American Idol's Ratings Woes: 8 Common-Sense Ways to Salvage Season 12

American Idol‘s Season 12 ratings continue to slip like a baby giraffe on an ice rink: Wednesday night’s Top 7 performance show drew 11.5 million viewers and a 3.0 rating (ticking down to an all-time Wednesday low).

Sure, you can blame reality-singing overload: With NBC’s The Voice now offering two cycles per year and The X Factor holding down the fort at Fox during Idol‘s off season, you’d expect audience attrition for The House That Kelly Clarkson Built, especially in its twelfth season.

VIDEO | Idol‘s Devin Velez on Nicki Minaj Feud and That Infamous Trio! Plus: Bieber & Pink Theme Nights?

But increased competition is only one part of the equation — and there are plenty of other factors for the ratings drop. It’s time for Idol‘s producers to take responsibility. As a massive Idoloonie who’d love to see the reality juggernaut stay strong and produce another generation of J.Huds and Carries and Lamberts, I’ve concocted an eight-step plan to reinvigorate Season 12 — and keep the Idol train moving forward in the coming decade.

RELATED | American Idol Top 7 Performance Night Recap: For Those Who Managed to Rock, We Salute You!

Click through the gallery below for my suggestions, then hit the comments with your own! And for all my Idol-related news, interviews, videos and recaps, 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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194 Comments
  1. All-Stars? YES PLEASE. That’s the best idea I’ve heard in a while.

    • JSancheznews says:

      I don’t think there’s any hope for this season of idol. There’s maybe 2 or 3 good singers among the top 10, the rest are just average and 1 in particular is mediocre and only sailing through because of pity votes. Their song choices are mostly boring, safe and predictable. There’s nothing much in terms of personality either. Even their tweets are a snooze fest. Idol maybe a singing competition but it is also a reality show where casting is really important.

      • Sherry says:

        I agree w you. I have been forcing myself to watch this sinking ship of a singing reality show just hoping that someone would have a “wow factor” performance.

        • ejones says:

          Too many judges, get back to 3, not enough material for 4 judges to be original and they are too easily pleased. For example, tell Kree straight that she was not good enough tonight, don’t tell her in code to make it seem that she was good.

        • Loretta says:

          Same here! I can’t stop watching but I find myself skipping through most of it because I can’t stand most of it anymore.

        • Al says:

          My seniments exactly! Plus get rid of all the So called judges and start again!

      • Stephen says:

        Idol has failed for one main reason! It was the viewers being allowed to chose who they wanted to win! This year they where so hell bent on forcing a woman to win they give us only 4 real people to chose from and a bunch of crap. Some the most successful Idols did not win the show but have become successful in there own, Pick the best and let the chips fall.

        Other problems:
        The Judges are not saying anything! Mariah, JLo, Randy, really do not add anything and do not have the mental skills to be entertaining.

        The results show is to long! Make it a half hour.

        The space between the live auditions and the live show, is unwatchable and kills the momentum.

      • Steve says:

        This season has been incredibly boring. I dont even think any of the girls they keep pimping are that great. I dont see star quality and I dont close my eyes and easily identify the voices of Kree or Candice and the others. The t heme weeks are so lame…Theyve done the same one year after year after year. Motown/McCartney/Songs from Year You are BOrn. They shouldve done a week of sing songs of the judges…The duet idea with former Idols is at least original. Plus youre right that the themes are just too old. These contestants you ahve to realize were toddlers when AI first started. They dont even konw these songs so thats why we get trainwrecks. none of htem really have great charisma. Lazaro was only put there because of his stuttering and good looks. Janelle is the only one that Im seeing any personality from. And these duets and trios are just as boring as anything else. The show really sucks and deserves the low ratings. You ahve to do more than change up the judges to make the show intersting and entertaining again. GIe us something new. Even the elimination shows have gotten worse with just showing faces on teh big screen and luckiyl they didnt continue the first week of showing the places…

      • Ademm says:

        Not sure I can come up with those 2 or 3 good ones this year.

      • Trouty Mouth says:

        “Mediocre”? I think you’re being a bit too nice. More like “dreadful”.

    • Teeny Bikini says:

      Bring. it. on. Yes, please and thank you.

    • Lori says:

      Totally agree!!!!

    • Aaron says:

      Every other “reality” show has done an “All-Stars” edition and I think Idol should too. Having people like Katelyn Epperly or Didi Benami or Chris Richardson or Gina Glocksen or Melinda Doolittle or Carly Smithson or Blake Lewis or Alexis Grace or Allison Irihita or Haley Reinhart or Jesse FREAKIN Langseth would be AWESOME!!!!!

      • I’d like to add David Hernandez to that group. He left way too soon.

        • LOLOL says:

          I love Aaron’s choices and Jojosie’s addition. How about Asia Epperson and Sabrina Sloane, Brooke White and Lily Scott.

          But obviously, an All Stars edition should have different rules. Most of these guys already have albums or record deals. Some of them might not be able to make the time commitment too.

          Maybe a different set of judges too?

    • zelda says:

      Idol’s time has long since been done — end it please!!!!!

    • SG says:

      YAY for bringing on the “All Stars”…I wld die if this happened! That wld be just terrific..tell me whom to bribe to get this idea rolling!

