Idology: Time to Overhaul American Idol Auditions? Plus: Week 3's Best & Worst

After 11 seasons on the air, American Idol‘s audition rounds sometimes feel like a tea bag that’s been used one too many times: There’s not a whole lot of flavor left to extract. On this week’s Idology, Idol‘s Season 6 diva extraordinaire Melinda Doolittle and I analyza Season 11’s disappointing third week of tryouts and brainstorm a new idea for revamping the opening weeks of Season 12. Plus, we dish the “ex-husband held me back from my dreams” defense, and talk about the best and worst Golden Ticket recipients from Portland and St. Louis.
So press play below for the latest Idology offering, then hit the comments with your thoughts. And for all my reality TV recaps, commentary, and interviews, 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. lauren says:

    Only tentatively offering this comment – but if you were the type to read Idol spoilers, Michael, then the lack of good auditions may make sense. Then again it may not. I don’t want to give anything away to people who don’t like spoilers.

    • Saracen Riggins says:

      I’m pickin’ up what you’re layin’ down.

      • I totally understand Lauren’s point, despite not reading the spoilers, and I am guessing your point is that they show us the auditions of people that move on or do well in Hollywood. That’s incredibly understandable and makes sense, but then why have audition rounds of people that don’t make it all? Or, if they only show us the auditions of people that go far in the competition, then why have Hollywood week at all? Just show us the good people’s audition and then jump to the Top 24? My point is that if they are going to show us only the good auditions then don’t show us the middle rounds, and don’t show us the complete crap contestants because they are wastes of time. Although I know they don’t want to waste too much time, the fact that in one night they showed us 6 golden tickets yet had over 40 people going to Hollywood is insane. Something needs to be done, but glossing over people in auditions but not Hollywood doesn’t make sense.

        • jj says:

          why not just show the middle rounds?

        • Name That Tune says:

          I don’t think the producers of this show have ever given any thought to the audition rounds or Hollywood week as GOOD TELEVISION. These early weeks have always struck me as “What can we do to fill in time until it really counts?” They just assume that Idol is big enough to draw an audience (although that is rapidly dying), so it doesn’t matter who we see now. And given the spoilers that are out there on the Internet, why should I waste my time on something that hasn’t been well-thought out in terms of entertainment value? So I don’t.

          • darcy's evil twin says:

            I want someone to report back and let us know if the Top 24 chosen in Hollywood week match the spoilers posted to the internet.

          • Name That Tune says:

            It’s the same people who correctly identified the Top 24 last year before we saw it on TV . . .

          • darcy's evil twin says:

            @Name That Tune – thanks for the information (and I am sincere). I didn’t look at the spoilers last year, either. I recall there was a lot of dicussion about spoilers last year but some of the internet reports weren’t accurate; however, at least one of them was obviously accurate.
            I was trying to decide if I wanted to look at the spoilers. If they hadn’t been accurate in the past I would look. But since at least one report is accurate, I’ll pass. I like to be surprised!

          • darcy's evil twin says:

            And speaking of spoilers…if the top 24 is all over the internet then Mr. Slezak is absolutely correct about revamping the audition rounds. They might as well just show the auditions of the Top 24. Cut out all the crap – No backstories, no homeless stories, no single mom/”my husband was a dream killer” stories, no “disease of the week” stories, and no dead wife stories. They could show a few auditions that were good but don’t make the top 24, and they could show a few really bad auditions if they were genuinely funny. I think that would draw more viewers and just as much advertising money – maybe more. Then we could go straight to Hollywood and “Group Week”, which I dearly love because you just can’t help but watch, painful as it may be.
            Mr. Slezak is right – I like the idea of grouping the contestants together in the auditions based on the type of music they sing. we don’t need a bunch of footage of the city where the auditions are held. Good grief, I am from the Midwest and I didn’t realize it was possible to show the Gateway Arch from so many different angles, up and down streets, and through hotel windows!

    • SallyinChicago says:

      Nothing wrong with the auditions, it’s just we don’t need 2 hours of auditions.

