Exclusive: Nigel Lythgoe on Haley Bashing, Twitter Rants, and SYTYCD Changes

As executive producer of American Idol, Nigel Lythgoe has to balance the job of creating a compelling TV show with the work of discovering the nation’s next big music sensation — tasks that sometimes take him down competing paths. Lythgoe sat down for an Idoloonies interview (prior to Top 3 performance night and Haley Reinhart’s elimination) and shared his thoughts on how the eventual third-place finisher was treated by the judges after her performance of Michael Jackson’s “Earth Song,” what changes he and his team are considering with regard to theme nights and voting rules, and why Season 10 results-night telecasts have been more compelling than in years past. Other topics on the table included Steven Tyler’s performance as an Idol judge, the oft-discussed but never realized contestant songwriting night, and the idea of taking viewers even further behind the Idol curtain.

Idoloonies: James Durbin Talks Flaming Pianos,
Metal ‘Revolution,’ ‘Waterworld’ Inspiration

Lythgoe also talked about the upcoming eighth season of So You Think You Can Dance, including his wish list of folks who might occupy the third judge’s chair this season (think everyone from will.i.am to Shirley MacLaine), the popular former contestant who could have a role in the coming months, and his perpetual fear of alienating the show’s core audience.

Idoloonies: Jacob Lusk Talks ‘Alone,’
Luther Comparisons, and That ‘Mirror’ Controversy

Press play below for all that and much more, and for all my Idol and SYTYCD recaps, news, and commentary, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV.

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362 Comments
  1. B.Rich says:

    Wow, this is certainly unexpected.

    • Kate says:

      Once again, for probably the tenth time by me but echoed by many who come to this site, is there a reason that you can’t use a video player that could be paused while Idoloonies loads? Love this show but it is usually an exercise in teeth gnashing to load/watch. There has got to be some other way to produce this. Please!

      • darcy's evil twin says:

        Kate -see below. another Idoloonie posted a suggested fix for your problem.

        • Gilby says:

          I appreciate the suggestion further down (to right-click on the video, select settings, and change local storage settings to a higher capacity) but it had no effect on my ability to watch the video without the annoying pauses. I set it to unlimited and everything. In fact, the video got to 3:09 and stopped completely. I’ve reloaded this page several times now and can’t even get the video to show at all now.

          I don’t understand why no one at TVLine has even addressed this issue. And I REALLY don’t understand why every other site can use a server that has no loading issues, but they can’t. You can’t tell me that it’s a pricing issue because they could always make a YouTube channel for free… :-/ It’s very disappointing because I would love to be able to watch these all the way through!

          • Linda says:

            I haven’t had a single problem on either of the 2 locations and computers where I watch these. I can pause if I want. I don’t have to wait for things to buffer. And yet I do sometimes have problems with YouTube, so I don’t think it’s that I have such a super connection. It is cable in both locations.

          • This! I have DSL at home, and the video pauses constantly, with no way to pause and let it load. I don’t know what I have at work, but it plays fine there. But I don’t watch videos for a living. ;P Whatever format was used for Idolatry worked brilliantly.

          • Gilby says:

            I have DSL, as well. I normally use Google Chrome as my browser, too – don’t know if maybe that has something to do with it (I don’t think it does as, again, I have no problems with videos on other sites)…

            I don’t have a problem with it needing to buffer – the problem is that I can’t press pause and have it continue to buffer/load while I’m doing something else (something every other video on every other site seems able to do). Again, I changed the buffer capacity as suggested by the poster below but it did not make a difference…

          • rennie says:

            I feel your pain….I don’t get it. I’ve also posted a bunch of times about it, no explanation…well, this is why I am on the comments page, waiting to load…

          • Mike says:

            @Gilby
            It’s the speed of your modem, and how far your computer is from your wireless router. It’s not really the broadcaster’s/ poster’s problem. That will only occur when you receive an “error” message. If you use DSL, it is much slower than cable; also, both DSL and cable modems, plus, their providers offer different rates of download speed. I recently upgraded my Comcast modem from 20mbps to 50mbps, which cost more, but is incredibly fast. Also, I added a wireless “bridge” that extended the range of my router. If you’re using a desktop computer, you’re probably hardwired via ethernet cable to your modem. You may decide to upgrade your modem speed.

            Also, check if your wireless router and laptop use the highest wireless technology. The new standard is 802.11n, but there are still plenty of computers and modems using 802.11g. This will always affect your streaming speed.

            A large percentage of work computers will always be infinitely faster than those used at home. Businesses have multiple laptops or desktops being used in the offices, and must accommodate those users. The more users in your office, the slower your transfer rates.

        • beawasherexo says:

          Where the heII are the suggestions. It’s a pain in the arse to watch these videos by the h0mo with the glasses.

          • ohreli says:

            Do you guys have DSL or cable internet connections? The videos play perfectly on my DSL connection.

          • darcy's evil twin says:

            This was posted below – Right click on your player, choose settings, then in the local storage folder, slide the tab to the right to increase your buffer size. If it’s crashing at the same point all the time it’s because the video buffer isn’t flowing smoothly.
            Comment by A.W. Baimun – May 23, 2011 07:25 AM PDT Reply To This Post

      • Andy says:

        DITTO
        DITTO
        DITTO
        DITTO
        DITTO
        DITTO
        DITTO
        DITTO
        DITTO
        DITTO

      • MatterofTime says:

        Word to this! I get so frustrated trying to watch these videos. Takes forever to start loading and then will play just a few seconds before it starts loading again. A 10 minute video can take up to an hour before I can watch the whole thing.
        Slezak, will/can you PLEASE fix this?

      • the real wendy says:

        Michael…. I caught the passive aggressive clips stuck in there!!! HAHA!

      • AtoZ says:

        I have to say, I don’t get why othres have problems. My computer is like 6 years old, limited memory and causes me all kinds of trouble on a bunch of sites…. YET – I have no trouble at all with these videos (on a cable modem). I just wish they were compatible for iPhone/iPad ;-)

        • Billy says:

          You said you have a cable connection – that’s why you aren’t having issues with loading. The problem is with DSL <1.50 Mbs download speeds. When my speed drops during evening peak use time (.01 – .34Mbs) it takes up to 3-4 hours for Idoloonies to load. BTW, .01Mbs is one-fifth the speed of dial-up!
          Michael, that's a testament to how GREAT your videos are, that someone would wait hours to see one in it's entirety.
          Bottom line is you are very fortunate, so stick with your ISP, AtoZ.

      • Mike says:

        So glad someone brought this up…I can’t watch these videos on my android phone…I’m able to watch everything else that’s flash based EXCEPT for these vids. I can’t even find a way to download the .flv files of these videos so I can just convert them myself to a compatible format. Like others have mentioned, why can’t you just create a youtube channel and upload the videos there?? The way it is now makes it so unnecessarily complicated.

      • Kate says:

        I understand that it is probably my modem connection – we have to get ours off of cell phone towers where we live, its the only choice we have (if we don’t want to use ancient dail-up that can take days to load) and I am at peace with it :) But, I can connect to YouTube click on a video, pause it walk away for awhile and actually get something done, come back and its loaded and I can view it start to finish. I cannot do this with the video player used by Idoloonies. Occassionly someone posts an episode on YouTube and I am overjoyed. If someone knows how to do this many of us would greatly appreciate if you would and then give us a heads up in the comment section! Thx fellow Loonatics for your commiseration and suggestions, .

    • buzz says:

      What was unexpected for me, the same logic we have heard from Nigel previously regarding the judging of Haley, is that he still expects us to believe this nonsense. Even though he comes off as articulate, the premise that the judges can single out one contestant for an unjustified harsh critique (ex. Haley’s You and I, HOTRS) because they somehow know the next one will be super is blatant manipulation. It’s totally illogical and Michael you let him off the hook there, very diplomatic of you! The implication is that this technique helps level the playing field, which he has no control over? Yet, here he is openly defending the practice. It insults our intelligence along with making the one promoting the idea sound…well quite moronic!

      • Terry says:

        For Nigel to say it only happened when Haley did 2 songs was total Bullsh*t! Looking back from Top 24 to Top 4, Randy slammed 8 out of 13 of Haley’s performances. I wish Michael would have pursued more the issue of the judges giving the contestants who weren’t Haley a free pass. I really wanted to know if there a reason for this, like if they weren’t allowed to criticize them because of certain condiditions or certain ages. Oh well still a great interview.

        • Brecken P says:

          Reinhart deserved to be criticized on at least 5 of those performances (“Fallin,” “I’m Your Baby Tonight,” “You Really Got A Hold On Me,” “Call Me,” “Earth Song”), but the criticism she received on “You And I” and a couple of others was completely unwarranted. She killed it on most of her other performances.

          • Terry says:

            But the thing is, other contestants deserved to be criticized on numerous occasions and they weren’t. I have no problem with criticism where it’s warranted, just apply it fairly to all contestants. Don’t put one contestant down while giving others a free pass.

          • Brecken P says:

            @Terry–I agree. Personally, I started missing Simon very quickly after I realized these judges were just going to rave over almost every performance. And if they were going to start toughening up, they should have toughened up on more than one contestant. They’ve quickly become pretty useless.

          • darcy's evil twin says:

            And couldn’t they “toughen up” on the constestants that sang like crap? Or were off-key? Or how about just plain boring?

      • Anna says:

        I learned everything I needed to about the judging when the save was wasted on Casey.

        • darcy's evil twin says:

          While I understand your frustration, I believe the end result would have been the same. They kept Casey on the tour – I think that was the actual goal.

        • Terry says:

          I have no problem with the Casey save, it gave me one of my favorite moments of the season… when him and Haley performed their duet of ‘Moanin’, that was bleeping awesome!

          • jabbathewocket says:

            Agreed 100%

            The fact that Casey didn’t take any of the critique to heart ended up kicking him off.. but had he not been saved.. we would have missed out on moanin.. which was my favorite performance of the season…

        • Cincy Town says:

          Worse people they could have kept — Stefano, Pia, Jacob, Karen and so forth,

      • Cheryl says:

        I thought Michael could’ve asked more about the voting rules. What control do the producers have over the “power” voting? He must’ve told him he could plug his SYTYCD show coming up next and didn’t get to everything that could’ve been asked. He never really addressed the obvious unfair critique of Haley. I believe Nigel agreed to this interview as a way to do some damage control.

        • A.W. Baimun says:

          Nigel and everyone in idol production is ignoring the fact that VOTES DO NOT EQUAL DOLLARS. A rabid fan that votes 2,000 a week for a contestant may buy songs for their ipod (or pirate it for free if they know how to “power vote” then they’re probably tech savvy) versus someone who may only vote once, but might download several tracks or a full album. That power voter isn’t going to buy 50 copies of the same album…. and then they can’t figure out how a 4th place finisher (rhymes with aughtry) can sell millions of cds and singles, but a “winner” can’t sell more than a handful (rhymes with trailer hicks).

          • B-scot says:

            Its a balancing act with Fox wanting high ratings where as Idol needs more of its Idols to do better than last 3 or 4 years where the guys with guitars have ruled the show.
            I like power voting to a degree but limit it to 50 votes per device, since the new cell phones and text message have pushed it too far over board now.
            Many may still not vote or only once or twice but 50 votes is with in easy reach of everyone in 2hrs if they are fired up about a contestant.
            With the current iphone and other cell phone voting app, you can enter the phone number and walk away while voting 2k to 10k votes per hour.

      • emrom says:

        excellent point. He also implied that the contestant get more feedback from Jimmy, however we [the voters] don’t get to see or hear that. Therefore, we left with the notion that some contestants were perfect in any possible way, or even though they were off it was emotionally perfect,and some weren’t. Thus, it is impossible not to be affected by the “judges” and their “critiques”. Also, sometimes they did try to help, and IMO Haley got as good as she was (is), because they gave her points to work on, on live TV. However, they didn’t always give the right critiques [ex. instead of telling Pia to go uptempo, and go against her style, they should have told her to sing in her comfort zone, but something more current or to re-arrange it as she did with the Whitney song].
        and here we are with the two youngest contestant ever (that is good TV and good selling aspect!) and with the American Karaoke contest, in which the goal is to be the cutest and to defeat the other, and not to be the best singer you possibly can.

      • larry says:

        Indeed, ok now they say OK but well they know maybe she has a truly performance of the night coming up so they can go a little harder on her other song. BUT what he fails to note is that they are then essentially punishing someone for being best of the night in a sense and taking a little of the luster off!

