Twenty-four lucky “American Idol” hopefuls got even luckier in Hollywood last week (even though Josiah Leming wasn’t one of them), and many of the stars who already populate that town can’t wait to welcome them into their living rooms — so to speak. That’s because on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, the rich and famous join millions and millions of us who are tuning in to the phenomenon that is “American Idol.” In an increasingly fragmented media universe, “Idol” remains one of the last vestiges of mass culture, bringing celebrities and non-celebrities together and turning them into super-fans. Paris adores Simon, Jimmy Fallon hearts Ryan Seacrest, and Zac Efron thinks Paula Abdul is a “sweetheart.” They’re just a few of the many celebs who told MTV News just why they love the most popular show of the decade.
“[I like 'American Idol' because] it deals with regular people who really have a dream and like to perform. I have such admiration for those guys — they go literally from zero to 60 in a matter of days and they handle it like champs … most of them. I couldn’t have done that: go to the peak of your fame within a month of starting, and to be able to handle that kind of pressure. I don’t envy them.
“There was a period where I was actually going to the shows of ‘American Idol.’ A few years ago, I went, like, almost every week. That was the season Taylor Hicks won. It was great — it’s a completely different experience live. You really get to see who is a good singer, and who can really captivate a crowd. And you can tell it’s really influential on the judges’ decisions.
“I tend to agree with Simon most of the time. But my favorite judge, just because I know her, is Paula — she’s a real sweetheart.”
“I love Simon. I love Paula because I’ve known her since I was little, but Simon is just funny. I just love his humor. He’s kind of mean, but he makes the show really funny.
“It’s funny when the really bad people come in. I just think it’s hilarious … I feel like there have been so many seasons now that people are coming in [knowing] they’ll get air time if they act completely crazy and, like, suck. So it’s funny to see those nuts.”
“I like Simon. He’s fun. At least he’s honest, you know what I mean? I don’t trust the other two guys, I really don’t.”
“It’s just good television. You watch it and you see people kind of put themselves out there, and it’s kind of a little bit like a car crash where you’re like [she winces], but you have to watch. But some people are amazing. And seeing Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson and all these great artists that I love come out of it, you see that it’s just a great opportunity for artists to sort of get noticed.”
“It’s a phenomenon. It kind of has a great arc, doesn’t it? It starts with the people who can’t sing for crap and these people have to sit there and evaluate them, and then they get to these people that are actually quite talented. So it’s a story — it’s a Cinderella story. And people always love that.”
“I watch it because I’m a singer and I like to see what else is out there. I like to see my competition! I was a big Bo Bice fan, voted for Bo. I was a Clay Aiken fan. I loved ‘em all. Jordin Sparks, I was a big fan of hers. So everybody who I voted for did pretty good.
“I watch it with my whole family. We have a good time.”
“I love ‘American Idol.’ I watch it all the time. Ryan Seacrest has grown into his own thing now. I think he’s phenomenal … because at first I was like, ‘Oh, he’s just kind of the host with the other two hosts,’ and now it’s what, six seasons later? He’s part of pop culture … I tune in to see him.
“It’s fun to watch the opening weeks with people just not being talented on there. It’s cruel, but I laugh. I can’t lie … It makes me feel better about myself, because I know I am not as talented as the good people, but I’m not as bad as the worst people. It’s like, ‘Well, I’m not that bad.’ That’s ridiculous, you know?”
“It’s the competition. I think that’s what it is. It’s who you root for. It’s like an election. You vote, you participate in it, and that’s what I love about it. I don’t like all the bad auditions. I’d rather just watch good auditions. So, for me, that’s not even entertaining anymore.”
“I watch the first part of ‘American Idol,’ all the bad singers and stuff, because that’s like the funniest thing ever. Just to watch Simon do his thing is hilarious. When the good people come in, I’m like, ‘All right, I’ll hear from them in a year and they’re going to be selling 10 million records.”
Abigail Breslin “I love ‘American Idol’! I think it’s really fun seeing all the good singers and everything, and it’s fun. [As far as favorites this season] it’s too soon to tell, but I really like — there’s a girl named Asia’h, and I like her a lot.”
“It’s just a fun competition to watch. If you’ve got some friends and you’re following it for the season, that’s a real blast. I don’t watch the whole audition process. When it becomes a competition, that’s when I start watching it.”
“The early rounds are excruciating but funny. I usually give up after them. Is it the awful thing in us that we like to see people embarrass themselves? I don’t know. Maybe it’s that dark side of us. I think we like to root for the underdog. As the show goes on, we want people to succeed, but I think it’s a dangerous game. These poor kids who make it through, they’re so hopeful and the music industry is just tough. I find it quite sad as well to watch it.”
Ferras (singer of this season’s “going home” song, “Hollywood’s Not America”)
” ‘American Idol’ is a platform for the average person to become a huge success instantly — so in that sense, it presents a great opportunity for many aspiring singers who don’t live in a major music city. The audition shows are hilarious but sometimes kind of sad to see peoples’ dreams crushed.
“I love Simon. I think he’s absolutely brilliant. Yes, sometimes he goes a little too far, but when it comes to the music he really has a great sense. The drama of the judges, [their interaction], is really quite entertaining as well.
“I usually watch ‘Idol’ with a few friends at one of our houses — we’re totally quiet during the performances and then when it’s over, we start yelling and throwing things at each other and at the TV, kinda like football or something.”
Dave Della Terza (founder, VoteForTheWorst.com)
“I love ‘American Idol’ because it proves the age-old adage that if you lock 10,000 monkeys in a room with 10,000 typewriters, eventually they’ll come up with a subpar reality TV show. … But they have to be British monkeys!”
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