Does American Idol Have A “White Guy” PR Problem?

Written by Brad Phillips @MrMediaTraining on May 23, 2012 – 10:01 PM

The past five winners of American Idol – including tonight’s winner, Phillip Phillips – all have something in common. They’re all white males.

You’d have to go back five years to find a winner who wasn’t. Since Jordin Sparks took the title in 2007, the winners have all been white guys: David Cook, Kris Allen, Lee DeWyze, Scotty McCreery, and Phillip Phillips.

I have no objection to Idol voters selecting white men as the winners. But I do have a problem with a program that consistently slights superior singers for ones who appeal to the 10-15-year-old female demographic. As a result, the winners are now predictably always “aw shucks” nice guy white male contestants. 

And that creates a PR problem for Idol.

Philip Phillips, winner of this season's American Idol

No one who watched this season can credibly argue that Philip Phillips was the best vocalist. R&B crooner Joshua Ledet, a church-tinged singer who consistently provided a “wow” factor, finished third. That’s like James Brown, Otis Redding, or Sam Cooke finishing third to Huey Lewis, Dave Matthews, or Rob Thomas. They’re all good singers, but the first group of three is in a different league.

The below video is of Phillips singing Time of the Season. Listen to that falsetto and tell me he deserved to be named the best undiscovered singer in the United States.

 

If Idol results were based on merit, Joshua Ledet wouldn’t have been eliminated before Philip Phillips. Here’s his masterful performance of James Browns’ It’s a Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World.

American Idol’s judges regularly proclaim that their show is, first and foremost, a “singing competition.” The facts don’t bear out their claim. And I’d maintain that the show’s slipping ratings are, in part, a result of the voters’ obvious slant, which renders the show completely predictable.

What can Idol do to give singers who don’t meet the “guitar-playing cute white male with stubble demo” a fighting chance? Here are three ideas:

1. Change The Voting Formula: I suspect that as the show has aged, it’s viewing demographic has narrowed. (As an example, I almost never see the 2,200+ people I follow on Twitter discussing results). Idol can use the same voting formula that The Voice uses; the public gets a 50 percent share of the vote, and the judges get another 50 percent.

2. The Judges Can…Well, Judge: The judges – Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez, and Steven Tyler – are nice. Too nice. By complimenting even mediocre performances and pairing critical feedback with undeserved praise, the viewing audience isn’t able to use the judge’s reactions as a voting guide. They should offer unsparing feedback, audience boos and hurt feelings be damned.

3. More Jimmy Iovine, Please: Idol mentor Jimmy Iovine is a legendary music producer who has worked with Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty and U2. He tells contestants exactly what he thinks. The problem? Idol doesn’t air his comments until after the voting concludes. They should air his comments before the voting begins so he can help influence voters.

What do you think? Do you agree with my analysis? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Comments (89)

  1. By Raj:

    I totally agree. I think the show has outlived its purpose. It is so poorly representative of the diversity of culture and true talent that exist in this country. It has now become a insult for any other gender, or race to even watch or support this facre of a talent show. Other shows of its kind has surpassed them by leaps and bounds the Voice, Americas Got Talent and the X Factor jhas been able to still pick winners based on talent. I will never watchh AI again. I’d rather read a book.

  2. By HappyListener50:

    I agree. I am done with American Idol. It has become so predictable.

  3. By Colleen:

    Its called American idol not America’s best singer , obviously more people idolized Phillip. Jimmy Iovine loved Phillip and I’ll bet he’d rather produce him. Why compare Phillip to Huey Lewis , why not Springsteen or Tom Petty, they’re white males too, who write their own music and play guitar! The ultimate goal is to sell music and those young girls buy it! Jessica is a great singer but I find her music boring and lacking creativity. Being a good singer isn’t the only criteria for selling songs! Philip has nothing in common with Allen and Cook other than race and playing a guitar! And Scotty McCreery has sold loads of records There is no obligation for Idol to be multicultural that’s called social engineering, it’s a lucky dip! Look at America’s present day idols’ in music, Lady Gaga, Rhianna, Beyonce, Jay z ,J Lo etc ,they’re not white men with guitars. No problem then!

  4. By CB:

    I agree 100%. I think the final 3 should have been Jessica Sanchez, Joshua Ledet and Colton Dixon. Any of them are heads and tails above Phillip. He’s good but his voice and they way he sings in “half” tones, sounds like nails on a chalkboard to me. It always sounds like he is just missing the notes by a little bit, if that makes sense. I could never listen to an entire cd of that.

    The judges need to be more like Simon Cowell and be honest with everyone. I think it has run its course.

  5. By Brad Phillips:

    Colleen –

    Thanks for your comment. I disagree with you that Philip has “nothing in common” with Allen and Cook (and DeWyze, for that matter). They’re all good looking white guys who are singer-songwriters that play the guitar. Nor does your evidence that non-white pop stars exist in the universe have anything to do with the way Idol selects its winners.

    You’re right that Idol has no obligation to be “multicultural.” But that decision comes at a cost. According to the ratings, Idol’s Tuesday night finale show was down five million viewers from last year’s finale. To be sure, that has to do with competition from The Voice and X Factor, but I’d argue it also has to do with how predictable the show has become.

    If patterns hold, viewers can save themselves time next year by just picking the cutest white guy who makes it to the top 24. Odds are, that’ll be next year’s winner.

    Thanks for writing,
    Brad

  6. By Brad Phillips:

    CB,

    I agree with you – Simon Cowell is badly missed. And I also agree with you regarding Phillips’ “half tones.” He’s a talented guy, but not the most talented guy on that show by a long shot. But since the tweens thought he was cute, he’s this year’s Idol.

