American Idol: 11 Terrible Ideas to Avoid in a Potential Season 13 Reboot

American Idol took another hit in the ratings Wednesday night — down 11 and 15 percent in total audience and the 18-49 demo.

Even worse, the show seems to be generating more press for a rumored plan to replace first-year judge Mariah Carey with veteran Jennifer Lopez than for its very strong final four ladies — an idea that makes about as much sense as booking Sanjaya Malakar to perform on next week’s results show! (Fret not: That’s not actually happening. At least not to my knowledge.)

PHOTOS | American Idol‘s Ratings Woes: 8 Common-Sense Ways to Salvage Season 12

A couple weeks back, I suggested eight easy ways Fox could help put Season 12 back on course — and most of those ideas still hold up. But as Fox reality chief Mike Darnell and his team turn their eye to potential fixes for Season 13, I’ve identified 11 pitfalls they absolutely must avoid.

RELATED | American Idol Top 4 (Redux) Performance Recap: Standards Operating Procedure

Check out the results of my brainstorm below, then hit the comments with your own ideas about what Fox should avoid to make sure it doesn’t ruin the House That Kelly Clarkson Built. And for all my reality TV recaps, news, videos and interviews, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!

Comments (130)

  • These are a lot of the changes I would like to see. Especially after last night with Harry Connick Jr. How many times did he have to explain that you can’t change a song up if you don’t know the original melody first. They are singing versions of versions of versions of songs…. it’s crazy. Are they not giving them enough time to learn the songs? What I like to see is a singer grow and develop week to week. I also liked when they let the contestants dig a little deeper for song choices and change up arrangements. Stop controlling it so much! While we are at it…. can we finally kill the crazy bad auditions? or at least reduce them to one or two per audition show. Personally I like The Voice auditions and the Idol Top 10 (well not this season).

    Comment by Tammy – May 2, 2013 02:23 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • My fixes:
      Lock Nigel in a tower and keep him incommunicado.
      Limit the voting to 10x per device.
      Don’t hire judges in the rap & hip hop field those fans won’t watch anyway.
      Get judges who understand music, not autotune and wigs.
      Go back to 3 judges, 4 take too long.

      Some judge suggestions: Queen Latifah, Babyface, Jon Bon Jovi, Adam Lambert

      Comment by lyn – May 2, 2013 02:30 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Doesn’t Queen Latifah violate your suggestion number three?

        Comment by Nan – May 2, 2013 02:52 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • No. Queen Latifah has a fine singing voice which she proved in the film Chicago. Go to YT and listen to some of her bluesy tunes.

          Comment by lyn – May 2, 2013 03:10 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • She made an album of standards after her appearance as a lounge singer in Living Out Loud and was in Chicago, so she’s not limited to one genre.

          Comment by paula – May 2, 2013 03:18 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • And their rule about wigs.

          Comment by mia – May 2, 2013 08:47 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
          • Again, no. I didn’t say no wigs. But at least they should look like hair, not a neon pineapple. The show is supposed to be about music and the judges are supposed to be the voice of reason. If they look like a child on Halloween, they dilute anything they say.

            Comment by lyn – May 3, 2013 07:08 AM PDT  
      • Oh damn yeah Michael forgot a huge one. Limit the voting! Whether it would chance anything that ever happens who even knows, but at least it makes people feel like it is worth bothering without getting into ridiculous territory. (I suppose it might help to suddenly aid someone picked on a little or who didn’t get a good early look though maybe it’s not all bad? If it never helps with that then yeah limit the votes though!!)

        Comment by HitTheGroundRunning – May 2, 2013 06:14 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • Right. The fans who vote 10 thousand times are not going to buy 10 thousand CDs, concert tix or Ford cars. The only reason TPTB refuse to limit the voting is their partnership with AT&T and so Ryan can announce 30 million votes. As we can see by Lee DeWyze’s career, those votes don’t translate to success.

          Comment by lyn – May 2, 2013 06:48 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
          • Or Kris Allen’s career… remember his voting help from AT&T?

            Comment by Mercedes S. – May 3, 2013 09:26 AM PDT  
      • Limit the voting, and get another sponser if that kills your lucritive deal with ATT. It’s ridiculous. I stopped voting a long time ago, because my vote versus unlimited texting isn’t going to matter.

        Comment by spider3tattoo – May 2, 2013 07:30 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • I agree with you about limiting votes. It would be nice to know that you can vote up to 10x and have it count instead of trying to vote for the whole two hours (maybe about 200 or so votes) and feel like you didn’t make a difference at all. But they still need to do something about the judges (NO MORE RANDY) and the producer manipulation.

          Comment by elr – May 3, 2013 11:50 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Love the judges suggestions and I would keep keith – he’s excellent or replace him with brad paisley. Also, other possibilities would be harry connick jr. – he’s been excellent each season as a mentor, brett michaels, david bowie, katy perry, ricky martin, carlos santana, neyo, faith hill

        Comment by DSG – May 2, 2013 08:01 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Don’t know who Babyface is, but agree with everything else you say

        Comment by Mercedes S. – May 3, 2013 09:23 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • Babyface [Kenny Edmonds] is a 10x grammy winning R&B singer/ songwriter/producer.

