The stage is getting warmer waiting for the next generation of American Idol. We can hardly wait, but the 15th season is still weeks away. The news is that Simon Cowell will be returning as a judge in the final season. He set the original standard when he didn’t mince words or pretended politeness simply to avoid hurting someone’s feelings.
We all had a love hate relationship with Simon, but because of his honest assessments we all respected his opinion above all others. If a contestant got a good word from Simon they must have treasured that high for a while. The judges are responsible for giving us unique, one of a kind performers. Because it’s a competition, only the best can survive.
In the beginning and true to this day, that’s what makes it worth watching. The talent is not cookie cutter, spit out of a rapid prototyping machine that gives us unoriginal, want-ta-bees. Because of the adept perceptiveness the judges show, we get the best. One thing for sure that American Idol brings us eager fans is the uniqueness of each participant.
In Season One which premiered in June of 2002, judges Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson led the charge.
Simon is the judge we all love to hate. Truth is – we love him. He makes comments that include put-downs and wisecracks. He doesn’t cut a contestant any slack, but that is in fact what makes his compliments so coveted. With his power to make a star, his criticisms seem to come from an attitude of “don’t waste my time”. If fortunate enough to get constructive tips, everyone, yes everyone within earshot takes them to heart. Some of the best clips are when a super talent comes on stage and blows his mind. Watching his face go from cynical snob to cha ching is worth a replay or two.
Season One and for the next eight seasons that followed, we had Paula Abdul sitting in the middle chair making sense of the crazies around her. More accurately the crazies around her were doing their best to make sense of Paula. We loved her anyway. Paula brought her own talent as singer-songwriter, dancer, choreographer and actress to the show.
She had a string of top number one hits on the Billboard Hot 100 in the late 1980s and early 1990s, making her an expert in the talent arena. She fought with Simon and that made the panel more interesting. Someone who wasn’t afraid to go up against Simon sparked rumors of a romance, but it was just media fodder with no real basis to it. We wouldn’t have really known what to do with a Cowell/Abdul romance anyway.
Randy Jackson balanced out the trio in that first Season. We really didn’t know Randy at first, but figured since he was sitting up there with Simon and Paula, he must have the chops to hold his own. Quickly we began to consider his opinion worth listening to – knew what he was talking about. Randy had a background in music and wasn’t a stranger to good talent. He started playing guitar at the age of 13 and would sneak out of the house to show up at local clubs and play with the more accomplished musicians. He learned his way around the world of music with his boots on the ground.
He went on to be a highly respected record producer and an executive with Columbia Records and MCA Records. We fans liked the fact that he was always free with constructive criticism and willingness to share his secrets of success. While known for referring to people as “Dawg” in 2004 he wrote a book entitled What’s Up Dawg? How to Become a Superstar in the Music Business.
Those were our beloved judges for the opening Season of American Idol. As fans you know all of this, but it’s cathartic to re-visit productions past while I wait for the new Season to come. Thanks for reading along, but now I have some more recent news to share. Skip forward to Season three. We take the bad with the good here at American Idol Fan and I’m sorry to have to report that we’ve lost one of our own. Last Monday Marque “Tate” Lynche was found dead in his Harlem apartment.
No word as to the cause of death at this time. You may remember Tate from Season 3. He was a semi-finalist, and didn’t win with the title going to Fantasia Barrino, but he gave his audience a lot of entertainment. Tate went on to work on Broadway and in the production of Fame. Gone too young. Rest in Peace, Tate.