When it comes to pop culture discussions, New England-by-way-of-California poet Victor Infante (who I've often disagreed with on poetry matters) and I have a little bit of common ground.
Here's a repurposing of a comment I made on Victor's blog (found at http://www.victorinante.com ) about AMERICAN IDOL:
Here are my thoughts on the show (and I've watched entire segments over the years):
There's something about the AMERICAN IDOL judging process that goes beyond "niceness" or the myth of necessary roughness to prepare people for stardom. It is the sad collision between individuals with dynamic, individual, not-easy-to-categorize talent--Adam Lambert being an example from last season--and the myopic demands of Simon Fuller's 19 Entertainment, which produces IDOL. In Lambert's case, you get an artist struggling to reach gold-album status.
But with more malleable artists like Kelly Clarkson (excepting her brief rebellion with the MY DECEMBER album) and Carrie Underwood, you get adherence to formula--and, overall, huge sales to people who don't want or expect much from pop music. Think of AMERICAN IDOL as essentially a screening process for a high-level corporate position. Of course, I could compare the show to what some poets feel they have to do to please professors and fellow poets on the Masters of Fine Arts trail. But I'll decline for now.