Join us for our weekly meander down the Idol Memory Lane. This week, it is the ooey-gooey delight of Ford Videos
One of the things that distinguishes Idol from some other reality competition shows is that its contestants get paid. The ACTRA union noticed that they were making Ford commercials and that’s acting. So, Idol pays them scale, which isn’t much, but at least it pays for some groceries for the folks back home. iTunes sales started in Season 6 and there has always been the tour, so going on Idol can pay a few bills even if you don’t win.
The Ford commercials have been pure fromage since they day they began. A brilliant little what the ???? moment wedged into the results show (another reason to lament the loss of the results show). Now that they don’t make them anymore, the contestants don’t have to waste a valuable day of the week filming them, but the Idols that filmed them said that they did learn from them. It taught them how to work with directors and how to act on camera which helps for those who go on to make videos for their music.
But even aside from whether the money or skills are worth it, the videos themselves were fun for the viewers. Sometimes, they were just lame videos of people randomly singing while cars drove around, but often they were whimsical interludes. I think that the golden age of the Ford videos was probably Season 7 when somebody with a great deal of imagination and a supportive budget made the commercials worth watching almost every week. Season 10 did give them a run for their money. Looking back through the commercials, it’s also great to see some of the contestants we’ve long since forgotten.
Here are 10 memorable ones (I tried to pick just one from each season, but Season 7 had too many to choose from)
1) Season 10 – Top 8 – Animals – I think that this is the best commercial they’ve ever made. It gives something for everybody to do, has a bit of a story and they obviously spent a few dollars on it. Plus. Zombies!!!
2/3) Season 7 – Top 6 – Tainted Love & Top 4 – Ring of Fire – Realistically, Season 7 has so many great Ford Videos, I could have picked 5, but I’ll just mention these two. First up is “Tainted Love” which is a wonderful re-imagining of a-ha’s “Take On Me” video. Idol actually used this technique a few times, but this was the fullest re-imagination of the video. “Ring of Fire” makes the mention because it is just such a wonderful example of the “what did I just watch?” type of results show craziness.
4) Season 6 – Top 10 – I Fought the Law – Season 6 may have been a bit of a dud season, but it wasn’t because of the Ford commercials. Here the contestants have a lot of fun and a comical twist. Can Chris Richardson ride a horse? Who cares, everybody looks great as a cowboy/girl.
5) Season 9 – Top 7 – We’ve Got a Big Mess On Our Hands – Season 9 was another creative year for Ford. In this one, they use some of the latest effects to freeze a Rube Goldbergian chain of events:
6) Season 1 – Top 6 – I didn’t watch Season 1, so I missed this video the first time around. But this is worth watching to see the videos in their early days even though it’s a pretty lame video (and no song). It does remind us that Idols used to live in a house together, Dunkleman was once on the show and Ryan didn’t used to be so stylish.
7) Season 5 – Top 4 – Wonderful World – Starting about mid-way through their run, Idol would have their yearly “Eco Friendly” commercial and this one gets the nod from me for this season. The imagery is great, the Idols have some fun and I have a soft spot for Kermit.
8) Season 2 – Top 3 – She’s a Lady – Season 2 was another season with a lot of imagination on the Ford front. If you watch through them though, its clear that Clay and Ruben were pushed to the fore-front as the stars and were frequently the focus of the videos. This one does feature all three in the top 3, but we get to know Clay and Ruben the most. This may be the only video to feature our host?
9) Season 8 – Top 5 – Energy – This season was a disappointment in my opinion on the Ford video front. Mostly, it was just Idols standing around with some post-editing tricks. I like this one best because of the imagery (and everybody looks great in the starting blocks).
10) Season 3 – Top 3 – Somebody Watching Me – Sorry for the poor quality of this video, but they have a lot of fun with it and given the fame of the show at the time, it most have seemed kind of scarily realistic to the contestants. Fantasia would go on to do a reality documentary show.
How about you? What favourites do you have? Do you miss these videos for their quirky charm or you glad to miss advertisements stuck directly into the programming?