Is this the last season of Canadian Idol? I make the suggestion today in The Toronto Star (read the full story here).
CTV's summer talent search showcase returns for a sixth season Tuesday at 9 p.m. E.T. Last year saw Canadian Idol ratings sag, especially in July and August, and this year's edition follows on the heels of a less than inspired season of American Idol where ratings started to noticably trend downward.
It is something CTV is keeping a close eye on as this expensive, cross Canada franchise moves forward. Troubling for the network is how viewers in the larger Canadian cities have tuned out Idol, especially younger viewers.
Where that is less true in during the early episodes, when the show has a crankier, harsher edge. Seems viewers in Toronto and Vancouver like to see the kids get beat up and the car wreck contestants make fools of themselves. When the show turns all inspirational as it winds down from the Top-20 contestants, these viewers seem to lose interest. Canadian Idol executive producer John Brunton agreed, telling me this week that "our ratings in big urban cities are higher in first three episodes. Those episodes tend to be more cynical, more edgy more comedic."
We'll see if that holds true this season. Both Brunton and veteran music industry observer Larry LeBlanc spoke to me about how the Canadian music scene is often at odds with the original American and British pop Idol motif. "If you look at our history in music...there is really a different musical tradition here," says Brunton, who's Insight Productions also produces the annual Juno Awards for CTV. "Pop and rock essentially hold hands in the UK. There’s a different attitude in Canada."
LeBlanc goes so far to say that, besides Celine Dion, "Canadians in general have not fared well in pop music. We do rock really well, we do folk really well, we do alternative rock really well. In the States they have, what, about 1000 singers that sound like Mariah Carey?"
As a result, our finalists tend to be a little more rock and roll than theirs (remember--Canadians won both editions of CBS's Mark Burnett series Rock Star) and Brunton looks for that trend to continue this season. He points out that last year's winner, Brian Melo (above), "is a rocker, he's a guy who has a working class kind of vibe about him. Years ago when we started our program, I'm not sure that was the kind of guy who could win Idol. I think we take a broader view of what Idol can be today."