After 15 seasons, countless auditions, and one Clay Aiken, American Idol is coming to an end. Fox has decided to pull the iconic singing competition from its schedule after its upcoming 15th season, marking the end of an era.
It’s hard to believe a show that once pulled in upwards of 30 million viewers a night for almost a decade—by far the biggest numbers on television—has now become a liability for the network. But that’s what happens when copycat shows like The Voice and X Factor saturate the market, and viewers tire of the same old format. But the show’s true death knell was the departure of Simon Cowell in 2009. After Cowell left to start X Factor, American Idol’s ratings dipped and never fully recovered. Last week’s episode pulled in only seven million viewers, but even more startingly, we didn’t even realize it was on.
American Idol didn’t always achieve its goal of minting music superstars—can anyone say Taylor Hicks?—but it did give us two bona fide stars in Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson, which is impressive enough. Even more impressive: the show also gave Paula Abdul her career back and transformed Ryan Seacrest into a media mogul. Not bad.
Now would be a good time to revisit Kelly Clarkson’s first-ever audition and weep at the purity of her voice and the loss of your youth.