  2. Karen says:

    I have yet to watch a single episode of American Idol. I just watch this…

  3. Evan says:

    Randy’s reaction to the Tripster Hipster: PRICELESS.
    But I thought she sounded affected. And Jessica with the boyfriend? Sounded winded to me.
    “They should put all the sob stories on one day.” Slezak, they’re *all* sob stories, these days!

  4. Jason says:

    Unfortunately for Idol, it has the marching war drums from The Voice to deal with. The Voice is getting huge buzz now because of the post-super bowl slot.

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      “Idol” and “The Voice” are two entirely different shows. It’s a matter of personal taste and what a viewer prefers. So far I still prefer “Idol” but I enjoy “The Voice” as well.
      “X-Factor”, on the other hand, completely irritated me.

      • marie says:

        I’m just pleased as can be that these days, I have both Idol and Voice to watch running at the same time during the season! Woo-hoo! Personally, I don’t see myself ever watching X Factor – too loud, too phony, too over-produced, too annoying.

        • darcy's evil twin says:

          And too many half-naked dancers. I’m not a prude – they just didn’t add anything to the performances.

      • Bonnie A says:

        Totally agree!

    • SallyinChicago says:

      Two different shows. The VOICE has “second chancers” or those who failed and looking for another shot at stardom or a recording career….and no one from the 1st Voice has turned out to be a star or worth paying to see. So maybe the first time the record companys had it right about them?
      Idol nurtures its singers and many of them go on to have successful careers.

  5. Livi says:

    You can tell it’s not a great audition week when your highlight has nothing to do with singing but is in fact “So, who are you?”. Heartbroken that there was no mention of it haha. But other than that great work, half the fun of idol is this show.

  6. Pat says:

    Reading spoilers, four of the last five audition episodes have been an entire waste and a distraction as to who is actually going to be around on this show in the next four months. I don’t understand the endgame the producers are building. They’ve focused only on a few of the Top 24 and a TON of fodder. Oh, and I too despise the “single mom” sob story. Give me a break.

    • Elliott says:

      Every single time I make this point on one of these posts, I get yelled at for spoiling, despite not actually spoiling anything other than saying they featured few of the future Top 24. I can say that of those not featured, they skipped out on quite a few who have been featured in the past (and should have been again) as well as some who are actually quite unique and talented. Given who they HAVE shown us, though, it is looking like a clear path to the end by Phillip Phillips.

  7. Linda says:

    You and Melinda are so, so great together. I’d love to see her on a regular/semi-regular basis.

  8. darcy's evil twin says:

    Despite the “spoilers”, despite their accuracy, despite Randy’s silly comments, despite the editing, despite the bad auditions, despite the lack of good auditions, despite the sob stories, evil dream-killing husbands, illnesses, and every other imaginable calamity – Mr. Slezak, you and Melinda Doolittle absolutely rock together. I enjoy the commentary.
    I find it strange that everyone keeps implying that the Top 24 have not been seen on any of the audition programs. That’s unusual, because in past years we did see quite a few of the auditions of those that made it into the Top 24.

  9. ana says:

    Idology is the best!

  10. Bad Breaker says:

    I love Melinda and she is one of my all-time faves on idol (should have won!). That being said, I do miss the snarkiness of Micheal’s co-host on Idoloonies. Those two pulled no punches and really had great critiques.

  11. lethargic says:

    I’ve been very bored with the auditions the past couple of years. I’m really tired of the bad singers. Gone are they day of the fun William Hung type who were legit bad singers who were hilarious. Now you can just see most of these people are complete fakes just trying to get on TV. It’s just boring at this point and I’d rather spend that time getting to know the people who will be on the show all year long. I personally would find it much more entertaining if they’d bring back the old montages they used to have of all the bad singers singing one song.
    The most annoying thing about this year though is that it seems they’ve upped commercial breaks. Commercial, 1 singer, commercial,1 singer, commercial, 1 singer, commercial. It’s ridiculous. There’s no reason why we can’t have 2 or 3 people sing every segment. I don’t need a 5 minute video package about some kid who got bullied in school because he was short.

