Can J.Lo and Will.i.Am Save American Idol? Not Unless the Show Follows These 4 Simple Rules!

American Idol Season 13 JudgesAmerican Idol has been headed straight for an iceberg the last couple of seasons — a secret to no one except, perhaps, key executives at Fox and Fremantle Media.

Yet their recent chatter about changes to the show’s upcoming (and pivotal) Season 13 — which has been focused almost entirely on a rebooted judges’ panel, and not a rebooted outlook on what a judges’ panel should actually do — has me concerned that they’re merely slapping a fresh coat of paint on the luxury cruiseliner of reality competition shows. And really, what’s the point of that if the destination continues to be the bottom of the ocean floor?

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Fox president Kevin Reilly told reporters last week at the Television Critics Assoc. summer press tour in Beverly Hills that Keith Urban will be the only returning judge from Season 12 — an idea that makes sense for continuity and the ability to recognize contestants who just missed making the semifinals last year. Meanwhile, Jennifer Lopez — who sat on the panel in Seasons 10 and 11 — is in talks for a return engagement, too, added Reilly. Other published reports say the network is leaning toward Will.i.Am, who proved an almost entirely worthless guest mentor in Seasons 10 and 11, to round out the panel.

As someone who’s been eating, breathing and writing about Idol since Carrie Underwood was just an unknown Oklahoma farm girl with a dream, here’s my completely unsolicited four-step plan on how incoming executive producer Per Blankens should be conducting TV’s most buzzed-about job search.

IT’S NOT THE SIZE OF THE STARS, IT’S THE USEFULNESS OF THEIR FEEDBACK | There aren’t many names more bold-faced than Mariah Carey or Britney Spears, but that didn’t stop those ladies from being unmitigated failures during their respective runs on Idol and The X Factor. And as much as it pains me to say this, it doesn’t ultimately matter if it’s Jennifer Lopez or Jennifer Hudson, Will.I.Am or Adam Lambert sipping from those Coke cups come January 2014. (OK, OK, Adam would be infinitely more appealing than that foolio from the Black Eyed Peas, but you catch my drift…) What Blankens really needs to do is clearly and unflinchingly define the role of the judges — and make sure that whoever he hires is willing and able to carry out said job description (or be summarily dismissed/replaced by Crystal the Monkey).

HONESTY, IT’S SUCH A LONELY WORD… | Once upon a time, in the early rounds of Season 10, J.Lo was actually (forgive me for saying this) a solid judge of talent, offering specific, actionable and seemingly honest feedback to Pia Toscano, Stefano Langone and others. But as the weeks rolled on, her critiques became increasingly vague, she praised producer pets like Jacob Lusk even after his most heinous vocal crimes and her mission shifted to hurling eye daggers at Haley Reinhart and pushing for the Scotty-vs-Lauren country-kids showdown that had been the producers’ agenda from Day One. Still, as much as I can make jokes that J.Lo’s Season 13 prep work looks like this, I can’t pretend that she wouldn’t be a step up from Mariah, Nicki Minaj or the old barnacle Randy Jackson.

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Nevertheless, what I’m dying to hear from Reilly, Blankens or anyone associated with Idol, is a quote like this: “We’re hiring A-list talent for the panel, and we’re absolutely demanding that as part of the job, they pay strict attention to the performances every week, keep open minds, and speak directly from the gut. We promise to have absolutely no agenda about who wins Season 13 — and we’ve got absolutely no desire to influence what comes out of our judges’ mouths. I mean, why pay them the big bucks just to suppress their opinions and have them read off a pre-written script?” I know, I know, that sounds about as likely as Dads being the next Emmy winner for Best Comedy Series, but is there any real reason why this can’t or shouldn’t happen?

NOBODY WANTS TO WATCH THE VOICE FOUR DAYS PER WEEK | Even the most hardened cynics can’t help but be charmed by the Blake-Adam bromance on NBC’s rival singing competition, or the way those good ol’ boys embraced newbie counterparts Usher and Shakira during its most recent installment. Still, The Voice‘s panel is comprised of coaches, and Idol‘s is made up of judges — a critical difference that should never be lost on Blankens & Co.

Lest we forget, Idol‘s trump card — and one that The Voice and The X Factor have yet to play — is its ability to produce legitimate chart-toppers, and I can’t help but think that Idol‘s relatively tougher feedback — its trial-by-fire, not-everyone-gets-a-gold star attitude — contributes to its contestants’ post-show success.

So while The Voice might be the current critical and demo darling, turning into its pale imitation would be a terrible mistake for The House That Kelly Clarkson Built.

THE JUDGES SHOULD HELP THE SHOW MORE THAN THE SHOW SHOULD HELP THE JUDGES | First of all, if J.Lo or Will.i.Am want to promote a new single on the show, they should be forced to sing live — or not at all. Secondly, the Fox and Fremantle folks need to have a zero-tolerance policy for the kind of icky in-fighting that became a hallmark of Nicki and Mariah’s Season 12 relationship — and a major distraction to the competition. And finally, while the judges should always attempt to be entertaning, they should be instructed to use their humor, charm and outrageousness in the context of the competition. At the end of the day, Idol must be about finding the next Kelly, Carrie or Candice, not boosting the profiles of its judges’ latest entertainment projects. File that under: #Vow.

What do you think of a J.Lo-Will.i.Am-Keith Urban panel? What rules do you want to see the show’s producers follow in their hiring practices? Sound off in the comments, and for all my Idol news and commentary, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!

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

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  1. Hubris says:

    If Cassady Pope had been the winner of Season One of American Idol, she’d be a major star right now. And if Kelly Clarkson had just won this most recent season of The Voice, she would not have hit songs. Why? The novelty has worn off and there are just too many singing competitions. Idol has not produced stars because the critiques are tougher.

    • Sokratis says:

      That’s a half truth. It has been proven that talent will follow through no matter what. It’s just a bigger pool of finalists/winners over many shows, the same amount of people succeed, just there are more that fail.

    • Done says:

      Oversaturation for sure. With X-Factor, The Voice, America’s Got Talent, The Sing-Off, etc all competing with American Idol now, the days of any reality show producing a major star are over. It’s just overload, it’s too much. If the idol ship did sink for good, it wouldn’t break my heart, enough is enough.

