Shame Australian Idol! Shame!

Now, firstly let me say to those reading this post...focus on the point, not the fact that I watch Australian Idol!!! Focus!!!

So I'm not sure how many people suffer the painful affliction that Yil and I do, but we are glued to watching Australian Idol...not for the sheer musical talent thrust upon us like a sharp jolt from Tom Jones hips, and not for the gripping suspense similar to a good dose of Dynasty (the Blake Carrington days!), but really because like most people, we love watching a train wreck in action!

And along the way, it's hard not to form an opinion on who will be the next Australian Idol (jeez, I sound like Mark Holden!), and also start to see the huge talent chasm that starts to form as the wheat and the chaff fall to opposite sides of the publics favor.

But last night was one of the worst travesties of Australian Idol, or so called, "live TV" that I have ever witnessed, and makes me ask the question, should these shows be forced to be more transparent?

Now, for those who didn't watch it, a young lady by the name of Lavina Williams was voted off. No big drama there, except that, for everyone from the judges to me and Yil in our lounge room, the complete dodginess of her being voted off, while the continually lack luster (and downright boring) Lisa Mitchell, lived to fight another day! What's really horrible though, is everyone knew it, and for poor Lisa Mitchell, she had to endure the scorch of the camera and the crowd, knowing it should have been her and not Lavina...and all the time, wandering, WTF happened here!?

It's easy though to see what happened, it's the classic syndrome of "Public Opinion" meets "Commercial Clout"! See, the way Idol has worked for many years has been that the public voted via SMS for the artist they thought should be Idol, and the recording and media companies that fund Australian Idol would reap the sales benefit of "producing" an artist that has already qualified their target audience! It was a match made in heaven! That was, until, the public's purchasing pattern was not inline with their voting. All I have to say is Casey Donovan! She was the public's pleasure, yet she has struggled to sell! Why? Well, because she was the underdog, and bucked the norm, so people enjoyed seeing her win...but they didn't necessarily want to have a relationship with her post Idol! This stuffed up the "Alley Oop" effect for the recording companies, and suddenly their investment in Idol had become a liability, as they had to contractually carry Casey while she does SFA as an artist.

Onto last night. The contrast between the marketing potential of Lavina Williams and lets say Lisa Mitchell was palpable. And last nights decision reeked of something more orchestrated than a simple voting count. It really felt like the powers that be had strongly influenced the decision, to ensure that the "People's Choice" is also extremely marketable, and transformable! In essence, it doesn't matter who the public wants to win Idol, the person who will win Idol is the one that represents the strongest marketability profile for the powers behind the throne.

What's alarming is the reaction of the judges too. Mark Holden was visibly shocked, and Kyle Sandilands was clearly disgusted by the departure of Lavina. And all the while, I'm sure the public was thinking, "Hey, that's strange, I voted for x, and so did everyone I spoke with, so who voted the other way?". And what's even more alarming than the judges reaction is the lack of visibility about the voting!? I had a quick look around the website, and couldn't see any breakdown of the voting? No log or list that shows the voting basis, you know, # of Votes, based on States and dates, things like that. It's just a black box. Which is a little disconcerting if you are spending your hard earned (or your parents) to vote, when the impact on the outcome is not what you think it is.

Again, it's a pretty valuable lesson for those dealing with product and the public... if you think you're going to pull a swifty, and hope no one will ask questions, think again! The public today has probably the best bullsh$t radars ever, and aren't afraid to openly discuss something smelly when they smell it! So rather than trying to orchestrate an outcome for your own benefit, think about what the public really wants, and satisfy that...the long term outcome is always going to be more constructive!

Comments (9)
  1. >if you think you’re going to pull a swifty,
    >and hope no one will ask questions, think again!

    Well, that depends. From what I can tell, it’d be pretty easy to pull a swifty over you if I timed it to be when idol was on.

    Rule 2: know your audience 🙂

  2. Dean Harding says:

    OMG, you watch IDOL!? Sorry, I couldn’t help it 🙂

    I think the whole concept of Idol is just wrong. But then, I don’t really like *any* “reality” TV shows. Maaaybe “The Amazing Race”, but that would be about it.

  3. Tim Wragg says:

    Hehe Dave,

    I missed last nights eviction but I gotta say I didnt like Lavina from the start. Yes she had a remarkable voice, was a good performer but I just found her false. Her comments about ‘One Big Family – were all brothers and sisters’ was such crap that the big issue with her was she never connected to the audience. To draw the parallel there with the business world well, she lacked the ‘good bloke’ tag which helps in people wanting to do business.
    My usual concern with idol in terms of popularity is that the teen girl audience usually sees the good looking blokes like Millsy, Anthony Callea and Ricky Muscat make it further then their talent deserves.
    Anyways, I hope Bobby wins this year… The guy is a champ. Takes risks and pulls them off.

  4. Rob Farley says:

    Nah – the Irish guy should’ve gone. Or Ricky. Not that I watch, of course.

  5. Supercujo says:

    I think the Australian Idol voting and eviction system needs a serious shakeup. The whole aim of the show is to produce a record selling artist which makes money for the record companies. So I think the record companies should have more say in who stays and who goes.

    I think the ‘judges’ (Mark, Marcia and Kyle) have a fairly good idea of what sells and what doesn’t, so their opinion needs to become part of the voting system.

    At the end of the live performances, the judges need to rank the contestants. Then when the voting public results are in it generates a ranking value from that. The two ranks are added together and the lowest ranked singer/karaoke artist is dumped.

    So a singer that gets rated number one by the judges will have a hard time getting voted off by the voting public. Also, someone who is ranked lowest by the judges can be saved by the public if they vote lots.

    In the end you will end up with a much more saleable product.

  6. Anon says:

    For what it’s worth, I heard on the radio that it’s not *allowed* to be rigged as you can bet on who’s going to win at the TAB, as you can with Big Brother.

    So they’ve got to follow some reglations when it comes to their polling of votes and the results.

    Disclaimer: I don’t watch Australian (Amature?) Idol -though I’m forced to endure it from a distance – and my source is a morning radio show!

  7. ozczecho says:

    …you take it too seriously dude…take two asprins and a cup of tea next time you watch it.

    The whole show is a scam, but a good way to kill a couple of hours on sunday…why would you force a timid 16yrd singer/song writer to do like putting schumacher on the basketball court and watch him do a layup…

    Lavina is a great karaoke singer and thats it. Enjoy the show for what it is…

  8. Craig Bailey says:

    These results can occur when contestant A is ‘obviously’ better than contestant B. Everyone ‘assumes’ A is a sure thing so they don’t bother to vote for them.
    I suspect the total vote count was below average that night.

  9. anne says:

    supercujo is so right i totally agree with you! I may not always agree with all the judges but they do know more about the industry than we do! I think the australian public loves the underdog too much; the whole show is supposed to be about talent!

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