American Idol Returns Wednesday: Six Ways We'd Improve Season 10!

The premiere of American Idol‘s hotly anticipated/anxiety-inducing tenth season is only a day away, and like a contestant on Bridalplasty, the show will be debuting a radically different face when its veil gets lifted this Wednesday at 8/7c.

It remains to be seen whether or not all the widely reported changes will ultimately reinvigorate or eviscerate Fox’s veteran ratings juggernaut, but regardless, I’ve got a little extra advice that I think will boost the chances that 2011 will be remembered as the year Idol got its groove back. Without further ado…

Keep a vat of Nickelodeon Slime™ perched above Randy Jackson‘s head during all live telecasts | If, after 15 seconds, he fails to start forming a coherent sentence or offer some kind of tangible feedback — and instead of opting for some variation on “Yo, yo, yo, Dawg, what’s goin’ down? Interesting song choice for you…” — pull the cord and douse him in so much green sludge. Seriously! Dude has made millions of dollars over nine seasons and still hasn’t learned how to get to the point. It’s time to replace the carrot with the stick.

Force Jennifer Lopez to spend 30 minutes before every show watching a highlight reel of Simon Cowell’s best critiques (and Ellen DeGeneres’ worst) | Look, early reports indicate J.Lo might be assuming the role of tough-but-caring den mother to the latest crop of contestants, but there’s a tremendous difference between judging the audition rounds (where experienced editors can make you look fantastic) and offering honest, succinct, and funny feedback in front of a live audience. If J.Lo wants to win over the Idol audience and regain pop-culture relevance, she needs to remember it’s her job to sway the public toward the next generation of Jennifer Hudsons and away from anyone resembling John Stevens or Jasmine Trias. That means she has to value brutal honesty above all else — including her ability to be seen as likeable and her desire to distribute gold stars to everyone. Yes, outspoken female celebrities always pay a higher price in the court of public opinion than their male counterparts, but I suspect Lopez will be able to brush off a few “rhymes with witch” criticisms if her own brand of tough love makes her the most popular judge on the nation’s most popular show. Heck, that sure sounds like a better fate than spending the next 10 months coming up with dishonest variations on the word “great” to describe Andrew Garcia-level performances, no?

Let Steven Tyler be the wacky one, but for the love of Katie Stevens, not the dirty one | Look, I’m no prude, but with Idol lowering the minimum contestant age this season to 15, I think it’s safe to say we can do without sexually charged banter behind the judges’ table — especially if it’s coming from an aging rock star with a penchant for floppy hats. (Shudder.) As far as I’m concerned, what happens at an Aerosmith concert stays at an Aerosmith concert, but a little discretion during TV’s family hour wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

Give Ryan Seacrest a remedial course in conducting contestant interviews | No disrespect intended: Watch five minutes of Skating With the Stars or Live to Dance, and it’s obvious Seacrest is one of the best in the business at keeping a live telecast chugging right along. But in season 9, Ryan’s results-night interview segments with the Idol finalists were absolutely brutal. I mean, it was uncomfortable seeing Casey James sheepishly address the “cougar Kara” question once, but having him do it for 10 straight weeks was just downright sadistic.

Nigel Lythgoe, remember there’s a big difference between contestants’ life stories and contestants’ sob stories | In other words, if the judges discover an adorable Oklahoma farm girl with killer pipes, or a shy pharmacy clerk with unbelievable soul, we’re more than happy if your cameras follow them home and help us get to know ’em better. But Idol‘s audition rounds shouldn’t resemble a highlight reel for Oprah’s Angel Network — or worse yet, a disaster relief telethon.

Cécile Frot-Coutaz, get started on a Banned Songs List | I know, I know…the show is reportedly enlisting A-list music producers to occasionally guide the contestants through the perilous waters of choosing and arranging their numbers, but as long as singers like Paige Miles are drawn to songs like “Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now),” nothing should be left to chance.

Are you excited about tomorrow night’s Idol premiere? Do you give a thumbs up or a thumbs down to my proposed changes? And what tweaks would you make to the show if you ran the universe Fox? Sound off below, and to get up-to-the-minute alerts of all my Idol recaps, interviews, and commentary, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV.