Pop Idol (TV Series 2001–2003) Poster


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The formula continues to work but still leaves me cold and cynical in the face of uninspiring pub singers belting out covers while pantomime judges look on
bob the moo27 December 2005
After the success of Pop Stars, the continuing requirement for changes to the formula brought us to the same competition but with the aim of producing a solo artist instead of a band. Everything else in the formula was the same – harsh judges, "hilariously bad acts" wheeled out in the first few episodes, tears, joy, karaoke and big pauses between announcing the result of the public votes, a record deal and several massive selling records. It produced two temporary boy stars in Gareth Gates and Will Young but other than that it functioned as just another manufactured light entertainment show that gives the masses what they want – drama, music and the ability to turn the brain off and get worked up for other people.

The music used is consistent cover versions from start to finish, perfect for a Saturday night audience who have proved that they have no real demands – what with watching Stars in Their Eyes for the past 15 years and all. The contestants belted it all out with a lot of effort and then the judges praise them or criticise them while the audience (home and studio) boo and cheer as if they are at a pantomime. It is a fantastically cynical show that was originally criticised for coldly manufacturing an act but quickly moved to manufacturing everything about the show. The various bland acts will turn many musical fans off simply because it discourages originality in favour of the hits and the gloss of the pop charts – something that will please many viewers but personally I prefer music that I find interesting more than just soothing and familiar (in fact I am trying out Jean Grae for the first time while writing this). With so little between them it comes down to personality – something that the acts have safely tried to turn down to safe levels apart from a few guys that try to be "themselves" before being voted out. This leaves the judges to try and push forward their personalities and provide drama and the pantomime material, something that they easily do.

The delivery of Ant & Dec helped the proceedings because it did help keep things light and help the judges and the audience realise that it was all a bit of fun and not to take it too seriously. Contrast that style with the "the whole world hangs on this moment" delivery of X Factor's Kate Thornton and you'll see why it helped the series. The judges were a bit more relaxed and balanced as well, although Cowell was already starting to turn into a parody of himself long before the first series even finished. The acts that the show produced have mostly all died away – Rik Waller dropped out despite making it through to the final rounds (giving some rubbish excuse that suggested he was offered a nice deal if he just got his fat self off the show as the producers got rumours of efforts to comically let him win) while similar biggy Michelle McManus has taken to letting the world see her diet to keep things moving. Credit to Will Young who has managed to keep it going despite being so posh that the Royals think he is a snob.

Overall, like Pop Stars, a cynical product that gives the public the illusion that they are in control, letting them pay to create a pop star and then asking them to pay again to buy that artists' cover version singles. It works because the formula seems to have won over a large section of the Saturday night television crowd but personally I find it drearily staged and lacking in anything of interest as the TV blares cover version on the months long march towards yet another big selling first single followed by a gradual fade away.
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Call me a sucker but.....
flight_18012 May 2002
Okay, I just read the other person's comments on Pop Idol, and how it should only have one winner etc etc etc, but the thing with a show like Pop Idol is that having just one winner is virtually impossible. When you get down to the ten finalists, you can't just say "Oh well, we can only have one winner so even though you're all great at singing we're just gonna tell you to sod off now." Just look at Gareth Gates for instance; how could they just ignore his talent? I know he didn't win but to just let him go and fade into the background would be a loss to the music industry and a stupid mistake on Simon Cowell's part. Yes, so Will Young won, and he deserved too- He has a unique voice and is destined for great things, but then so is Gareth. They both have star quality, and I know a lot of people were like, "Oh, but Gareth knocked Will off number one and he never even won the show!" or "Whinge whinge Gareth's getting more publicity," etc etc, but the fact of the matter is, although Will technically DID win, both are Pop idols so it's about time people stopped whinging and moaning about the so called 'injustice' of the thing. I mean, if you were Simon Cowell, would you really want to pass up the opportunity to get as much money out of them as possible? Sounds callous I know, but he'd have been a complete moron to pass up signing Gareth Gates to BMG, just look at his four week stint at Number one if you don't believe me. The votes in the final were so close- How can we possibly say one is better than the other? It was just the luck of the draw on the nite and I'm talking a load of bollocks and I know it..........Ah well.