          Comment by lyn – May 3, 2013 11:49 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • LOL! It’s something that Phillip did with “Beggin’” in the past year. He returned to the original version. It was funny to read the outraged cries of “Where is rap-part!?”

      Comment by Mel – May 2, 2013 09:01 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I hope the producers read all these suggestions. They would be fools not to!

      Comment by NJidoloonie – May 6, 2013 05:57 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Keep Keith Urban,then add Jennifer Hudson,Kelly Clarkson and Adam Lambert.

      Comment by Florentino – June 5, 2013 09:59 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • thanks for the group shot of season 7, I’d forgotten what an awesomely talented top 10 that was. even though it became evident eventually they wanted a David vs. David finale, at least the other guys seemed to put up a fight!

    Comment by Maggie – May 2, 2013 02:24 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Yes! Season 7 will always be my favorite season, and is the only group I ever bothered to see on tour. In fact, I saw them twice that summer! It was by far the most diverse and top-to-bottom entertaining top 10 I can remember.

      Comment by phillyidolfan – May 3, 2013 11:26 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Don’t hire judges who still want to perform because they are dependent on public goodwill and will sacrifice honesty to stay in the publics good graces. Find has beens like Paula or experts with guts like Simon who will actually judge and judge well!

    Comment by Caro – May 2, 2013 02:35 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • yup another good point, plus a harsh critique coming from someone’s Idol always feels 10x rougher and I think they know that so yeah the more famous the person, actually the far harder to be a judge on this show

      Comment by HitTheGroundRunning – May 2, 2013 07:20 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • There are many changes, and many more to avoid. But the one I think would be the best foundation is to get rid of Randy. He brings everything down to his level, he is the mundane loud noise that derails all effort at serious and valuable judging. He is the tired bag of phrases and gags that holds the show back from growing into something that values the contestants vs. the current emphasis on celebrities cashing in on their Q-scores.
    No. More. Randy.

    Comment by Bob – May 2, 2013 02:36 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • This!

      Comment by elr – May 3, 2013 11:53 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • No more Nigel! He’s got to be the one behind all the bad themes and songs (Bacharach, bee gees, divas)

      Comment by NJidoloonie – May 6, 2013 05:56 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • It’s funny you should say they shouldn’t copy The Voice, when The Voice only copies American Idol. After the blind auditions and battle rounds are done, The Voice is the exact same as American Idol. The Voice does get some contemporary songs, but those singers always get cut and we are left with the ones that sing boring ballads. Just like last year, most of the final contestants on the Voice only sang boring ballads, old songs, and songs we have heard on American Idol a million times. Come on, don’t be as biased as the AI judges. Don’t praise The Voice and criticize American Idol, because they both do the same exact things. Don’t Don’t get mad at me for telling the truth!!!

    Comment by Layah – May 2, 2013 02:39 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Not to mention, The Voice also has manipulation and focuses on backstory for some contestants but not on others. I have heard this guy talk so much about his mother this year than his actual talent. So you are criticizing AI for something The Voice does also! The TRUTH!!!!

      Comment by Layah – May 2, 2013 02:41 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • True, but they haven’t gone AS overboard. And they never do it by extreme busing, mostly by over pimping or touch this or that and most importantly when they play games they are never cruel, they don’t break anyone down, make fools of them, hurt them, do things to damage potential future initial fanbase size, etc.

        Comment by HitTheGroundRunning – May 2, 2013 07:22 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • The Voice judges are actually mentors and coaches as well. Idol judges have never pretended to try to coach or mentor the contestants. And last season on The Voice, contestants sang songs by Florence and the Machine and Norah Jones ,among others, songs we don’t usually hear on Idol.

      Comment by paula – May 2, 2013 03:21 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • And AI has sung songs that The Voice hasn’t sung. So what?!

        Comment by Layah – May 2, 2013 03:28 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • And thank goodness the Idol judges have never mentored or coached their own teams. That’s one of the things I love about Idol over the other awful, judge-focused shows.

        Comment by deedee – May 2, 2013 03:43 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • That is another thing that is missing. There used to be more mentors and then they would sit at the judges’ table. Go from 4 to 3 judges again and bring in more mentors!

        Comment by NJidoloonie – May 6, 2013 05:54 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I don’t think there is any saving it. Idol lost all credibility years ago. The final nail in the coffin was when its imitators became more entertaining. Viewers were begging the producers to put Motown Week and all those tired themes out to pasture ages ago, and no one listened. The dying ratings are their own damn fault!

    Comment by Brooke – May 2, 2013 02:44 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Credibility? What do you base credibility on? Idol’s imitators are most certainly not more entertaining. Nor are they more relevant or ‘credible’. The Voice picks contestants who have been through the wringer in life many times over, and are not particularly charismatic. When The Voice or X Factor US manage to create a bona fide star out of any one of their motley crew of contestants, then maybe I’ll pay more careful attention to them. So far, imo, they’re just cheap imitations of the original.

