactly sure where the addiction came from since I didn’t really become hooked until last year, but like millions of other households in the country my satellite dish was tuned in last week to watch Randy, Paula and Simon weigh in on a cast of characters that makes Dr. John Gray’s book “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” seem like a historically accurate account of civilization as we know it.

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While it’s obvious many of the contestants know they couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket and only try out for the show for their “15 seconds of fame” (sorry Andy), what amazes me most is that many of the contestants really do think they have talent.

Take for instance the contestant whose hair would have made Rapunzel jealous but who had a singing voice that would make fingernails on a chalkboard sound appealing. Then there was Brandy, who, after singing the worst version of the Madonna tune “Like a Virgin” that has ever been performed on television while doing some interesting gyrations, blamed her vicious vocals on a problem with the floor in the audition room.

There was also the contestant who said her nickname was “the hotness,” because, she said, of her good looks.

Let’s just say her singing was a good as her looks and her singing was awful.

“American Idol” has been a sensation since it hit the airwaves in 2001 and has been a boom for the Fox Network, which scored its biggest night of primetime entertainment since it came on the air nearly two decades ago.

According to Nielsen Media Research, this year’s two-hour premier captured more than 37 million viewers and achieved double digit percentage gains over last year’s premier.

To put the numbers into perspective, the most popular show on TV so far this season, ABC’s “Desperate Housewives,” averages 20.7 million viewers a week – or a little more than half of what “Idol” delivered with this year’s cavalcade of the weird and wild.

I’ve read recently where some watchers feel as though Randy, Paula and Simon have been unusually cruel in their remarks to contestants this year, but I agree with Cowell who was quoted as saying “If

you don’t want to hear that, don’t show up.”

I will admit that there are times when I think Cowell has crossed the line, such as when he characterized a young man with bulging eyes as a “bush baby,” leading to a backlash (rightfully so) from the press and an appearance on the “Today” show by the young man and his friend, Jonathan Jayne, who took some heat from the judges after singing his rendition of “God Bless America.”

The New York Times later reported that Jayne said he had appeared in the Special Olympics, an event for the mentally challenged, to which an Idol producer responded by saying it wasn’t possible to look into all the backgrounds of the contestants.

So hopefully the courthouse won’t catch fire Tuesday at 7 p.m. because I’ll be glued to the tube watching the “Idol herd” be thinned a bit more.

By the way, if the courthouse does catch fire, don’t fret; I’ve already set my DVR to record it.

Dennis Palmer is publisher of The Selma Times-Journal. He can be reached at 410-1712 or by email: .