American Idol: A Few Pre-Season Notes for J.Lo, Randy, Steven and Ryan

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.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. evs says:

    I just read all of that in your voice without even trying!

    • Steven has just gotta take the same personality he has during the audition rounds and place them into the live rounds. He pulled an Ellen Degeneres. During the Hollywood rounds Ellen was hilarious, but once she wasn’t edited and cut into a nice clip package it became lots of “you were beautiful”, “it was great”, no changes needed kinda comments. J.Lo had her good moments, and not, I look for the most improvement to come from her. Randy has to just remember he’s been there the longest and thus should know what to say. After seeing Steve Jones do what he did on X Factor I’m actually looking forward to Ryan. No matter how much of a tool he can be, the dude does know how to keep a show moving properly.

  2. BrianDC says:

    Slezak. A question for you. Are you really excited for another season of AI after last year’s Nigel-controlled train wreck? You can’t tell me that you’re not tired of this show by now. I think you have such a problem with X Factor because your AI made your journalistic name. I’m just curious.

    • Gooo says:

      I’m not Slezak, but Nigel SAVED the show. And Idol will ALWAYS be the better show. Scotty is now a platinum selling artist, so they did something right last year!

      • Danielle H says:

        Not heard a one of this songs on any of the “today’s top music” stations. I’m taking your word for it that he’s reached platinum status, but it must be by a select group of people.
        Even the top selling idol, Carrie, who is distinctly country has made sure to go mainstream enough to achieve that status.

        • Gooo says:

          His album has been certified platinum.

          • goo goo says:

            i agree he has his fans. i thought he deserved to win last year. that being said, i know i personally haven’t heard any of his music on the radio. to me, you are really successful when people who are NOT searching out your music still know it. He hasn’t quite gotten there yet. but it’s still the first year, so i expect that to change.

      • Kris Fan says:

        Scotty opened for Brad Paisley in Minneapolis Saturday night, and the crowd went WILD for Scotty.

        This would be expected down South, but not in Minneapolis.

        Scotty deserved his Idol win. He is star-quality.

        • ummm... says:

          It was a freaking BRAD PAISLEY concert. Of course the fans went nuts. I’d expect that even moreso, not less, being in Minneapolis. I’m sure anyone who’s country up there must be hard-core country to the bone.

          But Scotty’s very throwback, a refreshing change from the “country girl shake it for me” i’m-so-country-that-i’m-gonna-sing-you-a-rock-song-telling-you-so trite tripe that mainstream country has become. Plus he’s preternaturally confident onstage. I dunno if he “deserved” to win, (Haley had the only “moments” of the season”), but he certainly was on-pitch and controlled the whole time. I can certainly understand why a lot of people like him.

  3. aunt_deen says:

    SPOT ON, Mr. Slezak!

    Although I think Steven needs to take a backseat to Ben Folds if you’re looking for musical credibility in a judge.

  4. Tina S says:

    They can’t improve enough with that cast of judges to make me even consider watching the show again.

  5. brandon says:

    My advice would be to bring on Michael Slezak, Jim Cantiello, and Annie Barrett every week as mentors for the results show instead of Jimmy “Whats-his-butt”.

    • Fjóla says:

      I think Jimmy did a fair enough job with the contestants last year. But I think the judges might do with some coaching. Michael and those other two you mentioned, whom I’m afraid I do not know, might be the ones for the job

  6. D says:

    I don’t know what I am more excited for, a new season of Idol or another season of Slezak and Idoloonies!!

  7. marygrace says:


    I am still a bit ‘shell shocked’ from X-Factor although really enjoyed the top 3’s performances. Producers need to study the advantages to some quiet time.

    Excited Idol is back. Hope the team of judges have shaken their own first season jitters and figured this judging thing out. Love to read your feedbacks. Your columns are always like a conversation to me. I am laughing, clapping, yelling with you all season.

  8. raftrap says:

    No advice, you nailed it, that needs to happen and the Idol panel will be restored to complete glory. My advice is for “Idoloonies”, I want a gigantic Cheryl-Cole like “AND INTRODUCING” — “KRISTEN BALDWIN” in the premiere, even if it’s just a 3 minute synergy-achieving guest appearance, then you can permanently replace her with Nicole Laserblaster.

