Every Monday night, music competition shows The Voice and American Idol compete for our attention. Idol has aired on ABC since 2002, while The Voice premiered on NBC years later in 2011. In recent seasons, Idol’s viewership seems to have taken a hit in competition with The Voice. This comes as a surprise considering Idol’s current panel of judges includes high-profile musicians Katy Perry, Luke Bryan, and Lionel Ritchie.
However, despite being second-choice to many, American Idol has been my all-time favorite show since I was seven years old. Here’s why:
#1: A trend-setter in the music-reality competition scene, American Idol has produced more long-term success, with A-listers including Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Jennifer Hudson, Adam Lambert, Gabby Barrett… the list goes on. Not all of these big names even won their seasons, proving that the show is valuable in producing exactly what it intends: idols. Audience members may find The Voice more entertaining as a Monday-night activity, but Idol truly helps people of all backgrounds break into the music industry right before audiences’ eyes.
#2: Despite The Voice’s sole emphasis on, well, people’s “voices,” American Idol isn’t oblivious to both good sound and sincere backstories. The Voice allows the celebrity vocal coaches to first pick contestants based just on their singing talent, as opposed to their looks and stories. Taking talent, background, and style into consideration, Idol contestants audition face-to-face with the judges’ panel so that they can be evaluated on their overall star quality. For example, in 2019, former dishwasher Alejandro Aranda had one of YouTube’s top-trending videos. Throughout the season, the judges guided him on his stage presence and confidence — and I saw him live in Berkeley in 2020.
#3: American Idol has seen a lot of changes at the judges’ table over the last 20 years, but the show has done especially well since Katy Perry, Luke Bryan, and Lionel Ritchie stepped up in 2018. More constructive and lively than the notorious Simon Cowell, the dynamic of the star-studded team is quite entertaining, too. Of course, current The Voice coaches are likewise a group of pop, country, and R&B stars (Kelly Clarkson, Blake Shelton, and John Legend), but the diversity in age and less-competitive nature of the judges on Idol separate the two shows.
Granted, I’ve never watched a full season of The Voice, but I will defend the quality of Idol to no end. Whether or not you’ve been tuning in, you should definitely check out Idol contestants Grace Kinstler and Ava August on YouTube during your next study break. Not to give a spoiler, but the 20-year-old Berklee College of Music student and 15-year-old singer-songwriter seem to be the ones to beat in season 19.