American Idol: 10 Bold, Completely Original, Randy Jackson-Free Fixes to Revive Season 13

AMERICAN IDOL 2014Oh how I wish I could yell “April Fools!” But instead, I’m just yelling, “FOOL!”

Yes, folks, American Idol‘s new executive producer Per Blankens is seriously thinking about bringing back departing judge Randy Jackson to take over as Season 13 mentor, replacing Jimmy Iovine.

RELATED | American Idol Live!’ 2013 Concert Review: Highs, Lows and Headscratchers from Newark, N.J.!

The fact that Blankens thinks there’s an Idol fan on the planet who wants yet another year of “Yo, yo, yos” and “For me for yous” from TV’s human barnacle is a troublesome indicator that he’s as befuddled as a Kardashian sister faced with the question, “Would you like us to turn off the cameras?” I mean, at this rate, Fox and Fremantle media might’ve been better off hiring a blanket — yes, I mean a thick, rectangular piece of wool fabric — instead of Blankens. (At least the blanket wouldn’t have been able to utter the Avada Kedavra-esque, “Let’s get Randy’s agent on the line.”)

Anyhow, since the return of the Dawg — as well as Jennifer “Hi, baby!” Lopez — seems about as likely to reverse Idol‘s ratings slide as, say, trying out a Senior-Citizens Only season, I feel like we need to rally the Idoloonie Nation and suggest some real, actionable steps that Blankens & Co. can take to draw eyeballs back to The House That Kelly Clarkson Built. I know, I know…”real, actionable steps” is never going to win out over “quick, surface fixes,” but indulge me by clicking through these 10 slides anyway, won’t you? When you’re done reading, hit the comments with your own suggestions — as long as they don’t include, oh, getting Ellen DeGeneres back on the panel, too.

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. Debbie M says:

    The results show Idol alum concerts is an excellent idea!

    • Emma says:

      Agreed,Idol and its die hard fans are always bragging about being the only singing show to create stars, so why not showcase them!

  2. Adam says:

    These suggestions are all great – would definitely revitalize the show. Especially doing judge’s pick episode live, and the changes to the results show.

    • The Beach says:

      Yep, these are some great suggestions…good luck getting any of them implemented. It’s just going to be the same old same old. Oh, and welcome back J-Lo and Randy…ugh :-(

  3. allie says:

    Update the song list, get rid of any theme night that includes Burt Bacarach, do not rehire any former judges in any capacity unless it is Simon (or Keith), have 2 regular judges and 1 rotating judge that is a former Top 10 contestant, get rid of mentor role, have contestants that can actually sing, limit times people can vote to a total of 5… the list of possible improvements is endless but instead they bring back Randy and J-Lo? Ridiculous.

    • Angela says:

      have 2 regular judges and 1 rotating judge that is a former Top 10 contestant
      I quite like this idea. And I agree on the voting thing, too. Yeah. “Idol” REALLY needs to fix that. Way too much controversy with their voting over the years, it’s beyond ridiculous.

      • Emma says:

        Yes, limiting the voting is a must do.

        • JCK says:

          IMO Idol’s partnership with AT&T means they will never limit the voting, and also IMO it’s the one thing that would bring back the viewers. I stopped watching due to power voters advancing less worthy contestants. Looking at Lee DeWyze as a prime example.

    • Yo says:

      Like the rotating judge! And the voting rules! And the song list advice!

    • Jenny says:

      Good ideas. Like the idea of a rotating judge. That might help get rid of the obvious pimping of certain performers over others by having a rotating judge who only sees them that week. The voting one is the they need to deal with…but NEVER will.

  4. Karen says:

    Melinda Doolittle and Adam Lambert as mentors: uhhh…. YES PLEASE!!! They have both proven to be excellent observers and giving great usable criticism on Idology and Idol (s. 9) respectively. Stunning suggestion

  5. Scott says:

    You had to show Paige, didn’t you. (Sigh). Where are her coloring books now?

  6. noa says:

    hire Slezak to produce the show already!!

  7. barbls says:

    AI still doesn’t have a clue! Have already given up and not watching!! Not choosing Adam Lambert for the second time and choosing JLo once again shows they just don’t get it! JLo was so bad the first time around. She has no original thought or real interest in the contestants. Also she was a tool of the producers and made it the JLo show with all the commercials and promotions about her! And they get paid for being so clueless and not being innovative! Amazing!

    • Pattygale says:

      THIS!!!!!! Everything you say is right on.

      JLo = Useless unless promoting herself
      Adam = honest, funny, willing to take back seat to the contestant, witness duet with Angie!
      Melinda = just got reacquainted with her with you, Slezak, and like her a lot. Funny, snarky,
      outspoken, but kind.

  8. vigrim says:

    I agree w/ all of these suggestions. Love the original/undiscovered songs idea. Goodness Michael – why don’t these producers at least listen to you bloggers – if not the viewers! You’re the IDOL EXPERTS! Thanks.