      • Loretta says:

        Idol All Stars would be awesome. Let the public vote for their choice of who to bring back. Idol is a singing contest not a fashion show! Can the judges concentrate on singing instead of clothes and shoes. Who cares what they wear. The show is much too long especially the kick off. Too many judges and they talk for way too long. I used to care to listen to them now I can’t stand to listen to most of them and just skip through that part. STOP picking equal amounts of girls and guys in the beginning. It’s not very fair. Some better singers go home just to keep the right number of girls and guys. Just let the best singers stay. Isn’t that what its all about. The best of the best no matter what.

    • maz says:

      The show for the most part is boring. The singers are all close in age and nothing great to offer. The VOICE on the other hand is a great show with great and versatile talent of all ages. The judges/coaches are all interesting too on the voice too. The judges on idol are not very good and are all over the place in their critique. I think idol needs to get some new and creative ideas and judges and talent and songs. I love singing shows but this one definitly needs to be improved.

  2. ceebee says:

    LOVE the idea of a duet w/former all star from AI!!

    • Mary says:

      That would be great plus have the former Idol help with the arrangement. This year crop seems to be having problems rearranging the song to fit their style. The themes wouldn’t be so bad if the contestant or coaches change it up to make it sound current.

  3. Cathy Knott says:

    I would love this. It would add an excitement that has been missing on this show for years now.

  4. ceebee says:

    Plus the former AI All Star could be the “mentor” for each contestant….

  5. karen says:

    Excellent suggestions, each and every one. Have you noticed how few mentors there are this season? Maybe Idol shot their wad on huge judges’ salaries and are cutting corners on everything else. And for god sake, how maddening was it that the judges told more than one contestant last night that they shouldn’t be singing rock. This, on rock week.

    • Teeny Bikini says:

      Exactly. Hello? It’s rock week. What were they thinking? I could have told them Burnell would suck at rock music without actually hearing it. That was a waste of a show.

      • Mary says:

        I disagree he could of change the rock song up to fit his R&B style. That would of been a wow moment. Many of previous contestants have done just that. Adam was no country singer but he did a song to fit his style. Kris was far from disco yet he changed Work hard for the money to sound like a current hit. It can be done just not with this current group. Only a few have manage to change a song up.

        • Teeny Bikini says:

          Agreed, Mary. Thusfar, Burnell has not show that kind of creativity or ability to adapt his style, whereas many of the others have.My perception is based solely on his past performances. And in his past performances, he pretty much sounds the same to me. Don’t get me wrong, I think his voice is beautiful – but he has made little effort to change it up.

          • Joy says:

            I’m not sure if the problem is lack of creativity, or not knowing the songs in the first place. It’s a lot easier to be creative with a song that you already know inside out — and you also have to know a large enough variety of songs to be able to identify the ones that will lend themselves well to experimentation. If Burnell’s learning a song he doesn’t know, or doing whatever one song he does know instead of making an informed selection, it’s going to be a lot harder to try anything adventurous. His big mistake was coming on the show without knowing any songs outside of his own narrow lane; if he’d bothered to do his homework first, he might be able to deliver a lot more originality now.

  6. PutAForkInIt says:

    Nothing will reverse the ratings slide.
    For many of us, the show ended when Simon left.
    The show became more about the STAR judges than the unfound talent.
    And at the same time, that talent pool severely dried up.

    • John says:

      Ughh I hate this “Simon is the greatest thing” ever mantra amongst former fans.
      I can admit that Simon was frequently a very perceptive judge and brutally honest BUT

      He was just as guilty as the producers of promoting trainwreck performers. Not only that but his feedback was rarely constructive: Ok so I sounded like I was on a cruise ship how do I get better??
      Finally, Simon still has a very outdated sense of music- as his mentoring of Melanie and Drew suggests. One Direction’s triumph is the result of hard and effective management by Syco/Columbia. Simon wasn’t as involved as he wants people to think he was.

      So, NO- Simon was not the greatest thing to ever happen to American Idol, and the show can certainly continue to discover new talent, like it did in Seasons 10 and 11.

      • Joy says:

        Simon’s role on the show was as an entertainer, and his entertainment value lay mainly in shock humor — which only lasted as long as the nastiness was actually shocking. His luster had started to fade long before he jumped ship. In the long run, the show will be better off with judges whose musical taste is better attuned to the American music market, and who are willing to offer substantive musical commentary in their critiques. But I do agree with PutAForkInIt that the producers’ fixation on star power probably hasn’t been the best way to find those people. Next time around, the selection process should focus less on WHO the judges are, and more on WHAT they have to say.

        • John says:

          Agreed. Record producers/Songwriters would be greatly approved because they don’t have a public image to maintain, and they know about vocal technique/artistry/emotional connection, as well as marketable and relevancy.

          • meem says:

            The judges on the The Voice have public images to maintain, and they manage to give valuable advice on technique/artistry/emotional connection.

        • JASon says:

          Yeah but that entertainment was the center of the show! Simon’s honesty and unpredictability was why we watched. We wanted to see him eviscerate a contestant or cheered when he loved a contestant. He kept a little surprise in the show!!

      • Sherry says:

        Simon isn’t the reason show is getting low ratings. It’s too much about the judges and NM is so annoying I want to scream. I’ve tuned in 3x to watch and everytime she opens her mouth I hit the mute button. I know many ppl who won’t watch idol because of her.

        • Li-Li says:

          Agree completely about Nicki Minaj. She is such a cartoon character – she makes this show a joke. The only reason people may like her is because she is a loose cannon and makes a lot of outrageous comments. The other judges are so bland that she sticks out, but not in a good way. I feel bad for the contestants, who deserve better.