    • Josh says:

      Then again Phillip Phillip was a success…Not a huge megastar but his first album would be considered a huge success. His second album will determine if he’s a success as a musician. Did I say success enough?

      • stranger says:

        Let’s talk 7 years down the road. Success is only an accurate description if the boy has longevity. That is an unknown now.

        • GH says:

          No matter what happens, it won’t take away from his debut era sales and airplay achievements. Most artists will never have that ever. It’s not erased because of what may or may not happen down the road.

          • The Beach says:

            And most artists will never be so lucky as to have their first single played multiple times each night for the gigantic audience watching the Olympics.

          • MB says:

            Phillip”s success has a lot more to do with who he is than his song playing on the Olympics. It only played for a couple of days last July and has sold almost 5 million copies. The reason it played on the Olympics is because it is a great song. His second song Gone, Gone, Gone is also a great success. He is just really good and appeals to many different ages and types of people. I still play his music everyday and it is his music I play when I take long drives. My grandsons who never watched Idol has their father or mother sing Home for them every night before going to bed. They heard it on the radio and loved it. They are 3 and 4. Its a good song and Phillip’s voice complemented it perfectly.

          • LeahKittyS says:

            @MB That’s really sweet that the you and the kids love Phillip’s music. His debut album was one of my favorite Idol alum releases in a while. It’s about to go platinum; I’m hoping it gets there before the end of the year.

          • HTGR says:

            It was a good song and pretty catchy and he would have sold anyway to some decent extent, but come on now, it played so many days during the Olympics, and it was almost like it had been written for how they used it, always at prime time and during one of the single most watched events in the US at the Olympics which was only merely the most watched TV event in the history of the US. The Olympics had huge ratings and it covers a much broader viewer base than Idol does by far and that shifts more night to night so it is much bigger than even just averaging more than twice the viewers Idol had for the finale. You couldn’t possibly ask for better luck and publicity. That had to have had a huge effect. It’s the kind of thing any singer would dream of. You don’t realize how much the right spotting, promotion luck can me, it can mean super stardom vs. nobody ever hears of you.

          • HTGR says:

            Not that it made or broke him since he did have the Idol finale and big push anyway, but it surely had to help boost things all the same quite a bit. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

      • Mary says:

        The way I look at it, all of them have had some success to a degree. Not everyone will be a super star. All these shows are just a platform to go on. I actually think these shows hinder the talent a bit. Radio have a hard time playing their music and today, unfortunately, kids will get their music for free. All stars, even the top ones have a hard time selling music unless your a few select.

    • G-Mom says:

      Oh no!! Kelly would still be a huge star because she can SING!! Cassadee is just not that good. I can see a few of this year’s Voice contestants actually doing well. Danielle, the Swons, and Amber might have good careers. I wasn’t a huge fan of Michelle’s.

      • MJ says:

        It’s all subjective, of course, but I much prefer Cassadee’s voice over Kelly Clarkson’s voice. I have never been a fan of Kelly’s voice … too shouty, too screamy, something about the tone does not sit well with my eardrums (and I am not tone deaf … I actually sing myself). I find her completely unlistenable. In fact, when one of her songs comes on the radio, I change the station. Again, i know it’s subjective, but I just don’t get what the hoopla is over her, never have.

        • Sierra says:

          You’re not the only one. Kelly bludgeons her songs into submission.

        • Brian says:

          I like Kelly’s voice… Sure, sometimes she can be a little screamy like on her “Tie It Up” song. But when I heard an a capella cut of “People Like Us” and “Since U Been Gone”, she’s, really, really good. She’s on her best when all her voice pitches on her pop songs are being harmonized together. Her country songs, on the other hand, are awful. She should just branch out to R&B/Soul instead, to recapture her “Thankful”/”Miss Independent” audience back.

          • S. says:

            Except for her Grammy nomination for a supposedly “awful” country song. Yup, totally terrible.

        • leimana97 says:

          Being subjective, whether you like/dislike Kelly Clarkson, she has a great voice. She wasnt selected to sing for the Pope, Superbowl, President, etc; become the ONLY artist to win Grammy Pop VOCAL album twice; has a Billboard #1 on 15 different genre formats (versatility) for having an average voice. Your more likely familiar with her radio Pop hits that can seem “shouty” but her discography if full of songs which showcase her vocals.

        • S. says:

          Being a wannabe doesn’t qualify your ear to judge Kelly. Perfect pitch runs in my family. (People think that’s about how well you can sing, but it’s about your musical ear.) There are a lot of people who say they’re not tone deaf and are singers with training only to go on Idol and get rejected as, at best, mediocre. It’s one thing to say something’s not your style but appreciate the quality and difficulty of it. She’s got a vocal versatility that’s just ridiculous. What she brings to the table is NOT subjective. It is objectively hard to do. Her voice is distinctive on the radio which many of these singing competition hopefuls just can’t say. There’s a difference between shouting and belting which you should know. If you don’t get what the big deal is, you really can’t have that great an ear. I’m sure that’ll hurt your feelings, and you’ll get defensive, but your tone smacks of bitter internet person who’d never say that to her face. I see it so much with singers who’ll pick someone generally recognized as being amazing, and they’ll grumble about not getting the and throw out their own qualifications doing the thing saying ‘see? I know what I’m talking about.’ Stop being so angry because deep down you know you can’t do what she does. You’ll be a lot happier in the long run.

        • HTGR says:

          Cassadee tends to go chipmunkish too often for my taste though. And she doesn’t have the power and raw vocals Kelly does.

          I don’t like that Kelly has gone all country so much now though, she has lost me, but that is another matter, entirely different from her vocal quality.

    • Agree with most on the half-truth ideology. That said, Idol is still producing bigger stars than The Voice or X-Factor. Look at Scotty McCreery or Phillip Phillips. Sure, they aren’t Kelly or Carrie caliber, but they sure are doing better than Cassadee or Javier.

