American Idol begins its 11th season tonight, and the news sounds like sweet, soothing music, especially with the unpleasant, machine-gun blast of The X Factor still ringing in our ears. Still, not even the granddaddy of reality singing competitions is without room for improvement, and with that in mind, I whipped up a few pre-season notes for the show’s host and judges:
Jennifer Lopez: Go back and watch tapes of Top 9-12 Weeks from Season 10: You actually offered salient, constructive feedback to Stefano, Pia, Scotty, and a number of other contestants. We’re not sure what happened in the weeks that followed, but your sudden shift to labeling every performance “great,” “beautiful,” and “emotionally perfect” didn’t make you more likeable, it made you borderline loathsome — especially when you turned into a cauldron-stirring, malevolent bruja when it came to critiquing fabulous underdog Haley Reinhart. You’re a smart woman with a decent vocabulary: Buck the trend that says female reality judges have to be bubbleheaded softies, and we guarantee you’ll be the most popular Idol panelist by season’s end.
Steven Tyler: With apologies to Nicole Whoozywhatzit, you’ve got more musical credibility than perhaps any judge on any existing singing competition, so use it already! There were a few brief moments in Season 10 — at least when we tried to read between the howls and the non sequiturs — where you broke from the JLo-Randy party line and hinted that not every Lauren Alaina performance was a gift from God, and defended Haley from being literally dragged into the street and thrown in front of a bus. This year, why not use your decades of performing experience to help contestants improve their stage presence and fine-tune their musical personas? You’d have to stay awake for a full two hours, but you’re a rockstar, dude, and that means you can nap all afternoon if need be.
Randy Jackson: Stop trying to make your catchphrases happen; they’re not going to happen. When Idol viewers do find themselves saying things like “molten hot lava bomb” or “for me for you” or “dawg pound,” 99 times out of 100, it’s in a mocking, sarcastic tone. That’s all we’ve got for you, dude; after 10 seasons of being underwhelmed, we’re learning to keep our expectations low.
Ryan Seacrest: If you’ve got a backlog of X Factor episodes on your DVR, please delete ’em. We don’t want any of Steve Jones’ malfunctioning-robot ways rubbing off on you, okay?
What advice do you have for Randy, J.Lo, Steven, and Ryan heading into Season 11? Hit the comments and sound off, and for all my Idol news, interviews, and recaps, do follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV.