Tuesdays 8:00 PM on FOX
American-idol

Should American Idol Increase its Age Limit?

by at . Comments

On seasons four and five of American Idol, when the semifinals featured 24 singers, one-third of them were teenagers — eight each season.

When this season's semifinalists were named on Wednesday, only three of the 24 were in their teens: 17-year-old Sanjaya Malakar, 17-year-old Jordin Sparks and 19-year-old Stephanie Edwards.

The numbers prompt the question from MTV.com: Is Idol growing up?

American Idols

Since raising the age limit to 28 for season four, singers approaching 30 have dominated the show, from Taylor Hicks, Chris Daughtry and Elliott Yamin to Bo Bice, Constantine Maroulis and Nadia Turner. And in season six, eight of the remaining contenders are 27 or older, including early favorites like Chris Sligh, Melinda Doolittle and Jason "Sundance" Head.Jacob Clifton, who covers American Idol for TelevisionWithoutPity.com, believes stocking the top 24 with older contestants is a practical decision from a television-marketing standpoint.

"I'm sure that the mean viewer demographic has increased in age over the six seasons of the show as it goes through the cool cycle, so I'd imagine that has something to do with it," he said. "People want to see themselves on TV."

"Because we saw so little of the Hollywood round, it's difficult to say much about the particular contestants," added David Bloomberg, editor of FoxesOnIdol.com. "But it did seem to be a particularly harsh Hollywood round, and it might simply be that the older contestants were better able to handle it than the teenagers."

"Idol" co-executive producer Nigel Lythgoe, however, was not so quick to say older singers have an advantage.

"I think you get tired and a little more jaded when you get older, and you feel as though it's your last chance, and that can be very emotional and affect you greatly in this competition," he said. "Whereas the 16-year-olds bounce from one thing to another, they don't know half the music they're singing."

Daughtry Quote Lythgoe is fully supportive of how the contestants reaching the semifinals have been getting older each year, though. In fact, he wants to raise the audition age limit to 30 next season.

"I think [28] brought us some more maturity and a little more professionalism in certain areas and we're happy about that," he said. "I don't know why 28. I really don't know why 30, but I guess we're just about managing to cope with the hundreds of thousands [of applicants] that we're getting at the moment. Opening up any more and I'm frightened to death how many people we'll get."

"I think it's a great idea," Daughtry said. "I think there's a lot of great, talented, untapped talent out there that has been doing the bar scene for a long time. Most of the guys in my band are over 30. And I don't think it stops there. I think that's when a lot of people are getting discovered.""I don't think it's a bad thing," Katharine McPhee added. "By the time the record is out they're like 31, 32. By the time the second record is out they're like 35. But, hey, 30 is the new 20!"

And, finally, how would last year's winner feel about raising the age limit?

"I think it's a good idea, because the experience helps," Taylor Hicks said. "And you can never look too old either, take it from me."

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.

Tags:
Avatar

During Season 6, I heard the news that Sherman Pore was creating a CD titled "For My Lady Love". And if that man ever puts on a concert, I am buying some tickets!!! When Sherman auditioned at his age, he took those young would-be contestants on a field trip back in time to what music was like when he was in his teens. Back in the 1950s and early 1960s, rap music hasn't been invented yet. Rock music was just starting. I said to some of my friends if Sherman wins, the maximum age limit of 28 goes out with the trash. And musically he did win due to not only his grand performance at the age of 64, but what he taught the young performers. Even Tony Bennet, at the age of 85, was also truly an American Idol.

Avatar

I AM 38 YEARS OLD AND I WAS GOING TO TRY FOR AMERICAN IDOL BACK IN 2000 BUT THE AGE LIMIT WAS 28 AND I WAS 30 I WAS SO DISAPOINTED AS OF RIGHT NOW I SING IN KARAOKE CLUBS BUT I WANT TO TAKE MY SINGING CARREER ALOT FARTHER I HAVE BEEN SINGING SINCE I WAS 5 IN CHURCHES AND I HAVE ALOT OF PEOPLE THAT LOVE TO HEAR ME SING AND ASK ME WHY I DONT DO SOMETHING WITH MY VOICE AND TELL ME THAT I SHOULDNT LET IT GO TO WAISTE I THINK AGE SHOULD NOT INTERFIER WITH THE TALENT THAT GOD GAVE YOU GOD DIDNT PUT A AGE LIMIT ON A PERSON WHO COULD SING I WOULD LOVE TO BE ABLE TO SING AND LET THE WORLD HEAR THE VOICE THAT I HAVE AND HAVE BEEN COMPLAMENTED SO MANY TIMES ON THANKS FOR LETTING ME SHARE MY OPENION SINCERLY BRENDA LARRIMORE OF SOUTH CAROLINA....

Avatar

It was really defeating to be 28 when the age limit was lower and then to turn 30 when they rasied the limit to 28. It took alomost all the wind out of my sails so to speak to dream of such an oppertunity and then just watch it slip away. It was not all about getting a contract but really the life experience in itself performing in front of the entire nation. That is a life accomplishment in itself and a dame shame that there are many people my senior who have an incredible voice that deserve to have that moment in their life and won't because of a stupid age limit. The powers that be could at least create a idol for people who are over 30 as it would draw a mature audience and bring a greater exposure to classic rock. thanks

Avatar

I myself am a mature talent at 51 (multiple applications - entertainment wise)and very young looking by the meaningful attention to good lifelong choices, arriving at the fact of youthful appearance and of having very flexible voice-ings.
Is there any other shows out there that could permit such an exception to the worldly rules of understandable assumption ? What defines an act in "America's got Talent" ?

Avatar

There is a petition out to get the age limit raised to 99 for season 9 and there are several others as well. Here is the one for season 9; http://www.thepetitionsite.com... Here is another one;
http://www.thepetitionsite.com... Now that petition is going to close on the 13th of January. So if I were you, I would sign it!

Avatar

I Think there should be no age limit i think if you have a god given talent like vocal as i do then who are we or anyone else to put a age limit on that talent i know i could win American idol because i have the voice for it and im 34 so im DISQUALIFIED excuse me oh well there loss.

Avatar

I think that they ought to raise it to either 72 or 99. Senior citizens have grand talents. Much more than the young idiots on there. When Sherman Pore auditioned, he sounded grand. He was 64. And Tony Bennet who is now 81 going onto 82, his voice sounded grand too on the finalie. Paris Bennet's voice slams like an old porch door.

Avatar

I am happy to see that someday the age limit will be raised. It is best to raise it to 99 so that senior citizens can also audition. And if not 99, then 72! Please raise it!!!

Avatar

Raising the age limit is great. Having the upper age limit being at 28 is just plain stupid. 30 isn't high enough. Raising it to 45 isn't bad, but if we really want to get some talent, then it is best to raise is to 99. 35 isn't that bad, 45 is better, 72 is even better but 99 is the best! There are times when the best talent comes from a senior citizen.

Avatar

I am so excited about the possibility of them raising the age limit. I have been singing for a long time but have never had the means to travel to auditions, but now that I do, here I am 29 and wouldn't be able to audition as it stands. I think a new age group would give a different angle of the show, and show how many bands out there really do have members above the age of 30. Please raise it!!

x Close Ad