  9. Saracen Riggins says:

    Another Idol season means my favorite time of year for recaps. Slezak, you are definitely my favorite part of American Idol and the reason I’m still tuning in to the show every week.

  10. Laurien says:

    I will gladly watch Idoloonies, but I after Haleygate I REFUSE to watch Idol. I cannot go through another season of that.

    • Terry says:

      I’m with you on that! I’m boycotting idol this year. Tired of seeing the “cute” boy win year after year after year. Also tired of the manipulation. The producers and “judges” favorite never seems to be my favorite. My favorite always seems to get the shaft, most blatantly last season with Haley!

    • Christie says:

      I’m sure you will still watch. Don’t lie just to look cool.

      And stop with the stupid conspiracies that Haley got “unfair treatment.” How many standing O’s did she need to make you guys shut up?

      • Buzz says:

        How many standing ovations does it take to win Idol? Haley 5…Country Kids 0

      • meagain says:

        yeah and each time after awarding her best of the night they would then be like “uhh uhh I don’t know I don’t get it, I just don’t think you are in it to win, where is the consitency?, why do you not have two best performances every night? I don’t know I mean your other song was only 3rd best of the night. I just don’t see the consistency here, now look to your left, 6th best performance every time! Now THAT is what I’m talking about! THAT contestant knows who they are! They are sixth best and that is why THEY are…. IN IT TO WIN IT!!!!!”

  11. Ian S. says:

    I’m not going to watch until the live shows start, at least. About the only good thing I can say about the last season of Idol is that X-Factor was far, far, worse.

    • Kiki says:

      Yes it was. I was so upset by last season of AI that I wanted to like the X Factor so badly and I just didn’t. A bunch of over blown over produced nonsense. An assault on your eyeballs.

  12. Jason says:

    Can’t wait to see what white guy wins this year… not.

  13. Nick says:

    Advice for Nigel Lythgoe: Fire Randy. Hire Shania instead :)

  14. tina says:

    Towards the end of last season, I barely watched the live show and didn’t watch the results show. Just waited for Slezak to tell me who was voted off. I think this year, I’ll skip it all together and just let Slezak tell me what happened and who gets voted off.

  15. David says:

    I just want the judges to actually judge the performances and offer the performers advice instead of non-stop praise. Why bother to have judges if all they are ever going to do is love everything everyone does?

    Advice for this season: stop pimping your favorites. You’re there to judge, not to promote the one you like the best.

    And thank you for pointing out just how underwhelming and useless Randy Jackson is. He’s always been my least favorite judge on any competition show. Even Ellen was a more prolific judge than Jackson!

  16. Pete says:

    I won’t be watching anymore. Scotty McCreery’s win (and Miss Piggy in the final two) proves that the remaining majority of Idol viewers are trash. On a show that is controlled by its viewers, that is an irrevocable flaw.

    • Bart says:

      Scotty is a platinum selling artist who has sold more than Adam in the US…who has the last laugh now?

      • Darren says:

        You might want to get your facts straight. He has sold about 900,000 albums so platinum selling artist is a little bit of a stretch. I look forward to his second album tanking and never hearing from him again.

  17. Cat says:

    Yessss. Agree! Half of the fun of ‘Idol’ is reading Slezak’s commentary and watching ‘Idoloonies’. Maybe this will be the year the judges finally stop sucking!

    Awww, I love the short-fused optimism preceding the audition rounds. Let the games begin!

  18. Toto says:

    You missed the note to Nigel to change the &$*(*$@#*(() voting policy. Banish teen texting!

  19. RTW says:

    Randy Jackson. Say it with me, all together now, “Randy Jackson.” Now, how many of you unintentionally closed your eyes, pinched the bridge of your nose and shook your head in disappointment? Thank you for the write-up Michael.

    • elr says:

      LOL! I LOVE your post! I always unintentionally cringe whenever anyone says Randy Jackson…

      • Nick says:

        I used to cringe when someone mentioned Randy, but now I just think of his akward didn’t-get-a-fistbump-from-James-Durbin-dance and smile instead.

  20. Tina Louise says:

    Yay, back to more bitching from Slezak and company!