  12. Lisa says:

    I am sure there’s more background than I know. But, I was a little bothered by the woman who talked and sung about how bad her ex was, while holding her daughter’s hand. If her ex is also that girl’s father, it might be best to leave the little one outside and not put her in the middle of the mess. Just a thought.

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      Huh? You mean there’s people these days that don’t put their children in the middle of their drama?
      Who knews!

    • Amelia says:

      Agreed. I hate it when a parent bad-mouths the other parent publically (on TV), especially infront of the children. And the whole “he took all them dreams away” mantra must have two sides to it. How often does quitting ones job & pursuing a singing career ever pay off, or turn out well?

  13. Marko says:

    As always, Idology is better than AI.

  14. Jay says:

    SLEZAK. I’m begging you…. please take off the incessant “subscribe” boxes that pop up during your videos. They are driving me crazy. Doolittle doesn’t need to be partially covered with such things.

    • TinCan says:

      Turn them off yourself — Red colored balloon “annotations” lower right corner.

      • Kate says:

        well cool. Thanks so much for that nugget of info :)

      • Billy says:

        So instead of just kicking back and enjoying Idology we are supposed to click an X every 15-20 seconds to cancel those annoying banners that pop up one after the other? Gimme a break, TinCan.

        • buzzenator says:

          clicking the red balloon at the bottom takes the annotations off for the entire video…so you can kick back and enjoy. Loving Idology, Michael, Melinda & Jason…if you don’t mention Haley at least put in some subliminal messages using the word Haley :D

  15. TinCan says:

    And speaking of the “Subscribe Button,” I did…but I get an e-mail of all tv-line’s videos without yours… and then I see your new one on Monday and no e-mail notification. Please get a separate YouTube channel or fix this. Thank you.

  16. Ben says:

    Nah, they don’t need to shake up the auditions. They are the best audition phase of any show. However – they do need to know when there isn’t much to show in a city, and combine two cities into one episode. They’ve done this in the past. I think only 3 or 4 cities have deserved a full episode, and even then only 2 couldn’t have done without.

  17. Alienate says:

    Michael, have you gone to the leaked final 24 page? And,how will that influence your viewing/comments this season?
    I must admit I could not resist the urge to see what all the hub-bub was. I did a 10 second scan and told my brain to forget what I had just seen. :)

  18. Amelia says:

    Looking forward to Hollywood week (and the ruthless cutting that shall be going on then amongst the actually-good singers).

  19. Jason says:

    A lot of time there are politics to whose audition gets shown. MAny times the better contestants choose better songs which are unable to be cleared for airing. This happened when Jason Castro auditoned with “Crazy” and they could not clear the song. Possibly this happened in high volume this year.
    Also possible the audition footage isn’t that good so they will concentrate on the top 24 more in hollywood when they shine more.
    And maybe the episodes were edited before the Top 24 was chosen and they felt it wasn’t worth the money to reedit them to include the top 24.
    The ratings are sagging for the audition shows which I believe is because without Simon the audition shows are dull and uncompelling. The judges need to step up they’re game if they are going to fight off The Big Bang Theory and The Voice.

  20. Ellen says:

    I continue to be underwhelmed….

  21. SL says:

    Is the usual editor off this week? I missed the captions and the cross-cutting with other shows :-(

  22. GeorgiaPat says:

    Thanks for a great segment, Michael and Melinda! I have only watched a few minutes here and there, but I’ll definitely follow Idology. I’m never very excited at this point in the competition, and last season’s imbalance alternately deflated and infuriated me. I’ll start watching this week, but competition from other shows (The Voice, but also favorite Wednesday night comedies on ABC)is stiff! I just keep reminding myself of the contestants I’ve discovered on AI who fill my iPod. However, I confess that I was unfaithful last night with The Voice.