      • Cheri Spence says:

        I am glad Keith Urban is staying and Randy Jackson finally left. The judges must give the contestants constructive criticism. Ambiguous praise does not create stars! Producers need to butt out of this part of the show!

    • Nat says:

      I see where you’re coming from, but as a UK resident, Idol never aired its first season here, and Kelly still sells out arenas all over the UK every time she tours. It was her music that won her fans here, not her status as a reality show winner.

    • greysfan says:

      I’d say not true. America is a tough market but all these franchises have proven themselves everywhere except The Voice in terms of selling records. The X Factor brand has launched international careers of Little Mix, Leona Lewis, One Direction and James Arthur. Idol has proven superstars in Kelly, Jennifer Hudson, Carrie Underwood not to mention Jessica Mauboy who people are raving about in The Sapphires. She was runner up on Idol in Australia. There are numerous other stars coming out of the franchises but The Voice, yes a ratings hit but yet to have anyone really come out of it. I don’t think it’s over saturation at all. It’s about finding that one someone who changes everything. IMO The Voice has lacked star quality and record sales prove this. I don’t think these shows are dead.

    • Julie says:

      The Voice is responsible for that. Because they decided to do two seasons a year, there is hardly a month without a singing competition – this is not only gonna kill The Voice, but Idol and XFactor, sadly.

    • xx says:

      Nope. There are plenty of countries where the Pop Idol inaugural winners *didn’t* become major stars.

  2. RIPidol says:

    Jenny from the block’s agenda would be to sell her cr-p music or whatever else she happens to be selling at the time. The thought of her coming back to “judge” makes me completely disinterested in watching.

    • The Beach says:

      So true, so true. I love Michael’s demand that if they do sing, it must be live. That would certainly spare us the auto-tuned, lip synced ridiculousness of a J-Lo or Wil I Am performance.

  3. Sokratis says: is an obvious sign that they clearly aren’t thinking of rebooting the series. You need singing talent, people with a wider age group of fans, and has proven a terrible mentor, judge (anyone ever see the voice uk?)

    • Masha says:

      I’ve watched both seasons of The Voice UK and I think that Will.I.Am is great! At least he doesn’t afraid to express his opinion even if this opinion isn’t sweet. Of course Jessie J is a much better coach but still I think that Will will bring something fresh to the Idol. I also liked Nicki Minaj cause she told (at the beginning at least) her opinion which very often was critic not a sweet syrup.

    • Nat says:

      I really didn’t like Will on The Voice. He rambled for ages without offering any concrete feedback.

  4. Brigette says:

    I would honestly be happy with judges who were COMPLETE unknowns, people behind the scenes who understood music & vocal quality, over anyone that I may recognize. If is on the panel, I think that may seal the nail on the Idol coffin.

    • LeahKittyS says:

      I would criticize you for using a mixed metaphor if it weren’t so accurate. I’ll still be watching next season, but I’m starting to question my allegiances.

  5. ben says:

    Good, solid rules there Michael. The only place I’ve dissented from general feeling about the judges is in season 10, where the feedback was mostly overwhelmingly positive, I felt, because the contestants were mostly fantastic. It really is in my view easily the most talented season.

    I want the judges to stick to these 4 rules, but I’d also really like the fans to also stick to one rule, understanding that views about how well someone does are subjective. Different people value different styles, and even value things like mechanical accuracy (eg being on pitch every note) and having soul differently. Provided all the judges demonstrate a willingness to be negative, to critique performances THEY don’t like, we need to be willing to accept it when they like something we don’t. I’m sick of the ‘how can they praise x but be negative to y’ schtick as much as I’m sick of judges who don’t judge, but when we the public take that approach in appraising the judges, why would they critique? They lose either way.

    • HTGR says:

      Umm S10 had the single worst judging ever. They bashed to pieces the best, by far, contestant, randomly much of the time, while crazy praising any producer pet. It was when they finally went a step too far with the manipulations and stagings and the whole thing started down the sinking ship road.

      If JLo is back I am out. Since it proves getting rid of Nigel meant nothing. Sure she seemed to be a good judge during the auditions and even the start of Hollywood, but then she totally sold out and if someone THAT rich is so easily bought out they don’t deserve to come back, I don’t care if she tried to be good this ENTIRE season because she doesn’t deserve it, to heck with her. Her credibility was utterly destroyed by the last half of S10. In the end I disagree with Michael, in the end, she was far worse than Minaj or Mariah (although for the first half of the season she as better).

      I don’t mind Will.i.Am, but I don’t recall that he seemed to be the greatest mentor so it seems like more hype over getting down to what the show needs.

      Between that and JLo I’m not sure they get it.

      • Ben says:

        Sorry – I don’t accept your subjective judgment that Haley was ‘by far’ the best contestant, as being something that should bind the judges. The TVLine boards during season 10 are essentially, for me, a demonstration of hypocrisy. You have to choose what you want – either judges critique and you deal with the fact their favourite may not be the same as yours, or they don’t critique. You can’t have it both ways.

        Let me repeat, because its important. You can’t have it both ways. But taking fan reaction from the last two seasons into account, its clear that people want to have it both ways, which means it would be simply impossible to fix the judges panel.

        I watch the show with a bundle of people who like what they like – during season 10, some liked Scotty best, some liked Haley best and, believe it or not, a couple even liked Jacob best. My personal favourite that season was Casey Abrams. The people I watch with are, also, all musicians, many with professional training. There is nothing inherently wrong with people having different opinions, and until we can accept this of the judges, Michael’s 4 steps above will not solve the problem – they will just create a different one (ie people will moan that the judges are biased and have an agenda instead of moaning that they aren’t critical, as happened in season 10).

        Here is what fans really want – they want the judges to be critical and honest… only when THEY want the judges to be critical and honest. This is completely unrealistic.

        • alexandredit says:

          Did you actually read what people wrote? Or are you actually talking about AI? Because there’s been an issue for years with what the judges ”critiqued”, because they weren’t actually giving feedback but reading the producers note (looking at you, Jenny from the block).