    Thanks for commenting,
    Brad

  7. By Raj:

    Where is Taylor Hicks, Lee Dewyze, or Chris Allen or David Cook! since America also thought they would sell records.

  8. By HappyListener50:

    American Idol, titled American Idol: The Search for a Superstar for the first season, is a reality television singing competition created by Simon Fuller and produced by FremantleMedia North America and 19 Entertainment. It began airing on Fox on June 11, 2002, as an addition to the Idol franchise based on the UK show Pop Idol, and became one of the most popular shows in the history of American television. As of 2011, it was the most watched TV series in the Nielsen ratings and the only program to have been number one for eight consecutive seasons.[1]

    Copied directly from the American Idol website. It clearly states American Idol is a reality television singing competition.

  9. By Brad Phillips:

    Raj,

    Great point. And which winners did sell records? Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, and Jordin Sparks. In fairness, Daughtry did pretty well, too.

    Thanks,
    Brad

  10. By Henry:

    @Colleen

    And you just contradicted yourself Colleen. Not one of those white men with guitars have been able to compete with Rhihanna, Beyonce, Jay Z, J Lo, etc, huh? They’re all forgotten just like Phillip will be.

  11. By Raj:

    Thanks Brad and great point Daughtry and Adam Lambert definitely deserved the title. So even when they do pick white males they still lean more to the safe boy next door middle American type. I actually liked Scotty but again after three season of the same type before him you become jaded and frustrated.

  12. By Colleen:

    Henry , I personally don’t give a hoot who won ,’coz I’d buy my choices’ recording wether they won or not. I didn’t even vote, I’m in Australia . So go and buy Jessica’s songs and make her the idol you think she deserved to be. I said luck was involved and not everyone in the world likes mainstream music (Jessica). In Australia we’ve had numerous multi-cultural winners on ‘Idol’. We vote for whoever covers our idea of an idol. We all have different tastes and when your pick doesn’t win don’t over analyze it, accept it. Don’t immediately play the race card, that’s all I’m saying. By the way my husband and kids are Eurasian ,and they couldn’t stand Jessica. We all loved Phillip , Skyler and Joshua ( but he has to make music relevant to today, not 60’s and 70’s rehash, to appeal to younger voter profile). And who the heck says allen and cook are good looking ?!

  13. By mary:

    Come on PPL its not about being white, lets not make it about that. Thats not what we are about. Its simple: the person who is most talented has a best chance of winning because more ppl will vote for them. That’s it.

  14. By Colleen:

    Sorry I didn’t actually adress Henry’s comment. Those superstars are proof that you don’t have to be a white male to grab attention and sell music in America. Also Jessica was lacking public support ages ago when the judges saved her, so her placing is not a surprise.

  15. By Courtney B:

    My God, THANK YOU for posting this article. I was going freakin crazy over here thoroughly irritated that once again, as I predicted months ago, another dreamy looking white guy won. I was seriously over here wondering if I’m the only one who finds this pattern to be getting absurd, bordering on offensive. Half a decade of idols who all look the same!? C’mon!!…And even before all these guys started winning, remember Jordin Sparks almost lost to that weird beat-boxing white dude named Blake (i think) who again was cute, but clearly under-qualified.

    What’s happened these past five years would be understandable if the winners were the best each season had to offer. But other than Scotty McCreary (who had such a unique voice it was ridiculous)and perhaps David Cook (who was fairly creative), the other winners have beat out contenders who were CLEARLY more qualified. Even Kris Allen looked shocked when he found out he beat Adam Lambert. Basically, if you’re gay or a person of color…good fucking luck winning, seriously. And if you do win, they’ll probably say you didn’t deserve it (i.e. Ruben Studdard). Hell, if you just look at the lineup of what girls made it this year, you’d be hard pressed to find diversity past Jessica Sanchez.

    I don’t know what’s going on with this show, but the formula they’re using needs fixing…quick. It’s almost not worth watching when who is selected to compete and who ultimately wins is a reflection of who white teenage girls and mid-aged women think are cute rather than who is the most talented. And also, those judges should stop giving credit where it isn’t due. I swear, they were so arbitrary with who did and didn’t get standing ovations. (i.e. to not stand when Jessica sang “the Prayer” – amazing, but stood when Phil sang that mediocre song after…WTF)

    Anywho…Thank God for X-Factor!

  16. By angel:

    I think Joshua Ledet should have won the whole thing, hands down, with Jessica a close second. I agree with you Brad that AI is turning into a show that favors nice, safe white guys with guitars. David Cook is my fave of the bunch, but even he seems like a watered down version of Eddie Vedder to me. Adam Lambert shoulda won over Kris Allen. That pretty much got me disillusioned with AI and I never recovered. I like your idea to have the judges vote 50/50 with America. Of course, you gotta have some judges who are willing to be more honest in their critiques and who can vote fairly.

  17. By CB:

    Any thoughts on Jessica lip-syncing I Will Always Love You. People say it was reverb. I don’t believe it was. Others say it was her back up singers’ powerful voices. If that’s the case and they are doing her powerful notes, that’s sad too. What do you think? Her mic was completely away from her, nothing else in the song had noticeable reverb, yet those notes couldn’t have continued without her mouth to the mic. Hmmm…any thoughts? I love her voice, I think it’s beautiful but auto-tune should not be allowed at all either. Win or lose on your natural talent.