      Comment by deedee – May 2, 2013 02:58 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • LOL AI has far more credibility than it’s imitators. Scotty McCreery and Phillip Phillips have had success and that’s just the last 2 years. While nobody at the Voice has had any success and the x factor winners have all lost their record deals.

      Comment by Layah – May 2, 2013 03:20 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Couldn’t name one Scotty McCreery song (don’t even know what he looks like), and the only reason I have ever heard of Phillip Phillips or his 1 song is because of the Olympics and insurance commercials…so it’s not like these guys are stars by any means, just like the ones from the Voice and Xfactor…true AI did produce Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, but she won what 8, 9 years ago?

        Comment by Nick – May 2, 2013 03:25 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • Both are multiplatinum artists. Just because you have never heard their songs, doesn’t mean they aren’t stars. They’ve had a lot of success is all I’m saying. No Voice contestant has had any.

          Comment by Layah – May 2, 2013 03:31 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Chris Daughtry, Jennifer Hudson, Adam Lambert, Scotty McCreery, Fantasia Barrino, Clay Aiken, Kat McPhee, Jordin Sparks, Phillip Phillips …
          These are all people who have gone on and had some measurable level of success after Idol. What have the other shows given us thus far?

          Comment by deedee – May 2, 2013 03:51 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
          • More of half those people don’t have hits anymore.

            Only Kelly Clarkson and Carrie do. Maybe Chris. J Hud became popular because of Dreamgirls, not AI. She did not get her success because of AI. Her music doesn’t sell that well either.

            Fantasia, Clay, Ruben, Jordin – all had one (maybe 2) hit album then went downhill. Kat – album flopped, appearing in a soon to be cancelled tv show.

            Scotty was popular because he was country. Philip because of the Olympics.

            Comment by Voice – May 7, 2013 03:13 AM PDT  
          • OTOH Jennifer may have gotten Dreamgirls in part because of AI and P2 the Olympics for sure because of AI.

            Comment by HitTheGroundRunning – May 7, 2013 01:09 PM PDT  
      • I wouldn’t go to S10 if you are looking for Idol credibility whoa!

        Comment by HitTheGroundRunning – May 2, 2013 07:23 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I think they should fire Uban and Carey and Randy and make the panel Nikki, Jimmy Iovine and Kelly Clarkson!!!

    Comment by Jason – May 2, 2013 02:44 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I love you, Michael, but there is nothing new in this post. Surely there are changes that can be made besides harping on the same things. Like how about letting duos audition? Or scaling down the amount of contestants they put through to Hollywood week, thus giving us a more on each person who’s in or out? Or even putting Hollywood week people in genre categories so that we have a diverse top 12? Or giving us results shows with only one guest performer, while the top vote getter of the week gets to sing instead of a second one?

    I’m not saying yours aren’t all great suggestions, it’s just that they’ve been talked about enough and it’s doubtful they’ll change.

    Comment by Sam – May 2, 2013 02:46 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • “Intolerable Jacob Lusk?” Didn’t you and Melinda rave about him?

    Comment by I Heart Damon Salvatore – May 2, 2013 02:49 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Michael hated him.

      Comment by Dan (Haleyloony) – May 2, 2013 03:46 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • You probably did the Joshua/jacob name mix up. I did that myself the other week.

      Comment by HitTheGroundRunning – May 2, 2013 07:24 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • so much of this is common sense and stuff done by other shows…When watching The VOice the other night, it was great to see the coaches actually coaching/mentoring….Not only helping the singers with pitch, key changes, etc but Usher showing one of the performers how to move around the stage. DWTS has the cameras on 24/7 so we can see what goes on during rehearsals..>Heck theyve spiced up results shows a bit by having the miss ON at all times so you can see what people are saying. The judges dont have to be big names but they do have to JUDGE and they do have to have some chemistry. They need to test them in advance to make sure they can give good critiques in the allotted time frame & have some sort of chemistry. Shakira wasnt the biggest name and she was better than Britney & Mariah combined. (Sadly, Fox is prone to make the same mistakes with XF although we’re probably going to get Kelly Rowland who at least had experience on the UK show)…More behind the scenes…more song choices…more insight into the song selection and staging etc are all great. Why IDOL went with 4 judges Im not sure? Why they hired Nicki without doing any market research to see that she would be polarizing? Whey didnt Mariah’s contract clearly state thered be no other female judges? And how has Randy survived all these years when he hasnt had an original thought since Season3? And how can the judges be so off that the viewers think a performance is terrible when the judges give standing Os…And luckily they didnt continue with the trend of revealing the order of votes. Plus axe the group numbers – I feel theyre only there as time fllers and also to help get them tour ready early. They usually suck and like you said, take time away from the contestants working on their own performances. Guest mentors who really do some mentoring – more than a 5 minute video clip with each contestant would be nice too…And Fox got what it deserved by hiring Nicki & Mariah, releasing that original fight clip, and keeping with the stale format.

    Comment by Steve – May 2, 2013 03:07 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I do’t know what show you’re watching but Nicki Minaj is the best judge on one of these shows since Simon Cowell. She has the guts to say what she believes and knows what she’s talking about. They’d be fools to let her go!! You don’t see them talking about replacing her with J-Lo do you? I think they have been foreshadowing a panel that will include Nikki, Randy, and Jimmy Iovine next year.

      Comment by Jason – May 2, 2013 04:27 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • That panel of judges would NOT make me come back as a viewer.

        Comment by elr – May 3, 2013 12:01 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I don’t want to see the Idol judges “coaching/mentoring.” I agree with Michael. Idol doesn’t need to turn into a Voice/X Factor sort of “celebrity coaches” centric show. Put the contestants up there to sing after they’ve been coached and mentored behind the scenes, let the judges give honest specific commentary and feedback from a neutral point of view as a member of an audience with a perhaps more discerning ear than a lay person. There are plenty of shows featuring celebrities with a personal stake in the outcome. That’s not this show, and that’s why it is different.

      Comment by syb – May 6, 2013 02:01 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Agree AGree Agree!!! Don’t need celebrity judges, who are trying to jumpstart their lagging careers, or trying to sell new albums…. or whatever.

        Comment by khesmith – May 6, 2013 03:24 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • obviuosly get some new themes… its the same ones year in and year out… and if you are going to do the same themes, atleast restrict the songs you can use… like you can’t reuse ones that have been sung in the past few seasons.

    i agree with the harshly labelled “has-been” approach to judges. mariah is sooooo afraid to say something negative… and not because she’s afraid to hurt the contestants feelings… but because she’s afraid to hurt her image! (as if her insecure side eyes everytime nicki says something haven’t hurt her enough already…)

    simon worked as a judge because he was firm and held the contestants to high standards. he was looking for someone to make him money and sell records for his company… that seem slost now.

    give me an actual record producer with something to gain by picking and nurturing the right talent… give me an artist who WAS famous and knows the ins and outs but isn’t using this as a comeback vehicle… i suggest linda perry, david foster (he can be a simon-esque hard ass), and debbie gibson (who has made a second career running a talent camp for young musicians)…

    Comment by dave – May 2, 2013 03:12 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Michael, why do you have to perpetuate the idea that Sanjaya can’t sing? Hasn’t he been villified enough? Does he ever get to be taken seriously? Here’s an idea: why don’t you take your own advice about doing something fresh and do a series of interviews with some past favorites and let us hear how they sound now?

    Comment by dj – May 2, 2013 03:18 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I don’t think they are doing anything wrong! Perhaps go back to the very basics? However, the market is oversaturated with boring immitators right now. Get rid of The Voice and X Factor. People are tired of these shows. The Voice is NOT better than American Idol. The Voice is not fresher or more interesting either.

    Comment by DaisyDice – May 2, 2013 03:41 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Maybe not to you, but clearly the ratings speak otherwise. And we don’t just have to have one singing show; there’s more than one cop drama, heck there’s 3 NCIS’s. AI, The Voice, and XFactor can all exist and people can watch what the want. They all have a different format and to different people, these alterations can seem more fresh/inviting/compelling.
      No need to hate.

      Comment by mia – May 2, 2013 08:56 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • There are 2 NCIS’s.

        Comment by Carla – May 3, 2013 10:04 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I watch Idol religiously. No other show has ever given me goosebumps. It’s the creme de la creme, the standard, the original, the most successful reality singing competition and nothing else compares.

      Comment by Leah Hoffman – May 4, 2013 06:37 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Like him or not, Simon Cowelll told contestants the truth (most of the time) and I believe he genuinely wanted to see them improve each week. The past few years have seen the judges heap accolades such as “your voice is perfect”, “you can sing the telephone book”, “I feel like i’m at a (fill in the blank) concert, you’re so good” and on and on and on, even beginning in Hollywood week. They are not believable nor do they actually help the singers get better. The point is, they are failing as judges and the show then lacks a good product.

    Comment by Dave – May 2, 2013 03:47 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • You know the Neilsons are not accurate. There is only a small sample of people with these Neilson boxes. It’s best if there was a new system.

    Comment by DaisyDice – May 2, 2013 03:49 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • When they counted online and DVR and so on in a study a few years ago ratings and positions really jumped in some cases.

      Comment by HitTheGroundRunning – May 2, 2013 07:26 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • So yeah pure TV Nielsens are troubled to say the least. (I think they just started counting DVR views within a few days though, which helps, not sure; but they are still a bit suspect in this day and age.)

        Comment by HitTheGroundRunning – May 2, 2013 07:26 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I’m guessing you may not get that “Uncle Nigel” interview again this season after your list is read by him. But well done…I don’t have a single thing to add.