        Look around the net and you see people saying well maybe Haley didn’t deserve to go on because she is too inconsistent. The others always do it right at least. Wait a minute, what? Someone who has this amazing run where they have THE best performance of the night, some of the only ones people will remember from this season a year from now and somehow they are the contestant who gets labelled as inconsistent? Simply because they can merely deliver but one standing O a night and have a second performance that is merely solid to sometimes even rather excellent itself?

        In the past if someone was able to light the night on fire just once on a night well that would’ve been THE goal. And you sure didn’t see them going harder on James if he had one performance way better than another. And could you honestly imagine them going harder on some of them, other than Haley, just because they had a standing O for one performance?

        You have someone with two very mediocre performances and they called very solid on both or one awful and one pretty decent and they called extremely solid and fantastic and then some viewers are like oh look they never get anything bad said they can always deliver. And you people say oh she just had a few scattered amazing performances and that was all she ever did. Seriously? As opposed to say none? None is more consistent? And he criticized performances were mostly towards to the top of the night anyway even if not of the same level of her greatest ones and certainly on par with some of those of others who had nothing said about theirs at all.

        It’s blatant manipulation when one person has two have two standing O’s per night to not get singled out once each week!

        And the thing is even early on when they only had one performance per night Randy was still harping on this or that when often sometimes rather severely problem plagued performances were getting passes or even raves, especially for certain contestants. They say well maybe we got her fans angry enough to vote to keep her in at top 4. Well maybe you don’t need that if you the other stuff doesn’t go on?

        Plus when a contestant sees this again and again, they have to know it may wear on them and it’s almost like egging them on until they say something and then sure they get a ratings spike from the drama but maybe the person then can’t pull in enough new fans to have a shot to make it quite to the very top any more. And it’s like the way they so went overboard singling her out come on it’s like they were hoping she’d do something just enough so that she wouldn’t quite make it all the way or something. And you love how when her singles her out there he totally forgets about her performance of the night the week before why didn’t that put her in at least a tie, if not the lead to be in it to win it all??

        And now look what they have, the only season EVER where neither finalist has really had a single stand out moment yet, never mind a few or even many leading into the finale.

        And can you imagine what they would say had Haley done the ridiculous Looky Here muggings and karaoke corn of Young Blood? And they praise the heck out of that. Sometimes literally missed half the notes and makes a general shambles and all you hear is mumbo jumbo about how it was so special anyway and we are not talking about someone who did half the song in stunning fashion and then part average and messed up a few parts but a performance that the best part is barely above average and half is a total mess.

        And you can clearly there are certain people who get the constant praise no matter and others who do not. And many of the ones with the constant praise seemed to have gotten a lot of early story time too.

        And it’s not like they are able to deny that they are harder on her at times, they have even admitted it but then they just try to excuse it with ridiculous excuses.

        Now if they see she has these stunning performances in her and some are very good but not quite to that level and they want to push her to always be there well the problem is if you are not criticizing the others all along for anything then this advice to her will stick out like a sore thumb and make her appear worse.

        And how do you defend stuff like JLO saying:
        One week: don’t pick something well known that everybody knows?
        Next week: why did you not pick something well known that everybody knows? who cares if we could see it moved you? you needed to pick something well known.
        Later that night to two others: we can see how much it moved you, who cares that the songs are not well known, right?

        Or Randy’s mad dawg raving about some typical whatever (to any of a certain few contestants) and then suddenly holding Haley (or one or two others) to top of the top of the top standards?

        So when Nigel asks why were Haley fans not just merely very disappointed but so fierce and angry, well this is why. If someone just doesn’t capture enough votes because of the demographics of the show’s viewers well sure you get annoyed at that and upset and disappointed but you accept and that is that and you don’t start losing respect for the show, get mad at the show and feels it’s trading it’s legitimacy for some game.

        Just tell us this Nigel, how can something not be wrong when the contestant who delivered the most performances of the night this season and had best of the night the last few weeks have been made to seem shaky and inconsistent by two of the judges while others who never did any of that or who sometimes had some moments but also had some real debacles be made to sound like always perfect top of their game? Maybe the results don’t change that much anyway but even a little can be a big difference and at the least people won’t feel disgusted or angry at goings on which is not really healthy for a show in the long term is it?

        • Suncatcher says:

          Larry, good points, but this looks like your Masters thesis!

        • Blair says:

          I THINK I followed that! WOW. Anyway, good on ya, Larry! I appreciate what you were saying(I think!). But really I can appreciate that you said what was on your heart, and I think it echoes what others on this board feel too. I’m just not very sure if anything can permeate the slimy snakeskin that is Nigel Lythgoe and the producers ultimate plan, when it seems that they seem to be able to succeed at interviews by just smiling and at the same time pulling the wool over our eyes with their “Lucifer-like” demeanor.. somewhere down the line I truly hope someone comes along with the guts (no reflection on you, Michael…you did what you could) to really challenge Nigel and the Idol machine system to make a major change. ..either that, or perhaps if not soon, after awhile they will be forced into looking at the situation more seriously if viewers (much like what happened in Australia) drop drastically for lack of interest due to lack of investment by upper management into what the majority of the population really want from the show.

        • larry says:

          After that long treatise I should just add that I haven’t sent any tweets his way, kind or unkind.

        • Tuzo says:

          larry, it must feel a lot better to get that out. :)

          I also think the judges need to consider the optics of their critiques. If they think the performance is great and then say it’s great but spend 95% of the time on constructive criticism that gives the impression that the performance was not very good at all no matter what they said at the beginning.

    • denise says:

      My question is for Nigel, You told Demitri (now on DWTS)not to take off your shirt anymore, I even think that i remember you saying no one would pay you to dance without your shirt. So what do you think of the lovely demitri now every episode he is dancing with his opened shirt or shirtless!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

  2. Ian Campbell says:

    whaaaaat

    • Ian Campbell says:

      criticise him as we do, he’s a clever boy that Nigel

    • Thought Michael would mention the supposed tampering Nigel does with the judges. He has shown over and over that clip of Nigel running away from the judges table or the time when all the girls rushed the stage for Scotty. I know it’s tough to say something in front of a person but Slezak has mentioned the supposed manipulation and tampering countless times. This was his chance. I love Idoloonies and the recaps and just would have loved that point brought up.

      • Ian Campbell says:

        yeah i was wondering where that was too. i assume that to get some questions answered he had to forgo others…

  3. Marcus says:

    Season 10 was more compelling than past years? Yeah, not really. Only for people who got a kick out of Steven Tyler’s abuse of the censors.

    • anon says:

      they didn’t say season 10 was more compelling, they said season 10’s results shows have been. which is basically true.

  4. mars says:

    The beatles never cleared anything? Didn’t kris sing a beatles song?

    This was interesting. I’m surprised I don’t hate nigel since I always thought he was an @ss before. But overall, definitely hoping for more Idol changes for next season, maybe the judges? >_>

    • Emy says:

      He said it took them a while to get clearance from them, so he probably means for the earlier seasons. By season 8, The Beatles were a staple genre for Idol.

      • Emy says:

        I’m not sure why I added genre in that last sentence.

      • Anna says:

        It was my belief that the Michael Jackson estate owned most, if not all of the Beatles publishing rights; and clearance was granted to pay down some of his debts.

        • darcy's evil twin says:

          Not exactly – Michael Jackson owned a percentage of the publishing rights to most of the Lennon/McCartney songs but I am sure Jackson died two years after the Lennon/McCartney theme was first on American Idol.

      • Blair says:

        Wasn’t season 7 the first season they’d gotten clearance to sing Beatles? It’s the first season I remember them making a big deal about Lennon/McCartney night.

        • darcy's evil twin says:

          Yes, that was the infamous “Eight Days a Week” train wreck by Kristy Lee Cook. Season 7.

  5. stevenjaba says:

    Excited that this interview happened and appreciated some of the feedback. But, Michael – I feel you pulled some punches. Wish you woulda pushed a little harder on some of the AI issues…

  6. MDEP says:

    Great interview. I do think Nigel glossed over the Haley bashing. I also like how you got in your theme week requests :)

    • A.W. Baimun says:

      During the “raking Haley over the coals” discussion, Nigel basically admitted that since the judges know both performances, they were extra hard on her for the first song because they already knew she was going to blow the roof off with the second. I don’t like that at all. That would be like a basketball ref somehow knowing that one team was going to run out of steam and the other one is going to have a surge, so they call more fouls on the latter team to keep the scores close. THAT, Mr. Lythgo, is manipulating the show for false drama… NOT accurately “judging” their performances.

      • darcy's evil twin says:

        If we follow that logic and they know that both performances are going to s**k, then shouldn’t the judges comment when both performances s**k?

        • My Alter Ego says:

          D.E.T – now just stop with being logical and rational!!!!

          I’m a newcomer to this show, but it’s abundantly clear that logic and rationality are not welcome.

          (Yes, I do realize that’s what bothers many of you.)

      • Julie says:

        I agree with both A.W. and darcy’s. What Lythgoe says may have factored into the judges decision to go hard on Haley, but it does not explain their giving the others a free pass all season long. The idea that you have to go easy on kids who are so young (expressed not here by Lythgoe but by other contestants) is also hogwash. That earlier formative stage is exactly when people can make the most use of constructive feedback, when they crave it as much as need it. Both the tv audience and the contestants lost out. I hope Lythgoe realizes how much the judges total sappiness weakened the show.

      • larry says:

        Exactly and they can’t even deny they are playing games, since even they admit it, but then they try to excuse it in such ridiculous ways. I guess he really DOES think we are morons haha! At least he had the guts to admit Randy took it too far that one time.

        *************

        I mean what he fails to note is that they are then essentially punishing someone for being best of the night in a sense! (and forgetting to note that other than Haley they would not use the double standard anyway)

      • larry says:

        You hear people saying well maybe Haley didn’t deserve to go on because she is too inconsistent and the others always do it right at least. What? Someone who has this amazing run where they have THE best performance of the night, some of the only ones that may be remembered a year from now, and somehow they get labelled as inconsistent? All she has had is but some scattered moments? Seriously? As opposed to say none? None is more consistent? And don’t forget her ‘off’ performances were often very far from the bottom, sometimes even as good or better than some others’ best and always better than their worst even though their worst would get praises.

        *********

        It’s blatant manipulation when one person has to have two standing O’s per night to not get singled out once each week! Something is seriously wrong when ZERO standing O’s is considered the apparent goal to strive for. And early on before the two a night the excuse doesn’t even work.

        *********

        And looky here what it got them for the finale, the only time neither finalists hasn’t had any sort of true Idol moment and both country singers.

        (What do you expect? Never criticize a selected few and then hold one to a noticeably higher standard and then spout nonsense at times when there is nothing else to even say and you even up with what the single largest viewer base is most into, country.)

      • tracy says:

        They should be judging based on the show performance, not on what they see in rehearsals. Besides, what if something had happened-like maybe a performer was too upset by being dumped on just before her second performance– and the second song wasn’t as good as rehearsal?

        • Tom K says:

          I agree – but the judges always referred to their rehearsal notes for every single critique. I am surprised they even acknowledged Haley’s fall…unless she did it during rehearsals as well!

      • marie says:

        Well put, AW!

      • marie says:

        I was thinking about this some more this morning, specifically the part where AW points out how having the judges bash one Haley performance on a given night so that they can then praise her second performance that night is blatant manipulation.
        I agree completely.
        Somewhere in this interview, Nigel mentions three aspects of the show’s raison d’etre; I don’t recall the third (watched several hours ago), but two of them were nurturing the artists and creating compelling television (or whatever exact words he used).
        I would say that “creating compelling television” is the very MOST important to Lythgoe and the producers, for one very simple reason:
        The money.
        Lythgoe can stand on his head and spit wooden nickels while he swears there’s no manipulation going on, but I don’t buy it, because the MONEY is the PRIMARY concern – naturally, no denying that, and I don’t even necessarily fault them for it, but hey, don’t tell me you’re also in it to help these kids along – that’s a DISTANT second consideration, if it figures in at all.
        Think about it: what is the MOST reliable souce of revenue for Idol?
        NOT the prospective record sales – or LACK of them! – of the contestants post-Idol, but rather –
        Ford, Coke, and AT&T, with their lucrative contracts, and the rest of the companies who pay sponsorship dollars for airtime / advertisements.
        You can COUNT on those, but even if you promote a contestant to the skies, you CAN’T guarantee that he or she will sell enough recordings to turn a profit.
        What will convince Ford, Coke, et al., to keep shelling out the big bucks?
        A compelling TV show that continues to rake in the ratings. Who the contestants are, who gets a shot, who is elmininated, etc., is really not important to the sponsors, as long as those contestants contribute to bringing in the ratings.
        No manipulation? That’s a joke.
        And if my opinion makes me “moronic” by Nigel’s definition, then go ahead and call me a moron.