  23. Lunakit says:

    Thank you, SL! I was scanning down the list to see if anyone else noticed Jason’s absence too! Hope all is well! It felt like part of the team was missing this week…

  24. Joseph says:

    I just skip the audition week at this point.
    We see the second round of the auditions not the 1st one where the producers screen out 99%+ of all those that show up.
    Since this is the second round of call backs that make up the auditions that are shown I would rather take that time to watch those singers that have a strong singing talent and not the oddballs looking for their 15 minutes of fame.
    For this reason I now skip the Audition weeks of IA and just wait till Hollywood Week.
    IF ,, AI were have serious call backs in the various cities then I might take the time to watch them.
    But for now the only show that I like is THE VOICE for their audition before the Mentors.

  25. syb says:

    I always so look forward to Idol, and then the auditions tend to be so boring and repetitive, and so I’m yearning for Hollywood, which has lately also turned into a character drama with what seems like less than 5 minutes of singing per hour, so now I’m just impatient for the voting rounds.

  26. JC says:

    I love these videos and am sad I didn’t find them sooner! They’re probably often more interesting than the episodes…
    BTW, sorry if this has been reported on elsewhere, but what happened to the auditions in East Rutherford, NJ? Is it normal for them to just not air an audition from a particular city (or was the audition cancelled and I missed it for 6 months)?

  27. Alex says:

    Gosh, audition folks creating a sob story for sympathy….hmmmmm…Because everyone likes a weak woman completely dependent on her man for her brain.
    And I’m sorry, but hipster girl kinda sucked. I hate those whinney wimpy tin-ey vibratey voices.

  28. Jane says:

    How about instead of each city gets a night of auditions, why not just combine cities have the South one night, all the West Coast another and the Northeast another, etc. They could take the best of several cities and maybe show 3 similar auditions in a row so we could compare them. It’s not like the order the cities are shown is the same as they were filmed anyway. I always thought it would be cool if they showed people who sang the same song together. What they really should do is make Hollywood week last longer. It’s unfair to the ones who make the top 24 without any prior screen time. I don’t recall seeing Lauren Turner at all before the top 24 last year.

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      @Jane – I kind of like your ideas, especially the part about showing the people together that audition with the same song.

  29. aravis says:

    The sweaty ones will just have to use industrial strength antiperspirant. And if they ever make enough money they can get their sweat glands fried.

  30. Shayrenee says:

    I think the auditions are a joke. I would rather the show pick up when the real singing starts. I also feel like the judges could be better. Using classic artist like, Gladys Knight or Phil Collins! Great singers make great judges! I think Melinda Doolittle would make an awesome judge!!! Don’t you think so?

  31. betsy says:

    SO GLAD Hollywood week is starting this week – I’m bored out of my mind with these auditions.

  32. darcy's evil twin says:

    Just checked out the “Hollywood Week” constestants on the Idol website and I saw more than a few familiar faces from previous seasons, including Hollie Cavanaugh (aka – Crying British Girl), Brielle Von Hugel (was in the “Grenade” group last year with Pia Tuscano), Deandre Brackensick (was in the “kids group” with the stage mothers last season), and Jaqueline Dunford (the really blonde ditz that was part of a duo last year – she was a couple with her boyfriend, Nick, complete with tons of drama). I’m not sure if it’s good or bad that I remember these people.
    I also spotted some people that looked familiar but I can’t swear they’ve been on the program in previous seasons, like Janelle Arthur. I think she auditioned last year.

  33. Weejamama says:

    I recorded one of the audition shows and got about fifteen minutes of actual audiition singing. The rest was location and sob story filler. And as someone else wrote an extreme amount of commercials. Maybe if there was actually more singing – good or bad – people would watch again

  34. João Rafael says:

    It’s not the same without him and those movie clips meticulously inserted on the comments. Really hope he comes back next episodes.

  35. Jurybox says:

    So, having watched a couple of the Idol audition shows and finally, this year, watched the two episodes of The Voice auditions, I can now say that I am tuning OUT of Idol and tuning INTO The Voice. The Judges are more likable and interesting, and the contestants far better than anything Idol is showing us this year. (I may take a look at the top 24, just in case there is anyone appealing — after all, they did find Haley last year, so it’s possible…), but for now….
    Buh bye!