    Comment by John – May 2, 2013 03:49 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I never got the Sanjaya hate. Sure, he did NOT deliver on the show (maybe with the exception of Besame mucho which was actually really beautiful)…and there was a lot of shtick going on (I am still not convinced that all of that was HIS idea) and sure he should have been voted off way earlier BUT there really is no denying that he has a nice voice and he also seems to be a nice guy. So, keeping in mind that he is a human being that clearly was very young back then, maybe naive and easily manipulable, let him live. There are plenty of people here that ask for respect for different contestants (Haley and so on) at least treat Sanjaya decently…maybe invite him Michael, and ask him about his experience on the show and afterwards. I’d be very interested in that.

    Comment by Kate'shomesick – May 2, 2013 03:52 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • After Hollywood week, get rid of the judges completely and let the public make up their own minds. Extend the time the singers get to sing. Get rid of the themes and let the singers shine in their own genre, afterall it is what they will be recording. Shorten the results show to a half hour.

    Comment by Richard – May 2, 2013 03:55 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • No judges after Hollywood week sounds perfect to me. Have different mentors each week too, and without the judges they could sing the whole song and not have to edit it to death. so that you can’t even recognize the tune.

      Comment by elr – May 3, 2013 12:19 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Michael, I love you! Yes to all 11 ideas. I’m soooo sick of the producers trying to tell us who is the best…they’re almost always wrong. No more OBVIOUS manipulation. It’s pathetic.

    Comment by cjinsd – May 2, 2013 04:08 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • You, my good sir, are a GENIUS! Thank you for saying what we Idol fans have long believed. And, yes, there are still fans of the show out here in viewing land!

    Comment by Oh_Great_Day (@Oh_Great_Day) – May 2, 2013 04:24 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I’d love to see the following:

    Fire Randy, Nikki and Mariah. Keep Keith. Have Jimmy Iovine be a judge and hire back Paula. Have weekly mentors.

    Have the actual Idol contestants suggest themes and then let the judges and producers pick from their suggestions.

    Do follow what’s going on behind the scenes – especially song selection and arranging.

    As Michael suggested, lay out ALL of the theme weeks in advance to the contestants so they can prepare by listening to YouTube performances and possibly getting songs cleared that are not on “the list”.

    If a song has been performed 3 times on Idol, remove it from the song list.

    No more producers trying to influence the outcome. The judges speak their minds.

    Limit number of votes per device to the number of contestants.

    Don’t show any super bad auditions. Do show a few cute ones – e.g. “Pants on the Ground”.

    Comment by Linda Foltz – May 2, 2013 04:36 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • The best way to fix Idol is to get it off the air. I’m personally tired of their games and manipulations.

    Comment by GinnyB – May 2, 2013 04:42 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Some very good suggestions, Michael. One more that I would add: cut the panel back to three. There’s no need for four judges, they just take too much time saying the same thing that someone else just said, resulting in more talk and less music. I would get rid of this entire panel and start over. Maybe keep Keith, but everyone else must go. Nicki–whether you like or hate her–is just too toxic at this point. She is one of the leading reasons that viewers are fleeing in droves. Randy has just been stealing money for years. He doesn’t have a single original opinion–he merely repeats what someone else already said or resorts to his stock phrases. I dummy with a pull string could do his job. Mariah–even when she has something to say, which isn’t often–can’t express herself in a cogent soundbite. Enough with the celebrity judges–they have all sucked (except maybe Keith). Go with one celebrity who isn’t looking for a career reboot, and two industry insiders. One with a proven track record of identifying talent, and one with a record of developing talent. Get people who can get along even when they disagree. And they must disagree at times. Seasons 10 and 11 were ruined partially due to the fact that no one ever dissented.
    Sadly, I don’t expect any of these worthwhile suggestions to be adopted. The producers know the truth–AI is not a talent competition. It is a televised popularity contest between some very talented young adults. Not the same thing at all. That’s why the gay guy, the girl with the bad teeth, the church boy and the foreign girl couldn’t win. Talent can only get a contestant so far. The rest is up to the voters, who form attachments early and never let go, no matter how their favorites perform.

    Comment by Mark – May 2, 2013 04:45 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Agree with everything you said, especially about the one celeb judge and two industry insiders. Judges have admitted that it’s difficult to be honest with their “peers.” You are also right about losing Nicki because she is so polarizing. And chemistry is most important – there is NO element of “fun” on this panel. The show is so serious, while the Voice is lighthearted. That’s a big thing missing.

      Comment by Joline – May 2, 2013 10:03 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I don’t care about anything but CLEAR UP MORE SONGS. Spend the money on that instead of the judges’ ridiculous salaries. 18 Million for Mariah? LOL

    Comment by Adam Fachry – May 2, 2013 04:49 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Does anyone else think that four judges are too many? After a while I feel having to listen to four judges comments becomes redundant and the show could move swifter if there were three. Saving more time for “behind the scenes.”

    Also maybe with the money they save they can bring in a different mentor or two every week. And … I’d like to see the mentors get a bit more involved like in the Voice.