        • Over and Out says:

          I didn’t have a problem with J-Ho and RandyJackass critiquing Haley when it was warranted, what I had a problem with was them not critiquing Scotty, Lauren, James, Jacob, etc. etc. when they clearly warranted it. But they could have zero range, completely miss a key change, run out of breath, be flat an entire song, scream like a banshee, and still be told they were perfect! It was B.S. and it was very maddening!

          • Cali Girl says:

            This! Jacob Lusk was mostly horrible. And yes, I believe they picked on Haley. Especially J-Ho.

          • HTGR says:

            Exactly, she was literally the only one they gave feedback to each week for most weeks. So it makes her look inconsistent and week and everyone else look great. It was like people were complaining they just said everyone was good so they had to pick someone to critique and they didn’t want her to win and she seemed to be the most serious threat to who they did want so there you go, she gets critiques and nobody else does 5/6th of the time. Not that what they even said about her was even true a lot of the time although sometimes it was but even all the times it was it was no fair because then they’d turn around and read their notes and praise to the heavens the exact same issue for everyone else!

            Either critique everybody or nobody.

            I don’t even personally know anyone who watched Idol after that season, they all had that as the final last straw where the BS just became too much for them.

            If they really want to change the page, why bring back one of the judges at the heart and center of that? How does that restore faith? They got rid of Randy and Nigel, but then bringing back JLo makes it seem like getting rid of Randy and Nigel had zero to do with restoring the faith. Granted she did seem to be a good judge through auditions and the start of live rounds but how can you trust her with her sudden 180 flip for the last part of the season? What was that? Did she lose her touch? Let stuff in her personal life going on affect her judging? Sell out and just read producer’s notes? (and wasn’t there some stuff caught on open mic and video with notes and things murmured that sounded kinda of suspicious of production interference). How do you trust she won’t just sell out again? She was filthy crazy rich but didn’t have the integrity to say no, just wanted to insure she got another 15-20 mil.

        • HTGR says:

          No that is not true at all. They’;d have their pet singers literally miss half the notes and say wow, wow, wow, that was so emotionally powerful and then someone who was a threat they’d cut down for missing one note! They’d say one thing to two contestants in a row and then she’d sing and on the exact same subject they’d suddenly say something 180 degree! Even some of her fellow contestants such as Lauren said they didn’t understand the judging and what the heck they were doing to Haley. One of Idol’s own vocal coaches stuck her neck out in an interview and more or less said she didn’t get it and it was a total disgrace. Even Steven Tyler got totally P.O. one night and slammed the other judges to pieces. You could also see all the production tricks, guess who was the only one who got like zero face time back home with Skype, etc. etc.

          Numerous former idol contestants, including big names, in so many words tweeted out that the judging was totally biased BS during S10. And your own favorite Casey Abrams totally called out the judging of his season as a total sham and farce.

          Sure everyone likes if the judges praise their favorites but the fact is there has been very clear and phony bias quite often and S10 was out of control in that regard.

          Again they would literally take the exact same thing and praise it for one contestant and then slam it for the next and vice-versa, you couldn’t possibly get more fake.

          And you ahd to love the way they came up with most inconsistent to knock away at the fact she was getting like performance of the night so many weeks at the end. But OH NO her second performance was merely way upper middle of the pack! It wasn’t also the best of the night. So inconsistent! That is so much worse than consistently having both performances bottom of the pack or middle of the pack! She clearly is the one who deserves to go home!

          So Randy which contestant stood out for you as the best tonight and had you excited. Umm uhhh duhhh ummm well you know Ryan Haley is the worst and she is the only one who deserves to go home of the whole lot of them standing up there.

          And to lesser degrees the same thing has gone on a LOT. Even look at the Melinda videos from a few seasons ago where she was even saying after a while the contestants realize the thing is kind of a farce and they’d just have to try to laugh after one of them totally messed up and got praised to the heavens and someone else did great and got trashed.

  6. Joanie says:

    Not watching. Worst thing they did was bring jlo back. The show isn’t about finding talent anymore. It’s about the judges puffing themselves up. Love Keith tho! He’s a good judge-when then let him be.

    • ben says:

      Back in Simon’s day, they deliberately left good contestants on the cutting room floor to put through “populalist” contestants – people who were just a bit fun or who they felt would keep ratings up. This is a battle Simon fought but lost.

      In the J-Lo era, talent was a focus, and as a result seasons 10-11 had much better top 10s overall.

      I get the perception, cos J-Lo did a whole lot of self promotion, but its false to suggest that the show isn’t about talent any more. It’s just that people have become more aware/cynical about the producer manipulation that has gone on. Truthfully, the best thing the new producers can do is manipulate less.

      • MC says:

        I think judging on American Idol is the worst job in television. A large segment of the audience will hate the too soft approach and many others will hate the too harsh approach. God forbid you make a joke because then you’re not respectful of the process or the “talent.” It’s a no-win situation imo. You basically have to dance through the raindrops and hope you don’t offend anyone. Good luck with that.

      • HTGR says:

        If S10 was so much about talent why did they praise to the heavens their picks and trash to pieces anyone who tried to endanger their pets??

        It was the most corrupt of all the seasons and that is saying something.

      • Saabgirlatx says:

        Totally agree about manipulating less. If you go back and watch the Kelly Clarkson season, you see the contestants in their raw, not-so-polished style until they made it to the makeover show. Nowadays, the contestants are all glammed up on day one so you see them trying too hard too soon. My advice to producers would be to have the judges volunteer so they would want to be there for the chance to guide new talent instead of for the rediculous paychecks and self promotion.

  7. Lumplestilskin says:

    J-Lo can’t sing and can’t sing. And Keith Urban is…nice. If this panel appeals to you, I wish you nothing but the best.

  8. I think every one of these shows needs a record executive- because they aren’t afraid to be tough and call it like it is. Whether you like him or not- Simon Cowell has no agenda other then to find the best singer in America and that’s all he is there for.

    • Montavilla says:

      Simon eventually did have an agenda — since he left the show to promote one very similar. But for most of his time on the panel, he was willing to be a strong, critical voice.

      I don’t think every judge has to be that critical voice. It’s enough to have one or two. But it helps if that judge is coming from a place where it makes sense. We expect a record executive or producer to be mean and crush people’s dreams. We don’t really expect it from someone still trying to be a star.

      There’s a place on the panel for a warm, supportive person with star quality for the kids to gush about meeting. There’s a third spot that can go any number of ways, such as Country Hotty (Keith Urban), lovable goofball (Randy Jackson or Will. I am), sexy barbie (Nicki Minaj), alumni (Jennifer Hudson, Adam Lambert, or Melinda Doolittle), or Something Completely Different (let’s randomly add Eric Idle to the panel!).

      But someone tough, be it record executive, old school bitch diva (Cher!), or Vocal Coach from Hell, is downright necessary to keep Idol the place where the *real* singers compete.

      • meatball says:

        Jennifer Hudson would make a horrible judge.

        • karenb says:

          Adam too

          • Daydreamin says:

            Adam Lambert would be a great judge. He is honest and has said he wants to help the contestants and actually give them feedback that will help them. He has said he believes in being honest and that would be a great asset to idol that they desperately need now. I hated Simon at the time he was a judge but after seeing what the alternatives were, I miss him. Adam would be honest but without putting someone down.

        • trimaran12 says:

          I suspect JHud would not be the greatest judge but would be willing to give her a chance, if only to try someone new. Adam could be great. We saw him as a mentor who gave criticism but with a positive affirmation as well. Most people seemed to like his mentor visit in Season 9. Going back to the same old, same old JLo is a mistake.

          • alexandredit says:

            Adam Lambert was the only contestant (and not even a winner) brought back to coach the contestants a few seasons ago. Doesn’t that speak for itself?

  9. Hamish says:

    Michael speaketh the truth!!!

    I think we all miss the brutal honesty Simon Cowell had through his run as judge (save the dreadful last season he was on). What we’ve heard the last few years are mostly platitudes towards the singers, and very little honesty and constructive criticism. The best/worst was this past season when guest mentor Harry Connick Jr. mentored Kree’s Stormy Weather and the buffoon at the table only wanted to hear the Etta James version. Harry’s schooling of the buffoon was classic. I’d love to have Harry Connick Jr. as a judge.

    • ben says:

      Unfortunately, the ‘buffoon’ (and, thankfully, Kree’s instincts) was right and Harry Connick was wrong. Harry’s approach to Stormy Weather would have been awful.

      • Hamish says:

        If I wanted to hear the Etta James version of Stormy Weather, I would have put that on. Same thing with the Lena Horne, Ella Fitzgerald, and Billie Holliday versions. Harry Connick’s point was that the judges claim they want to hear the singers make the song their own and yet criticize the singers for not slavishly copying a famous version of the song.

        • ben says:

          And yet… Harry Connick’s suggestion was awful and didn’t suit Kree at all. This was quite clear from the small clip we got. You can’t change something just for the sake of it, it doesn’t work. “Different” does not equal “good”. What you are arguing may well be fair – in which case Harry’s advice should have been that she hasn’t chosen a song where she can set herself apart in a successful way and she should pick a different song.

          Harry Connick Jr was easily, far and away, the worst judge, mentor, or anything, that the show has ever had. He completely destroyed Amber for that week, and could easily have completely destroyed Kree as well. No thanks, mentors are supposed to give suggestions to improve people, not pull them down on national tv.

          • Hamish says:

            I think the edit is what destroyed Amber, not Harry Connick. She really had no idea what the song was about and I think he was trying to get her to understand the lyrics. My Funny Valentine is a great song from the Rogers and Hart musical Babes in Arms. Valentine is the name of the male lead. The song is sung to him by the female lead and the lyrics convey how despite his faults she doesn’t want him to change. It’s a very poignant moment in the show. Understanding the lyrics really would have helped Amber get the song across.

      • Kate'shomesick says:

        I’m sorry bit Kree’s ‘Stormy weather’ was the worst she did all season. She didn’t understand the song at all and musically Harry Connick was absolutely right. While she was singing all I could think was- what is she doing? Does she know what she is singing about?…and technically it was pretty bad as well…she didn’t choose the right runs and didn’t commit so it was wobbly and awkward.

      • HTGR says:

        Harry was right. Those two way overdo the runs and whatnot. I know people here love the video of Kree singing on Rosie when she was little, but seriously she had zero musical sense, she ws going all over the place. Stick to the darn melody.

        Candice started out sounding super amazing singing the national anthem at the ASG but it quickly went so off the road that I barely even recognized what tune she was singing after a while!! She needs to learn to stick to the darn melody and not toss in random re-writes and runs and this and that. OTOH she knows more about music than I do and has a lot of knowledge and his voice itself is great, but she goes so easily off the musical rails with no clue when too much is too much and when to use what sort of artistry.

        • Hamish says:

          I didn’t see the ASG, but I hate most versions of the national anthem. The national anthem needs to be performed briskly, without vocal runs and sticking to the melody. I’d prefer that all sporting events use a recording of the US Marine Corps band for the national anthem.

      • Julie says:

        No, it wasn’t – Harry was trying to tell Kree you learn the notes and then you can decide your interpretation. That is basic singing.

  10. RMS Idoltanic says:

    Slezak I really respect your opinion, and wonder why oh why the powers that be never seriously took your or other idol bloggers like Lyndsey Parker’s multiple suggestions into consideration, but I think the show has struck that so called iceberg and is taking on too much water too quickly, and not even JLo’s inflatable ass can save errbody. I had hoped the new show runners could turn it all around but once again they proved that people in positions of power often lack any damn common sense. I mean doesn’t it piss you off in the slightest that here you are, offering up all these great and obvious ways to make this show ten times better, while the doofuses that DO get hired are probably raking in the mega bucks for such inspired fixes as “Bring back that old judge we fired a few years ago that was useless! And,uh, hire that dude from the black eyes peas because a guy who is auto tuned into oblivion is a credible judge of vocal talent!!” I mean really? The show decided to chuck a bunch of key people only to come back with the same old same old?

    Basically the show will most likely continue its slow march into cancellation, most likely keeping enough ratings and bringing FOX enough money for maybe a few more years, but the show is a shell of its former self. They had a chance to really shake things up, but they just didn’t. And frankly there’s no excuse for such idiocy when every Joe Schmo on the interwebz can think of ten better judging panels and twice as many awesome ways to rejuvenate the format.

