“American Idol” has announced that for Season 10, the age limit eligibility for auditions has dropped to 15 years old. Can that be considered an improvement? It depends on what the show wants to improve.
If the show is looking to improve its talent pool, we do not think lowering the age limit is the answer. In fact, raising the age limit is probably the way to go. Sure, there are pop stars like Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus who made it big at a young age — but those stars are so one-in-a-million that we are skeptical the show will find the next Bieber or Cyrus by lowering the age limit.
Instead, you’ll get even more performers like Aaron Kelly — a sweet young kid that felt all season like he was playing dress-up in his dad’s closet. Kelly is definitely talented, but he seemed like a half-baked cookie. We would’ve like to have seen him wait a season or two before auditioning.
Lowering the age limit will merely serve to increase the number of half-baked cookies we get at auditions. “American Idol” isn’t about straight-up vocal talent anymore — it’s about knowing who you are as an artist and being able to make songs your own. And for that reason, we think actually keeping the lower range where it is and raising the upper range from 28 years old to 30 or 32 is the best way to improve the talent pool from which the show draws.
However, if the “Idol” machine isn’t so much worried about the talent pool but is instead worried about the way its voting demographics appear to have shifted in the past 3-4 seasons, then changing the audition age is probably exactly what the show needs.
We can’t pretend that middle aged moms and tween girls don’t rule the voting bloc. Why else do contestants like Tim Urban and Aaron Kelly stay in the competition at the expense of contestants like Siobhan Magnus and Didi Benami?
So what better way to cowtow to those voting demographics than to get even younger, more Bieber-esque contestants (because let’s be honest, Bieber may physically be 16 but he looks like he’s 12).
While “Idol” may get even harder for the rest of us to watch, perhaps the show is playing up the strongest audience it has. In that case, the move will probably serve the show well in its 10th season.
Of course, there is also the point of view that this change is fairly inconsequential and that what will really make or break Season 10 is who replaces judge Simon Cowell.
What do you think? Vote now!