Can American Idol survive without Simon Cowell?

There’s an enduring rumour that X Factor supremo, music and media mogul [[Simon Cowell]] may leave American Idol at the end of his current contract. Depending on who you believe, this may have been brought about by both the departure from Idol of Paula Abdul and/or Cowell’s desire to establish his own X Factor show in the United States.

As you probably already know, The X Factor is quite a successful copy of the [[American Idol (TV Series)|American Idol]] format – the difference is that Cowell has significantly more control over the X Factor format, since he created that show. He may have major clout on Idol, but he’s still effectively an employee. An all-American version of X Factor would give Cowell greater control, but also greater earning potential from the licensing of the format.

Where does that leave Idol?

Which brings us back to American Idol. Has Simon gotten so famous that he’s outgrown the show that made him famous across the globe?

The pattern on all of these reality TV talent shows is that all the judges get an opportunity to comment on each act. However, the comment everybody wants to hear will be saved til last and will come from the bored, disdainful lips of Mr Cowell. Yeah, we’ve still got [[Randy Jackson]], relatively new-girl [[Kara DioGuardi]] and chat-show host [[Ellen DeGeneres]].

American Idol has suffered a relative decline in ratings in the last few years. Not enough to start rumours of the show being cancelled, but enough to cause the producers to make some changes to the format (including bringing DioGuardi on as a judge). With arguably the star attraction defecting to a very similar version of the show, what’s left to keep the American Idol audiences tuned in?

AOLTV have an interesting article giving their reasons why they’ll prefer American X Factor to Idol. I have my reservations about some of their points though – they list as positives things that I consider to be awful about the show. Such as judges having a dual role as mentors, which affects their ability to be impartial. Also, the contestant categories might ‘keep things interesting’, but it’s still a fact that the X Factor’s most successful winners are two under-25 girls from London.

A replacement for Cowell?

The WSJ has a very good speculative post about who might feasibly replace Simon on American Idol. They namedrop a number of music industry heavyweights from Simon Fuller himself to L.A. Reid, Matthew Knowles (father of Beyonce) and Jay-Z. There’s a lot of potential in that list to keep American Idol interesting.

It should also be noted that CMT think the show could successfully live on with Randy, Kara and Ellen, as long as presenter [[Ryan Seacrest]] could be persuaded to stay on.

It should be noted, too, that host Ryan Seacrest is a major draw. While he’s not there to judge anyone, his boy-next-doorness is a big part of the show’s charm. So if he stays, and DeGeneres is as funny as I think she’ll be, I will have every confidence in the show’s future for years to come.

I want to mention Cowell’s performance in the recently-finished [[The X Factor 2009|series of X Factor]] – we noted that Simon’s vested interest in his own acts led to him refusing to say anything negative about them. That was a mis-step and dented his image of no-holds-barred honesty. It certainly cost him his credibility as a judge, which he can’t necessarily afford if he’s going to try and run X Factor in the States.

We want to know what you think – would you prefer American Idol without Cowell, or would you rather have X Factor America featuring Simon?

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1 Comment

  1. NadiaR

    Of course it will survive. As long as there are still many Americans that aspires to be the next star of America the show will still be soaring the air. Anyone let down by Simon Cowell leaving American Idol can rest assured that he’ll be back with X Factor next year – but the weird thing is that X Factor is essentially the same show.  At any rate, we won’t have to go too long without a cheeky British person rending some doe eyed kewpie teenager to absolute shreds – though I doubt some people would really put any payday loans into that. It’s a good thing that he’s bringing X Factor to the US, because there really isn’t a reason to watch American Idol without him there.

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