On another note, I love both Gareth and Will now, and am completely obsessed and consumed by both of them- so basically I got the best of both worlds, eh? Lucky old me.
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Where the Untalented meet the really Untalented
psyduck1923 December 2003
Hosted by two guys Ant and Dec who could not present a show to save their lives, a group of people with very little singing ability attempt to win a recording contract. I accidently caught the end of the last show and the woman said it is for people who the record companies would normally not notice. Need i say more.
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A truly unforgettable series.
prendevi11 February 2002
Well my favourite Will Young won! Hoorah! This programme has been tension filled and joyfully entertaining all the way through. But it was the mesmerising finale which was true and utter brilliance. From the hilarious ''Ant & Dec'' with their imitations of the judges and great one-liners. Then there were the judges Simon Cowell, Neil ''DR'' Foxy, Nicki Chapman & Pete Waterman. The real standout was in the final show Simon & Neil imitating Ant & Dec. In my opinion the best singer won a great competition. I had no interest whatsoever in Popstars but this was great. I hope Will and the runner-up Garreth have great careers.
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Pop Idol
Warning: Spoilers
It started in 2001, and since then its been one of the biggest and the best talent shows for those who want to become singers. Every time the show starts BAFTA nominated Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly begin with their good jokes and then we get to the contestants auditions. Every audition is cringe-worth, tearful, hilarious, and successful. To be honest I didn't watch the entire show, I just loved the auditions. The judges that had to watch these star seeking hopefuls were Pete Waterman, Nicki Chapman, Neil "Foxxy" Fox and of course, the mean but (sometimes) fair and truthful Simon Cowell. The best audition for me was either the guy in the banana costume singing "I've Got You Under My Skin", the creaking singer of "Eye of the Tiger" or The Cheeky Girls. The good stars that Pop Idol have made since the show have been Will Young, Garteh Gates, Darius, and Michelle McManus. It won the BAFTA for Best Entertainment (Programme or Series), and it was nominated twice for the Lew Grade Award, and it won (also nominated for) the National Television for Most Popular Entertainment Programme. Will Young was number 92, Pete Waterman was number 45, Simon Cowell number 33, and Gareth Gates number 6 on The 100 Worst Britons, Cowell was also number 67 on The 100 Greatest Sex Symbols, and he was number 28 on TV's 50 Greatest Stars, the programme was number 9 on ITV: 50 Greatest Shows, it was number 4 on The 100 Greatest TV Treats 2002, and number 39 on TV Treats 2003. Very good!
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Four years on and still going strong!
Gill6 March 2006
It is now four years since Will Young won Pop Idol and in that time he has released three multi-platinum albums and numerous Top 5 singles, including the fabulous album "Friday's Child" which has to date sold over 1.6 million copies. His latest album "Keep On" is still in the charts.

Will has won two Brits and many other awards including "Rear of the Year" in 2005!

Will has proved to be the right choice as winner. His career is going from strength to strength. His debut film "Mrs Henderson Presents" was released in November 2005 and has received much critical acclaim. He starred with the legendary Dame Judi Dench and Bob Hoskins - not bad for a young man who was only supposed to be "temporary"! I hope they don't make any more Pop Idol programmes as the second one was awful. Will has (as someone said) spoilt it for any other programme. He is the best!

Just editing to say that Will has just completed a nine week run in Noel Coward's The Vortex at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester and it was magnificent. The play has received some excellent reviews (although some were a little scathing) and played to packed houses at almost every performance. The last night was electric with the cast receiving a standing ovation.

I have just read back over some of the other reports on this page and have to laugh at people saying that the winner wouldn't last long. When Will won we had no idea what a supremely talented young man he was. It is five years since he won Pop Idol and he is now writing for his fourth album. His third album "Keep On" (in my view the best) is still selling and, with downloads, has no doubt sold well over one million copies.

I look forward to what he produced in the future, whether it is more music, appearing on the stage or on film.
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