Dear American Idol Producers,
Sigh. Another season has ended, albeit with a surprise ending (Kris Allen defeating Adam Lambert), but the finale wasn’t watched in my household. Again. We didn’t watch last year, either. And although we watched most of the episodes this season, we still watched many fewer than last season.
Over the years there have been several consistent issues we have with the show which continue to drain our enthusiasm. If you care to know them, here they are:
Issue #1: Obvious no-talents singing before the judges during tryouts
I can see you all huddled in your planning meetings, hoping to strike some more William Hung-like ratings gold by putting through idiots, freaks, sad losers, and people whose singing talent is measured in the negative range. However, that schtick is old and played out and should be retired. As the judges are so fond of saying, and what keeps me watching, is that this is a singing competition. Having your screeners put through some croaking clown to sing before the judges is a ludicrous and transparent ploy, please stop it.
Issue #2: The endless, manufactured backstories
During tryouts, you pick supposedly interesting/appealing contestants and provide us with behind-the-scenes looks at their lives, toils, challenges, and troubles. However, at this early stage these are anonymous singers, so the program would be much more interesting and lively, in our opinion, if you would simply stage the singing competition. Now, when you get to Hollywood and start paring down the contestants to an identifiable bunch, we might like to learn a *little* something about them…but just a little. The endless biographing and attempts to manufacture pathos and drama are irksome.
Issue #3: Kara DioGuardi
Who? Why? The best way to describe her is to paraphrase Shakespeare thusly: “Kara is but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets her hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. Her’s is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” Kara did not have one moment that we saw this season that wasn’t useless, irritating, or both, or somewhere in between. And don’t get us started on her “song”, which is addressed further down in this article.
Issue #4: Country week
Do you have to kowtow to that demographic? Have you even stopped to consider how many viewers it drives away (like us) compared to how many it attracts for that one, single episode? Country music is not what American Idol is about, period, so don’t try to put a pig behind the lipstick – it insults the fans of both kinds of music.
Issue #5: Golden Idol awards
Really? Just shorten the damn show by 15 minutes. Please? Even 15 minutes of dead air would be preferable.
Issue #6: An even number of judges
This puts too much power in the hands of Lord Cowell. Have three judges…or five judges…but not four. Having Simon deciding ties also renders the new “Judge’s Save” useless, and makes it “Simon’s Save”.
Issue #7: Lip-synching
This is a singing competition. If the guests can’t sing live, or the group can’t learn to sing together live, then skip it. It taints the rest of the program to see such obvious lip-synching by the guests and during the group songs. It would be like having a slam-dunk competition in basketball, and inviting revered, retired players to perform, but then having to lower the backboard and/or provide them with a springboard in order to actually dunk. It’s demeaning to the performers and insulting to the viewers, so please stop it.
Issue #8: The horrible finale song
This is the worst issue of all. When each new season starts, we already start dreading having to sit through the inevitably atrocious, amateurish, pathetic, soulless, empty, fawning, shallow, superficial song that is written for the last show. There hasn’t been a single one that wasn’t a horrific affront to all things musical. And it is the absolute wrong note to strike at the end of American Idol. Over the course of the season, contestants improve. The bar gets raised each show. The songs and themes get better and better. Tension builds. Over the last two or three weeks each contestant has proven their worthiness, and each is a valid potential star. They swing for the fences, and we all get swept along with them, big voices and big talents tackling big songs, the skill and expertise are awe-inspiring, the artistry is soul-enriching. Until…like the giant, wet fart of an incontinent walrus….bbrrrppfppfppptttthhhh…that lame-ass final song. *That’s* what we’ve been building up to? A crappy and trite slice of pabulum not even fit for the discount bin? Please, in the name of all humanity, please stop torturing us with this horrific ending. Please.
I see today that the finale had all-time low ratings, and I can’t say that I’m surprised. Listen, Idol Producers, your show is still solid. You don’t need to do more non-singing-related bullshit, you need to do less. Strip it down to a singing competition. If you want to add something to it, make it about the singing and performing. How about a jury night in Hollywood? Bring in nine additional musical noteworthies/legends, make Simon the foreman, and have the jury decide on the final 24, or something like that?
Make sure that the entire focus of the show is on the quality of the singers and of the songs. Go back to the original three judges: Simon Cowell, Paul Abdul, and Randy Jackson. If you end up having to make changes, please pick people who will be interesting and relevant, unlike Kara, who is neither. And keep Ryan Seacrest, he continues to be an affable and unflappable host, the circus master who always seems to strike the correct note.
You have a great product, but it’s like you’ve taken a classic Rolls-Royce and tricked it out with fiberglass effects, tinted windows, neon running lights, and subwoofer in the trunk. Strip away the cheap bling and flashy trash, and be what you are – a pure and classic singing competition.