          • Marilene says:

            I couldn’t agree more about Nicki Minaj. I deleted AI off my DVR after the second night. I will not watch it as long as she is on there. I had never heard of her before and I was not impressed. From reading this blog it doesn’t look like I have been missing much this season. The Voice has been impressing so much more and I am completely hooked. Bye bye AI.

        • Loretta says:

          WOW! I thought I was the only one who couldn’t stand listening to her.

      • Harmony says:

        I agree. Simon’s last season was a joke-he didn’t care at all, he was only staying to finish out his contract. I liked Simon on Idol but I love him on BGT and The X-Factor UK. He’s so much more interested in the contestants and invested in their development in the UK. It’s great to watch. That said, there were many former Idols that Simon really worked hard for and still clearly admires. In a way I agree that that Idol changed when Simon left, that had way more to do with the producers than anything else.

    • soundscene says:

      I agree with you to a point. Simon could be very entertaining. Simon did promote some pretty awful contestants, though, and he manipulated the hell out of the voting public by his little reverse psychology trick (give a popular contestant that is losing steam a mediocre review, his dormant fans start voting again out of panic). But the dynamic between Simon, Paula and (yes, even) Randy, worked. Most of the American public ONLY knew Simon and Randy through American Idol. It was the insulation that legitimized them as “American Idol Judges.” Paula hadn’t had a hit in years and was basically reborn in the form of an “American Idol Judge.” The new judges (all incarnations) are currently known from current projects that have nothing to do with American Idol. They are performers or singers that, as a side job, tell contestants what they think of their singing. The comfort level and the legitimacy isn’t there because these aren’t “American Idol Judges,” they are just celebrities in the music business who sit at a table and doll out unhelpful advice. Not to mention there are four of them now, causing needlessly long critiques that completely halt any momentum the show may have had.

    • Musica1 says:

      Oh my gosh! I attended shows when Simon was a judge, and Simon didn’t even listen to the performances! He gave repetitive comments because he was so rude to the contestants that he spent the entire performance talking to people behind him and visiting and laughing wit the other judges. It was sickening. Paula was the same. Since they left, each and every judge listens closely to the performances, takes notes and at least does their best to give a critique of the actual performance instead of just spewing catch phrases. (that was an utter mess! Like a drunk uncle at a wedding! Ugh! So glad Simon is gone!)

      • joeF says:

        The judges listen closely, then they say a performance that obviously sucked was good? Or try to whitewash it? Thanks, I guess I’ll take Simon.

    • QueenJ says:

      Like it or not Simon was the “star” of Idol. I’m not saying this as a fan of his (I’m not) but he is was synonymous with Idol for a long time. People tuned in to hear what he had to say just as much, if not more, as the contestants. It’s like a popular scripted show when they skill off the main star never feels the same or recovers the magic that made the show special. I agree that to many people when Simon left that signaled the end of Idol. And now Nigel is just using Idol as a vehicle to feed his ego and vision for a modern day variety show, which just exacerbates the problem.

  7. Cathy says:

    Most exciting think I have heard in years

  8. Would love to see Adam Lambert come back in some way.. Performing. Judging.. He was the most exciting and his vocals are always killer. The judges are so classless and care more about themselves than the contestants. It’s about the singers. Adam would’ve been sincere in his commenting to those contestants. Minaj and Carey are 2 nails in that Idol coffin for sure. Miss the old Idol.. I’m afraid it’s basically history. RIP

    • Sherry says:

      Agree w you about Adam Lambert. After S8 I stopped watching altogether.Many say he “broke” the show and I have to agree. I find myself comparing every contestant to him and so far none have come close to matching his talent, charisma and stage presence. If they hired him as a judge it would bring up the ratings and people would want to watch this show again. He would also bring credibility to the show unlike NM and Randy. Neither add any real constructive criticism to the performances of the contestants. NM is a train wreck. Mariah although very talented is too nice. Keith at least gives good criticiques.

      • John says:

        All due respect, how would Adam bring credibility?? Yes I know he’s a fantastic singer – one of the best to grace the Idol stage – but he’s far from an established artist.

        His first era went very well, but he’s been struggling with “Trespassing”. In fact, didn’t Trespassing ( the single) fail to make any dent on the charts. I remember it going for adds, and then nobody picking it up.

        Adam would make a good mentor, but not a judge. Honestly, if past contestants were going to join the judges panel the only two contestants who would qualify would be Carrie or Kelly. No other Idol artists has become established enough to pass judgement on prospective contestants.

        • soundscene says:

          I would actually rather have somebody like Melinda Doolitle sitting on a judging panel than a currently uber-successful alumn like Kelly or Carrie (not that Melinda isn’t successful, just on a smaller scale). If Idol is going to bring on former Idol singers to critique other singers, I would rather it be the BEST singers. Kelly and Carrie would qualify, yes, but I think their stardom could overshadow what I wish the show were about–the contestants. If I could compile a list of the best singers the show has ever produced, a lot of them wouldn’t be the ones that are considered the most successful.* And the fact that their fame may not have moved beyond the Idol realm may actually lend a comfort factor to the proceedings that allows the contestants to shine while still getting helpful critiques from people who know what they’re talking about.

          *While American Idol may no longer be a singing competition (it should be), it is still just a TV show. Thinking about marketing and saying that those who didn’t sell millions outside the show wouldn’t be the best judges is wrong, in my opinion. American Idol should be entertaining and what I find most entertaining is great performances. If you get a judge or mentor who really knows what they’re talking about and can actually help contestants, the show becomes more entertaining.