  18. By gaboy:

    As someone pointed out, it is called American Idol and not American Best Vocalist. If you judged it on that then Hollie or Colton would probably win. America got this one right whether you like it or not. This young man is still a raw talent, the other guys have been doing this for most of their life and he only began learning 3 years ago. Give me someone like Philip over screamers like Joshua “Mantasia” Ledet(and last nights duo with Fantasia”TRAIN WRECK DIVA”Barrino proved that). Jessica has no soul in her singing yet, too young, sheltered and pampered. And I like Huey Lewis, Rob Thomas, Dave Matthews, Gavin DeGraw, etc., just like a John Legend, Usher, Lionel Ritchie, Seal… you see where I am going. CONGRATS PHILIP PHILLIPS!!! GO GEORGIA!!!!

  19. By Brad Phillips:

    All:

    Great comments – thank you for reading and commenting.

    Gaboy – You’re right that this is called “American Idol,” and may not be judged solely by who is the best vocalist. That, too, reinforces my main point: If this is a popularity contest, it’s troubling that only white guys with guitars can be considered “most popular.”

    Courtney – I forgot completely about Blake! Had he finished in first place instead of second, we would have had seven straight years of white guys. And although Blake had some talent, there’s no way he deserved to finish second.

    Colleen – Regarding your comment, “Don’t immediately play the race card.” First, I agree with you. I don’t think five years of data is an “immediate” reaction – if anything, I think it’s rather slow. Second, I don’t agree that discussing this issue is playing a “race card.” Scientifically speaking, we have a set of data. I’ve posited a hypothesis about what that data set means. You’re free to disagree, but I am somewhat confident that my hypothesis has been proven/will continue to be proven true.

    Keep the comments coming!
    Brad

  20. By Melissa Faulkner:

    You are certainly entitled to your opinion but so is the rest of America. An artist’s persona on stage, as well as their performance originality is as important as a BIG voice.

    Joshua and Jessica were very predictable, imitating the greats. Also a person can get tired of a vibrato at the end of ever chorus.

    Phillip Phillips has more to offer than the big voice and I for one think he will find his own audience/ and have success as an ORIGINAL artist. I plan to down load all his music.

  21. By Demi:

    I have to say it has nothing to do with “white guy with guitar” and more to do with who is the ARTIST! I’m not a young girl giggling over a cute boy. I’m 36 and am drawn to a person who is an artist. Jessica and Joshua did in fact have amazing vocal cababilities, however the only thing they can do is sing. They have to be told what to sing and how to sing it. I think we have too many artists like that out there already. What moves me in music is a persons heart an sould put out in their lyric and their presentation of a song. Music needs to be felt not just sung. Philp put his soul into his music and is a true artist. Its about time America picked an artist and not another musical drone.

  22. By sam p:

    America votes and the winner is the winner. What a bunch of babies you people are. Vote.

  23. By Dennis Suarez:

    American Idol has a lot of work to do in revamping on how its winner is chosen. The only reason that Phillip won is so obvious. He is a young good looking white man period. I am not saying that the young man does not have a lot of talent. However, if compared to either Josh, Jessica, or for that matter, some of the other top 12, come on, he couldn’t shine their shoes. Phillip should have possibly ended up in the top 12 if that. So what happened? It’s so obvious. Of the 132 million votes cast I would bet my house that 131 million where white women of all age groups. Last year Scotty won. Am I saying that the same type of vote was the determining factor? Yes, yes, yes. However, with one BIG difference, Scotty could sing!!! Last time I checked I think this is supposed to be a singing competition. Yes, stage presence, showmanship, and delivery are also parts of the final equation. Can anyone out there honestly tell me that either Josh or Jessica fell short in that area? I don’t think so. So what needs to be done? In some way American Idol has to figure out how to limit the influence that this one segment of the voting public (white women) has on the final winner, winners. As the process moves along with the voting being done by the judges only, for the most part I believe they get it right. But once the public voting comes into play it all starts going downhill and becomes a popularity contest only. As for me, starting next year I will watch until they reach the top 10 or so. After that point, the public voting completely takes over and the show becomes what I stated above, a complete joke!!!

  24. By Yodi:

    I agree with you. The final should have been Joshua, Jessica or Skylar. I don´t see Phillip Phillips as the great singer they tried to sell to the audience. I´ve always found his performance, so boring.

    Simon Cowell, please come back. American Idol needs a real judge.

  25. By Vic Kolenc:

    American Idol lost its glitter long ago. I agree, the best singer often does not win. But I rarely watch the show anymore. I happened to catch parts of last night’s show and the night before. Runner-up Jessica Sanchez was easily a better singer than Phillip Phillips. But does it really matter? I will guess Sanchez will go much further than Phillips. Several finalists have done better than the actual winner.Daughtry is the best example.

  26. By Raj:

    To Demi let’s see what becomes of Philip’s artistry in a year! For, like I said previously they have supposedly picked Artists for the past five seasons what are the doing now!

  27. By Angelo:

    American Idol is doomed to shut down soon! Possible fixes: 1) Get competent, fair and candid judges; 2) limit text-voting to 50 votes per cell phone number just like online/Facebook voting; 3) have judges score contestants and assign 50% weight; public votes should count 50%.

    BY THE WAY: auditions for American Idol Season 12 begins next month. THEY ARE LOOKING FOR CUTE WHITE GUYS WITH GUITARS. Great singers who are females or are non-whites are strongly discouraged to apply!

    SOLUTION: STOP SUPPORTING AND WATCHING AMERICAN IDOL. START WATCHING MORE CREDIBLE SHOWS, e.g. The Voice, X-Factor!