  7. Sabrina says:

    Fascinating, would be interesting to do a follow up on AI in a few months when he is more removed from it. As for SYTYCD, I know a lot of the excitement is seeing how the dancers progress, but a large part of the injuries are from the dancers not being familiar with lifts or simply dancing much more than they are used to normally. I really feel that they should go to a 5-6 week “boot camp” where they practice basics, let them learn how to lift and be lifted properly it could only help the show. In addition, in the quest to “one up” each other and themselves the choreographers are pushing the boundaries of what the contestants are capable of too far at times. I would rather see a beautiful dance with one less trick or lift in it if it means seeing a great dancer make it further in the show without injury.

    • Blair says:

      I found it interesting that Nigel seemed to be more worried about perceived “alienation” of his SYTYCD audience, when, if I was him I would more seriously be concerned about the alienation of his American Idol audience. …hmmm…. we’ll see..

  8. Debbie M says:

    Wow Michael. Great job landing Uncle Nigel for an interview. Loved the edit where he was mentioning breath control and cut to Lauren. Shame he didn’t really think the judges were as useless as everyone else seems to think they were this season. I think that there is as much critique needed for singing as for dance.

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      Debbie M – I had not read your post before I posted a comment (below) and I agree with you 100%. Yes, we need JUST as much critique for singing as dancing! You can have three robots sitting there saying “That was beautiful” or “You’re in it to win it!”

      • stevenjaba says:

        Absolutely. Also, there are all kinds of things about a performance that can be critiqued other than the technical aspects. Simon managed to critique those aspects, I don’t know why no one else can.

    • Teresa says:

      I was thinking about this other day — because Melinda Doolittle’s insights are so fun and pointed on the singers and I was wishing she could be a judge. Why couldn’t they have someone on the judging panel be more of a technical judge? Why not talk about breath control or moving from chest to head voice or vibrato in a way that educates the viewer?

      I hate when Mary screams on SYTYCD, but I love it when she gets technical with the dancers. And, yes, there are people who can do that with singers. The vocal coaches do it all the time. We just don’t see it.

      And someone like Mindy Doo can be entertaining doing it.

      • darcy's evil twin says:

        GREAT suggestion about having Mindy Doo as a judge, commenting on vocal technique. It would educate the viewers in an entertaining way – you’re right.

    • larry says:

      Exactly, it doesn’t make sense to say that you can say more about dancing and there is nothing to say about singing.

    • Blair says:

      You know, upon further review of this interview, maybe Idol should consider more professional critiques of each contestant in more detail regarding their breath control, posture, etc. Really? That wouldn’t fly with the majority of the American public, and they know it! Why don’t we just revamp AI and call it “Singing Lessons Idol”?? Again, SYTYCD compared to AI? …you can’t realistically compare apples to oranges.

  9. cibele says:

    I love how he said Steven is an artist and he’s one of the nicest guys around and that’s why he won’t be mean, but JLo is not going to criticize anyone because she knows how that is.

    • elr says:

      What’s funny about what Nigel said about the judges is that it is Jennifer that gave Haley some of the harshest criticism when she didn’t criticise any of the others. And because of this it is Jennifer that I am most disillusioned with and she is the one that has lost most of my respect. Steven was consistent on his “judging” throughout the season and I feel Randy never knows what he is talking about and doesn’t have the slightest knowledge of what comes out of his mouth, but Jennifer, who has been proven able to offer criticism when it was called for, was too wishy-washy when it came to delivering criticques.

      • Andy says:

        Steven was consistent in telling every single performer and performance that it was beautiful and great. How can every single performance be great? How is that a critique? I don’t understand how majority of the critiques was all positive? Simon is definitely missed on this show. It’s become a joke.

    • Suncatcher says:

      Wrong. JLO turned into one of the meanest judges over the past month – particularly turning against Haley. JLO may give Haley a standing O – but then she had already kicked her to the curb in the prior critique and the damage is done – but no one else. THAT’S what we are upset about. JLO and Randy played tag team in who was going to throw Haley under the bus each night. So blatant!

      Some day, Jennifer Lopez, especially, and Randy Jackson will tell all of us what the heck Haley Reinhart ever did to them that warranted their total disrespect of her and what bordered on abuse. The lady has too much talent to warrant that treatment. Even Steven Tyler told her, “Don’t listen to them! They’re WRONG!” What did HE know that we are still trying to figure out?

      SLEZAK – GREAT INTERVIEW! KEEP ‘EM COMING!

    • Danny says:

      That’s because J-Blow isn’t an artist. She’s a witch. I’ll never listen to one of her songs as long as I have control over it. I’m not going to leave a bar if her song comes on. Nothing like that. If it’s my radio at home or in the car though, if her song comes on the station is getting changed. It’s been that way for a few weeks now.

      She hasn’t done anything successful since what?? 2004?? 2002?? Something like that. AI revived her career, but it also made people realize what a skank she is.

  10. Karen says:

    Great interview. Kudos.

  11. wonderings says:

    Wow Michael! Great get, Nigel himself.
    Excellent job with the interview. Nigel is an evil genius; I love how frank, self-aware and yet utterly suspect he is.
    (Lovely smirking at 4:46)

    • NanCeE* says:

      Love this comment and agree 100%. I’m also glad to know Nigel’s aware of Idoloonies. Didn’t buy his explanation re: Haley criticism. I would encourage all Idoloonies to go to americanidol.com and take the survey about this season – it gives you space to stay exactly how you feel about the season.

  12. Sara says:

    Great interview, Michael. Thought you pressed him as much as you could and not be rude. To me, the most telling point was when he revealed his ignorance about singing vs. dancing. “So much to talk about with dancers, technique, etc. What would you talk about with singing, breath control?” Why yes, Nigel! Yes! Vocal technique is at least as accessible and interesting to the public as dance technique.

    • AprilD says:

      I completely agree. If this is what Nigel believes, then I don’t think he knows as much as he thinks he does about singing AND performing. And/Or what his Idol audience wants to see. Most Idols can spot bullsh*t when the judges say it’s perfect and it most certainly is not. Even though the technical singing critiques would be nice to see, that’s not the only thing. They could talk about performing in general. I felt so many performances felt like beauty pagent performances. By that I mean what JLo said to Stefano. So many brought the passion because they want to win Not because they brought the passion of the song. Plus! How can he gloss over the fact that Idol DOES have choreography! As simple and basic as it is, that definitely plays a part too. So yeah, I agree. I call bullsh*t on Nigel’s answer on this.

      • Emy says:

        I totally agree. I think critiquing vocal technique is even more important now that they’ve lowered the age limit and many of the kids this year were just that – kids. They’re not as seasoned as a good amount of previous Idols, so they might actually believe the judges when they say they’re already perfect as is (James Durbin, for instance, has been saying his last two performances on Idol were pitch-perfect when this is very much not the case). It’d be good for the younger singers especially to hear this stuff outloud on stage so that it’ll mean more. I know they work with vocal coaches and such behind the scenes that are telling them the truth behind the scenes, but it’s just as important to do so on the stage for for both the kids (to make it stick) and for the viewing public. (so they understand why something is better, or why something sounded off). It’s a great way to educate everyone involved.

        • Blair says:

          Good point, Emy! If TPTB are really making it a goal, as they seem to be this season, of making a point of why they lowered the age limit, then the least they could do for them is to provide them with adequate counsel on vocal technique, and perhaps more importantly, how to prepare for the uphill battle a.k.a. the real world ahead of them. I remember, for instance, when they RAISED the age (about the time of season 4, when Bo Bice exploded on the scene) the impact it had then. So, hopefully, that will happen now, if that indeed happens to be their goal..

      • Jenny says:

        I always get irritated by the “pitchy” comments. One thing when you are watching a live performance is the possibility of a note or two being off. These performers need to sell me the song. I need to believe the heartache or the pure joy. And that is the one thing that has been missing all season for me. The only time I really felt it was when Haley sang “I Have Nothing”.

        • Emy says:

          I get irritated with pitchy because it’s not a word lol. You’re either in pitch or or not. You are right that sometimes not being perfect vocally is less important than other factors, but there comes a time when everyone is giving solid performances that you should perhaps start critiquing the vocal technique. Part of why something may seem off could be pitch issues. If they’re addressed, especially on stage, the contestants are more likely fix that mistake in the future. Then they’ll be emotionally connected and in pitch.

          • darcy's evil twin says:

            Emy – I agree. This year we actually head the judges occasionally use the words “sharp” and “flat”, rather than “pitchy” . Pitchy is NOT a word and the public is smart enough to understand “sharp” and “flat”. Many of them took piano lessons as kids or sing in a church choir. the public is not stupid.
            Hey, where were all you music experts when one reader asked what “phrasing” meant since that appeared to be the new “buzzword”, LOL? I explained it as best I could and told her it was NOT a “buzzword”, like “pitchy”. Phrasing is a real term, but apparently it became totally irrelevant as the competition progressed, as Lauren is in the Top Two. (hint to Lauren – avoid songs with interminably long musical phrases, like “Unchained Melody”, much of the Big Band music, and Bruno Mars’ “Grenade”).

          • My Alter Ego says:

            I’m not certain that there isn’t a term “pitchy”, but I believe it would have something to do with a substance that trees release at a certain time of year, and whether one has made contact with it.

            Actually, I’ve been involved with music much of my life. There is a tuning device known as a pitchpipe, but I’ve never heard “you’re in pitch or not.” I’m very acquainted with the phrase “in tune” (or not). Emy, I suspect that’s what you meant.

        • Katie says:

          While I agree that the emotion conveyed throughout the whole performance is important, I believe the opposite is true about “pitchiness”. As a singer, staying in pitch is something that’s very basic. It kind of reminds me of the movie “Curly Sue”, where she could spell these huge words which really impressed people(the flashiness of the whole performance), but couldn’t spell really easy, short words (staying in pitch). I think the judges gloss over pitch problems way too often because they can be fixed easily in the recording studio. But if I’m paying money to go see a band or artist perform live, they better be able to stay in key at the very least.

          • Julie says:

            Absolutely! Thank you for putting this into words. It is ABSURD to think a live musical performance can pass without being in pitch for starters. It is so basic it shouldn’t even have to be a matter of discussion. You’d think with all the people who try out for idol, there shouldn’t even have to be ANYONE singing off pitch once you get to the top 24 or so. (Then we could focus on the emotion in the delivery as we’d really like to. It’s like being in college and expecting to have a college level discussion about something, but having to stay focused on uninspiring fundamentals instead because too many students are missing the basics.) The problem is they put people through for reasons other than how well they sing, and then they’re stuck with them when it comes down to lousy pitch and “articulation” all the way into the top 5. And while most singers can train their ear and and improve their control with work, some people are born with a good sense of pitch and some can never learn it, so it’s not a flaw to be overlooked.

          • darcy's evil twin says:

            Julie, you are absolutely right. They choose people for reasons other than singing ability. good night, go into any church or high school and you’ll find 24 people that can stay in key for “God Bless America”. WTH is wrong with Idol? With that in mind, I find it amusing that after all the gyrations to cast “the United Colors of Benetton” as our 13 finalists, what do we end up with? Two snow-white, southern, Christian, country singers.

            And with that, I hearby torture all of you with one of my original compositions (Paging Nigel Lythgoe – I could write lyrics for Lauren)…to the tune of the “Gilligan’s Island” theme song…

            Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale, a tale of a talent show,
            It started back last summer, with nineteen weeks to go.
            With Steven Tyler at the helm, J-Lo and Randy too
            They helped the viewers cast the show with a very diverse crew.
            *
            They weren’t all top-notch vocalists, this cast of singing stars,
            The voters liked a Latina, and White Guy With Guitar.
            The competition got real tough, contestants got the boot,
            But Country Boy survived the cuts, and so did Rocker Dude…so did Rocker Dude.
            *
            The voters liked Blonde Diva Chick, she happened to be white,
            The judges saved an Italian guy who liked to sing “pop light”.
            They also saved Black Quirky Chick, her hair was braided and crossed,
            If not for the judges of the talent show Black Diva would be lost…poor Ashthon would be lost.
            *
            The show went on the Idol stage with that assorted group,
            And Pageant Queen, Black Gospel Guy, the Jazzy Jew… and his bass!
            The Cute Blonde Chick, the Asian Disney Princess Too…
            On United Nations Idol!

