In the wake of the sad train wreck that was Big Brother 08, Australian Idol has reared its ugly head once again.
Like most years, I feel compelled to watch the auditions, if only for the occasional musical gem hidden amongst the festering pile of people who've clearly never bothered to actually listen to themselves sing.
Mercifully, the hideous multi-headed beast that is the judging panel has been downgraded from a four-headed Hydra to a mere three-headed Cerberus; somewhat appropriate given their (purported) guardianship of the gate of musical quality.
The prize is still a recording contract, although that must have less and less appeal for contestants.
Once upon a time such a thing was the only way for a young artist to get an album made and distributed, but that's just not the case any more. Any teenager with talent and some bootlegged software can record a track in their bedroom and sell it all over the world.
The only real benefit Australian Idol imparts upon its contestants, and admittedly it's not an inconsiderable benefit, is publicity. But all the contestants get that, or at least the final 12 do. It's not just the winner.
In fact, I could see someone going into Idol with the clear intention of getting kicked out before the final three.
They'd get all the publicity, no parasitic record company leeching off them afterwards, and an independent album where they get to keep all the profits.
Sounds like a plan.