  21. CK says:

    Michael, I am so looking forward to your coverage of this season. I tried to like X-Factor and the Voice but came to the realization I’m a Idol-loonie like you. Keep the faith baby and keep the Merlot close at hand. Love you baby. Best to you and hubbie.

  22. Betsy says:

    I was excited to see that Slezak had written something about Idol tonight, but that bit of advice was kind of mean-spirited and there are SO MANY other things you could have given advice about that they need – like the mentoring situation, for one thing. Looking forward to the season – your recaps and videos make it all so much fun ;)

  23. Buzz says:

    Let the Idoloonies begin! This is what I am really looking forward to.
    For the sake of mankind, let’s hope Country is not the Pimp-mobile that Nigel is driving this year. I would like to say, Michael, you wrote five paragraphs and mentioned Haley only twice…let’s get the quota back up there. I’m sure you’re all over this, Haley has to be a guest host on Idoloonies this year!

  24. HALEYLOVER says:

    Haley releasing her single March 1, my birthday! Best birthday present ever!!!

  25. Brigette says:

    A piece of advice I wish they would all take is never to listen to Nigel. Anyone else more excited for Idoloonies than the actual show? Last year’s episodes had me howling with laughter every time!

  26. Julie says:

    Last season was the worst season of AI ever, with the worst top three ever. When they bring on talent like Daughtry or Cook again I might consider watching. And here’s to another WGWG winning!

    • ohgodno says:

      oh god please no and if you think one of those top three was the worst ever and that the show needs in the worst way another WGWG winning, oh dear god….

  27. Name That Tune says:

    What X Factor taught me is that I don’t want to watch the interminable audition episodes. BORING. I might give The Voice a look, but not AI. Beyond that I will watch Idoloonies, and read Slezak’s recaps, but really don’t want to waste my time on show that has become very good at producing the same result. Nonthreatening WGWY will win it again. And I don’t care if S.McC has gone platinum. Don’t have a single tune he’s done and haven’t heard a song he’s recorded on my radio. But I loved that duet between Casey & Haley of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.”

  28. Dark Defender says:


    That’s all. :D

  29. Vivian says:

    “— especially when you turned into a cauldron-stirring, malevolent bruja when it came to critiquing fabulous underdog Haley Reinhart”

    I actually spill out my ice tea…you totally use this word because of true blood didn’t you

  30. Lucía says:

    Spot on, Michael!!!!!!

    I would really appreciate -and so would contestants- some fairness and real feedback, not to mention constructive criticism. All that pointless chit-chat from Steven and “you’re great”, “that was over the top” which JLo calls “very needed words of encouragement” really made me sick last year, so the judges better bring in the real guns this year!!!

    P.S: Note how i didn’t even mention Randy. Well, after 10 seasons I can now think of him as a lost cause -not that i ever listened to what he actually has to say…

  31. meagain says:

    Well said, excellent points. However, since I don’t believe they will follow any of them, Steven might only he might be afraid also to critique someone who is his biggest fan and crush them or something.

    You could add for Nigel:
    Don’t pre-plan the story! Last year you were so stuck on seeing it come through you spit all over what could’ve developed into a far better story (and even did until nearly right to the end) if you hadn’t ridiculously tried to squash it at every turn!

    Anyway I sense zero anything that Nigel plans to change, since then he would have to admit to not having been the most genius 100% always right producer in history.

    It is clear that Randy has either sold out so far he doesn’t even know what sold out means anymore or simply just plain lost it.

    And JLo has proven that either she was hiding her true self the first half of the season or, in the end, willing to do anything for an extra buck.

  32. LauraHolt says:

    Be honest…for a change.

    If however you decide to do as you are told and pimp certain people then for goodness sake don’t be a dick to any of the talented contestants that aren’t suppose to win.

    You can pimp the chosen ones without being cruel to their more talented counterparts.

  33. Zenomath says:

    When Haley’s cousin Jenna speaks, everyone listens\reads her stuff. According to Jenna, Haley will make an appearance on March 1st on… you guessed it, American Idol, to no-doubt pop out her new single. And more news…Haley album on May 1st. This may be old news by now but, it’s my two cents for you.