          • Blair says:

            LOL, darcy! That was GREAT …still waiting for the exciting conclusion, though… :) …c’mon …I know you can finish it…!!!

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      I hadn’t read all of these comments before I posted mine and I agree. Apparently a LOT of Idoloonies were offended by Nigel’s opinion that vocal technique wasn’t interesting, necessary, or whatever.

    • Alli says:

      I 100% agree with this as well. I know Nigel’s background is in dance, but if he doesn’t know that there is JUST AS MUCH technique in music as there is in dance, he needs to step down as showrunner.

    • tamara says:

      I also agree.

      I am not a singer, I cannot sing, not even on karaoke. But my knowledge of music is good enough to notice when someone is not hitting a note, or is out of breath, or sounds off, not in tune…
      So basically, Nigel is calling me stupid. Cause I do want to see the judges talk about those issues, that’s what they’re there for.

      We all assume they can sing, that’s why they were chosen. But can they sing live in front of a screaming audience, sing songs they maybe don’t know, and sing them well?

      It’s been so irritating to watch the judges say so many performances were perfect, with nothing to judge, when I didn’t hear that at home. All I heard was an off performance, so many missed notes, not singing in tune,…

      And I agree these things may not always be the most important thing, they can have off nights, but they should be adressed.

      • Julie says:

        Tamara, I agree with you. Also, by talking down to the audience, the show plays a role in dumbing down the entire culture. Idol has an influence, a role to play. I worry that with the cut-backs to music and the arts in public schools in so many areas of the country (going back quite a long while now), there are more and more people who never learn to “hear” music well (hence all these people who think singing out of tune should be considered just fine), and idol can either educate people about more than just what is or isn’t marketable or not. The show used to somehow rise above the pure commercial considerations to some degree, but this season they fully made their deal with the devil.

      • My Alter Ego says:

        Tamara,

        Interesting points. I wonder if Nigel, since his medium is television, thus visual, isn’t thinking in terms of just that. Dancing technique is visual; vocal technique is aural.

        But I congratulate those of you who (particularly those with little or no music background/training) for picking up on tonality (or lack thereof), breath support (or lack thereof), enunciation, expression.

      • Just a suggestion says:

        You know, maybe this comes down to the fact that the judges write down all of their comments before hand and don’t really hear the performance that we hear. I’ve heard in another season that they can’t hear the live performance because of crowd noise, but that could be easily solved.

        The band members at my former church all wore ear pieces so that they could all hear each other and all of their instruments and stay in tune with each other better. Why could the judges not do the same thing on performance night so that they can hear what we hear and drown out some of the crowd noise a little?

        Perhaps their dress rehearsal performance was different than the actual performance. That would explain the praise/criticism that seemed unwarranted. We don’t hear what they heard when they wrote their notes. Maybe they should do a better job of trying to hear what we hear.

    • gnatcar says:

      I completely agree. Michael was being classy by transitioning at that point to talking about SYTYCD, but I really wanted him to press Nigel of this issue. How about tone, pitch, hitting notes, stage presence, etc.? These are all things that Idol judges have addressed in the past and are things that NEED to be addressed if the contestants are going to grow as artists.

      I really dislike the fact that they have left this type of critique out of the ‘judges’ comments and depend completely on Jimmy to serve this function.

    • tracy says:

      He must not read the boards if he thinks that people don’t talk about technique. I have seen alot of posts this season about lack of breath control, weird pronuciation of words, or just plan not hitting the notes.

  13. Leslie says:

    Great interview! I love hearing what Nigel has to say about things–even if I don’t necessarily agree with him (Haley WAS raked over the coals!) They should bring back Babyface and Gaga–and some former Idols to mentor. I’d really like to see more former Idols, quite a few of them are having successes these days, especially those who have taken the country music route.

    • Teresa says:

      I’d love to see former Idols — even the less famous ones — come back. I may be one of the few people who genuinely loved last season of SYTYCD, and it was mostly because of the all stars.

      First off, I just adore Mark and seeing him again was so great. Second, it did help the new dancers up their games.

      Think how great it would be, especially for teen contestants, to get an actual conversation with Allison, Archie, or Jordin. How great would it be for Kris, Matt G, or David to work with contestants on making an arrangement “their own?” Or Adam or James helping contestants work through staging a song?

      In Season 9, they tried an experiment by having Brooke White sing a duet with a Simon Fuller protege. I think an “all-star duet” night might be great. Pair each idol with an “all-star” (I’m thinking not the more famous ones, but those who left Top 8-5).

  14. Claire says:

    Maybe when Nigel said that season 10 was more compelling than last YEARS, plural, what he really meant was “more compelling than last year’S, possessive”. Because sure, 10 was more exciting than 9 but then again waiting in line at Starbucks is more entertaining than Season 9 (plus there’s coffee). But if he thinks that 10 was more compelling than all other seasons, he’s simply wrong.

    I remember watching season 7 on the edge of my seat. What would David Cook do? Could anything beat David Archuleta? Would the judges stop beating on Jason for a minute and just let the guy sing? And then in season 8 week after week watching Adam, convinced that each brilliant performance (ok each one except for Play that Funky Music) would be his last because surely there was no way middle America was going to go for that. THOSE were brilliant seasons. This year, here we are at the end of the season and instead of being excited about the finale I’m thinking about the start of SYTYCD.

    • kyrjar says:

      Yes, yes, and yes.

      David Cook single-handedly carried his season for me even though there were other great vocalists that year and some interesting singer-songwriter types.

      Season 7 would only be topped by Season 8, where I loved Adam, Kris and Allison and even Gokey was initially a compelling singer and then just interesting.

      I don’t think it was the judging in 9 and 10 that made for less compelling TV but the lack of stand-out contestants (Haley would have been dropped earlier in other seasons justifiably even if I agree she is better than both finalists).

      On to my favorite reality show, SYTYCD. Is Alex Wong back??? That’s what I want to know.

      • Jenny says:

        Seasons 7 and 8 were the best for me. I was a huge David Cook fan, but you had others that made it entertaining or kept you interested. David Cook was above everyone else, but all of the other singers deserved to be there as well. Same with Season 8. Adam was a star on his own (even if I wasn’t a fan of his) and everyone else belong in the top 12. You got to the top 5 and had five strong singers that it could have gone anyway. This season has been so bland because Scotty was totally predictable week after week. Then the others had no real passion when they performed. Casey and James brought a bit of interest, but even then it wasn’t very good. No one was pushed to go outside of their comfort zone.

        • justinjade says:

          I beg to disagree with your last statement when you said “no one was pushed to go outside of their comfort zone”, wasn’t haley pushed to her limits? well, I can only agree with your statement if you are referring to the top 2 for this season.

      • sunny says:

        I heard that Alex will be an all-star this season. There will be a top 20 and the all-stars start dancing at top 10.

    • Blair says:

      yep. nothing more relevant have I to add to what has already been said.

  15. Edna says:

    Nigel completely whiffed on the Haley issue. I love how he said they made those comments on the first song because they knew the second song would be better. Why didn’t they do that to the other contestants then? You should have asked him that Michael. It irks me just thinking about it.

    • larry says:

      And he was basically saying if you have a 10 then unless the other song is a 10 and is say merely a 7 or 8 it will get called a 3 but if you have a 7 and a 7 they will both get called 8’s!

      (Unless it were one of the chosen 3 then if they actually had a 10 and a 3 it would be called an 11 and a 9.)

      Oh Nigel you devil.

    • Name That Tune says:

      Yea, that answer didn’t make any sense. But he did acknowledge that Randy was “pouring it on” during his critiques.
      Honestly, there is nothing he can say to satisfy Haley fans. Except they are going to change things next year.

  16. Elizabeth says:

    I didn’t watch SYTYCD until last year, so I have a love/hate relationship with Uncle Nigel. I love him in this interview, on SYTYCD, but he frustrates me on Idol.

    I just wish someone would raise the topic of why there is such a huge gap between the crowning of the winner and the release of the debut album. These winners lose so much momentum. Why can’t we have a 5-song LP ready to go in June?

  17. Tahoe Mike says:

    Well, he is right about one thing; Disco Sucks.
    ~
    Please fix your damn video player, it crashes every 2:15. It’s hard to follow any conversation when it crashes that often.

    • A.W. Baimun says:

      Right click on your player, choose settings, then in the local storage folder, slide the tab to the right to increase your buffer size. If it’s crashing at the same point all the time it’s because the video buffer isn’t flowing smoothly.

  18. One device, one vote. YES, PLEASE!! I want my voice to count!

    • Emy says:

      I would settle for them putting some type of cap on each device, like they do with the facebook voting. Sure, you can use multiple phones to vote more, but it’s much hard and a lot more effort. I’d much rather have that then allow the judges to let the judges decide of the bottom 3. I have no doubt that Haley would have left before she could find herself. The judges do have favorites, or at the very least people they’re less willing to critique for whatever reason, so I’m not sure they wouldn’t let such things cloud their judgement when it came to eliminating a contestant.

      • EvaneSam says:

        This is exactly what I thought too when I heard Michael suggest the judges should pick who will go home from the bottom 3. I directly thought of Haley and how soon she would have been eliminated. I mean can you imagine, we would not have had the awesome performances of What is and what should never be, Rhiannon, House of the rising sun, You and I, I who have nothing, Rolling in the deep and maybe even Bennie and the Jets which was the turning point for me.

        Before that performace I really didn’t like Haley but when I heard her sing that song I became her biggest fan.

        Benney..Benney..Bennie-Bennie-Bennie-Bennie-Benney and the Jeeeets …..

        • Floridajeff says:

          ^^^This^^^ smartest comment yet! Agree with everything, especially all the missed performances of Haley if it had come down to “judges pick” for eliminations.

      • Jem says:

        Yeah, I don’t trust the current panel to have an objective pick at all.

        If we had Simon, then sure. Though I’d still be thinking on the back of my head that it’s not really a Judge’s pick, but a PTB pick.

    • larry says:

      I am quite curious as to how things would have changed. I could imagine it going for the better but I could also imagine either no real difference or even worse.

      One thing I do not want for sure now is the judges pick among the bottom three. We KNOW for sure Haley would’ve been gone early on. They play enough tricks as it is, this would just make it ever worse, sad to say.

    • Blair says:

      I WAS surprised to hear this as a consideration taken in by Nigel. I can only hope he was serious about it, as it would make a tremendous advancement in how realistic of stride we could hope to achieve towards the much more realistic outcome of voting by the American public.

  19. TC says:

    Sorry but the judges “picked” on Haley after she performed Michael Jackson’s song because she deserved it. She killed that song and I don’t mean in a good way. I actually had to turn the volume down during her performance because she was actually hurting my ears. And let’s face it, if she had performed that song in that manner, during any other season, she would have really known what is was like to be “picked on”. Slezak, you, along with this season’s judges, have gotten soft. Somehow I don’t dont’t think that if the judges were that “hard” on any other contestant, you would have minded so much. Face it, Haley’s performances were inconsistent all season and she was polarizing because of her sometimes stank attitude. Furthermore, your conspiracy theory against Haley was getting really old. Thankfully, she was voted off so you are forced to focus on something else. Frankly, I’m shocked Lythgoe even humored you by agreeing to an interview.

    • Emy says:

      I don’t think anyone disagreed with the judges comments for Earth Song. Most people do think that she screamed too much, even if that is how Michael Jackson performed the song as well. It just sounded off for her where it worked for him. However, any valid criticism they gave Haley was negated by the fact that it wasn’t handed out equally to other contestants. James went right before her and did at best a a decent karaoke cover while losing pitch the minute he went into the audience (one of his biggest faults was not being able to maintain proper pitch when moving). He and Jacob both contantly “screamed” notes but were rarely if ever called out on there (and really, only Jacob got that). So, in short, it’s a bit of a double standard to hold the different contestants to different criteria. That’s what annoyed people, not the actual critique itself.

      • darcy's evil twin says:

        Emy – that was beautiful. ;-)

      • pjp says:

        Also, Randy went on and on and on with the same comments- get your point out there, and let the next judge talk!!!!!