    Somewhere Nigel is cracking up and Keith is wondering what the hell he has gotten himself into. Good luck prospective idol try outs! Will I am will be telling you if you can sing or not. Let that sink in for a minute.


    Godspeed covering idol this year Slezak. Maybe it’s time to get onto a lifeboat and get the hell out of this disaster. (Sinking ship wordplay is fun! Lol)

    • The Beach says:

      ” Good luck prospective idol try outs! Will I am will be telling you if you can sing or not. Let that sink in for a minute.”…..Perfect! I seriously laughed out loud at that.

    • Aprilcot says:

      This is the best comment I’ve read in a long time! I agree with you 1000%!

      • MC says:

        I think the comment is based on a flawed assumption that AI is the center of the universe. I’m sorry, but most people with any musical credibility will turn down a judging spot on this show. Why? Because they have better things to do than participate in a formulaic karaoke show. This show (and the diehard fans of this show) has always taken itself too seriously, more so than the other talent shows. Anyone on this forum who thinks fine tuning this show would be easy is dreaming. The options for the judging panel will be much more limited than you think.

    • alexandredit says:

      ”…a credible judge of vocal talent.”

      Because Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul, Ellen Degeneres, Steven Tyler were more ”credible” in your opinion? I mean don’t get me wrong, they were/are popular in their own field but then again Idol never really used great vocal singers (that is maybe for Mariah Carey, yet she was one of the worst judges the show ever had) to be judges on the show.

  11. Emma says:

    What I couldn’t stand about Jlo was that she played favorites. Whether that was at the producers instructions or not, I don’t know. But it was so frustrating and infuriating. Because her favorites would come out and completely mess up and sound horrible and yet she would still say they gave her goosies. Then someone who wasn’t her favorite would come out and give the best performance of the season and get a meh from her. I’m not watching if she’s on the panel again, so I really hope it’s just a rumour and turns out to be not true.

    • HTGR says:

      +1 she was the worst ever (well other than what Randy turned into that season)

      I feel it was probably the producers though since her favorites seemed to suddenly change half way through, but who knows. In either case either it was all on her or she totally sold out and neither scenario is good.

  12. Honestly, the producers will always push some kind of an agenda with the help of the judges. That’s natural. In any case, people will always disagree with the judges and claim that they are just pushing the producers’ agenda, so it’s a no-win situation.

    And this Keith Vanilla Urban – Jenny From The Block – will.i.ever.go.away combo is just pathetic. Old judging leftovers. One old Idol judge, two coaches from The Voice (Keith from Australia, from the UK).

  13. kendon says:

    I really like idol, but I don’t like it when contestants are forced down my throat. Last year all they said was that it was the year of the girl to win. So they intentionally stacked the deck with a group of guys that were some of the weirdest oddballs the show has ever seen. And what do u know a guy didn’t and a girl did. But then the ratings tanked as well in part I think because they flooded the show with a lot of awful people to insure that a girl would win. Just bring us amazing talent and let America decide the rest.

    • G-Mom says:

      I agree with what you said. Also, most people don’t know that a lot of talent never makes it past the initial auditions because they don’t have a good enough “backstory”. I guess they need to have survived a terrible illness, the death of a parent, etc. I know of several talented people who were turned down yet went on and had a career without Idol, I.e. Colbie Calliet. The manipulation starts early.

    • Montavilla says:

      Only two of the top five guys were completely unviable as winners. The other three were all good singers, and cute as buttons.

  14. Brock says:

    I thought Mariah gave GREAT critiques every time. She was articulate and intelligent. Yes, there was the fued, but that didn’t stop her judging. The panel didn’t work.
    They need to hard reboot – and I liked the idea of former contestants on the show. Not keen for
    They have GOT to stop the awful theme nights with the SAME songs sung each and every season. The River Ain’t High, it’s a desert. OVER hearing those same songs.
    TVLINE has had amazing ideas to help fix this show. I just felt there was NOTHING wrong with mariah other than the refusal for either girl to ackowledge each other or look in their direction.

    • Daydreamin says:

      I agree with you about Mariah. Once she was told to actually start working and give usable feedback, she really did pick it up and gave good advice. I have to admit that having Nicki on the panel would get on anyone’s nerves and I don’t fault Mariah for having to deal with her though the producers never should have let that carry on.

  15. Vetle says:

    Wikipedia said that Cheryl has been asked. Yes, please. I seriously doubt she’ll do it, but I would really love it if she would. Adam would be fun too, but I guess he’s busy with Glee.

    I seriously can’t stand Will.I.Am, and frankly, J.Lo was BAAAD.

  16. Isis says:

    Even more important than the judges is the voting, IMHO. Without that the winner will never reflect the truth of the audience choice. If they’re looking for a bankable talent the popularity show has to end.

    • Daydreamin says:

      HA! I totally agree with you!!!! This MUST happen! No unlimited voting anymore! It’s absolutely NOT a true reflection of who the viewing public wants to win. Would it be ok in any world to have unlimited voting in politics? No way! This is just wrong.

      • Mary says:

        Bingo, the VIEWER public has nothing to do with the real world. I actually believe even if they limit voting AI will still have the same problem. They need good AR and music exec after the show, and I don’t mean the same PR stunts the winners get. Half the battle is their music does not truly represents who they are as an artist and therefore their albums are what the executives want. In all fairness it is hard as an artist to prove yourself if the music you are force to put on the album is not really you. In all fairness take Lee D., he was not my pick nor did I want him to win, but the sh.t they gave him mad no sense what so ever. Same thing as Candice, her first single sucks, sorry – she should be singing R&B not pop. The list is endless but you get my drift.

    • Cali Girl says:

      Yes!!! I was surprised Michael didn’t address the Tween Factor.

  17. Oh, Michael, if only they would listen to you!

  18. Brandy says:

    I live Keith, And I don’t mind J.Lo. But the thought of makes me absolutely cringe. Please pick someone else, Idol!

  19. Please Try Again says:

    J-Ho and Will.i.Lame? Really? I guess having credibility on the judging panel wasn’t a top priority.

