This morning, Fox announced that American Idol will end in 2016 after it's 15th season. I know most of the reactions are "Thank God" and "that show is still on?". As a dedicated fan of the show, I'm sad about the news, but I also must admit that I pretty much share your sentiments. It's time. Ratings are low, energy is drained...the format this past season was all kinds of wrong. So yes, it's time.
But I will defend this show to the grave. Maybe there hasn't been another Kelly or Carrie. Maybe we won't get someone who will sell out stadium shows and break records on the charts. But what this show has given me, and countless others, is so much more than that.
First, the music. While Kelly Clarkson is the Queen, and one of my favorite artists of all time, my ITunes is full of talented musicians whom I discovered on Idol. Sure, YOU may not know their name. You may not know their songs. But does that mean they are not talented? Just because you don't know who they are? No, it doesn't mean that. I could list dozens of artists that I want you to listen too-it would be enough blog posts for months. I would just encourage you to try a few. Idol opened my eyes to different types of music, to songwriting, to taking risks. I am so thankful that this show led me to listening to really great music.
The next gift Idol gave me is the experiences. From watch parties at my house to Idol tour, I have so many memories that I wouldn't have had without the show. American Idol has been a huge part of my life, ever since I was a sophomore in high school. Some of the best times of my life relate back to Idol. Like the time I saw former contestants perform in concert IN THE MOUNTAINS. Or the time Jordin Sparks presented my cousin with a humanitarian award. Or the time Mandisa inspired me to start my weight loss journey. Cuz yeah, that's pretty important. How lucky am I that a TV show led to such great experiences? And led me to the person who I am today?
And most importantly, those experiences brought me friendships- the most precious gift I have been given through American Idol. I cannot write this post without acknowledging my friendship with Sam. Although Idol is not how we met and it is not the only thing that connects us, it was a big part of our friendship. Most of my experiences involved having Sam right by my side. It was something we could bond over, and something we both loved so much that it made the experiences more fun. But along with strengthening my friendship with Sam, I am so lucky that I have made new friends because of this show. Mostly, people I met at different tour stops. Some of those people are still my closest friends. I just said "yes" to a Girls Weekend in Northern Michigan with some of those friends. They are real, true friends that I never would have met had it not been for American Idol.
There are a very special group of people that I absolutely cannot ignore- the Backups. You see, one of the best "experiences" was meeting Melinda Doolittle. Through her, I was connected with her fanbase, known as The Backups. Those people- those sweet, sweet people, are the people that carried me through my early 20's. I needed them- and they swooped in just in time. For so many years of my life, I considered them my second family. I told them everything, and they guided me through each bump in the road. They helped build a confidence in me, they believed in me and they challenged me. We aren't as close as we used to be- time and distance will do that. But there is nothing, and I mean nothing, that will ever take away how much they mean to me.
I am also blessed that I can call Melinda a friend. She is the most genuine, compassionate person I know. When I was 19, she was my role model. I admired her faith, her strength and her heart. I prayed and prayed that one day I would be like her. I've learned now that I don't need to be like anyone, that I can just be me. But that doesn't take away from my admiration for Melinda. She remains one of my biggest inspirations. There just aren't many people on this earth that are like her. And I get to call her a friend.
So you see, maybe it is "about time" and maybe the show did "run it's course". But I am proud that I was even on that course. I will remember this show for as long as I live. I will hold the memories close, and the people even closer. It's not just a show. It's not about ratings or sales. It's about the life that I lived because of it. It's about how I starting writing because I knew that Kelly Clarkson wrote songs and I wanted to do that, too. It's about how I fell in love with the Beatles when the Season 7 kids sang the songs so beautifully. It's about how young kids who never would have had a shot had a few moments of fame. It's about how many lives have been touched, how many stories have been shared, and how much music has been put out into the world.
And let's, for just a second, remember what this show has done for the contestants who have been on it. I guarantee you that any of them, whether they were in the top 24 or they won the show, would say that Idol changed their life for the better. It exposed them, it brought them their own crazy unique experiences and it gave them a voice. How cool is that? Even if they aren't doing music anymore or they didn't get a big break, I have no doubt that the show made a positive impact on their life.
PS: I have created a Spotify playlist just for you guys :)