In the past ten years, American Idol has gone from a glorified karaoke competition to a weekly spectacle that continues to rival Lady Gaga’s Monster Ball tour. I turned to Cutting Edge alum and Idol season one runner-up Justin Guarini for some expert insight into the evolution of Fox’s search for a superstar.
Syd: What would you consider to be the biggest changes that Idol has undergone over the past ten years?
Justin: The biggest change (and most obvious) is the production value. The basic principal has stayed the same. The show finds amazing singers from “Anytown, USA,” puts them through the toughest test of their entertainment lives, and lets America choose who it feels is the very best. The bells and whistles have all been placed around that over the years. For example, there is now a bigger stage with more lights, a huge orchestra, iTunes downloads of the contestants’ latest performance, bigger and longer national tours, and the new judges. But the beauty for me will always be that the show doesn’t work without the talent and the perseverance of the performers who give their all week in and week out.
Syd: What is the effect of this change?
Justin: Ha! More for the kids to do each week! Seriously, they work like mad doing interviews, recordings for iTunes, learning multiple songs, and flying around here and there. It was crazy my year. Now, it’s just insane. But they manage to make it work, and I’m amazed by them.
Syd: Do you miss any aspects of the show that have been changed since season one?
Justin: I love how [the format] has grown and changed; however, I miss the impact that the first season had on everyone from the performers to people all over the world who got to be a part of it’s magic.
So there you go. According to Cutting Edge’s resident expert, the show’s increased production value has created the American Idol with which we are familiar today. What do you think have been some of the major changes to the Idol format since season one? Do you miss the simplicity of Idol at its beginning or prefer the extravaganza and celebrity mentors that flow across our television screens on Wednesday and Thursday nights?
Thank you to Justin for taking the time to answer my questions.