  28. By Jim Maddux:

    Spot on! The further injustice is easily seen by comparing what all these “nice young white guys” have done by way of CD sales by comparison with the few female winners. Carrie Underwood has outsold the guys all put together, as has Kelly Clarkson. That’s because they didn’t win on the basis of femme teeny-boppers speed-dialing their little pink cell phones. The viewer market share for Idol was off by one-third for this season’s finale. Guess who tuned out? It was the advertiser-coveted 18-49 age group. Please, send your piece to Ken Warwick and post it on the idol sight.

  29. By Helen:

    Thank you so much for writing this article. I totally agree with your comments. I actually thought that Phillip would have been voted off even before Hollywood week. I, like many others (from what I’ve been reading on various message boards) kept leaving the room any time that he sang simply because I couldn’t stand listening to his voice (and I enjoy all kinds of music – just not his music). Every week, I was sure that he was going to be gone, and then “poof”, he’s still there! I think (no, I know) that this will be my last year of watching Idol. There’s just nothing fair about it. He’s a nice, sweet guy and all; just not that talented. There were many others there who were just more deserving. It also seemed to me (and my husband), right from the very beginning, that the judges had already made up their minds that he was going to be the Idol winner. You could see it in the way that they overly praised his performances, even if they were somewhat lackluster and boring. And then, surprise, surprise, what do you know! He wins. I think that was the plan all along.

  30. By Win:

    I think you all are thinking too much. I think that this guy is mega-talented… He has a wonderful sound that is quite unique. He will be a hit big time.

    Joshua has vocals, and theatrics and he will find his own audience. His music does not appeal to me.

    And as good as Jessica was too, her style not mine. I think many who listened saw in Philip an artist.

    He was fun to watch and every performance was original.

  31. By Brad Phillips:

    To those of you who like Philip Phillips (and I did too, although I didn’t think he deserved the title), I respect your opinion. But remember that this article isn’t about him solely – it’s about a string of white guys who keep winning the show, and not necessarily because of talent. Was Lee DeWyze really the most talented in his season? Did Blake Lewis really deserve a second place finish?

    The only thing I’m really confused about is those of you who call Philip Phillips “original.” To me, Phillips is a Dave Matthews clone, even imitating the way Matthews holds his guitar, grimaces, and grunts. And his winning song sounds like it was stolen off of a Mumford and Sons album. I really like the DMB and Mumford sounds – but calling Phillips original for using them seems to me to be a stretch.

    Thanks for your comments. Keep ’em coming!
    Brad

  32. By HappyListener50:

    I agree. Phillip Phillips’ winning song sounds the same as “Home”, written and performed by Greg Holden. No originality or artistry as fans proclaim.

  33. By Raj:

    Whether you like the winners or not the problem is in a country as diverse as America 5 white guys winning this title 5 seasons in a row definitely shows that something is wrong.

    Sorry but I don’t believe that white guys are the only talent this country has to offer. And it should’ve been Josh, Skylar and Jessica. That’s America. Great Memorial weekend everyone.

  34. By HappyListener50:

    FYI, I just tried to buy Jessica Sanchez’s album off iTunes and it didn’t work, then I tried to buy her song Dance With My Father and it is unavailable. This is why her sales are lagging behind Phillip Phillips.

  35. By oldtimer:

    This is the first white guy I thought would win. He is different. Jessica and Josh are a dime a dozen, you can find them in any church choir. What i liked about Philip is the same as what people were saving about the Allman Brothers. There sound is different. Philip took songs and made them sound different than the original. You could close your eyes when Jessica sang and you could almost see the original singer singing.

  36. By HappyListener50:

    Yeah, when I close my eyes and listen to Phillip’s song “Home”, I hear Greg Holden. No originality and certainly, not unique.

  37. By Mary:

    Well, David Cook did sell records…his coronation single “Time of My Life” is still the best selling single from an AI winner, and his first album went platinum. I think the lack of sales for his second record were due in much part to RCA’s handling of his singles from the first album and failure to keep him in the limelight while he worked on his second album. The winners also often get much pressure to fit into the “pop” mold and aren’t allowed the creativity and independence to write and create their own style of music, which might be more memorable than what is released. Even though “Home” is a good song, PP is saying it’s not “him.” TOML was definitely not David Cook, but it unfortunately slotted him into the public’s mind as a “pop” artist. I’ve never been a fan of AI…just like some of the artists who have come out of it. I think Kelly has done well because she fits so well into today’s current pop model, and Carrie because of her amazing talent but also her looks and being part of the Country world. Certainly Jennifer Hudson has had tons of success, and Jordin Sparks has done well too. But I agree with your recommendations for changing up the formula, especially the voting system. And since Simon left there is a complete lack of proper critique on the show.

  38. By HappyListener50:

    FYI, I just tried to buy Colton Dixon’s song “Everything” off iTunes and it worked. I now have “Everything” downloaded into my iPhone and yet when I tried to buy Jessica Sanchez’s Album, it did not work and each of her sings I tried to buy is no longer available. There is something wrong there. It is definitely the reason Jessica’s sales are lagging behind Phillip Phillips.

  39. By Raj:

    Thank you Happylistener,
    That says a heck of lot.

  40. By Ryan:

    Phil Phillip hatera need to get a life. I am a 34 year old, white male and I picked Phillips to win when I saw him audition, not because of his ethnicity, but his creativeness and talent. His duets with Elise were the best of the entire season. Then you put him with Joshua and Phil blows him away, all the while Joshua acts like a homophobe the entire time when he is the gayest contestant since Adam Lambert. I enjoyed the entire season and feel the overall talent was leaps and bounds above other seasons. Praise all of the contestants for a job well done and spectactular performances for us to enjoy. There were no losers this season and a majority of the top 12 will have albums and sell tons of records. As for those who feel that “The Voice” contestants hold any water to Idol have to be completely tone deaf. The talent level is not even worth comparing. Congatulations Idol for keeping me craving Wednesday evenings and thank you Phil Phillips for staying true to the artist you want to be. Sounding a little bit like Dave Matthews will not do you wrong. There are a lot of us Dave fans out here that can’t wait to buy a ticket to your concert when you head out on tour!!!

