Clark Beckham, Rayvon Owen, Tyanna Jones and Jax Miskanic can relate to all things surreal.
Six months ago, these four American Idols were just four young singers spread out across the nation. By May, they were American Idol finalists, belting out Top 40 hits for millions of television viewers.
These days, they’re on a 37-date American Idol Live! tour, along with Season 14 winner Nick Fradiani, with a stop at Parker Playhouse in Fort Lauderdale 7:30 p.m. Tuesday (Ticketmaster).
The tour, like Idol itself, is not the juggernaut it once was. For the second straight year, it will hit theaters, not arenas, with its fewest number of contestants to date. Idol’s 15th season, debuting in 2016, will be its last.
“When Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood won, the show was at a level where you can’t compare it to anything,” Fradiani said.“As soon as you got off, you were so well-known and so huge of a star right off the bat. ... Now, it doesn’t mean that if you win you’re going to be a star.”
This summer’s Idol tour marks the beginning of the end for a show that has affected pop culture like few others. When Clarkson won Idol’s first season in 2002, some 23 million Americans watched the finale (compared to 7.7 million this year) and more than 9,200 fans packed the arena then called the St. Pete Times Forum for a concert by that year’s top 10 finalists.
But the superstars (Jennifer Hudson, Chris Daughtry, Scotty McCreery, Clay Aiken) and copycats (The Voice, America’s Got Talent) were only the beginning. Think of the memes, moments and punch lines the show has gifted us over the years. William Hung. Sanjaya Malakar. The “Pants on the Ground” guy. From Justin to Kelly. “Pitchy, dawg.” The show made such a star of host Ryan Seacrest that he landed a $21 million reality-TV production deal with E! in 2006.
Yes: American Idol gave the world Keeping Up With the Kardashians.
But Idol’s last two champs, Candice Glover and Caleb Johnson, failed to set the industry on fire. In 2014, the tour downsized. This year, instead of all 10 finalists, Idol is only sending five, backed by a full band, with time for stories and banter between songs.
While the singers admit it would be fun to play arenas, they know the change to a more intimate format was necessary.
“It’s a different world we live in, as opposed to 12, 13 years ago,” Owen said.“With social media, there’s more of an instant connection to us. People feel a lot more connected when I can tweet them back.”
The singers know success after this tour is far from guaranteed. When Beckham talked about building his post-Idol career, he began by saying,“Hopefully, if I get signed . ...”
If. If he gets signed.
“You never know,” he said, shrugging. “I was playing on the street six months ago.”
Tampa Bay Times