  20. dez says:

    I have to disagree with Michael in that Jennifer would be a step up from Mariah and Nicki. I think either one of them was a better judge than Jennifer, they were just dysfunctional together.

  21. Joseph says:

    The show needs a few things ,,
    1st , Judges, Mentors, Producers that cast a better net at finding quality singers , and stop stressing instead who has the easier to spin personal story.
    3rd , Stop saying songs are the best you have ever heard , BECAUSE IF THEY ARE YOU LOST YOUR MEMORY !
    4th , I want to see the singers work with the Vocal Coaches !

    Do not cast Judges or Singers where their main attraction is the personal drama that they bring with them !

  22. JCK says:

    Limit the voting. Or turn off the lights.

    • MJ says:

      I completely agree. The unlimited voting has ruined the show. No other show where the audience votes allows unlimited voting. Not only should the voting be limited, but the judges should have a vote as well. I can’t understand why this issue hasn’t been addressed before. Who are these “new” producers? Do they even have a clue?

    • The Beach says:

      Wow…so few words yet so much truth. Excellent post!

    • HTGR says:

      This too.

  23. DavidSask says:

    Bringing JLO and the hack Will I Am already failed hardcore on Voice UK and is so hard to look and listen to means this show has no intentions to change. I hope viewers leave in mass numbers, I will keep in touch with show by reading your blog video posts!! PS. I feel bad for Keith once again!

  24. Kathy says:

    I can never get past J-Lo’s treatment of Haley and her horrific judging in the latter part of the live season (and she certainly wasn’t the only poor judge performance). I agree with Michael’s assessment of Idol producers need to get their heads out of the sand and change the things that made the past few seasons an alternately boring, then frustrating season for the fans. (Cowell proved he’s listening to the fans at least in his plan to cut down on the size/volume of the production numbers around the contestants… at least for the larger part of the season. Listening to the fans. What a concept. You should try it Idol producers). They should darn well the contestants sing what they want to and for God’s sake give them more options and options from the 21st Century. Frankly, it’s hard for me to imagine an AI with J-Lo and in it that isn’t going to be about them rather than the contestants and if I had my druthers, judges would never sing on the show [pardon me, lip sync]. Frankly, with J-Lo back on the panel, I’d finally say goodbye to Idol. I just can’t get passed her previous judging. Oh man, this so pisses me off. I had high hopes that new producers would mean huge, meaningful changes to Idol. I guess there’s still time for that to happen, but if they bring back J-Lo, that is gonna be one bad portent for the future. [Where the hell is Harry Connick Jr? Now there’s a judge! I wouldn’t mind Perez Hilton either. Judges who say what THEY believe. What a novelty]

    • Melina says:

      I agree! It makes one wonder if the AI producers did any kind of research before throwing out their money on JLo. In every article I have read so far about the new season of AI, folks are very negative about her return. I understand why she is desperate to get the job but why would AI agree?

    • HTGR says:

      And she demands $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$. They won’t even be able to afford free interns to run the audio after hiring her hah.

  25. Melina says:

    I though the producers wanted to revive the show by adopting a fresh approach. Well, so much for that! By bringing Lopez back they missed the target. She can’t sing and therefore should not be allowed to judge singing talent. Her previous stint on AI was useless, she never offered good advice and only used the show to promote herself and her sorry projects. I agree about the rule for the judges to sing live, I would love to see the talentless JLo try that, LOL!

    • trimaran12 says:

      You don’t necessarily need to be a great singer to be a judge of singing talent. Conversely, singing talent does not necessarily make a great judge. If we could go back to, and keep, early season 10 JLo, I could live with that. Besides, she is stunning (sorry, I am a bit shallow). But if she is going to be constrained by either the producers or her own desire to be seen as “nice,” I would rather they go in another direction.

  26. Larc says:

    I agree with every word of this. A copy of it should be nailed to FOX/Idol’s door!

  27. Tahoe Mike says:

    NO FRAKIN’ J-LO!!!!!!! Dear Gods please NO, never, don’t even joke about it.

  28. Sara says:

    Oh god please no Will.i.Am. I can tolerate J.Lo. Will.i.Am would be the new judge I skip over (lookin’ at you, Randy Jackson, Mariah Carey, and Kara Dioguardi).

  29. Leslie says:

    Michael…you are a genius. I think YOU need to be on the judge’s panel because I know you can sing better than and I have never met you…

  30. zaza says:

    I agree with number one. You don’t need superstars as judges. You need people who know how to find and develop talent….producers, scouts, managers….people who could actually give constructive and useful feedback.

    Another thing they need to do is stop deciding (and pushing on us) who they want to win from the start. Let us make up our own darn minds!

    Also, stop with the weirdos. Not entertaining, AT ALL.

    And, oh yah, let the singers pick the kind of music they want to sing. That way viewers won’t be surprised when the winner comes out with a CD and it’s nothing like the way they sung on the show. Winners might actually sell cds that way.

  31. MB says:

    I am so disappointed they are bringing JLo back. The show was all about her and not the contestants. I liked her before she was on Idol now I can barely stomach her. I don’t even want to begin to talk about how I feel about Will.I.Am. I do not have hopes for season 13.
    Also Michael you said they need to find the next Kelly, Carrie or Candice. I do not believe Candice will be successful at all. Her single was the lowest selling idol coronation song ever. Season 12 was a total failure all around. Even the tour is not doing well. The stadiums are not even half full. I really like Candice but I don’t believe she will come close to the success of the WGWG the two seasons before her. The WGWG which was blocked from season 12 to make sure a girl would win. Well they got their girl and Idol is in even worse shape than before. Lets hope the next winner of Idol will light some fire on the charts even if it is heaven forbid a boy.

  32. jane says:

    I don’t mind JLO as long as she stops reading from what the producers write for her. She’s never been much of an actress. Keith has music credibility, but Will i am is just ridiculous. If they want a Black Eye Pea I rather they get Fergie. One of the things about idol I always liked was that it wasn’t overproduced. The last couple years have been borderline torturous with the smoke and wind machines, over the top arrangements and truly awful group numbers. Stop all of that nonsense and focus on the music. Also, go back to the way they use to form the top 10 where the lowest 2 male/female vote getters leave the show every week till the top 10 is formed. I don’t like the one and done that they have had the last few years. Some early front runners were eliminated the first night of live shows!

