American Idol Live! Is the Last Refuge of Idol Superfans

Categories: News

Name as many of these people as you can.
American Idol Live!, coming to Comerica Theatre next week, is a testament to how much smaller American Idol gets every year as a cultural institution.

Don't get me wrong -- it's still big. Season 11 winner Phillip Phillips' debut single is still impossible to avoid if you are or have ever been inside a grocery store. But how many of the finalists from this year's show can you name? How many of the judges can you name?

At the show's peak, being a runner-up was its own kind of pop stardom. Even Clay Aiken, one of the least obvious stars of the past decade, didn't actually have to win to pick up a radio hit, the astonishingly creepy "Invisible":

That kind of pop culture pull made Idol Live!, the concert tour featuring each season's finalists, a big deal in itself. The Top 10 were all possible stars, with their own hyper-devoted Idol fiefdoms.

This year, in a finale watched by just 14 million fans, Candice Glover -- she's the winner, the first in years who isn't a gravelly voiced guy with an acoustic guitar -- beat Kree Harrison. Glover's first album won't come out for a few months, but her debut single peaked at 93 on the Hot 100.

For all that, though -- for all the indications that its demographic is narrowing, and with it the appeal of the people who get voted into pseudo-stardom -- it's still around and still, if I had to guess, making a ton of money.

American Idol began life as one of the most ubiquitous shows in decades, an anomaly in a TV (and music) landscape increasingly dominated by finding niches to appeal to and then exploiting them.

Now it's become its own niche.

Location Info


Comerica Theatre

400 W. Washington St., Phoenix, AZ

Category: Music

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Clay is still in the top 4 stars to emerge from Idol. His 6 albums and 7 million in sales can't be denied even if this writer longs to be cool by bashing Clay. It is long past cool to be a bully to Clay. Move along now.

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