        • Jane Barr says:

          please readAdamBertDaily Blog: Trespassing #1 25/10/2012
          adamquotedaily.blogspot.com/…/trespassing-1-25102012.htmlShareOct 25, 2012 – BREAKING NEWS: ADAM LAMBERT’s “Trespassing” debuts at #1 on the Hot Dance Singles Sales chart. @adamlambert. IdolsNow ‏@ …

          • jerri says:

            I agree about Adam. He would bring some excitement to the show in a good way. He’s a hugh
            star overseas. Sells out all his concerts. His American tour was also a big sucess last year. I paid
            $600.for 2 tickets up front and was worth every penny.

            I cannot watch NM I fast forward as soon as she opens her mouth. I could also care less if I
            see show or not. I used to look forward to it every week.

        • karen says:

          What? Let’s name a few established stars: Jennifer Hudson, Daughtry, Phillip Phillips, Catherine McPhee, Kellie Pickler. IN fact, those who say Idol is over the hill are forgetting the Phillip Phillips, last season’s winner, went quadruple platinum with his single. It’s hardly a dying show.

          • Joy says:

            I can’t see calling someone an “established star” based on one hit single or album. It’s just too soon to guarantee that they’ll continue enjoying that kind of success. Meanwhile, Kellie and Daughtry have seen serious sales slides with their recent releases, and Kat’s never really managed a commercially successful album. (She has had the TV stint, but that also hasn’t been a successful show…) All of them are great artists who’ve had impressive careers, but none is really a “star” in the industry at this point. So I think it’s true that Kelly and Carrie are the only alums who’ve proven that they can get to the top of the music industry and stay there. On the other hand, I also think you’re right that all the other successes the show has generated contribute a lot to its overall pop-culture relevance, and Phillip and Scotty’s sales prove that it has plenty of potential to keep that up — IF it can sustain the ratings it needs to stay on the air…

        • jamie lund says:

          Not everyone thinks this Adam Lambert is a great singer, or performer. I did not enjoy him on Idol and I don’t enjoy his performances when he returns to Idol. If you like him, great, that’s your business, but he has to be one of the most oversold, overpraised persons in the history of Idol and maybe of music.

          • maz says:

            I agree…I dont care for him either and no it would not make me want to watch the show if he were a judge.

      • soundscene says:

        Adam Lambert didn’t “break” the show nor is there any indication that he would do anything for the ratings. Season 8 was the first season Idol started messing with the judges, which could be why ratings really started to slip during and after that season. Season 7 was just Simon, Paula and Randy. Then they added a fourth judge in Season 8 and the nightmare began–too much talking, not enough singing and not enough about the contestants. The show was already criticized for being more about Simon and Paula that about the contestants, but viewers didn’t know how good they had it pre-Season 8. Now the show is ALL about the judges and the contestants and performances are an afterthought.

  9. Joy says:

    I second every one of these suggestions. Hey 19, maybe if Ken and Nigel are too tired of this show to bother doing their jobs, you could bring a certain Mr. Slezak on board to help them out?

  10. Joseph says:

    With the sole exception of brining in old Idol Singers I can pretty much agree with everything you advised.

    Uknown / Offbet Songs , that are given a new life can get a good singer noticed , they can also be a disaster , but more then not they help.

    I would almost want to see the show bring in mentors for the singers that stay with them for the entire show, heck see if Idol can bring in ex winners or top 3 singers of the show that can work as a team to help the new artists.

  11. seattlejohn449 says:

    how about an all-stars season featuring ONLY former contestants…Allison, Haley, Tamyra Gray, Paris Hilton, Melinda, Elliot Yamin…

    what about having a male AND female winner like they do on SYTYCD?

    how about a season of oldsters over 30?

    • John says:

      I hate the idea of an All Star season. Those people have already gotten their shots, and previous SYTYCD and DWTS All Star seasons have proven that the theory doesn’t hold up. Not only that, but an All Stars season would address the problems that Idol has had for YEARS, but have gone unnoticed.

    • noa says:

      Paris Hilton? :) the horror.

    • Joy says:

      Going to assume you mean Paris Bennett…but that’s definitely the most terrifyingly hilarious typo I’ve seen all day. :-)

    • Rick says:

      The problem with All-Stars is some of them are actually popular, you can’t invite Kelly Clarkson and expect her not to dominate, I think they should do a WGWG All-Star season to make it up to the frau for what happened this season.

    • Mafs95 says:

      I don’t like the All-Stars season, but I would enjoy a Second Chances season, when people who were cut either in the semi-finals or before the making it to the tour (Top 11-13). Sometimes these people just need some years to develop their craft and I would be thrilled to watch some of those contestants!
      And before you guys say something as “If they didn’t make it in their seasons, why would they make it now?”, please remember that Joshua Ledet and Haley Reinhart didn’t even pass to Hollywood Week the first time they auditioned for the show (and the same can be kinda applied to Marcus Canty from X Factor US who was told “No” when he auditioned for American Idol season 8 or 9, I think?) and one year after they became one of the most successful competitors in their seasons… and we ALL (I mean me, Slezak, Melinda and most TV Line readers) still love them! :-)

      • Tommyo2000 says:

        Yes this is the stupidest rule going… A contestent good enough to make it into the top24 can’t ever come back, but somebody cut in Hollywood or not even making it to Hollywood, in the same year as the above person in the top24, is good enough to come back and try?? Makes zero sense ..

  12. John says:

    This isn’t just ratings woes people; we’ve reached X Factor levels here. The producers/FOX/whoever need to get the ship together or realistically Idol won’t make it past a season 13.

