Over 30 million viewers tuned into the American Idol finale, which aired last week. WNYC’s Soundcheck looked into the reasons behind the American Idol phenomenon. Beyond the passionate singing and pop tunes, the show has become a barometer of popular culture. We examine why it’s so influential on the music industry, how it embraces the notion of failure, and how it stems from a long tradition of amateur talent contests. Later in the show an Americana idol, bluegrass musician Del McCoury performs live in studio. He talked about what it was like singing lead with Bill Monroe in 1963 and winning a Grammy Award for Best Bluegrass Album last year.
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