Now we know why performers from North Carolina, like Fantasia Barrino and Clay Aiken, do so well on American Idol: They take the show so seriously there that you can study it for credit in one of the state universities. The course, an elective in the music department at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, is being offered for the first time this winter, coinciding with the debut of the show's fourth season in January, according to the University Times, the UNCC student newspaper. Professor Jay Grymes tells the paper he will ''use the show as a springboard for discussions about music style, terminology, performance, and the music industry as a whole.''
Students will be required not only to watch the Fox show each week but also to participate in its online discussion forums. The class will meet three times a week, discussing each week's musical theme in terms of style and history on Mondays, evaluating the performances on Wednesdays, and discussing the voting results on Fridays, in terms of what the record industry and audience are looking for in an Idol. ''I'm a big fan of the show and saw a lot of teachable moments, from terms used by the judges to understanding why someone is voted off,'' Grymes said. As for whether the course could teach students how to be the next Clay or Fantasia, Grymes said, ''People going into performing arts would probably benefit from a class like this with proper instruction.'' No word on whether the students will be required to hand in term papers, or if they can just phone them in via text messaging, but we're sure Grymes is looking forward to grading essays like ''Simon Says: The Critical Hermeneutics of Simon Cowell'' and ''Deconstructing Ryan Seacrest.''