As the controversy continues to swirl over the victory of Season 21 winner Iam Tongi, fans of American Idol have been debating whether the talent level on the show has gotten better or worse over the years.
In a Reddit thread titled ‘Has the talent on the show generally improved over the years, or has it declined?’ American Idol devotees have been voicing their diverse – and oftentimes, strongly opinionated – takes on the matter.
“Definitely declined,” one hotly contend.
“It seems like it’s declined a lot, but I think it has to do with the production of the show and the people they choose for the top 24. There are more talented people auditioning, but we never get to see them,” moderated another.
While some blamed the issue on a drop–off in quality of performers, others were quick to point their finger at the audiences’ taste in voting. “Talent has improved but America’s taste in voting has declined,” a dismayed viewer remarked.
The reaction to Tongi’s win – which aired on May 21 – has been largely controversial, as many accused American Idol of rigging the competition in favor of particularly heart–wrenching stories or diverse backgrounds. At his audition earlier in the season, the 18–year–old Hawaiian paid tribute to his late father – during which judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan were moved to tears – and the judges were likewise brought to tears.
Meanwhile, third–place finisher Colin Stough has been popular with viewers, prompting many to take to social media and Twitter to express their desire to see the country singer succeed and level accusations of the competition being ‘rigged’. “American Idol is rigged. Colin Stough was the best one out there. Big Hawaiian dude that has the best sob story is going to win. American Idol I thought it was about talent?” demanded one Twitter user.
However, some fans of Tongi have been just as passionate in the defense of the Season 21 hopeful.
“Taste in music is subjective. I loved William Tongi from the first time I heard him and he was my favorite from start to finish. No need to be dramatic and make up a conspiracy about it,” reiterated another.
An American Idol viewer on Reddit furthered the idea that, although earlier seasons may have boasted prominent successes such as Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, and Jennifer Hudson, there has been an uptick in quality with the show’s embrace of online auditions.
“America has also been voting for less talented contestants though. I think this is a mixture of the show pushing sob stories and culture so hard, judges kissing all the contestants‘ asses and not actually giving real criticism, the limited voting time that helps genres more popular in the eastern US, and the TV watching demographics changing over time mostly straying away from young people,” they conceded.
At the moment, the American Idol fandom remains divided over the show’s drop–off in talent over the years. Still, it remains clear that the contestants from later season haven’t achieved anywhere near the same level of success as their predecessors– an issue that fans alike will likely continue to debate.