    I personally hope that Idol gets a beating on May 5th when they go head-to-head with The Voice; the need it because something has to wake the people in charge up so that they can make actual realistic, structural changes – not just shake up the judges tables.

    Personally I hope everyone except Keith and Ryan gets swept clean. The producers ABSOLUTELY have to go. We need fresh producers who will listen to viewer feedback and make adjustments to the shows formula.

    Bottom line: The show needs a MASSIVE facelift next year. This year is already lost.

  13. Jake says:

    This show SUCKS..The judges pretty much suck too..I mean seriously with all the talent in the world they get Nicki I cannot sing for my life Minaj. Maybe they should just put it out to pasture while it is somewhat still good.

  14. Stacey says:

    True. But these people are trying for a recording career. If you do the All Star/current contestant duo. The inexperience contestant will amature when up against someone who now has been in the business. And the all-stars people want to see, Kelly, Carrie, Jennifer Hudson are too busy to come back for weeks on end. The ones who had very little in their career will come back. As much as I would love to see Kelly and Carrie back, helping out. I am not sure a All Star edition will matter for Idol. It might help ratings… but might not help. I agree, they need to clear more current songs. But then, if done right, it doesn’t matter the song. I think the simple fact remains, the market is just so diluted with singing shows. I am not sure anything can help it. Even though Idol is much better than the Voice.

    • queenjk says:

      All stars every week on SYTYCD has diffused the interest in the new contestants so I agree that all-stars would not be a good idea all the time. However for one week when there are say 6 left and the contestants perform twice anyway it wouldn’t be a terrible idea to pair up with an all-star for one performance. I’m sure Idol-dom would implode and which all-stars would and wouldn’t get chosen though. Heh.

  15. JB says:

    What a fantastic idea.Not only would this bring back viewers but they would really help the current contestants improve their performances.If Kris Allen had mentored Devin and helped him pick more interesting songs and connect a little better with them,I think he would still be here.They can’t keep doing the same old tired themes and songs and expect the ratings to magically improveWho would be stuck trying to teach Lazaro the lyrics though?

  16. Montavilla47@yahoo.com says:

    I love the idea of an all-stars duet night. Especially if the all-stars could come in to mentor their proteges. It would be like a mini-Voice night. I’d love to see a back-stage filler piece with the All-Stars doing a bit of (tongue-in-cheek) trash-talking.

  17. DEE says:

    THEY SHOULD HAVE PUT IN ADAM LAMBERT AS A JUDGE…EVERYONE WOULD HAVE BEEN WATCHING….AT LEAST HAVE HIM PERFORM THIS SEASON !!! BOOST THE RATINGS !!!

    • John says:

      I think it’s a hyperbole to say that EVERYONE would be watching if Adam was a judge. He’s just as polarising as someone like Nicki.

      • soundscene says:

        I probably would avoid the episode.

      • QueenofEgypt says:

        Well, I for one, is very thankful that Adam is not a judge on the show. If he was haters would have a feast blaming him for the low ratings and the ‘not credible’ blah blah with his every critiques. So why not pick the so called credible like Minaj to be on the panel, right? She surely gives a credible critiques. I still can’t get over with that vibrato thing. The one she said to a certain contestant that she had a great vibrato when the contestant didn’t even used one while singing.lol

        I guess Adam’s doing okay without the Idol gig and so thankful he wasn’t chosen to judge.

        He wouldn’t be able to make his fans in Europe and Asia happy who watched him in concerts and wouldn’t land the endorsement in China if he was on the panel. He’ll be back in China this April for an award show that he’s nominated for and have a gig in Vienna this May. He’ll be appearing in Chinese Idol finale too.

        But I will watch if he will be a musical guest on Idol this year:)

    • ThatBob says:

      The only people that want to see that puffy-faced loser as a judge are the ones who can’t even figure out how to turn off their caps lock key.

    • Gailer says:

      I would never watch with him. The problem isn’t the judges, it’s the lack of male contestants that are talented and unique. However, the judges do make the Voice far superior to Idol these days. Song choice also is better on the Voice.

  18. Guitar Blue says:

    Nicki was added to help attract a younger “hip” audience – which didn’t work.

    Mariah is paid well over 20 million to add big star-power to the show – but is not interesting as a judge at all, and has not increased ratings; in fact has probably caused more people to lose interest.

    Keith is not pulling any more country fans, as the show is not about Country anyway. Randy has become so predictable that many show fans are not impressed by his banter any longer.

    All of this was a big fail on the part of Nigel and TPTB. Add in the weakness of half the people in the top 10, and ratings were bound to slide. It’s still the top show in it’s time frame though.

    • karen says:

      If the show is not about country, how come we had Scotty McCreery and Lauren as the two finalists in Season 10?

      • joeF says:

        Was that the most boring Top 2 ever, or what? Unless it was Phillip and Jessica.

