Caught a bit of American Juniors last night, and don't have much to say except - ew. The predominant reaction I had, to every number, to every performer, to every backstage clip and pre-arranged "bit," was just that - ew. It was creepy.
I followed the second American Idol nominally, and had separate issues with that program's grim insistence on horrible singing as a model to aspire to. It dawned on me as I followed AI that the producers and judges really do believe that Mariah Carey and Celine Dion represent a pinnacle of singing, and as a devotee of the form I was, quite frankly, nauseated. While each of the aforementioned women have undeniably powerful instruments, neither has any idea as to how best utilize that instrument - and this was the same disease I saw in the AI finalists.
AJ had a very different problem, at least from the bits I caught last night, and it's that these are, in the end, kids, and they're simply not very good. Weak, thin voices with very wobbly pitches put to serve really, really (really) bad songs in awkwardly, forced up-with-people presentations. The real problem is that, as kids, they shouldn't have better voices or more polished stage presences - those are the tools they should be developing at their ages. But the show puts them out there, and will presumably put out the group that's formed, as real singers, real entertainers, that real people will be expected to pay real money to see, and that's just wrong. Perhaps the "ick" factor I felt came from this juxtaposition - the juxtaposition of inexperienced, unformed talent and professional presentation. Whatever the reason it was distinctly uncomfortable seeing these kids up there, and, while of course it wasn't nearly as morally reprehensible as the real thing, it had the same unpleasant aftertaste of real, nasty child exploitation.