    Comment by Bill – May 2, 2013 04:52 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I like all of your ideas, especially the one about eliminating (or shortening) the “backstory”. I may seem heartless, but I don’t CARE about their sad sobstory’!! I care about how well they SING! I personally know of a successful singer who was told 4 times he didn’t have a good enough backstory! There is just too much manipulation going on. And 3 judges are enough! The judges take entirely too much time in their critiques. The producers need to either revamp the show or cancel it.

    Comment by GMom100 – May 2, 2013 04:56 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    special mention for 2,3,4,6,8,9
    !!!!!!!!and ABSO-FREAKING-LUTELY for 5 and 11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    (#7 I don’t mind so much either way, if you want, it fine though)

    Comment by HitTheGroundRunning – May 2, 2013 04:58 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Definitely no Jimmy Lovine. The guy is more annoying than Randy. Pretty much any other judges replacing Randy, Mariah, & Nicki and keeping Keith would be perfect

    Comment by Scott – May 2, 2013 05:03 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • The most basic thing they need to do is go back to 3 judges. 4 takes far too much time. I like Keith OK but Mariah and Nicki need to go. I cannot stand the bickering; it makes me truly uncomfortable, Randy is always the same but they may need to keep him for some sort of consistency.

    Comment by Jen – May 2, 2013 06:16 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Agreed… need to keep Randy for the historical angle…. and he does occasionally have incite no one else has. Set up an electrical shock treatment that is automatically activated when the words “in it to win it” are spoken in succession, because other than that, he provides historical consistency that I think is important…… that thread back to the glorious past.

      Comment by KHESmith – May 4, 2013 05:02 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Things such as J. Lo and her “parental control advised” music videos, won’t be enough to return Idol to #1 across tv land. The old gaurd Fox exec’s along with Nigel and Randy in the back-room decision making — don’t have any perspective on how to save “The Idol Formula” but still make bold progressive changes.

    Their only thoughts are about how to throw big money at someone to be a judge, rather than producing a better crop of interesting aspiring vocalists. There’s an “inner circle” factor of legal corruption in the whole process – like Randy as Mariah’s manager and other links in money ties to certain labels and investment interests.

    Comment by Guitar Blue – May 2, 2013 06:19 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Speaking of JLo she wasn’t just mean and ridic to Haley…Remember how awful she was to Elise?!

      Comment by NJidoloonie – May 6, 2013 06:03 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Yeah, that was unfortunate too. Each of my favorites.
        (It sounded like Randy tried to patch it up with Elise on her exit, since he seemed to be whispering all sorts of stuff about how great she was and amazing and stuff when she left, of course that begs the question where was that when he was talking to the audience!, but JLo didn’t seem to even do that, then again what can you tell from 15 seconds of TV clips.)

        Comment by HitTheGroundRunning – May 6, 2013 10:19 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Mariah and Randy split. Mariah is with Tim McGraw and Dave Matthews Band manager now.

      Comment by Becca – May 8, 2013 12:00 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Ugh, the thought of them bringing back J-HO makes me wanna puke. NO. JUST. NO.

    Comment by NoJello – May 2, 2013 06:43 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I liked Keith, but not so much anymore. They shouldn’t have an investment of promoting one over the other so much that it colors what they have to say. The level of their disdain shows sometimes and is off putting when they push too hard. Those two sentences sounded as redundant as Randy. The judges pairing up to shape an outcome seems silly in the context of the show because no one really knows the level of success winner or loser will have; the show just offers a platform to jump. So why the story board delivery.

    Comment by db – May 2, 2013 06:54 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I liked everything about the very original season or two of Idol…

    1. Mostly unknown (to the US) judges (except Paula). We got to know Simon and Randy and everything they said was fresh to us instead of annoying, yo, yo, dawg.
    2. Ryan wasn’t annoying yet (“This…………………is American Idol.”)
    3. The semi-final round was really stripped down…piano only…more cutthroat…more control for the viewers.
    4. The wildcard round where we got to cheer on our favorite rejects and they brought random people back.
    5. One song per contestant, per week…in one hour.
    6. A half hour results show.

    Overall I feel like viewers are just being asked to invest TOO much time in the show. Episodes are longer…the season seems longer…even though it’s not, really.

    Comment by Dan – May 2, 2013 07:38 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Sorry, but Ryan has always been annoying.
      As for cutting episode length, why? If you want shorter results shows, just wait until the final two minutes to watch. Then you’ll see who’s cut without having to watch the rest of the episode that you evidently think is sooo boring.

      Comment by Chris – May 3, 2013 09:22 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • It is sooo boring, Chris.

        Comment by Carla – May 3, 2013 10:12 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • So basically . . . turn “Idol” into “The Voice.” Sounds good to me!

    Comment by Jake – May 2, 2013 07:44 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Nigel seems to never want to listen to anyone ever. He risks running his projects into the ground because he won’t deviate from his god-like mandate of having to be right all the time. He won’t change a thing about Idol.

    Comment by mia – May 2, 2013 08:44 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Judging panel next year: Keith, Randy and Kelly Clarkson. They’re all likeable(maybe not randy) and theyre low key. I want a low key, non attention seeking judging panel. I just want to watch a show where the judges arent a big talking point after every episode.

