When it first premiered on Fox in 2002, American Idol became the musical competition sensation that everyone lived for. With the sullen Simon Cowell, upbeat Paula Abdul, and Randy Jackson’s ionic one-liners, it seemed that nearly everyone in America was watching and voting for their favorite contestants on Idol. Initially, the show was a major deal. Megastars like Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, and Fantasia Barrino got their start on the original series. However, after 15 seasons the show had clearly lost its luster and its ability to produce stars, so Fox canceled it in 2016.
However, veteran Idol fans were thrilled when ABC swooped in to save the day bringing back the series in 2018 for the 16th season. Now, that the Fox edition of the show is gone, American Idol alums are airing out their grievances about the show and fans are not pleased.
The pop-star image
So much about the original American Idol had to do with appearances and fitting a particular Hollywood image. Though she never named Idol directly, Kelly Clarkson did share why she decided to take part in a different music competition than the one she got her start on.
Clarkson told Deadline that she doesn’t fit the “pop star image.” She explained, “That’s what sets [The Voice] apart. I get judged on [aesthetics] all the time. I love that this show has chosen participants because they’re talented and they deserve it.”
Next: The relentless judgment
One of the things that drew people to American Idol was the judges’ critiques. Apparently, Clarkson has had more than enough of that which is why she felt The Voice was a much better fit for her at this stage in her career.
The Grammy winner revealed, “I’m going to be real with you. A lot of people reach out to me to be part of singing things because I was in the first one. I love [The Voice]. It literally does come back to those blind auditions. It means something to me. I don’t want to be a “judge.” I’m not really good at that. I always feel [expletive] afterwards if I have to say something not good to somebody.”
Next: Clay Aiken’s petty commentary
Season 2 runner-up Clay Aiken has been super vocal about American Idol’s downfall over the years, which surely contributed to the massive ratings hit the show took when it was still at Fox. During the Farewell Season in 2016, Aiken called the premiere boring. He tweeted, “I’ve watched root canals more entertaining than these judges.”
For years, Aiken has been live-tweeting the show and begging producers to #MakeIdolGreatAgain.
Next: Then vs. now
Keeping it real
For Aiken, the difference between the OG contestants and those that are on the show currently are glaring. During Season 16 on a Prince-themed episode, contestant Catie Truner completely forgot the words to “Manic Monday.” Though viewers sent her home, American Idol judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan gave her a cheerful pep talk.
Aiken was less than impressed. He tweeted, “So, when I was on American Idol, I slightly flubbed some lyrics. Nowhere near this noticeable … and even Paula [Abdul] gave me hell. This girl [Catie] gets a therapy session?! Really? Seriously??! What happened to the show we loved? #MakeIdolGreatAgain.”
Turner and co-contestant Ada Vox quickly clapped back calling Aiken bitter and urging him to take a seat, but we think the Measure of a Man singer might have a point.
Next: Just let it die already
A serious decline
There is a reason hardly anyone can be bothered to watch American Idol these days. Aiken tweeted, “Remember back 2002–2003 when American Idol was a high-stakes singing competition, and we were all waiting and nervously anticipating what Simon Cowell had to say? Why’s it now totally without critique and essentially just a Vacation Bible School talent show?”
He’s not wrong.
Next: Mariah Carey vs. Nicki Minaj
The worst experience of her life
American Idol really began crumbling in 2013, the year Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj were judges. The women hated one another, and their notorious feud overshadowed the contestants and their talent. During a 2015 interview with Australian KIIS FM, Carey said that it would be a cold day in hell before she reunited with her co-judges.
She said, “Hell, no. Absolutely not, that was the worst experience of my life. I’m not going to get into what it was, let’s just say, I don’t think they had any intentions of us having a good experience through that show. Putting two females against each other wasn’t cool.”
Next: An orchestrated circus
Not only were Minaj and Carey pitted against one another, but the “Heartbreaker” singer also revealed that American Idol was super fake.
She explained, “It’s so boring and so fake. I’m sorry I just think it’s… when I say it’s fake… I mean like you have to make up things to say about people. Half the time the performances are good, you just be like “it was good” and you feel like ending it there: “You were really good.”
Next: More “Idol”?
Let’s be real
While Aiken, Clarkson, and Carey have all decided to use their platforms in different ways to speak about their experiences on Idol and where the show has ended up since we can all agree that they didn’t exactly have glowing things to say.
Fans might be super upset with the alums for getting candid about the show that gave them their start, but let’s be real, there was a reason why Fox gave Idol the ax in the first place. From what the ratings reveal, no one is exactly living for ABC’s kinder, gentler reboot either.