It’s pretty safe to say classic rock legends The Eagles aren’t fans of American Idol or any of the singing competitions it spawned. The band offered their opinions on the genre while on a DVD release publicity tour for the documentary History of the Eagles, and it wasn’t all that flattering.
A show like American Idol, which has been struggling in the ratings this season, force aspiring young performers to “over sing” and take away from the artistic side of music. “Can you call it art if you have a contest?” asked Glenn Frey. “They’ve turned it into Glee” added Don Henley, according to THR.
The band members don’t seem to have it out for any of the people trying to make it big on television competitions; rather, they actually seem to feel sorry for them. Frey continued by saying:
"The nature of these shows is such is that they make everybody want to be big and big for the camera and big for the audience and you know, for myself I would just as soon somebody just stood there and sing the damn song."
While Frey admits that singing competitions do give people the chance to live a dream, it seems he finds the performance aspect of it over the top, which isn’t surprising for a musician whose heyday was an era when concerts involved just that – getting up there and singing. Joe Walsh seems to have a different problem with the shows.
"They just leaked what those poor kids have to sign and basically they don't stand a chance."
While it’s entirely accurate that most people on Idol, The X Factor and The Voice, among other myriad singing competitions probably don’t stand a chance, there are a few who have gone on to singing careers, and even a few Grammy winners. Interestingly, the band seems to take more issue with the way singers are forced to compete and not with the increasing trend towards making the shows more about the judges than the competitors. Idol’s judges spats and the continual turnover in judges, and recently on X Factor, hosts have been more in the news than the people competing it seems.
I’m not a fan of singing competitions myself, but the issue of undermining music as an art form aside – a problem that is larger than Idol - these shows are meant to entertain, pure and simple. In the end, I’d argue they’re less about finding great singers and more about bringing in the ratings, which requires more than just standing there and singing a song these days.
Do you think singing competition shows take away from artistry in music?