      • Justinjade says:

        Yes, it is double standard and to start with – it was the theme for songs that inspire the contestans and you can see that Haley was singing from her heart. It is disheartening for her to be critiqued and singled out in such a way by Randy (who I think got pissed because Steven disagreed with him and JLo).

    • CAM says:

      I agree with most of what you said. (I am not surprised at all that Nigel gave him an interview since Slezak is such a fan and supporter of Idol and is very popular himself.) I am so tired of hearing how poor Haley was abused by the judges. I do think Randy was wrong Top 4 night to say that Lauren, Scotty and James were tied for the best, leaving Haley at the bottom even though I felt her’s was the poorest performance that round. He was asked to say who thought was the best, and the other 3 certainly were NOT tied. That said, the judges have been so soft on everyone this year that telling Hayley she chose the wrong song has people up at arms. Slezak, you have been almost blind to her mistakes this year because she was your chosen one. She was the most polarizing contestant this year for a reason. She has a great deal of talent, but she needs to stop the screeching, learn to read the lyrics and really interpret them, and learn something about control. She has the potential to become a great artist, but like most of the contestants, she needs a lot of help. I think the final will be a bit boring and predictable, but I’ll still be watching. (Even though the contestants I wanted to see there are both gone.)

      • Emy says:

        Your point about people being upset by that critique b/c the judges were soft all year is exactly the point. Critiques are not handed out fairly or evenly at all. Why give a pass to all but one contestant? That seems odd and out of place and that’s why many people feel it’s unfair. If they were more judicial with their critiques, then I doubt there would be quite so much fervor.

        Though technically speaking, I feel I must point out that in regards to vocal merit, Haley was one of the most consistent. You may not like her tone or her choices, but her control is really very good. Her ability to switch registers, for instance, was unparalleled this season, it was effortless. This is not to say she didn’t make mistakes (her final two performances were pretty full of vocal inaccuracies), but it’s just simply not correct to say she doesn’t have a good deal of control over what she wants to do with her voice.

    • Moo says:

      Have you even listened to MJ’s version. It’s a screaming, emotional song. While she might not have performed it perfectly, it was heartfelt and she was into it, which is what the inspriaration song is supposed to be about…. right? I enjoyed it, but that’s just my opinion

      Randy saying that she should do runs the way the “great Michael Jackson” did shows how little he knows. Michael screamed the whole song with no typical MJ runs.. and it was appropriate given the subject matter.

      I like Durbin, but after seeing Journey in concert 6 times during their “heyday” I have to say that his performance was not just karaoke, but really mediocre karaoke.

      It’s not that the judges didn’t like her performance (or wouldn’t shut up about it) it’s that they exalted other performances which might have been worse.

      • Terry says:

        Exactly!!! When James butchered ‘I Can’t Live’ Randy said it wasn’t perfect but it was ’emotionally perfect’. But to Haley he says, well, we all know what he said, over and over and over again. Jennifer and Randy didn’t like Haley and they let their bias show, that’s what bothered me the most about this whole season. Criticize everyone when they deserve it, not just one contestant!!!

        • x says:

          While we don’t know for sure what it was about, to be fair, Randy was also caught on mic saying “uh …. I’m, I’m not rooting for her [Haley]” while Haley was on stage. Maybe she even heard him? She seemed to act more hurt ever since that point to me, but who knows it was probably too hard to hear over the crowd and she was probably more soaking in the crowd, who knows)

          (granted this is probably even far more foolish speculation, you can watch it on youtube, but:
          And it was also weird that during her top 6 Beautiful you could hear Randy going “wow, wow” and he sounded impressed and then Steven praised her like mad and Randy was something like that’s it exactly and then suddenly when Randy talks he kills the mood a bit and start with well you know I really didn’t like the start of the song at all and eh although the end was the good that was good, what was up with that? when he sounded more impressed by all of it before he talked and when he raved about other performances that never got any better than the first half of her song that night?

          There was also something really weird during that same critique where JLo was freaking out and conferencing with both you could hear chatter but then she does praise Haley a lot but immediately afterwards she flashes her eyes back and up sort of to where the producers are and grimaces an I’m sorry look. I have no idea what that was about. I saw it live and was like what in the world was that look? It seemed utterly out of place and had nothing to do with anything going on that was apparent. Then I read that someone said she looked back towards producers. What was about? Probably nothing. But could she have been apologizing to producers for going off script and praising Haley a lot?? that’s probably too grassy knoll though)

        • Blair says:

          Sorry to sound like the “music police”, but the song you mention is “Without You” by Harry Nilsson. I do have to say, that under the circumstances, I liked the performance by James, even though the performance itself underwent some harsh criticism due to his Asberger’s disability. I felt his interpretation was no less valid.

      • Linda says:

        Completely agree. I enjoyed Haley’s MJ song. It worked for me. I don’t get all the contempt for it. And as for Durbin, when you decide to sing a Steve Perry song, you better bring your best game. I felt like James just showed up and felt like because he was singing it was bound to be good.

      • MC says:

        I am appalled how many people have castigated Haley for her Earth Song without ever having heard the original. It wasn’t released here in the States as a single so I know some people are just feigning awareness (unless you’re a huge MJ fan or went to YouTube before commenting) For those who have heard it, Haley did the song justice. That’s why she was so defensive afterwards. There was a reason for her words to Randy, not just because she is b****y. Kudos to Moo for actually having knowledge on the subject.

    • kim says:

      You’re exactly right when you say Haley fans wouldn’t have been as upset if other contestants were “picked on” as much as Haley because then at least the critiques would have been handed out fairly. Also, even Nigel himself admits that Randy “kicked Haley while she was down” which is saying a lot from someone who has an interest in promoting his judges as legitimate critics. Slezaks question, if you actually watched the video, was that why was Haley given critiques when other contestants were given free passes for just as equal (if not more egregiou) mistakes. Nigel’s answer in my opinion was BS. He basically admitted that the others weren’t criticized at all because there upcoming performances weren’t going to be worthy of high praise to balance out the criticism. That makes absolutely unfair and serves to highlight the unfairness of the process. I’ve heard a lot of people say that Haley would have had a much harder time with Simon, but, for the most part, Simon was pretty equal in his critique of the contestants. I don’t think Haley would have talked back to the judges if she felt like other contestants were being treated like she was. Up until “Earth Song” Haley just smiled and took the criticism even when it didn’t make sense and was contradictory (ie: sing a less popular song (Rolling in the Deep)/sing a more popular song (You and I). Also Randy’s critique of Earth Song was ridiculous. He didn’t say you were pitchy or I didnt feel emotion in your performance (both would have been inaccurate statements) he said “You were screaming” and if you’ve heard MJ’s original version it sounds exactly like that. All Haley said was I liked it that way and didn’t want to change it. If he had said I think you took the screaming a little too far, that would have been a valid critique, but saying she should add runs just shows how little understanding of music (and air quotes apparently) he has.

      • Justinjade says:

        You nailed it Kim. :)
        Randy can sometimes be so full of himself. Earth Song is a “cry for help” song and when you are crying for help you scream which is how MJ did. I am also put-off by JLo calling Hailey “baby” in a condescending tone. She and Randy were obviously rooting for someone else. If you watch the video on Youtube when she sang Call Me for the movie theme and was told by Randy that it sounded karaoke and did not showcase her voice she was still smiling and agreed with them about song choice, so it puzzles me why people are saying she is a bitch and has an attitude.

        • kim says:

          Thanks! I also read (or maybe heard on Idoloonies) that Haley didn’t even want to sing “call me” and that she was railroaded into it. So for her to stand there with a smile on her face when they criticize her about song choice for a song she didn’t want to sing says a lot about how thick her skin really is. I think it’s mainly people who, for some strange reason or another, don’t like her reading things into her reactions. Like when she got voted off people took her 3 second stunned look (of getting voted off a show she’s spent the last 3 months of her life devoted to) as indiciation that she was “cocky” or thought she “had it in the bag.” If she thought she had it in the bag she would have looked a little more upset.

          • Terry says:

            I agree. I didn’t take it as cockiness at all, I took it as her just coming to grips with the fact that her Idol journey was over and being sad about that for a moment. What stunned me was Lauren’s reaction. I mean really, Wittle Wauren, show some compassion, some bleeping sympathy, don’t spike a football in the poor eliminated contestant’s face and do a happy dance. Worst behaviour I’ve ever seen from someone in that position on 10 years of Idol.

        • My Alter Ego says:

          Kim and Justinjade,

          You both just nailed. I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one who found J-Lo’s “hey, baby” remarks to be condescending and insulting.

          Ironically (and probably due to the brouhaha over it), the song/performance of Haley’s that is stuck in my head is “Earth Song” which admittedly wasn’t her very best, but it also wasn’t her worst.

      • Blair says:

        Right on, Kim, Nigel’s answer that “other’s performances weren’t going to be worthy of high praise to balance out criticism …hmmmm… How can he escape that (with or without a smile on his face??)?

    • Yo says:

      I watched Michael Jackson sing that song and he killed it to. The song is a plaintiff cry, meant to be sung as both of them did. The song is more complicated than most inspirational songs, and not exactly catchy, but it was sung as intended.

    • larry says:

      1. It wasn’t her best but it wasn’t that bad. Others have had far worse and routinely gotten praise which is where the problem really comes in. They praise everything to high heaven so even a mere note that this is not your best sounds harsh. Anyway it still wasn’t bad but it works better on her itunes version (which I actually think is pretty darn awesome) since it has a much longer build to the scream part as of course did Michael Jackson’s even yet longer still version.
      2. If you are listening on some poor TV speakers it’s possible it makes screams and stuff sound more annoying since the frequency response will be a mess.
      3. For all the talk about how she screamed nearly the entire song, if you time it she only screamed for 1/3 of it (and only 1/6th was really out and out yells).
      4. Randy was crazy saying she needed to add runs. Runs about little kids get killed? Earth ruined? Randy got slammed by various singers an vocal coaches over that and even by Steven Tyler. His comment on her range was also suspect and most unusual since he didn’t bring up the missed Unchained Melody glory note of one of the favorites!
      5. All she started out doing was defending the way MJ wrote it, she said I thought the way he wrote it was really beautiful and it really moved me and I didn’t know I was supposed to re-write MJ (on Randy’s comments about needing to add runs to it) and defending her range, which were fair enough points. She didn’t say she was beautiful just how MJ wrote it.
      6. I don’t know that you were a James fan but I find it odd that James fans seem to complain the most about Haley screams and Haley off-key of anyone, which is just super ironic on so many levels.
      Not that I minded James since at least he was interesting.

      • M says:

        (While listening to MJ’s version of Earth Song)I told my niece who is 8yrs old that the “judge” (Randy) didn’t like Haley’s version of Earth Song because she was screaming in the screaming part of the song. Her reaction was, “but he was screaming in the song” then she added “I don’t think they heard of this song before, coz’ they’ll know about this” LOL

        Plus, for J.Lo to imply that Earth Song is not a hit song is another ridiculous “critique”. If my nieces who are only 8 & 11 yrs old knows of the song I’m pretty sure most of the AI audience would recognize it LOL

    • Blair says:

      As to the interview in general (at this particular time), I’d have to say, “Too Little Too Late”. …damage done.

  20. DN says:

    “To even believe I could alter anything.” That is exactly what Lythgoe said. Why is it the polls remain open for AT LEAST 2 hours? Something is behind that, because it sure seems, either the producers leave the polls open so they can get the votes about which Seacrest can brag the next evening (thus making the numbers bogus because it give people time to vote A LOT), or there’s another, fishier reason.

    The one thing that can be taken from this competition is that the judges are almost completely irrelevant, for viewers vote for who they want, regardless of any comments those three make. That’s not good.

    • Emy says:

      I wouldn’t say they are useless at all. To diehard Idol fans, who read reviews and participate online, we are much more sceptical of what the judges are saying and whether they are right or wrong. But the casual viewer isn’t going to question their motives quite so much (unless it is overwhelmingly obvious someone is getting railroaded). You need only look at Idol related tweets during performance shows to see that a mass majority of people think the judges know what they’re talking about and are more often right.

      I do agree that after a certain point, it doesn’t matter what the judges say b/c people have chosen their favorites and nothing will change their mind, though.

      • darcy's evil twin says:

        Emy – to SOME extent nothing the judges say will change voters’ minds’; however, I can say this was an unusual season for me personally. I really went back and forth between performers for some time. I was somewhat disinterested going into the Top 13 because I had no clear favorite. In the past I always had a clear favorite or two going into the Top (insert number) – LaToya London, Alexis Grace, David Cook, Allison, Adam Lambert, Crystal, Melinda Doolittle, and Chris Daughtry, to name a few. This year I really liked Lauren Turner and Kendra Chantelle, and they didn’t make it through. Casey was probably the closest to being my favorite.