    Comment by voco_qara – May 3, 2013 04:10 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • That’s why Jon Bon Jovi would be perfect. On stage he’s an absolute star, off stage he’s sensitive, humble and soft spoken.

      Comment by lyn – May 3, 2013 07:13 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Not so much his daughter. Yikes…

        Comment by Carla – May 3, 2013 10:17 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • My dream judge panel…Clay Aiken, Kelly Clarkson, Adam Lambert, and [insert industry insider of choice].

    Comment by Martini – May 3, 2013 04:36 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Why not give Slezak a chair at the judging table? He’s honest, passionate and knowledgeable about Idol and respects its distinguished history. Yes, it is a long shot, but who knew Ryan, Randy or Simon when the show first aired?

    Comment by Dimitri – May 3, 2013 04:41 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • no, just no

      Comment by jeffmartinfan93 – May 6, 2013 09:20 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Nigel Lythgoe does the same push the agenda on “So You Think You Can Dance” and it takes away from the show. Why hold a show that asks the viewers to vote if you don’t trust the way they are going to vote.

    Comment by Dicie – May 3, 2013 06:18 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • The worse idea of all “RENEWEL”. Do the show a favor and can this crap fest.

    Comment by JS – May 3, 2013 06:19 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • As usual Michael, I agree with just about everything you say. As others have suggested, I would kick Jimmy Iovine to the curb and replace him with Harry Connick, Jr., go back to three judges (I do find Nicki to be a hoot and would miss your weekly bashing of Randy), and limit the individual voting.

    Comment by ljbehar – May 3, 2013 07:57 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • The old genres need to go-not just Mo-town. This season has had so many older songs. Like the other thoughts Michael-especially about giving the contestants more time and more notice. Also 3 judges only and no super long winded “darling” stuff.

    Comment by Jessica – May 3, 2013 10:19 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • The problem is…current music simply isn’t as memorable or good. This pattern has gone on since the 90s(with the good song here and there). So you’re telling me that anything current can stack up with The Beatles(no catalog will EVER beat this!!), The Stones, Elvis, Motown, Disco, Soul, Dylan, Hendrix, 60s, 70s top 40? What are we going to have rap night?? Or how about Britney Spears(who sings about as well as your next door neighbor) or Mariah Carey(she can sing but her songs are not great or memorable, it’s crazy to think that she’s #2 to The Beatles on #1 songs. She maybe has a few that are memorable, I’ll Be There and Without You and both are 1970s covers!)?This is a singing competition and those older songs are the most memorable and melodic.

      Comment by Steve – May 6, 2013 08:05 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • It is true that’s is somewhat harder to test out vocals in general with modern stuff. Lots of it doesn’t sound write when others do it either. It needs a certain particular vocal tone or exact style or it all goes wrong. It can actually be harder to cover well. People think some of it must be easy because it seems simpler but it’s sort of harder in a way.
        That said xfactor and the voice have found a lot more modern stuff that is suitable.

        Comment by HitTheGroundRunning – May 6, 2013 09:13 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I totally agree with the person who suggested (Michael maybe?) that one of the judges should be a music producer or label executive instead of a “celebrity” judge. Three judges are sufficient; a panel of four is a train wreck!

    Comment by Musicgal – May 3, 2013 10:21 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • That’s why Babyface would be ideal. Singer/ songwriter/producer with 10 Grammys.

      Comment by lyn – May 3, 2013 11:56 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • I think you made your point. ;)

        Comment by Carla – May 3, 2013 10:22 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Here’s my input:

    1. Trim the performance and results shows back to 1 and ½ hour, each. Too much filler otherwise – and too much time to invest in Idol!
    2. Trim 4 judges back to 3. Get rid of Nicki and Mariah, and possibly Randy, and keep Keith. I’d too would like to see Kelly Clarkson on the judging panel – she’s “been there and done that” and could give the contestants some excellent advice! I think Harry Connick,Jr. might be a good “Tell it like it is” judge. And I would even consider Jimmy Iovine on the judging panel.
    3. Limit the number of votes per medium to 10 each (i.e. 10 by phone; 10 by text and 10 by the Idol APP). It’ll help put everyone on a more level playing field.

    Comment by nchamlong2 – May 3, 2013 12:11 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I agree with all of your suggestions with the exception of the “possibly Randy” being trimmed. He’s the first judge to get the boot, in my opinion. With all of his years on the show and industry experience, I expect a lot more from him, and he never delivers. In fact, he disappoints and frustrates me with his recycled and overused comments to the contestants. We’re all tired of him, nothing original from the guy.

      Comment by Mash Mouth – May 3, 2013 12:19 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Eliminate the background singers, strip down the band, tone down the back stories, and include singers from all styles, not just big voice pop girls.

    Comment by Jay Andriot – May 3, 2013 03:34 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Yes! Those are great ideas too! That’s more like the way it was in the early years of AI. Once they started worrying about XF and The Voice, the producers amped up all the background noise (choirs, backup singers, dancers) and really muddied up the show!