        • Terry says:

          I’d say it was the two country teen idols hoedown. And there’s no doubt in my mind that that was the most lop-sided win by a contestant in idol history. I totally think when idol is all said and done that they do a special show where they reveal stuff like that. Closest margin of victory, widest margin of victory, who would have won if votes had been limited to one per device, etc. etc. etc. I think that would be interesting, but it would probably just ignite more age old fan wars. hahahah

  19. Boiler says:

    Perhaps it shouldn’t be saved

  20. ffic4life says:

    The most unfortunate part of all of it is, Ryan stays despite the fact that the show is dying a slow death. Which if everyone remembers Simon kind of predicted when he left. Granted he went on to make X Factor which is HUGE disappointment, but he was right. Sometimes the thing that makes you the wisest is knowing when to leave. And in business the wisest thing to do is leave whike still on top. Ryan being as successful as he is should know that. Is there hope for this show? No. Why? Because its “The Original” as they so stupidly campaigned this season. Everyone knows idol too well now. Its always gonna be the same hum drum stuff, no matter what they do. Especially since they had a small window to shake things up and wasted it on the likes of Nicki Minaj and Mariah who no one takes seriously. My advice? Kill this show before it suffers anymore humiliation. Save the memory of better days while you still can.

  21. Teeny Bikini says:

    This is brilliant.
    * I would sell my car (okay, so it’s a piece of crap) to see alums perform with contestants. That’s just genius.
    * And yes, yes, yes – alums on results shows. Heck, if they were the *only* guest performers, the show would be better. People want (I want) to see David Cook on the Idol stage again. I even enjoyed the heck out of Casey Abrams.
    * I agree. Mariah must get to the point or take her bag o’ cash and go do whatever she was doing before she babbled her way onto Idol.
    * New songs. Currents songs. Original songs from the contestants. Bring it.
    * And how about a little backstage action. Why can’t we see who had to change their song last minute? And why and how no one in their right mind did not talk Lazaro out of singing Queen? And I would love to see their creative process and just how much they bring to the table as far as wardrobe, ten-foot heel choice, music arrangements, etc.
    You are onto something, Slezak.

  22. cjinsd says:

    All great suggestions, Michael. I haven’t paid much attention to the show this year because they want a girl to win so badly, they cast an bunch of awful singers. With so much producer manipulation, the show is unwatchable. If they let things happen organically, they may actually produce a superstar. Instead of “casting” the show, they should just pick the best talent. I don’t want to listen to the fodder sing. It hurts my musical sensibilities and my ears.

  23. DavidSask says:

    Nicki and Mariah ruined this show for all time its that simple esp. the first name. I cring when I hear her and what she thinks is validity!!! The contestants also blow except for Candice, worst cast ever. Micheal is also right the songs are same crap and OLD OLD OLD for baby cast members!!!

    • CAS says:

      I agree absolutely with expanding the song choices. Even if you still have a Beatles night, let them choose from any Beatles song, not just the same few, for example. But these contestants this year do not “blow”. I think they’ve got the deepest talent pool ever in the five ladies that are left. It’s just that they are all too much the same: terrific singers who can’t perform well. Any of them could sing circles around Skylar from last year, but she had more energy and personality in her little finger than all of them put together (with the exception of possibly Candice). It’s like a whole bunch of Jessica Sanchez, Pia Toscano, et.al, all clumped into one season. They are too much like each other in sound and stage presence (or lack thereof). But don’t anyone try to tell me that they aren’t good singers!

  24. Sarah says:

    I wholeheartedly agree with each of these suggestions! Uncle Nigel, are you taking notes?? The problem with Mariah is that there are many times when she begins to give a good critique, but then backs away from it. If she could narrow in on these things and dispense with the niceties, she would be a much more effective judge. Maybe she’s not confident that we want to hear those types of things (comments on musicality, record production, etc)…but we do!

  25. xwiseguyx says:

    Dump Mariah Carey and substitute Lady Gaga in her meat outfit next week, then bring Simon in for the rest of the season.

  26. Patricia says:

    Since when did this singing show become a wardrobe critique show??? AI alums performing with contestants is a great idea. Need new judges too, the country artist judge is the only one I can tolerate.

  27. QueenJ says:

    Agree with your points here MS. But the root problem IS Nigel and until he gets the axe he will continue to indulge his fantasy of a modern day variety show. He does not give a crap about anything else. The fact that someone wins at the end is secondary and Intescope/Jimmy’s problem. The reason why the shows are getting glitzier, more theatric and the ancient lounge style arrangements are out of the contestant’s control. At this point even if one of the Idols had an idea for a creative song or arrangement it would get beat down by the producers. On top of casting younger, less seasoned singers they have lost all sense of artistry. But again, Nigel does not care one bit. Changing themes or clearning new songs is a nice temporary bandaid but if FoX wants to truly rescue this show all the producers need to get shown the door and never come back. Or else Nigel will introduce dance choreography sooner than later. Tap Dance week anyone?

  28. ... says:

    Exactly how many articles of this ilk will there be? It seems like every week on TVLine, there’s a click-bait “how do we save Idol!?!?!?!” thing and yet, when TPTB are interviewed here, Michael opts to give them a tongue bath rather than play hard ball.
    Anyway, agree on some, disagree on others. The all-star thing, though, is a big no; off the top of my head, it didn’t help The Amazing Race, Project Runway, Top Model, or Dancing with the Stars improve their ratings, so why would it help Idol? Further, it’s an act of desperation that aging shows throw all there when their casting sucks (which Idol’s has for a while) or when they’re at a loss for what to do next.
    Have an alum on a result’s show, okay (no no-name semifinalists, though, because having them back is extremely silly); having an alum play mentor for the week and give them insight on the show, okay; but bringing a bunch back for a week, no.
    Also, Mariah may not be a great judge, but I’d take her 100x over unprofessional, childish, unintelligent Nicki, who made me stay away from Idol this season and has validated that decision with her awful interviews and ridiculous whining.

    • connerc says:

      I think the suggestion was an all-star duet week, not a whole season.