        James grabbed me with his Judas Priest performance. I didn’t care for Haley until she sang “Blue”. I loved Casey during Hollywood Week but he lost me along the way with uneven performances. Even though I probably made up my own mind I think honest judging critiques could help me and other viewers make decisions when they’re on the fence.

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      It also gives people time to vote that didn’t watch the show live and come home from wherever, turn on the DVR, watch the performances while FFing through the commercials, etc., and vote.

      • Blair says:

        I will have to agree with you, Darcy’s Evil Twin, good to see you on these boards week after week. It was a season full of unexpected twists the like of which we haven’t probably seen in previous Idol years. I have to say, Darcy’s Evil Twin, that I can relate in that for a recent mug shot @ a Kansas police station, a photo was taken of me w/ a t-shirt that read, “the evil twin”! …so, I guess I got you there, e!! :)

    • Ronnie says:

      Two hours is not that long. I don’t even have to DVR the episode to move into that time. If I simply pause it every once in a while to do other things I may not finish watching until one hour after it is done. The two hour time frame has little to do with the results. The ability to vote unlimited times is the biggest issue they need to fix.

    • Bigpuppets says:

      I think when they say “at least two hours”, they are refering to the different time zones. I am in central time and watch at 7pm. Pacific Time doesn’t watch until 3 hours later. Lines are open that whole time.

  21. hansenkd says:

    Michael, are you making any progress on getting an interview with The Growler? I can’t imagine that she wouldn’t just love to speak with you. Timing is difficult with finale and such, but hopefully you’ll land her in the next couple of weeks.

    • anon says:

      I wouldn’t expect anything much on the controversy not something she needs to get into. I would hope he wouldn’t even try to go there with her. She does have an exit interview on some other site and she is very diplomatic and you have her haha Bennie and the Steven exit.

  22. diane248 says:

    Isn’t it ironic that after all of the pre-season 10 bashing of former Idol winners not being “stars,” this season has 2 of the worst performers in the Final 2? Isn’t it ironic that the winner will probably be a WGWG?

    Nigel should go into politics. He’s one of the best spin doctors I’ve ever heard. Does he think our memories are that short?

    This year they were going to….Not only didn’t they, but I believe the winner this year will not measure up to any prior winner.

    Scotty & Lauren are NOT good singers, NOT good performers, and NOT star material, IMHO. They are certainly not in the same league as Carrie, Kellie, Cook or Sparks. These winners gave us “moments”, not just once but several times on Idol. Scotty/Lauren haven’t give us 1 moment between them, and I honestly can’t remember 1 song either of them has sung. I can still name several songs sung by aforementioned winners and almost every song sung by David Cook.

    Shame on you Nigel – for your bashing of prior idols – for your convenient forgetfulness about what you promised in this season – for the mediocrity of Idol this year.

    I won’t be watching Idol next year.

    • WGWG says:

      I agree 100% that these are the weakest two finalists in the show’s history, neither of them giving us true Idol moments nor showing us any growth in the process, neither of them challenging themselves (Scotty: “I saw country in the title…”) nor being challenged with constructive critiques by the judges (J-Lo to Lauren: “Nothing really to judge there, really..hahahaha!”). It’s sad to believe that of all the contestants that auditioned in all the cities, of all the ones that had to face the rejection, one of these two will be called the next American Idol…really, this is the best we could do? I actually hope Scotty wins because the image I want to see of him in the motion graphic at the beginning of AI (with all the other winners) is of him with a slanted microphone and raised eyebrows so we can all look back and say, “Boy, did we get it wrong.”

    • larry says:

      Yeah I mean it started out with most diversity ever and ended up with least! And for the first time ever neither finalist has ever really had a moment!

      But if you call everyone great, especially a seemingly favored few, and then dump on anyone who looks dangerous to the favored few (or maybe they just figured some would never make it and we need to maintain so cred so these are the ones will be critique, only they miscalculated) well what do you get nothing to go on so the largest block the country crowd gets both spots.

      I wonder if deep, deep inside he is not kicking himself a bit now. How could he not want Haley in there at this point? You’d have people of ever style under the sun covered (well ok obviously not rap or opera and so on but). And how could he not see how much more compelling that story arc would have been than the ooooh we have the youngest little teen finale ever! wooo!

      I still am not sure if the two judges are just totally clueless or somewhat puppets along for the ride.

      Whatever the case it can not be denied that Haley got rougher judging than many (And even when not really rough it just stuck out all the same since it wasn’t pure praise and raving), even they back-handedly admit it although they give this and that excuse, so the judging was uneven for sure and that the season has ended with the least diversity ever and the contestants who have least had true moments.

  23. Amber says:

    thanks, Michael

  24. BlahHaleyBlah says:

    Michael, your Haley bias is beyond ridiculous. If anything, the judges “raking her over the coals” increased her votes. Get over it and understand: she was voted off. Period.

    • A.W. Baimun says:

      Michael was NOT a fan of Haley early on. His respect for her grew as her performances got better and better (like many of us that wrote her off early on). She showed more growth than any other contestant this year, and is a viable recording star. I already have a Haley Reinhart “album” on my iPod… “What is and should never be”, “Benny and the Jets”, “Blue”, “House of the Rising Sun”, “Piece of my Heart”, “Call Me”, “Rolling in the Deep”, “You and I”, and “I who have nothing”. These songs will be on constant rotation until Haley’s album comes out.

    • Emy says:

      Maybe you should get over the fact that this is his review/interview and he can have any bias he wants.

    • Max says:

      Um… this interview was conducted before the top 3 results. To say that Slezak was upset because his favourite got voted off is ridiculous.

    • azale says:

      I am so sick of this argument: “If anything, the judges “raking her over the coals” increased her votes.”

      Let us assume that were true. SO EFFING WHAT?? This argument entirely misses the point that different contestants were held to grossly differing levels of criticism. It’s about the (un)fairness of the judges critiques, not the effect it had on the contestants.

      • Dina says:

        And it’s also unfair to the contestants who never were critiqued that they didn’t get the chance to improve. It’s hard to know what to work on when all you’re told is, “Beautiful! Perfect in every way! Emotionally perfect! In it to win it!”

    • larry says:

      If they did help her with that they only helped for a single week and they probably made her need that help to begin with! And don’t forget she had already gotten more votes than Lauren before the big stink so…. Plus they painted her in a way that perpahs made it harder to grab enough new voters in the next week, especially with the James fans goes nuts on her as if she controlled the voting machine and siphoned away his votes or something herself.

      And thing is if the show had been fair and consistent all season and she gets voted off, yeah it stinks and Haley fans don’t like and think it is nuts, etc. but hey the show is what it is but it’s the stench of the odd things going on that makes it tougher to take (although I suppose it also makes even more impressive that she made it to #3 despite and adds a bit more power to that).

  25. darcy's evil twin says:

    Great job getting this interview, Slezak. It was interesting and puts a “human” side to Lythgoe, particularly since I’ve not watched SYTYCD.

    I find it interesting Lythgoe said there are more “techincal” things that can be addressed/criticized/judged in dancing and not so much in music, “Unless you get into breath control” (loved the film clip of Lauren at that comment). Okay, pardon me, but that made my (insert bad Steven Tyler word here) head spin! Shouldn’t you address breath control when you’re criticizing singing? That’s junior high school choir and Wednesday night church choir territory. Support with your diaphragm (that’s the muscle at the bottom of the rib cage – not the other kind), proper breath control and phrasing, proper posture (one of Casey’s problems while leaning over the string bass), and envisioning the notes coming from the back of your throat through the top of you head are all basic, basic, and basic! Does Lythgoe really think the public that’s smart enough to understand pointed toes and straight shoulders can’t understand proper vocal technique? Those problems need to be addressed during the judging critique. I find it ridiculous that Lauren is competing on American Idol, for goodness sakes, and is told how wonderful she is on national TV and that there’s “nothing to judge there”, yet that performance at a state high school music vocal competition would get her a solid “4” out of 5 (with “one” being at the top).

    • RTW says:

      You make a great point. As a matter of fact, this season absolutely MUST have been critiqued more technically than in previous seasons. When you have the best at jazz, country, rock, pop, blues, ballads, folk, etc. all competing for the same prize, how do you differentiate a level of performance? Well, it certainly isn’t enough to say, “You’re a country singer and you sing it like you mean it, A+.” No, it’s offering a critique based upon what is technically standard in that style of music.

    • meggie says:

      You know, what’s funny to me about this is that at the American Idol Experience at Disney World, you can expect the judges to make this criticism, but you won’t see it on the show. Why is AI letting a theme park attraction show them up in this respect??

      • darcy's evil twin says:

        I’ve never been – are these real judges or are they robots? Pack up the show and send it to Disney World next season!

    • Ronnie says:

      I agree, it was nice to hear from Nigel whether I agree with him or not. This is more than we get from any other show, at least he has the guts to sit down and explain himself (even if he deflects). I also agree that the vocals need to be critiqued more, that is why they are called “judges”, and most importantly it is how the contestants themselves grow.
      .
      and btw, you should watch SYTYCD. One of the nice things is that none of the people are on the show to become “mega-stars”. Dance is something that is done out of pure love and passion. It is a career that comes with little recognition, money, or longevity. It is fun to see people who have no expectation of being a superstar, they just want to be able to work as a dancer.

      • darcy's evil twin says:

        i have a friend that LOVES SYTYCD. I haven’t watched it yet but I have watched “Dancing With the Stars” with my stepmom and I was impressed with the way the judges quantify the performances numerically (again, I’m a numbers geek).

    • Kelly says:

      I think the difference is not public interest, but the fact that you’re talking about something you can see versus something that can either only be discussed, or that would stretch an already bloated show. On SYTYCD, they often have people either demonstrating proper technique, or are able to quickly cut to a video of what’s being discussed, and it can be done while the judge is talking/explaining. Plus, the results shows are typically used as an “educational” forum – having a proper pas de deux, for example.

      It’s a lot harder to do that effectively for singing, just because a judge cannot talk over and explain a technique while someone else sings, and they don’t want to break away from a judge talking to show proper (one would assume pre-recorded) technique.

      The visual medium is a lot better suited towards technical explanation on SYTYCD, which is why they happen.

      • darcy's evil twin says:

        Kelly – you make an EXCELLENT point regarding the visual aspects of dance vs. singing. But surely we can dispense with a few lousy guest performances by the likes of Keisha and that Nicole whatshername chick for a bit of education. Someone like Melinda Doolitte could probably do educational, entertaining demos of vocal technique. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. It it works, great.

    • Lily says:

      Great point about how much there is to constructively criticize about singing that would really help these kids. Here’s the kind of critique I would have liked the judges to give more often, and I’ll pick on one of my own favorites here, Haley:
      “Haley, on You Oughtta Know, I congratulate you for tackling a tough song, and I know you didn’t choose it so I won’t get on you about that.” (Reaches over and slaps Randy upside the head.) “You sounded best on the choruses, but your phrasing got muddled on the verses. Also you put extra pressure on yourself by walking around the judges’ seats and back up onto the stage. I don’t think you, or the other contestants, should be doing that so much as it’s not very good staging, and it makes you lose your breath control. Also on the song arrangement, you could have slowed this song down a lot and made it more your own, perhaps an acoustic or a cappella version. I know it’s hard with three songs and not a lot of time to prepare, but just something to think about artistically for future.” (And I’m no professional singer or musician, but if I can come up with that, why can’t Steven Tyler, Randy Jackson or JLo do it?)

    • Lily says:

      Ok, here’s a cheat sheet for the judges to use, since they need help on how to critique singing. You’re welcome, Nigel.

      Idol Judges Worksheet (checkmark all that apply):

      I think that Contestant name: ____________________
      ___ did not hit all the notes
      ___ forgot some words to the song
      ___ missed a key change
      ___ did not seem to connect emotionally with the song
      ___ had breath control problems
      ___ needs work on movement and stage presence
      ___ sang too many runs; don’t oversing it!
      ___ sounded too karaoke, don’t just copy the original
      ___ arrangement could have been better: (slower, faster, a capella)
      ___ did not choose the right song

      • agrimesy says:

        You’ve shown the Haley checklist. The others got the flip side of the card.
        .
        Is the contestant Haley?
        If yes, turn card over and proceed with critique checklist.
        If no, skip automatically to suggested buzz words of praise.
        .
        SUGGESTED BUZZ WORDS OF PRAISE
        ___ That was beautiful!
        ___ I loved it!
        ___ There’s nothing to judge there!
        ___ You just keep doing your thing!
        ___ You are in it to win it!