  41. By Raj:

    Well it is no wonder you picked him. Good for you! But questioning someone’s sexuality has nothing to do with his singing ability does it? That entire comment about Joshua sexuality is both unnecessary and still doesn’t change the fact that Joshua could out sing Philips and all the other previous 4 winners in his sleep. JMHO

  42. By Brad Phillips:

    Raj,

    I agree with you. Speculating about a contestant’s sexuality is gratuitous and unnecessary.

    Thanks for commenting,
    Brad

  43. By barbara:

    I didn’t read all of the comments, but the ones I did read, were not in philips favor. I totally disagree. I thought he was definitely special, when I saw his audition. Obiviously, millions have thought the same thing. I am a woman of color, of sufficient age, and have listened to all genres of music. I feel, much of the time, I can see a star. My feeling is that, he is not going to fade away, and will have an impact in the music industry. It’s just an educated guess. Philip has the whole package. Josh too churchy, and needed to bring it up to this decade. Jess’s downfall was too many big songs, and it became a snore after a while and it was just a good strong voice to me. I can only take that growling for song long. You knew exactly what she would sound like every single time, and the songs were too old for her. To whom it may concern. do not be so hung up on color. I am so tired of hearing that, its so whiny. There have been people of color that have won, and I didn’t think they should have. Fantasia for instance, with that helium filled voice. Horrible!!! I don’t her, on my radio.

  44. By Brad Phillips:

    Barbara,

    Thank you for your comment. Please keep in mind that this story is bigger than Philip Phillips — it’s about five straight winners who all look essentially the same. I find it hard to believe that the same defense you’ve mounted for Philip Phillips also applies to Lee DeWyze or Kris Allen, for example.

    Thanks for writing, and best wishes,
    Brad

  45. By barbara:

    Raj, I don’t know if you were listening, but how many times did you hear the judges, say it isn’t all about the voice. How many times? Did you, leave the room to get snacks, or use the rest room? JEEZ!

  46. By barbara:

    No, I do not feel that way, about chris, and lee. Just because what I said about color, doesn’t mean that it is not a problem in different situations. I do not believe that, in this particular show. Do you remember Randys’ comments, and he has worked with the best of them. Also, it is America voiting. Fantasia was chosen, Ruben was chosen, and I certainly do not think, that all the voters were black. It’s an appeal to the masses. As strong as the people we are talking about, they did not appeal to me. I would never buy a cd or see Jess on tour. I don’t like, or defend people because of there color. My likes and dislikes are based on much more important things. I think that people who do that, have a chip on their shoulder, are closed minded, and do them selves a great disservice. I appreciate your communication,
    Barbara

  47. By barbara:

    One more thing. We are not tryng to reach a quota here.

  48. By Brad Phillips:

    Barbara,

    I also appreciate your respectful comments and am glad you stopped by the blog!

    You’re right that people of color have won the show before. In fact, for five of the first six seasons, the winners were either African American or women. But for the past five years, all of the winners have been white men. I think it’s reasonable to ask whether or not that has to do with the shifting demographics of the show’s viewership – and whether or not women or people of color still have a reasonable chance of winning the show. Based on the past five years, I’ve become skeptical.

    Thanks again,
    Brad

  49. By Raj:

    To Barbara,

    First of all whether your a woman of color or not really doesn’t matter when all along we have stated the problem is a very obvious lack of diversity that AI has elected to take in the 5 past choices of winners.

    I could care less how much you love Philips, for the problem is much bigger than that, as Brad has stated. Also your comments about snacks is very juvenile, when of course its clear to me and a lot of other folks that the competition is not about voices. Don’t need the judges to tell me that.

    Also whether you, as a woman of color, like Fantasia or not does not change the fact that a person of color and woman, have very little chance of winning AI. That’s the issue at hand.

  50. By Raj:

    To Barbara,

    I can’t speak for the rest of the people on this board, but I have lived and always live a very broad and diverse life. I have travelled extensively, and have lived aboard as a professional singer and model. So I’m far from close minded.

    But we have a right to voice what is obviously a flawed system. I do have a choice and I will exercise my right not to watch AI again. But don’t insult or assume to know the type of individuals who are choosing to exercise there right to free speech.

  51. By barbara:

    I am so sorry you thought, the snack comment was juvenile. Its just my sarcastic sense of humor. I will try my best, to restrain myself.

  52. By Raj:

    It’s cool we are all just exercising our right to free speech. Loved your challenging banter though.

  53. By barbara:

    Raj, I just don not believe that a woman of color has little chance of winning on AI. I don’t think, I can be convinced of that. You mentioned demographics. Its all about who is voting. Yes, philip is male. Yes, philip is white.Yes, he is adorable.Yes philip strums a guitar, say aw-shucks and golly, so he will get all votes of people that like that sort of thing. Also, philip in many minds has great artistry. I see earthiness, humility, good values, he is mannerly, and genuine. And we know we are not going to get anything from him that is not true. I see that every note he sings or strums, pushes out of his pores, from every cell of his body, and reaches his audience on a cellular level. People that like all of those things, will vote for him also. That is at the very least, so, so many people. You see what I mean? I didn’t really connect with any of the others that way. Although, one person was on their little way and got voted off. I am curious to know, how many votes he won by. I have a feeling he slaughtered her in votes. Does anyone know. I think it may have slipped out of someone mouth, on the today show. I don’t really know, though

  54. By barbara:

    Raj, just read your comments, Did I insult you? I need to read back and see. Believe me, I did not mean to. I know though, that I used an expression,”Chip on ones shoulder,” and I was sorry that I said that. Is that what it is. I really don’t like that expression.

