American Bandstand Lives Again as American Idol

Is there anything truly new under the sun? American Idol has become a lucrative reality TV/game show phenomenon, it’s not so different from another wildly successful music based television show – American Bandstand. Everything old is new again. Just add technology.

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 American Bandstand, hosted by the forever-young Dick Clark, aired in various versions from 1952 to 1989. Bandstand featured teenagers dancing to popular music and the biggest stars appeared weekly to perform their latest releases. Bandstand made a star of Dick Clark and gave him a career as media mogul. It inspired other music programs, such as Soul Train, and Top of the Pops. As part of the program, Clark interviewed audience teenagers about their opinions of the songs played. One of the most popular and memorable segments of the program was Rate-a-Record, where kids assigned a value to the pop singles.

 American Idol is hosted by the ageless Ryan Seacrest. Idol features ordinary teens and young adults who have an opportunity to get in front of the camera for perhaps the only time. Musical pop stars make guest appearances to perform and coach the young singers. Idol has made Ryan Seacrest, Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson, and Paula Abdul familiar names. And 19 Entertainment, the parent company that produces the show is getting rich of record deals the contestants secure when the competition ends. Idol has inspired a number of knock-offs like Can You Duet? and Rock Star Supernova. One of the key success factors of the show is the audience participation. Anyone with a phone can register an opinion in the form of votes for preferred singers.

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If American Idol is just an updated version of American Bandstand, it makes me wonder what else is out there ready and waiting to be remade into the next big thing?