American Idol ended its fifteenth and final season the night of April 7th, crowning Trent Harmon as the last American Idol, so to speak. It was an emotional night for many on the show, from Carrie Underwood, one of the show’s previous winners who made a return to sing one last song, to fellow alum Katharine McPhee. La’Porsha Renae, the other finalist, is said to be another non-winner who will go on to have a fruitful career such as Adam Lambert and Jennifer Hudson, the latter of whom is now on Broadway in The Color Purple. Fifteen seasons on the air and it wasn’t even trending very long on Facebook.
Did it run too long? American Idol in its heyday brought in ample ratings, but these soon began to slide in the wake of newer, more quirky shows like The Voice, where celebrity judges turn their chairs so that they cannot judge the singer based on appearance and choose singers to coach based purely on their voice, and the X Factor, which former American Idol judge Simon Cowell broke off from the show to make. Back when it was hugely popular, it even made it into a bonus scene in Shrek 2, giving Simon Cowell a strange cameo where he judged various Shrek characters. Simon Cowell became famous simply through his blunt, often mean critiques of Idol contestants, and almost a cult favorite. The show itself launched singers like its first winner, Kelly Clarkson, into superstardom with a record contract as its top prize.
Is all that gone now? Similar prizes go out to other shows that don’t quite have the same ring as American Idol. As silly as it got in the end, for a while it was a way people could make their pipe dream of becoming a pop star reality, lining up on long audition lines for a chance to make it to Hollywood. These chances still exist, but to a lesser extent as singing contests grow more and more numerous, with prestige dying down as a result. Like it or not, we will never have another American Idol after Trent. Ratings did soar that night.