  55. By barbara:

    I am all about excercising free speech in an appropriate way. I cherish the day when I found my voice.

  56. By Brad Phillips:

    Barbara,

    Thank you for your concern about your previous comments, but I think all is peaceful here again, so no need to worry. I appreciate hearing your perspective on the blog (and Raj’s) – the debate the two of you are having is a microcosm of the debate many people around the country are having about the same topic.

    Please feel free to continue weighing in!

    Best wishes,
    Brad

  57. By barbara:

    Raj, I always say, traveling is the best education. Someone commented to me once, that they have traveled all over the world and have met kings and bums. Then he said to me, (“you know what, I liked the bums better.) The program I am not going to watch is The Voice,” if they keep Christine A.on board. Now I am getting tangential. So much, enjoyed our discussion.

  58. By barbara:

    Hi brad. Thanks for accepting my apology. I am wondering though, if the past 4/5 winners had been people of color would you have been feeling the same about the winners all looking the same?

  59. By barbara:

    I wish I had found this site while the show was airing. I had so much to say, and found few with little time to discuss. I just get so excited and passionate about these things. Thank you

  60. By Raj:

    Hey Barbara,

    I definitely agree with you about the voice with Christine A. But what can you do. I do respect and appreciate your apology and your opinion. I for example loved Scotty and really thought he was going far. But this industry is so fickle.

    I guess I’m just a little jaded by the same type and I just overlook the fact that a few of these guys are really talented.

    But like I said that’s why these sites are great for airing our diverse views. Thanks Brad and again Barbara we are ok, you have strong opinions like me.

  61. By Raj:

    Hey Barbara,

    I agree with you about Christina A and the voice. But what can we do. Yet I appreciate and respect your apologies. But this is why these sites and blogs are great because we can express our diverse views.

    I also loved Scotty and thought he would go far, but this is a fickle industry. I have become so jaded by these past winners that I have really overlooked the fact that they were a few good singers.

    I love your strong opinions Barbara and I thank Brad for this site. We need to be able to express our different views. Thanks again and we are ok, great observations.

  62. By barbara:

    I know idol has been long over, and I am behind the eight ball a little, but I just wanted to make a comment regarding Josh. When he sang “It’s a mans world,” I held my breath. That’s when happens to me, when something captures me. That was amazing. As I said, he just needs to, get the right songs and bring it up to this decade. He will be great and refreshing. We need a new old school. Is anyone watching duets?

  63. By Raj:

    Yes I was but turned to Americas Got Talent and taping the rest of duets.

    Not sure about duets yet. Have to give it a chance.

  64. By Raj:

    Excuse the double posts my internet is acting crazy!

  65. By HappyListener50:

    Barbara, American Idol recently released the voting results and they were actually very close. Phillip had received 50.03% of the votes and Jessica received 49.97%.

  66. By Brad Phillips:

    Barbara,

    To be honest, I’m not sure how I would feel. In our media training workshops, I always teach people not to answer questions that call for speculation – unless I knew all of the facts, it would be tough to know how I’d react. But I understand the premise of your question, and acknowledge that you’re raising a legitimate point.

    Thanks,
    Brad

  67. By Dorvell:

    Simon needs to come back, plane and simple! Yeah he was brutal at times, but at least he was honest!

    I love to sing, but this is one of the many reasons I will never try out for American Idol despite being told I should more than once.

  68. By Raj:

    To Dorvell,

    I truly understand where you are coming from, but please don’t let anyone stop your dreams.

    Even if this is happening any exposure is better than none. And with boards like this you never know what will happen next year. Anyway if you feel you have the talent go for if. You never know.

  69. By Pierre:

    You just cannot stand that things are fare. It is called American Idol for a reason. It is for the Americanic public to vote for the best. You remind of some screaming butt liberal that thinks everybody should be the same. Get the same pay, get the same amount food, get the same amount of points in a game, hell lets all get the same wife, then we can have that coombaya orgy that all you screaming butt libs want for the world. What, does it piss you off that a white guy with a guitar can perform better than, what was it, a couple hundred thousand that tried out for the competition. Yoy just can’t handle the truth. You bunch of Drunks

  70. By Brad Phillips:

    Pierre,

    I typically don’t post comments like yours, since it violates this blog’s “no jerks allowed” policy. (It’s here, in case you’re interested: http://www.mrmediatraining.com/index.php/2011/08/30/the-blogs-new-no-jerks-allowed-comment-policy/).

    I made an exception in your case to make a point.

    My sense from your comment is that you’re politically conservative. That being the case, I would think you would agree with the premise of my post. One of the precepts of conservatism is that people should be given equality of opportunity, not equality of outcome. That’s exactly what I’m arguing here. I don’t think anyone other than “white guys with guitars” are being given an equal opportunity. If I thought for one second that the best competitor was winning each year, regardless of whether or not they were white, I’d have no complaints. That doesn’t appear to be happening in Idol’s case.

    I’d welcome your follow-up comment, but will only post it if you make your point more respectfully.