        • Terry says:

          HaHaHaHaHaHa, that was good!
          Oh and if they’re particularly underwhelming, be sure to mention that you got the goosies.

          • larry says:

            Ugh that goosies comment was so ridiculous.
            There was nothing wrong the performance it was definitely solid but it had zero spark at all! How do you get goosies from that? Either reading a Nigel script or her own hate on Haley and she better not actually sneak through and take this script or her I need to be really positive to the delicate kid so she doesn’t retreat and does her best next time script (which would be absolutely fine if only the viewers didn’t listen to the judges and also vote) to say that. Despite many rather averagely delivered verses and even one really awful one at least Haley’s choruses on the last song had something that might perhaps be able to give goosies.

          • marie says:

            THANK YOU for pointing out that truly idiotic “goosies” word, which for me I think ranks second only to “pitchy” as the most horrendous non-word I’ve ever heard on Idol.
            The day after JLo invented it, I was aghast to find that silly “word” used quite a few times in reader posts on another Idol board; some folks adopted it quite readily.
            So THAT’S what JLo is good for.

        • algalhi says:

          @agrimesy – That was good! Laughing so hard!

        • marie says:

          Between Lily and agrimesy, I think you actually DID nail the “judges’ ” cheat sheet.

      • marie says:

        Good points all – that’ll be the day, though.

    • EvilEdit says:

      Haley in a recent interview said she was fine with “constructive criticism” but not so much with just “criticism” (got to the point where she said it was just picking on her, KISS-FM interview). Either she has a thin skin or a good point. (The fire her up argument is specious when you consider that Nigel said the two big nights they did it, they *knew* her second was great). When did they cross the line? Did J-Lo ever cross that line with Randy? Or where they speaking two different languages (which is what Steven of all people alluded to in an interview with Ryan: Haley/Steven as emoting singers; Randy/J-Lo as business/producers).

      An overarching question, what role *can* the(se) judges effectively handle after the voting starts? Much of the “constructive criticism” they give is useless or conflicting with others. Would they be better off having a “coach” who could work with them/speak for them? (Esp. if the goal is to *develop* talent instead of cherry picking those who are already “there”).

    • marie says:

      Thank you, DET. I agree 100%.
      Perhaps Nigel is reading today in the wake of his interview…?
      Then please add my name to the list of people who would welcome some genuine technique-based critique on the show. That would be a refeshing change indeed!

  26. Dctoronto says:

    Michael, are you going to be tvline’s blogger for SYTYCD? I can only hope so.

    Loved the interview.I’ve always liked Nigle on SYTYCD. He always come off as smart and well informed. I think this interview may have helped in changing some peopl’s minds that he is a manipulative jerk. I thought his comments about having to listen to his boss at Fox with regards to who gets to sit in the third judge’s chair on …Dance was telling. I expect he’s had to bow down to the wishes/demands of the powers at Fox regarding Idol as well.

    I don’t think anyone has picked up on Nigel’s use of air quotes when he said Michael Jackson.

  27. B.Rich says:

    Michael try find a reason to have Siobhan back on, she was far and away your best interview.

  28. sunny says:

    One vote per device sounds like heaven to me!!!! I doubt they’s do it though, then they couldn’t brag about the vote cunt.

  29. lar says:

    Loved this interview! Thank you, Michael. I love that Mr. Lythgoe is willing to change things up. SYTYCD is an excellent show, one of my all-time favorites. Despite that my favorites are all gone on Idol, it has been a fun year to watch. I agree with the post that said it would be nice to get a follow-up interview after the “dust” has settled. Whatever your thoughts about Lythgoe, he at least answers the question articulately. Kudos, Michael.

  30. pjp says:

    Hey, Mr. Slezak, great job of being nice to Nigel. You showed great self-control and manners during this very interesting interview!!!!

  31. darcy's evil twin says:

    “To even believe I could alter anything.” That was Nigel Lythgoe’s comment; however, I’m having a very difficult time believing someone, somewhere, isn’t altering something when it comes to voting.
    My friends accuse me of being a numbers/statistics geek. I’m sorry, but I’m having a very difficult time grasping the idea that we have not just one, but TWO southern, conservative, young, country, white, boring, Christian singers in the finals. Let me make it clear I’m a white, middle-aged (assuming I live long enough) Christian conservative from “middle America” that likes some country music. I don’t have a problem with who these two kids are, because it’s refreshing to see where they’re from, their families, and their personal value system. I do have a problem with Lauren’s vocal techinique and the fact that the two of them were somewhat unexciting and never gave us an “Idol Moment”.

    What really has me puzzled is the numbers side of the results. If there are enough voters and a big enough demographic to get two very similar country singers as numbers one and two on American Idol, why isn’t John McCain in the White House? I realize you get more votes for “American Idol” than you do for President, where you get one vote (and then there’s the voting age issue, which I will admit is a huge skewing factor) but in theory Scotty and Lauren should have split the same demographic and Haley should have had one of those spots. Plus, look at a population map for Heaven’s sake – Haley is from the Chicago area and she should have attracted urban voters. I’m just having major heartburn with the math.

    • Ronnie says:

      They mentioned 97 million votes and that Haley had 25 million and that the voting was close. So my guess was the voting was like this:
      .
      Haley – 25m
      Lauren – 26m
      Scotty – 46m
      .
      I have no clue what that means LOL. But my guess is that it has less to do with the “country” feel, than it does with the ability of TEENS to vote 500 times.
      .
      Teen who like Taylor Swift voted 500 times for Lauren.
      Teen girls who thought Scotty was cute voted 500 times for Scotty.
      Adults voted 1 time (if that) for Haley.
      (generically of course).

      • ohreli says:

        On top 4 and top 5 nights I voted about 50 times each night for Haley, and she won. On top 3 night I was busy with something, and forgot to vote…and she lost! I am sorry, I feel personally responsible. Perhaps my 50 votes would have pushed her over the line. :-(

        • Pauli says:

          The same thing happened to me! Every week since the top 11 I had always voted for Haley the entire two hours but last week I fell asleep after 1! And then she got voted off and I felt bad! Perhaps we could share the blame LOL

    • Steph says:

      Unfortunately for Haley, on top 3 night there was a Bull’s playoff game so I’m guessing a big voting block was not tuning in to AI or voting that night.

      • tvlover44 says:

        @steph – thanks so much for pointing this out! i hadn’t realized it at all (memphian who turned out of basketball after the grizz lost…), and yes, that’s bound to have had at least some influence.

      • Oprah says:

        It was my fault. My special taping move the Bulls game which then overlapped Idol which then cost her the crucial last 500,000 votes.

    • marie says:

      ” “To even believe I could alter anything.” That was Nigel Lythgoe’s comment; however, I’m having a very difficult time believing someone, somewhere, isn’t altering something when it comes to voting.”
      Me too. At the risk AGAIN of Nigel considering me “moronic,” ( ;) ), I’ve said it before, I would not be surprised if someday it is revealed that the votes don’t count at all except to be able to crow about how many were received.
      I think Nigel’s talk about their considering limiting the voting is just that, TALK, because they want to be able to say they got 97 skillion bazillion gagillion votes – AND it could well be that that’s all the 97 skillion bazillion gagillion votes are used for.

  32. blingedup.susan says:

    Michael, GREAT interview! That was awesome. Love hearing Nigel’s commentary on Idol things. You asked all the right questions. Thanks for that treat!

  33. Agustrin says:

    Nigel says: “Lauren can’t write lyrics”. PRICELESS!!!

  34. Winnie says:

    Did I hear him right referring to both David Archie and David Cook singing Crazy and not get cleared? Mr. Nigel needs to rewind in his brains. Who really did not get any air time during the audition rounds until the first boy night during top 24…the guy that truly sang Crazy that did not get cleared (and I blame Cee Lo for not allowing it)that was Jason Castro not the David’s.

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      Heck, I was really confused here – I thought he was talking about the Patsy Cline version of “Crazy”, written by Willie Nelson. I couldn’t figure that one out since Scotty sang “You were Always on my Mind” (also Willie Nelson). So, he’s talking about the Gnarls Barkley version of “Crazy”, evidently.

      these self-important artists crack me up. Sir Elton John was on Jimmy Fallon right after they sang his music on Idol. He told Fallon he hadn’t had time to watch the program but he said it’s an honor any time anyone wants to perform your music. He rolled his eyes at the “artists” that didn’t want their music performed on “Glee” or “Idol” and called them (I think) a**holes (it got bleeped). Then he said, “Kings of Leon? PLEASE!” I’m sure Sir Elton was thinking Kings of Leon aren’t even a wart on his (backside) and it’s pretty ridiculous that they deem themselves self-important enough to deny programs the right to perform their music.

      Beyonce probably wouldn’t give Idol the rights to her music because she was afraid Jacob would sing “Single Ladies”. :-)

      • Justinjade says:

        LOL! you crack me up on the single ladies!

      • marie says:

        I was confused re which “Crazy,” too, but I think it’s probably more likely Archie and Cookie would have wanted to perform the Gnarls Barkley song. (Off topic: that song was certainly available to The Voice, where of course Cee Lo is a coach – the performance of the song on the first show by the coaches was jaw-droppingly good and IMMEDIATELY – intentionally? – helped establish their credibility as coaches [judges] vs. the crew on Idol, of whom only Steven really gets any cred as a musician/performer in my book.)

  35. Boiler says:

    So tell me, when was the last time this show produced a great artist…Carrie Underwood. Time for this to go away. Plus teenagers winning this!! Nuts

  36. Rhama says:

    Is Nigel bloodsucking evil genius?

  37. Jessica says:

    Great interview! I always liked Nigel b/c I really enjoy him on SYTYCD and I think this was the best interview this season besides Paul’s. Nothing against you but all against the responses from the others. Finally where someone is professional but also laid back enough to have humor.

  38. shelbybb says:

    I was very pleasantly surprised to see “uncle Nigel” on your show! I have to say you went a little easy on him and gave him way too much time to plug his next show (SYTYCD)! What really got me heated was his comments on judging dancing vs vocals! Now aint that some shhhh! But hey Ni, your AI judges don’t judge at all!
    He has a lot of issues on this years show to evaluate and he should include you in his little sit-down when the season is over!
    Love you Michael and still miss Haley!

  39. vicki says:

    When you have a judge, Lopez, tell someone they were the best for the round even though not all the singers had performed yet shows two things. Nigel is full of sh*t. Lopez needs to be replaced if this show is to have any credibility at all. Can you imagine if the judges sent one of the bottom 3 home. Lopez would get rid of every woman she saw as a threat, ones you could sing better than her (not hard to do), or are prettier.

    • azale says:

      I didn’t want to say it, but I’m glad you did.

      Lauren is a young pretty girl with a pretty voice and is in no way a threat to the queen. Haley, on the other hand, is a sexy, sultry WOMAN (if you know what I mean) who can sing circles around the queen. For Lauren? Nothing to criticize. For Haley? Sheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee-it. The queen can’t look at Haley without glaring.

      So thank you for saying it so I didn’t have to. :)

      • Terry says:

        My blood is still boiling that J-Ho didn’t give Haley the standing ovation that ‘What Is & What Should Never Be’ deserved. BOILING!!!

    • Linda says:

      Huh. You know, I hadn’t thought of this. But looking back at it, I believe you might have a point. Lopez is a super alpha female, but not with the kind of talent and confidence that an alpha like Gaga has. So an insecure, alpha female isn’t going to be wild about beautiful, charismatic, vocally gifted female contestants. And I believe we may have seen that at work. And I say that not as a misogynist, but as a woman, and in the spirit of let’s acknowledge reality a little bit here.

      • larry says:

        Hah she did seem to have her back a bit early on and then later on it’s like wait a minute ohh noooo Adele is top of tracks and selling way better than me ooohhh noooo Haley seems a little like Adele oh nooooooooooo not another one now!! haha. And she is half my age!! And she may be even hotter!! I FRY YOU WITH MY DEATH EYES! Anyway who knows, just messing there. Kara was generally very good, unless a hot girl was on and then it tended to be death eyes, she got all over Didi (“don’t try to act sexy, you just can’t pull it off” [yeah right]) and others.

