Monday, May 5, 2008

Popular Music on Television

The Doctor, especially in his tenth incarnation, is a fan of popular music. He attempted to take Rose Tyler to see Elvis Presley on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1956, dropped her off at an Abba concert while he looked for the Graske, and wanted to see Ian Drury and the Blockheads in 1979. The program itself incorporates tunes that express the personalities of the characters. Cassandra in the episode "The End of the World" taking place in the future plays what she describes as an example of classical music, Britney Spears' "Toxic" on her "iPod," the Master dances to "I Can't Decide" by the Scissor Sisters on the Valiant (Last of the Time Lords), and Jackie Tyler plays "Regresa A Mi" by Il Divo, promoted by Simon Cowell, to Elton Pope (Love & Monsters). Elton is named after the singer Elton John, and plays music from the Electric Light Orchestra with his fan club dedicated to the Doctor.

In a change of pace, consider why is American Idol so popular? We've all heard the arguments for and against reality television. But might it actually be beneficial for popular culture? In this article I argue that American Idol is part of a tradition that goes back to the early days of television in the 1950s, that makes music from different generations accessible to a wide audience.

I've been watching American Idol since season one and enjoy watching the drama of the singers coming from all over the country and world to express themselves through music, and learn from the judges' comments how to improve their performances from week to week. It's great to watch artists like Carrie Underwood, Chris Daughtry, Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Hudson, and many more achieve their dreams of becoming successful in show business, after seeing how they started out on American Idol. In Britain where the format started out with Pop Idol, other shows like Any Dream Will Do with Andrew Lloyd Webber and John Barrowman where contestants seek a leading role in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat help to bring new audiences to musicals. I like how John Barrowman is simultaneously an action lead in Torchwood and an accomplished singer, as Tallulah (in the Doctor Who episode "Daleks in Manhattan") would say, "into musical theater." The Doctor Who leads David Tennant and John Barrowman are multi-talented, can do drama and comedy, and are fun to watch in interviews as well.

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