    Thank you,
    Brad

  71. By Pierre:

    My point is this. You win on votes. After the judges bring it down to the final twenty five, or whatever the number may be, then it is up to the American people. The people voted, made there choice and you are still not satisfied. White, Black, Yellow or Red makes no diferance to me. The american people choose the winner. Yes I am a conservitive, that does not mean I do not believe in equality, who decided that. Every person that visited that stage had equality, opportunity and the outcome was exactly as it should have been. The person with the most talent won. It seems to me that the only jerk here is the one who wants things to be given to someone who has not eared what he or she gets.

  72. By Brad Phillips:

    Pierre,

    Thanks for your comment. Once again, you’re making a red herring argument. I’m not arguing that someone should be given to someone who hasn’t earned it. I’m arguing the same side as you: that it should be the person who earned it. If you’re going to tell me that Lee DeWyze was the most talented person in his season, for example, we’re just going to have to disagree.

    I do appreciate your comment, though. The fact that so many people are in disagreement on both sides is a sign that this is a debate worth having.

    Thanks,
    Brad

  73. By Bridge:

    It is obvious there is a trend going on with the ‘cute’ white male scoring the majority of the votes. However to me it seemed obvious that the judges were also trying to rectify this, Jessica was consistently given standing ovations and was endorsed by the judges to no end. I can’t see that as fair, when for Philip’s off performances the judges would be honest, but for Jessica every comment was sugar coated, and every review ended with a compliment.
    The show can’t really claim to produce the best young singing talent in america, however it is true to say that the number of votes will reflect their eventual popularity when it comes to selling records.

  74. By Sandra:

    I am so sick of the race card….. Thank God, people are voteing and for who they want.. When Josh was singing.. he was told there hasnt been a singer in 50 yrs as good as him… COME ON PEOPLE.. Ive never been racist.. But after reading this crap just because ther idol didnt win Philp has sold more downloads than any of the other idols in a short time.. AND its not just teens that are voteing.. men and women teen to 70 voted for Philip… Josh was to screemy, Jesica was a sound alike for me.. I loved the sound and the way philip made the song come alive.. Casey James , who I loved and Haley Reinhart who I also loved.. they didnt win.. so get off of this crying band wagon.. If you want no white guys.. They can have there own show and the rest of you can for the who ever you want..
    Blacks and women and who ever else… This is America people… not all of us like the same thing…. get a life

  75. By Sandra:

    and buy the way.. Philip sold 278,000 downloads in the first week and Jessica sold 4000…..
    do you get the picture….

  76. By Brad Phillips:

    Sandra,

    You’re entitled to your view. But I’m sorry you’re not able to look at the larger question here instead of devolving into a kneejerk reaction against the “race card.”

    The past five Idol winner have been white guys with guitars. It’s possible that all five were the most talented in their seasons, or it’s also possible that the Idol’s voting system favors contestants who match the demographics of the voters. I allow that both possibilities are, well, possible. But I also think it is totally fair to ask and discuss the question I posed.

    It’s interesting to hear you make the case that the voting system works because Casey and Haley lost to Scotty. You’re right. Those two white contestants lost to the other white contestant. I’m not sure that made the case you intended to.

    Thanks for commenting,
    Brad

  77. By Johanna May:

    Everyone has their favourite.. and that’s what it’s about. Singing isn’t the only thing people look at. It’s personality, performances and their singing. Yes some signers were stronger, but how did they portray themselves week after week. There were times when I watch that Joshua just didn’t have a great attitude. People pick up on things… the public needs more credit, we have eyes. If people want to see things change then vote and make the change happen. Take responsibility and accountability for yourself. I mean it is a TV/Talent show… lets remember that, but one feels strongly enough then a) try out if you have the chops or b) use your fingers an dial away.

  78. By Despina:

    Scotty is already insanely famous and Phillip’s song Home was number 2 in the charts after a week of winning idol. Phillip has way more talent then the other winners in the past few years so don’t dis him just because he got unlucky and has the same white male looks. Also he might be a white male but his voice is completely different and he has 10 times more talent then the past few white male winners. Give him a chance he won because he had the looks and the skills all the judges loved him and Jimmy loved him.

  79. By Brad Phillips:

    Hi Despina,

    Thank you for your comment.

    The jury is still out on whether or not Philip Phillips will have a sustainable career. Given that he was on America’s top-rated television show, it’s unsurprising that his winning single (a Mumford and Sons ripoff) was a hit.

    But also remember that the premise of this post isn’t about Philip Phillips or Scotty. It’s about a seemingly systemic issue that has affected the program for the past five years, rendering the program almost completely predictable. I’ve read that the show’s producers recognize that problem, and are looking at fixes to the voting system to give non-white guys a fighting chance.