        To be fair, JLo often looked liked she was given the stare of death to almost everyone though. I think she was just trying to keep a “cool persona” look going sometimes, the Posh Spice look. So it’s dangerous to read into looks. So actually I don’t know about that part of it.

        To be fair also though:
        ***1. she also did give absurdly high praise to some hot and cold messes and then say less positive things about some of Haley’s stuff

        ***2. she did start saying absurd stuff about “baby, don’t sing popular/sing popular, honey badger don’t give a shhh that it moved you baby/oh unless you are Scotty or Lauren then yeah not well known doesn’t matter it’s awesome because it moved you” and other slanted messes

        ***3. she freaking refused her a standing O for ‘What Is & What Should Never Be’ and speaking of that, you know what is and what never should be, the all country, all teenie finale on Idol we have now!!

        ***4. she gave a heck of a praise to Scotty’s boring second song there and called Lauren the winner before Haley even started (and who then started the first verse pretty nervous seemed with weak closed breath control) and jumped up and down in glee in front of Haley with Lauren as Haley stood there with a haunted, glum looking Steven Tyler (not that I can really blame anyone for celebrating to be honest, it’s fine, it is exciting but just saying since some got over Haley over 1/100th of that and nothing)

    • Mia says:

      This is a really terrible, sexist way of thinking. Because she is a woman, she must be jealous of all other women who might be considered “threats” to her? So what was Randy’s excuse? He was jealous of her hair? I love Haley, but I recognize that she is a polarizing singer. And I truly believe that Randy and J Lo were negative just because they didn’t like her style. They were still complete assholes who recked her chances to boost up their favorites, but pretending that this is a woman vs woman thing is ridiculous.

      • Emma says:

        I totally agree, thanks for saying what I was thinking!

      • yeah says:

        You may be correct and actually very much most likely are so in this particular case with J.Lo but if some people start jumping to such lines of thought they have been given some pushes to it, all it takes is a few seconds of scanning message boards to find comments such as (and which do sound at least a trace catty):

        “Haley was very good but she knew it and was too sexy and I don’t think she qualifies as an American Idol.But good luck Haley!”

        “I thought Haley had the best voice but I voted for Lauren and Scotty since I don’t like a person who thinks they are good and has bad attitude and be too sexy.”

        “Yes her face finally showed the brat that she is. Who cares if she can sing, be a little humble like Scotty and Lauren”….”thinks she’s so hot”

        “Hayley the spoiled brat is out, YES!! Screaming songs each week and trying to be a sexy vamp to the camera was so awkward to watch. Guess what girl? You are just not that good.”

        • Mia says:

          Yes, a lot of people commenting on her YouTube videos have been very unfair to Haley. They’re fine with male contestants being a little cocky, but heaven forbid Haley display any confidence. Still, I don’t think treating J Lo the same way is helping anyone. Haley’s great because she’s great, J Lo is annoying because she’s annoying. It has nothing to do with being a woman.

  40. Evan says:

    I actually think the voting worked once upon a time, but doesn’t now that the voting base has shifted over the years. Ratings might be good still, but if my friends and family are indication, I think the voting base is much less diverse than it once was (ex: 9/9 white people in the last three seasons compared to 4/9 in the first three).

    Teen girls’ impact should be limited.

    • tekkie says:

      While I don’t agree with the teenie vote, shouldn’t the voting reflect the desires of the ones voting. If the teens commit to voting for the one they love, then so be it. What a dismal result it would be for Seacrest to announce less votes than viewers..!

      That said, I prefer the voting structure on SYTYCD and think that Nigel’s heart and passion comes out in spades in the world of dance and SYTYCD. Not sure that he’s the right helmsman for the AI world, but I would at least give him the benefit of the doubt until next season, when they have had time to step away and review and reflect on what worked and what didn’t.

      I think next season for AI will be make or break with Paula and Simon on X-Factor. If Nigel can adjust what didn’t work, encourage the judges to critique on camera, and get a vocal coach in J Lo’s chair (she’s the only one without a multi year contract at this point) or an extra chair, I think it will have a few more years to go. Another season of this, however, will be the nail in the coffin.

  41. Joe says:

    Nigel should have been one of the officers on the Death Star. Seriously, he’s the Peter Cushing of reality TV.
    A few things; his comment that you can’t critique singing like dancing shows what a bad fit he is for this kind of show. Of course you can critique singing. Then to follow that up with the judged pre-judged their performances in dress and created a storyline of down then up for Haley was ridiculous. I wish Michael could have gently challenged him on why that kind of pre-judging only applied to Haley’s songs. You never saw them say anything of that ilk about Wittle Wauren and Scotty. Wouldn’t it have made sense to use this brilliant pre-judging technique on them as well since it created outrage and such?
    You want to fix this show?
    Have an independent company handle the votes and deliver them to Seacrest on the stage.
    Limit the amount of votes to 1 per device.
    Do not allow the judges to see/hear dress rehearsal and have their reactions be live and spontaneous with no scripting.
    You do those three things and this will feel like a fair competition.
    I’d even agree with letting the judges pick who goes home out of the bottom 3 if you did that.
    When Wittle Wauren wins Wednesday (alliteration anyone?), it’s going to be more obvious than ever that the votes are played with and don’t count. Her online presence is a fraction of people like Scotty, Haley or James. She’s only beaten them in the Producer’s minds because she’s who the record label wanted from the get go.

  42. Sean says:

    I’m frustrated with you, Mr. Slezak. I think there were too many free passes.

    1) Just b/c the judges are aware of a second strong performance does not mean they should dismiss a contestant’s first performance or continue to NOT judge the others (i.e. Lauren, Scotty).

    2) For Nigel to think he has NO part in the results is B.S.! Producers decide the stories and face-time each contestant receives as well as control over the judges’ critiques. This directly influences voters–especially the dumb tweens–who in affect vote for the Scotty and Laurens of the world.

    Nigel Lithgoe believes his bull because, to him, his lies ARE true reality.

    • agrimesy says:

      I understand much better now how the show really works. I was under the false impression that the production team’s main objective was exactly what they claim it is “to find an international recording artist.” That isn’t it, though. Nigel as much as admitted that they make no money on the winner as a recording artist beyond stirring attention for the next season. Of course Nigel decides who to give the back story, the face time, and the judges’ notes. After all, it makes for good TV. AT&T as a sponsor wants the power voting results, so why would Nigel attempt to control the results. They want certain contestants to stay on for viewership and also some to go home for the media attention. It’s a win win for them. Nigel doesn’t care who gets the recording contract! He just wants people to tune in again next year.

  43. Rochelle says:

    so much eye rolling, you don’t even know..

    I’d like to clear something up, as someone who had hoped Haley would make it to the final two.

    Most people do not have a problem with the criticism Haley received. We want idol judges to give contestants honest feedback. The problem is that she is the only one – on several occasions- to receive any negative comments. That would have been fine if the other performers had been perfect. I think we can all agree that no one was perfect this season (or probably any season.)

    They may have actually done her a favor in the end though. At least she won’t be talking about how perfect her performances were like some eliminated contestants *cough*jamesdurbin*cough*

  44. Yo says:

    Congratulations, Michael Slezak, I don’t think I have ever seen Nigel in extended interview! I think Nigel avoids the question of what the judges are doing watching rehearsals, when they obviously shouldn’t be. This means the critiques are prepared early , rendering the comments “whacked” during final performance. He also didn’t go far enough in defending the Haley prejudice; I wasn’t buying, but I am a fan and maybe (or maybe not) paranoid. I also would have liked the problem of young contestants addressed, as they really can not be criticized without the judges looking like kitten throwers. And Nigel, BRING LAUREN TURNER BACK!

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      Ah, someone else that loved Lauren Turner.

      I hope somebody, somewhere, gave Lauren Turner a job singing in a nightclub or even on a cruise ship. She was way too talented to be scrubbing toilets!

  45. Ronnie says:

    I don’t get it. If Beyonce won’t clear songs for the show, why do they promote her by having her mentor and sing on the show? That makes no sense.

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      Perhaps it’s the opposite – perhaps they had her on the show thinking she’d grant them the use of her music?

    • marie says:

      Why would the producers even care if an artist won’t clear their songs for use? The contestants have their limited list of songs to pick, for which Idol is already willing to pay, and if they want something for which they don’t have / can’t get clearance, too bad.]
      I would imagine the producers thought Beyonce would be a viewership draw, and she herself had a product to promote (if I recall correctly), so they both get something out of it. If she won’t clear her songs for performance because a CONTESTANT wants to sing one of her songs, well, as far as the producers are concerned, SO WHAT: the contestants are not important as individuals, they’re just characters on this reality show, after all.

  46. Amy says:

    Great interview and great self-control. I would have had a hard time not rolling my eyes during most of that interview. Whatever Uncle Nigel says, Haley was unfairly judges especially when they brought out the Top 4 out after the first round. Why in the world do they hire judges who they know right off the bat aren’t going to judge? Don’t they know we want critique, even technique critique. If that leads to amazing performances then it is fine by me. Sorry, but this season is not all Uncle Nigel thinks it is. Terrible Top 2. Also, still kind of offended he called us morons, or moronic just because we are calling the show out justifiably. Still it should be done somewhat politely. At least this season has been fun to get angry with.

  47. Evelyn says:

    Great interview. I love that Slezak gets into So You Think You Can Dance and not just Idol.

  48. JayK* says:

    That was awesome, Slezak! Thank you! I just wish you had made a plug for having more former contestants perform on results night!
    As for SYTCD, I am one of those who can’t stand Mary. I actually fast-forwarded through pretty much all of her comments last season. I just can’t listen to her voice. I am thrilled with the best-of-both-worlds format this coming season – giving the Top 20 a chance to build chemistry, then introducing the all-stars with the Top 10. Perfect!

    • Georgia says:

      Yes, yes, yes to former Idol contestants as guest performers! I enjoy the “star studded” finale, but we love our Idols! Also, Nigel goes on and on about the possibility of the contestants writing or co-writing an original song, but doesn’t really get the point. The point is that there is a LOT of unpublished original music out there. If AI put out a call for original songs, wouldn’t hundreds of song writers submit their songs for a chance at having them recorded? They did something like that on a small scale in Season 7. Why not expand the idea?

  49. Kathy says:

    I don’t know anything about dancing technique but am interested to hear about it on SYTYCD and learn. However, most of us know a whole lot more about singing, breath support, tone, pitch and dynamics because we sing ourselves or learned about it in school. Those are the foundations of good singing. Week after week, we hear the singers sliding off pitch, muddling words and losing breath support and we’re wondering why the judges aren’t calling them on it. Even if the audience knows nothing about fundamentals, they can learn. Most great singers have put in the time to learn their craft like dancers or instrumentalists and can be evaluated.

    My biggest criticism of Lee DeWyze last year was his constant pitch issues. It’s a basic. A singer needs to stay on pitch or else it’s not fun to listen to. He has great tambre in his voice and he’s made some nice recordings but still I feel disappointed in him winning last year.

    Performance is something two of the judges know a lot about and they could’ve helped the contestants grow a lot. The interview was telling though. Thanks Michael, you make Idol watching a ton more fun.

    • julie says:

      Yes, and while the pitch is either right or wrong, there are other musical, singing considerations like phrasing, that are (to a degree) a matter of choice and musical creativity. So wouldn’t it be nice if correct pitch were a given, and the critiques could focus on the more interesting aspects of musicianship, along with creativity and performance, instead. But if the pitch is OFF, the singer should not be given a pass on that.

    • BellevueTechie says:

      I agree. This was Nigel doing damage control. To say that you can critique techniques in dance and not in singing is laughable. They seem to be managing just fine over on The Voice. What they need to do is get qualified *singers* to be judges. (No, I don’t consider any of the seven past or present AI judges to be competent singers.) Let’s just dump the celebrity judges costing millions, and pay some unknown vocal coaches half that to sit there and really offer constructive criticism. Pitch, timbre, style, rhythm, enunciation/diction, breath control, etc. are all easily discussed and valid things to critique in singing.

      Regardless, I’m not watching AI anymore until the voting gets fixed. The results this year have been horrific. Just look at the final two: absolutely the most boring pair of the bunch.

      • Jason S says:

        You’re an absolute fool if you don’t think Steven Tyler is a competent singer!! He is one of the best singers of all time!!! Not only is he completely original but no one has ever been able to imitate him that has come since.