  33. emor says:

    There is on person i keep wondering why has never been mentioned as a judge. And he would be the new simon, but WAAAAAAAY meaner. That is David Foster! Yea, he is an egomaniac asshole…but HE knows singers. You think Jimmy can be tough, you don’t know the devistaion Foster could produce. He would have had the other judges quaking in fear for putting someone as TERRIBLE as lazlo on the air. That would save Idol!!!

  34. JAson says:

    If William (I refuse to call a grown man becomes the judge I will not watch! PErsonally I’d rather see Randy back then that no talent! They need a Simon type. Are the producers so stupid that they don’t realize that Simon was the appeal of the show? People liked it for honest, real and funny criticism! No kiss assing!!!

  35. JAson says:

    J-lo huh? Stock of Kleenex will go up when this announcement is made! America will have something to masturbate to on Wednesdays and Thursdays again!

  36. Daydreamin says:

    Michael, can you be one of the judges? I would only add that voting needs to be one per phone/computer. But then idol couldn’t say “After 33 million votes… “

  37. allie says:

    I stopped watching mid year when J-Lo was on. I tried again this year but hated most of the talent. Keith Urban is great but if no other changes are made I think that AI will continue its downward trend. Bringing back J-Lo and a ridiculous choice in is not the solution. Raise the age limit slightly, have 2 solidly talented judges and one rotating past idol star, UPDATE the song book and get rid of the theme nights… that might help.

  38. Angie_Overrated says: NO!!!!! Why? How? WHAT?!?!?!? Please say this isn’t true. I thought no one could possibly be worse than Lopez + Carey + Minaj + Jackson, but I was wrong. That could send me to the brink of “I’m never watching this show again.” That guy sucks. How can you expect a talentless boob to judge people who actually have talent? Can you imagine how preposterous that would be had he been giving Candice, Kree, Amber, etc., any criticism or feedback? I’m floored by this.

  39. Alan Dvorkis says:

    I have watched The Voice UK. Wil I am is annoying as a judge on that show. J Lo was terrible prior. Both are poor choices that will do nothing to enhance the show. Sad.

  40. Ndumiso says:

    I have watched the two seasons of The Voice UK which Will.i.Am is a part of, he has a different ear to music, but he is the most entertaining coach i have seen. You cant wait for him to open his mouth because he will say something hilarious. Having said that, i really dislike that Jennifer is coming back, she is beautiful with less drama but the last time she was a judge she irritated me, its like she new who would win, and boxed everyone to thing the same way. But all we can do is keep our fingers crossed. For the record, Cassadee Pope and Daniel Bradbery have been topping itunes, Candice Glover is nowhere to be found. All we see is Philip Phillips.

    • Angie_Overrated says:

      Candice Glover is also not singing covers that can chart on itunes like Danielle Bradbery or Cassadee Pope. Idol doesn’t allow itunes to release that info whereas The Voice requires that information, so this is not a fair comparison, particularly considering A) neither Danielle nor Candice have released their albums and B) Cassadee (though I will admit I love her) IS NOT — I repeat — IS NOT topping itunes. Like, not even kind of close.

      That being said, I wish much luck to all three ladies, though I still think Amanda Brown and Michelle Chamuel were robbed. Where’s my girl Kree? She rocks.

  41. Kariann Hart says:

    Regardless who the judges are, the focus still needs to be on the contestants!

  42. Lois Benton says:

    I won’t watch the show with these judges. If Adam Lambert is a judge, I would watch that. I am grateful that the best singer (Candice) finally won last season, but the songs (I can’t take it anymore) and the format are stale. American Idol has showcased some first-rate talent, but those usually don’t win, which is frustrating. For the record, I pretty much can’t take much more of any reality show singing competition. I’m totally done with The Voice and America’s Got Talent is pretty bad this season.

  43. Jen says:

    When you merge rules one and two you’ll find one of the best judges that any of these shows have had: Ben Folds. He’s not a huge star, heck, a lot of people probably don’t even know him from anywhere other than the Sing Off. But he is GOOD at being a judge. He’s honest, but not in a Simon Cowell way – he gives constructive advice in a way where I think the contestants actually learn and improve.

  44. Al says:

    The voting is all wrong. It ‘s obvious that AI is pumping for vote numbers to attract sponsor bucks. Although those numbers would probably decrease dramatically, one should be able to vote someone OFF, not ON. Clearly, the teenage girls sway the vote…just spend a few moments and read their comments on the AI homepage forum – “Oh, I love his hair!”, or, “My parents are going to kill me when they see my texting bill this month, I voted 536 times for him – he’s SO cute!”, etc., etc. I used to vote, but gave up doing so when I realized that something like hair was the difference in a good performer from one that appealed to the teeny-bopper mentality. I really like “The Voice”, since I thought that was what it was all about.

  45. Jake says:

    I pray this is the last season of this crap fest. PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  46. Mary says:

    I watch AI for the contestants not the judges so I don’t care who sits there. That being said I personally do not want JLo, I don’t think she is good at that position and I cannot stand Will. If the contestants are like last year only a couple good ones, I will not be watching.

  47. Kristina says:

    Ick. Can we please euthanize this show? Way past time. Even as someone who generally hates reality TV, I can admit it was at least mildly entertaining at first. But come one, it’s 13 seasons and a huge decline in quality later. Time to let it go.

  48. Rosemary says:

    I’ll watch no matter who judges. It’s still the best show on tv.

  49. Louis Weiner says:

    Don’t sell the U.S. X Factor short. It appears that both Emblem 3 and Fifth Harmony could become quite successful. Both have huge followings and seeing that Simon has hit it big internationally with One Direction among others, he knows what he’s doing.

    As for Cassadee Pope, let’s see how her upcoming album does. The Voice winners wait way too long before releasing first albums.

    Love Idol but it needs a reboot. Hopefully new producers don’t screw it up.