    Thanks for commenting,
    Brad

  80. By Lianna:

    This is completely unfair
    First of all his earpiece wasn’t working so he couldnt hear himself singing.
    Second of all you compared Joshua’s best performance with Phillips worst performance.
    And lastly, the weeks after that he redeemed himself with Volcano, We’ve got Tonight (disease was my personal pick from that night but I’m just going by what most people thought) and then he did Home. It wasn’t my favorite performance by him, but compared to Jessica’s coronation song it was a whole lot better.
    Im very pleased with his victory, I think he deserved to win against Jessica. But if it was a Joshua vs Phillip I really wouldn’t care, cause I thought they were both amazing. They both are very believable when they perform, while I thought Jessica was kinda bland and Hollie was even blander when they performed
    The rest is just my thoughts on top 7
    1:Phillip
    2:Joshua
    3:Skylar
    I think this should have been the top 3. They all seem like natrual born performers. Joshua sings with passion, Phillip always feels what he’s singing , you can see it through his body that he feels the music,(I could ramble on about a whole lotta other things I like about him) and Skylar because the extreme amount of energy and spunk she has. They are all very believable when they preform and they make a connection with the song 90% of the time. I chose Phillip as my first pick because I love his voice. I put joshua second because I think Joshua has a better voice as far as a technical singer, but I dont like the way it sounds. I put Skylar in third because while I do think she has a great voice, it’s not my style. Im not a fan of country or Joshuas voice but I would still be happy if either of them won cause they are amazing performers.
    4:Elise
    5:Colton
    6:Jessica
    7:Hollie
    To me Elise is a better version of Jessica and Jessica is a better version of Hollie. Elise is very calm when she sings and she looks so comfortable up on stage. Plus I LOVE her voice! its insanely good, but she wasn’t always consistent. Colton was an amazing performer and he completely owned the stage, but I felt like his voice wasn’t that’s good, it sometimes squeaked in a weird way and it got nassaly at some points. With Jessica she never made any connection whatsoever with the song, but her voice was perfect and amazing, unlike Hollie. Hollie’s voice always seemed to fall short of Jessica’s voice. And watching her preform is so uncomfortable, she looks robotic and unnatural, but I’m happy that Hollie made it further because she improved the most out of all the contestens. She was kinda doing rough in the beginning but week by week she got better. Jessica had already done great and she never got better, she was consistent but it just got boring to watch her sing ballads week after week.

  81. By Craig:

    Humphrey Bogart was not a handsome man, but an iconic leading man. Jimmy Cagney, Ernest Borgnine, Karl Malden, Lee Marvin, Telly Savalas, Donald Sutherland all possessed “it”. If we looked merely at the surface, they would not have flourished.
    If we focused simply on purity of voice, I grant you that others on AI this year surpassed Phillip. However, the “soul” of Phillip shone through. Joshua had soul and talent, but did not possess “it.”
    My wife and I totally enjoyed Ledet’s performances, BUT there seemed to be a quality like no other to Phillips voice and demeanor.
    My wife and I are sixtyish, and have enjoyed Sinatra through Phillip. We do not broker record deals, nor profess technical musical knowledge.
    What I do know is that I’m far more often correct than not in predicting success. Call it a gift. Popularity is just what it is. Sinatra was a skinny runt, but WOW. There were great voices through the years that never panned out for long, or at all.
    I’ve followed AI for years, and admit that there have been some yawns.
    As for Phillip Phillips win, I sensed from the tryouts that he would be a front-runner. Say what you will about the tweens, they as well as I made the right choice this year.
    Evidence: first to his gold of all the winners.
    I predict a long career for an obviously beloved young man.

  82. By Craig:

    Again, AI is a popularity contest, hands down.
    No, Kris Allen should not have won. Adam should have.
    I understand that there are those who believe there’s a problem. The problem lies in the fact that, as in political elections, people do not make an effort to have their voice heard, as in, VOTE.
    If teen girls have the voice, it is because of interest and effort. Are they buying the tunes? I suspect they may be. If this is how one achieves success, then it all works, doesn’t it.
    Do the producers of AI want to tweak the show to skew the results so that the most popular contestant doesn’t win?
    The idea is simple, just like recommended in elections:
    Vote early and often!
    By the way, we tune to see the singers, AND the judges.
    Steven Tyler seemed a bit sleepy this year, and at times bored.
    JLO was always a pleasure, and Randy a mainstay.
    Mariah, we’ll see.
    I vote for Harry Connick, Jr. He’s talented, funny, and knowledgeable.
    Is the slip in ratings due to AI’s long run? Excellent TV shows do have their run, too.
    In any case, we’ll tune in next year hoping to find another talent like PP, regardless of race, religion, or whatever!

  83. By Craig:

    One more thought.
    Or two…
    I pulled for PP because he had soul, style, and he was humble and personable. I thought he had a great voice.
    Joshua was outstanding, but did not have some of the above.
    Also, how are you going to change things to give non-white guys a chance, as you put it?
    I’ve been disappointed in some of the winners, and I’m white. Music is a personal thing, and I listen to it with my ears and my soul, and that’s how someone should vote.
    Saying that the last five guys winning looked all the same sounds like a racist white guy would say all blacks look alike. How ABSURD!
    It just boils down to voting. Your audience is your audience, and your stuck with it.

  84. By Hannah:

    So you compared Joshua’s best and Phillip’s worst?? Seems fair. And even if they did air Jimmy’s comments first, he normally had good feedback for Phillip.

  85. By Sydney:

    While I certainly agree with what you said, especially how they should alter the shows dynamics, I can’t agree with you on comparing Philip Phillips. I thought Philip was better than Joshua even during his worst song, an I am not discrediting Joshua, he is by far a better singer than most. I think you have to take into account the type of music that is played, perhaps Philip Phillips isn’t to your taste, but many people enjoy this style music.

  86. By Patrick:

    I agree of what you said. If u were for another season of American Idol, then they should it this: American Idol: The White Guys Edition. Let’s see how viewers can handle that if it were all cute white boys playing guitar.

  87. By carlo:

    american idol-white guy,s edition. All the contestants are cute white guys who play the guitar. Does anyone thing this is a good idea.

  88. By Louise Kelleher:

    During American Idol tho he never complained or told about it, Phillip’s earplugs were not working for “Time of the Season” and he couldn’t connect with the music.

  89. By Lisa Hilseigher:

    I know this comment is really really old. But anyway, here it goes.

    I really don´t understand why the choice could ever be different. You state that other vocals we re better, but that´s your opinion, or maybe they were just suited for the chosen music style you think deserves to shine. There is more in music than R&B!! And I am very very glad that I grew up on the earlies 90s where a miriad of music styles were playing and when people could be rockers without any “wannna be” saying diferently.

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