11 judges, 14 years, 15 seasons, and hundreds of contestants later, pop-culture juggernaut American Idol finally puts itself to rest tonight with its final episode ever. There’s no denying the tremendous impact the series has made on the entertainment landscape since it’s 2002 debut, or how the show redefined the ways we assess new music talent. Specifically, without American Idol in my life, how will I know which garbage music I should never, ever listen to?
Were there no Idol, I would have never known to entirely avoid the music of season 14 winner Nick Fradiani, or season 12 winner Candice Glover. I mean, they were on American Idol. I could generously say that they’re just not for me, but honestly they probably just plain suck — and I only know they suck by virtue of their association with American Idol. Thanks to the show, I’ve been able to wholly write off the likes of season 9 winner Lee DeWyze and season 7 winner David Cook having never heard a single song of theirs.
And it’s not just winners I don’t give a shit about: when uniformly terrible singer Taylor Hicks won Idol season 5, he left in his wake Chris Daughtry, Elliott Yamin, Katharine McPhee. All of them are very bad too, and I’ll never listen to them. Idol let me know that.
Never in history has a TV series showcased such a diverse cross section of terrible nobodies for people to never listen to, and as they unplug the mic, each and every American owes Idol a debt of gratitude. For now, we’ll have to set our cultural compasses to beat of The Voice –– because can you literally name even one winner of that show?