    • John says:

      I actually agree. Michael I know that you’re trying to be respectful, but next time Mike Darnell or Nigel Lythgoe are in the office for an interview, you NEED to rip them to SHREDS.

      This feedback needs to sink into their heads somehow.

  29. Richard says:

    How about after the audtions, getting rid of the judges altogether and let the public decide on their own. I fast forward through their comments now (as well as the back stories). I can watch the perfomrances in about 20 minutes. They could then shorten the show to an hour and make it much easier to watch.

  30. Blinged Up says:

    From your lips to God’s ears, Michael. Or at least to Nigel’s…..

    Let’s hope they consider some of these stellar suggestions — I’d like to see them adopt all of them!

  31. dm says:

    Get rid of Nikki and lots of folks, including myself, will return. She is simply just too ratchet, obnoxious and over the top for the average viewer. The joke needs to be over…seriously.

    • Mary says:

      Have you even watch the show with her on it? I will be the first to admit I hated the ideal of her judging. I do not care for her music at all and if she performs on the show I will mute it, but I think she has turned out to be a good judge. Yes, sometimes she is over the top but it sure beats you are beautiful darling. She is like Simon but in a kooky way. Personally I think Mariah should be behind the scenes helping the contestants and the other three as judges. Keith gives good feedback but in a nice way. Randy is Randy. The producers created this mess and now they have to live with it.

    • Jen says:

      I agree with you comepletly dm. She’s awful.

    • Libby says:

      Agree totally, she gave me an earache, toothache and headache, I had to quit watching as my prayers for someone to gag her didn’t get answered.

  32. Barbara says:

    I am taking the next few weeks off from AI I know I won’t miss anything, until they get down to the top 4 or 5 girls !! Bringing in the All-Stars sounds like a great idea…!!

  33. Jay says:

    Great suggestions! I’d only add one: forcing the judges to keep their comments focused on the song they just heard, not what they heard during rehearsals, or last week. If lyrics are forgotten, say so. If notes aren’t hit, say so. Credible judging is so important.

  34. lyn says:

    Michael, where is the suggestion that will really fix Idol? Limit the voting to 10 per device so that fanatics don’t vote 10k X for their faves.. Those 10k voters can only buy so many Fords or Cokes or whatever. AT&T partnered with Idol is making a fortune so they won’t pull the plug on massive voting. They made it easier to mass vote instead. Horse dead, laying down stick.

    • queenjk says:

      What voting fanatics? They’ll be lucky if 10k even bother to vote in a few years. People got what they wanted, no cute wgwg to vote their fingers to the bone over. Has it made the show better? Clearly not. How would restricted voting help this season? Would it make the contestant, themes, song choices, arrangements any better?

      • joeF says:

        All the WGWG were actually, to varying degrees, good, though I only really have liked two, Kris, and Dave, superior talents, in my opinion. And it’s not just about a guy being cute – it’s also the personality, and when you combine that with some real talent, and a great voice, I have no beefs. But at any rate, there didn’t need to be a WGWG this year. There just had to be a few guys who were original and interesting enough to give the girls a run for their money. And yes, maybe women do need a guy to root for, there’s nothing the matter with that. He doesn’t have to be a guitar player. Adam Lambert, Danny Gokey, Archie, and others, went far without instruments. The guys this year were chosen because the women outshone them. That was a big mistake. Looking at the Top 10 you could tell most of the guys were less exciting or interesting than the girls.

  35. Lola says:

    1. Yes, add some songs from the 21st century. 2. Judge the same was that DWTS does – half viewer votes, and half judges votes. That could eliminate the reign of 13 year old girls who have created WGWG syndrome. 3. Don’t force them to do things they are not good at, i.e. dancing around the stage. Some are actually just SINGERS. You can be an amazing vocalist and become famous (Adele) without being an entertainer. And yes, let them choose their own songs. 4. LOVE the All-Stars idea. I’d watch every season of it, and I know other people who would too. 5. I would like to see the auditions done in private – maybe do one night of auditions for TV-land, leaving time in the season to do have joint judge/viewership (see 2.) voting with a dozen or more contestants, not just 10. 6. If judges start childish bickering during the auditions (Carey and Miniaj) let them go – I’m sure there are talented musicians out there would would be appreciated much more than they are. Keith Urban didn’t have quite the “POW” star power and/or charisma as the ladies, but he is a great judge. Don’t assume that the more famous a judge is, the more viewers they will draw. I never heard of Adam Levine until I watched the Voice and I think he is great. 7. Lose Randy, or duct tape his mouth.

  36. Glenda says:

    Michael – great job itemizing needed improvements for Idol. Hopefully this list might catch the eyes of the producers, who have to be very concerned at this point.

    I’d also like to see a re-vamping of the voting system – limiting the # of votes allowed per household like other similar formatted shows do.

  37. Tahoe Mike says:

    Raise the minimum age to 18, and no upper limit. The original premise of the show was to find the best undiscovered talent in the country, now it seems to be the holy grail of Idol to find the next Justin Bieber. I want to see that 35 year old with real talent and life experience, who thought their chance had passed by, get the chance to be discovered and escape their life of waiting tables, selling insurance, or struggling to make ends meet and hit the big time.
    ~
    Fix the flipping voting.

    • karen says:

      What? None of these contestants are in any way similar to Justin Bieber. I don’t get your comment at all.

