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    American Idol: A song of praise and problems

    Dominating the final stages, African Americans have ruled the last two seasons of American Idol.

    Fox television network has premiered the new season and it is off to a great start, based on ratings. The success of the past two African American winners and finalists have been huge. Past winners, Ruben Studdard and Fantasia Barrino, and finalists, Tamyra Gray and Kimberly Locke, have all had successful album releases.

    Auditions were held in New Orleans at the Louisiana Superdome and aired on Jan. 25, 2005. About 9,000 people turned out to get their chance to shine; but only 16 were chosen to proceed to the next phase of the competition in Hollywood. Among the contestants were a host of Dillard students, who unfortunately were not selected to advance in the competition. The number of people to go on to Hollywood was the lowest number so far from previous cities the competition has visited.

    Since the success of the African American winners, one might think their race had something to do with it. Tressa Thomas, a sophomore history/pre-law major from Baton Rouge, did not think skin color was a factor in their victories.

    "They won based on talent. The fact that they were African Americans was purely coincidental. We must take into consideration that song and dance have been a part of our culture far longer than it has been a European art form." However, Thomas said she does not think the next winner will be an African American.

    Not only is race significant, but students like Christina Witt, a mass communication major from Houston, Texas, said gender also matters.

    "Fantasia is a little more successful. She got a little more promotion than Ruben. It was not only because she is black that she won but also because she is a woman. I personally think people relate to female artists more than they do males. She is experienced and has a very powerful voice," Witt said.

    Many viewers have been glued to their television screens every Tuesday and Wednesday to see what city American Idol will stop in next and who is willing to make a fool of themselves. However, some students do not understand all the hype behind the show.

    "They don’t know what talent is. I think it’s a gimmick because they try to get ratings," said Dominic Jones, a sophomore fine arts major from Dallas.

    In addition to student viewers who do not necessarily tune in because of the fact that it may be just an act, some simply do not enjoy the performers.

    "It’s all made for TV– it’s not real music. They do have talent; I’ll give them that. I like more old school artists who weren’t produced or made on television," said Kyle Grear, a business management and art major from Chicago.

    Whether you like American Idol or not, it has been a success for three seasons. Scaled down versions have been recreated on various levels. Dillard’s very own rendition of American Idol is coming soon, for its second go round as DU Idol.

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    American Idol: A song of praise and problems