      Comment by NJidoloonie – May 6, 2013 06:10 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • But…but that makes so much sense, Mr. Slezak. What are you thinking, using logic and common sense to make the show better? Those suggestions are so good that there is no way the AI producers would ever use them. Logic and common sense are not their friends. I think it would be nice to pick a decade at which all the themes cannot go past in song lists–nothing on any list that year older than….1980 or something. Might force them to broaden the song choices and sound more modern.

    Comment by Andrea – May 4, 2013 12:14 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Michael, maybe after the season is over, you should interview Nigel and Ken on TV Line and put some of those ideas on the table.

    Frankly, I think the producers (and that also includes Fremantle Executive Wyleen May, who has an even worse reputation than Nigel and Ken) would reject most of your ideas because they would have to work too hard.

    The best judging panel I ever saw on a competitive music show was on the first season of Nashville Star, which was stocked with talent. That show produced a satisfying winner in Buddy Jewell and a country superstar in Miranda Lambert.

    Later seasons generated talent such as George Canyon and Chris Young.

    There were three judges in that first season: Tracy Gershon, sister of actress Nina Gershon, a veteran record company executive; Charlie Robison, an established country singer married to one of the Dixie Chicks; and Robert K. Oermann, an expert on country music and historian, who wrote several books on the history of country music.

    There was no babble or cheerleading. Just good, honest critique when deserved, and praise when deserved. They also did eliminations without the need of a results show.

    Idol should look for people like that. There’s only one Judge who comes close to that this season: Keith Urban. Nicki and Mariah just babble inane nonsense, and Randy Jackson should have been fired years ago.

    Maybe they can just get the members of the band INXS and Dave Navarro, who did a nice job judging the talent on “Rockstar: INXS.”

    Comment by houster – May 4, 2013 02:41 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Yes? I loved Nashville Star and I am not a country fan at all! It was great because it was so authentic. I voted for Miranda because she was the best, but unfortunately the WGWG syndrome got the best of her – I think she may have come in third.

      Comment by NJidoloonie – May 6, 2013 06:17 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Yes, she came in third.

        Comment by darcy's evil twin – May 13, 2013 09:41 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Lady Gaga and Shania Twain would be excellent judges. Just don’t let Gaga pick out shoes for the contestants. That’s just asking for trouble.

    Comment by CK – May 4, 2013 06:42 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Obviously, limiting voting would help eliminate the perception that the voting is unfair.
    I’m in favor of firing any judge who bubbles on about marshmallows and waffles and Disney Princesses and being obsessed with or wanting to be best friends with a contestant or calling a contesrant their wife or mentions the word “current”. Harry Connick, Jr is hardly “current” but he is a successful musician.
    I would be happy to see HC, Jr on the panel with Keith. I would like to see Mariah be given one more year with some coaching to help her collect her thoughts. If she’s not retained then a female who understands music and singing. Do not bring JLo back. She’s more interested in promoting her newest single.
    No more canned critiques.
    No more comments about the clothes or shoes someone is wearing
    No guitars.

    More input from Jimmy I.
    Let them sing original songs.

    Comment by Name That Tune – May 4, 2013 06:37 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I agree with many of your thoughts, More from Jimmy I., No more Outfit/Clothing critique, Help Mariah, Harry Connick, JR!!! YES, Please. Vote Limits.. but..

      I have to say that it is hard to call for more original songs and call for No Guitars. If you are giving the artist the reigns to perform an original song, but deny them the instrument they wrote the song on, that isn’t really fair to the artist/contestant..

      Comment by cb – May 4, 2013 09:50 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • 1) Cancel X-Factor and bring back Simon – in Nigel’s job. Do not let him or Paula near the judge’s chair. Can’t get him? Have Jimmy Iovine pick somebody. Exit Nigel, Ken, and anyone else responsible for mismanaging this season.
    2) I thought Randy was hired for his A&R experience, not his bass-playing in Journey. Send Randy out to pasture and find an exec that has green-lighted anything now on the charts. Preferably, a female A&R person (see below).
    3) Keep Keith. The man knows of what he speaks.
    4) Keep Mariah if the new A&R person is male. Bring in Harry Connick, Jr if said person is female. Offer Harry the Jimmy Iovine permanent mentor slot if Mariah stays.
    5) If Mariah doesn’t WANT to stay (couldn’t blame her), call Stevie Nicks. Now.
    6) If Harry Connick, Jr, turns you down, bring in David Cook as perma-mentor . Before him, had any contestant ever scoured the Internet for the “Chris Cornell” version of Billie Jean? He overcame Uncle Nigel’s plan to anoint David Aguilara by playing the game of AI better than they did. He knows the pressure to come up with genius between Ford ad shoots. Have him pass on that wisdom to the new kids.
    7) The next time Haley Reinhart shows up, LET THE WOMAN FRAKKIN’ SING!

    Comment by CK from DC – May 4, 2013 10:11 PM PDT  Reply To This Post

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