      • Tahoe Mike says:

        They are looking for the next teen idol. We keep getting these kids who are 16 and we wonder why they don’t know anything about music history or what came before them. I just don’t believe them when they sing. We pick on them for not connecting with the lyrics and emotions of a song, but if they’re too young to have ever been really in love, or heartbroken, or lost anybody or anything, or been drunk, or hungover, or arrested, or laid, or voted, or lied to, or owned their first car, or traveled outside their hometowns, what chance do they have of connecting to most of the really great songs ever written? How often do we say that so and so should have waited a few years to try out? If you can say that you “Grew up wanting to be the next American Idol,” you are too young.

        On the other hand, why is 28 too late? At what age does talent reach its expiration date? If you have the talent but were too busy trying to support yourself or your family, or not confident enough to start a music career in your 20’s, why shouldn’t you still have the chance to do it at 36 if that is when it is right for you?

  38. JASon says:

    ANything short of Bringing back Simon Cowell can stop the decline of Idol!!

  39. Chris says:

    Excellent points, Michael. Well done. I agree 100% with everything. I am having a hard time watching this season -it just feels old and no longer fresh. Nigel really needs to overhaul his entire philosophy. And if Glee can put on 5 or 6 songs each week -many still in the mainstream -then AI can do the same. That excuse they can’t get musical rights is downright stupid.

  40. Ally Oop says:

    I would like to see them go back to the first couple of seasons when they had the wild card rounds. And a change of venue/scenery would be nice–not sure how they could do that but the current dark blue theme has gotten old. And I would propose throwing out the judges altogether except for the audition rounds and pre-Top 10 rounds. And there would be two guest judges every week from all walks of music for the Top 10 rounds.

    Or I would really like to see a American Idol: Second Chances season, in which former Top 10 contestants compete for the chance to win.

    My number one pet peeve with idol now is that the results shows are too long. Keep them to a half hour or eliminate them altogether and announce the results online.

  41. Lee says:

    It appears my choice to quit American Idol was a good one…

  42. LeahKittyS says:

    Here’s my commentary on the possible results:
    Is anyone else noticing parallels to Season 3, the last season to be dominated by women? Jennifer Hudson, the big powerful diva, was shockingly sent home in 7th. But now the judges can use their Save to prevent one of this year’s ladies from leaving. Lazaro could be like John Stevens, the cute sweet kid who outstayed his welcome, and Burnell could be like George Huff. And then we have an all-female Top 4. Thoughts?

  43. Loni says:

    All great ideas! Let’s hope Idol is reading them!

  44. Ellen says:

    or do what I do, watch The Voice instead.

  45. CK says:

    I particularly agree with Michael’s suggestion to embrace the offbeat. I’ve been an Idol viewer for years and have often enjoyed the offbeat contestants the most. Unexpected performances from the likes of Bo Bice, Adam Lambert, Blake Lewis, Crystal Bowersox, and Jason Castro have been highlights for this faithful viewer. While they weren’t necessary the best in the entire Idol universe – they were immensely entraining. This season is woefully lacking any interesting contestants like these folks.

  46. Tommyo2000 says:

    Well Nigel must have read this article …. We have Bacharach and David next week … Songs that weren’t cool when the were popular 30-50 years ago!!

  47. Fernando says:

    good suggestions. I’d like to add that maybe the Idol contestants need to have less to do in a week; the focus really should be on the music. So, fewer photo shoots and publicity events or whatever they do that detracts from the music. Also, 3 judges are enough, especially if they are not going to say anything of substance. Also, it’s pretty clear they stacked the deck this year to ensure a female winner so that no matter how good the winner is (Candice!), the victory will be a little bit tainted. It also makes every male performance irrelevant, so who needs to see those? Also, in the past they’ve foisted dance music (disco) and Latin music on the contestants, but they’ve never done potentially more interesting genres like blues, Americana/folk, traditional country and jazz. How about Diana Krall as a mentor? How about a Merle Haggard or Willie Nelson theme? This year is barely worth watching.

  48. Mark says:

    It’s too late to save this season. There is nothing that can be done about a cast that is cut entirely from the same piece of uninspiring cloth. There are some good singers, but no artists. There has yet to be a single moment this season where I had to ask myself “did I just see/hear that?” The singular flavor of this season is plain.

    • karen says:

      How can these contestants show they are artists when they are overly controlled by the powers that be? Kree, Candice, Angie are all artists. They will do just fine after this show is over, regardless of your nitpicking.

  49. domynoe says:

    Get rid of Niki–her weird is not the good weird that Tyler brought. The songs this season have been a snooze-fest of put me to sleep with ballads. And let the contestants bring on the showstopping a la Tayler Hicks and Adam Lambert who did more than stand or sit in the middle of the stage and hold a mic. I don’t mind Mariah so much. She’s this year’s Paula.

  50. Danny says:

    Things I’d like to see Idol do
    1- go back to 3 judges
    2- less commercials (though I know they won’t do that)
    3- always bring a former Idol back for the results show. Michael already said that. I totally agree.
    4- bring a former Idol back to judge. It doesn’t have to be one of the mega stars. In sports most of the best coaches aren’t the former superstar players. The best coaches are usually the muckers and grinders who had to bust their tails to stay in the league.
    5- clear more songs. I’m sure that’s a popular opinion. I didn’t know so few songs were cleared until these past few weeks.
    6- less audition shows and more Hollywood/live shows. I think the best format has been when they had a final 24 with 2 leaving each week until the final 12. It gives ya time to get to know the people. The disadvantage of that format is there always seems to be a Sanjaya type that makes it further than he should. I know it’s happening this year too, but Lazaro isn’t getting nearly the extra time Sanjaya, Scott, & some others have gotten.

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