  9. Angela says:

    I LOVE the “discuss themes with fans” idea! God, yes-with Twitter and Facebook and whatnot being what they are nowadays, how is this not already happening? If it means we might have a chance to see something other than the same 10 themes, I’m all for it. And I support Melinda and Adam being mentors, too.
    And agreed on the “bad” auditions-you summed it up perfectly: Because this nonsense stopped being amusing about six years ago. Truth.
    Right now I’m really not sure if I’m even going to watch next season, and if I do, I’ll be recording it and watching other things live instead. But man, if the show actually takes on any of your ideas, my interest will definitely come back.

  10. And let’s add “Hire Michael Slezak as an advisor to the producers” such smart suggestions!!

  11. Michael all good suggestions especially bring on Melinda and Adam Lambert as mentors these two actually have intense vocal training and would be candid, truthful, constructive and HELPFUL for the contestants. My pick for exec. producer would be Michael Slezak. You don’t have to be a genius to know what works and what hasn’t worked over the past 12 seasons. Simon was good but a bit too critical when it wasn’t necessary. Melinda and Adam would do what Simon did but with TACT. Unfortunately I think the show is doomed and of course these 3 judges will take the fall as the producers will blame them not themselves.

  12. Kate M. says:

    Strongly disagree with #6, but the other suggestions are spot on as usual. Why you want to live in a world where Candice Glover couldn’t sing “I (Who Have Nothing)” just because Jordin Sparks got there first, I will never understand. See also: no Joshua Ledet’s “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World,” nor Elise Testone’s “Whole Lotta Love.”

  13. Nick says:

    Sorry I disagree. I LOVE RANDY!!!

  14. Maggie says:

    More modern songs! That’s one thing I like about The Voice.

  15. xwiseguyx says:

    I love the idea of a Senior Citizen’s season…!

  16. Aprilcot says:

    Oh, Michael. Your suggestions always make me sad because they are SO GOOD and no one listens to you (or us)! It has to kill you that these fools are essentially running this show into the ground. Where can we start a petition to put you in charge?

  17. Jacob says:

    Where’s the “Share This With Idol EP” button? Because they need to see this. Stat. Great suggestions, Michael. I love the Judges Draft idea. Would really set the show apart and be pretty great TV.

  18. Michael, please tell me that you have a direct line to AI. Those suggestions are amazing!

  19. Jake says:

    I am looking forward to Randy’s mentoring where he can tell these kids that were born in the late 80’s or ’90’s that he toured with Journey….wha?

  20. Barbara C says:

    love all of your ideas, Adam and Melissa would be great mentors. Yes, fashion and hair help needed…gotta do something or “Kelly’s house” will be destroyed for good this year :(

  21. Sigh says:

    I was wondering what your reaction to the news of Randy possibly coming back was, and now I know, hahah, “anvil on my chest”, indeed, Michael, indeed.

  22. Mary says:

    Michael you do have some good suggestions, especially the round table. I think Randy might actually be good behind the scenes sorry, but I don’t mind rotating past contestants to come in and help them out and mentor them. I hate to inform you, but some of the fashions are in style, might not be your taste, but it is worn. I think it is a must the judges need to critique and not off what producers say, but it has been proven in the past that if you or others don’t like what they say, you chastised them. I actually think it might be a good ideal, I know it is crazy, but select a few audience members to sit on a panel each week and give their opinions. I actually like the show, but after 12 seasons, I don’t know if they can spice it enough keep people interested. They must have good contestants – pure and simple. ABSOULETY no guest appearances that cannot sing LIVE. Result night only 1/2 hour, or like you said a few alumni to fill in the spot. Make it entertaining.

    • Kariann Hart says:

      I agree…all guest appearances should be live. Many of the contestants sing way better than some of the Guest Artists who come on the show. I like the idea of Melinda and Adam being Guest Mentors!

  23. Kris says:

    They should put YOU in charge of AI, Michael! :)

  24. fromthegreyfort says:

    Aww Slezak you NAILED it! I can’t pick one favorite suggestion. They are all so good I can’t even pick a top three. And this is coming from a die-hard Glambert who only read the list because someone on twitter said there was an Adam mention.

  25. – I read that Diddy was a consideration but wouldn’t work with J.Lo, and I know people hate him but the guy would be really entertaining on the show. I think he has the credentials, and would be more insightful than J.Lo. I think the show needs at least 1 producer that knows what they’re doing and that will be honest no matter what.

    – I really think the show would benefit from the judges vote counting. People only need 1 vote per person, and make it count anywhere from 40-50% (and no more). The rest should go to the judges, otherwise why are they there?

    – Cut out the themed weeks. There are at least 2-3 weeks of absolutely boring TV because of the themes. I enjoy a good ballad every now and then, but when every contestant comes out and sings a slow, sad song it puts me to sleep. I like the idea of pairing contestants with judges to create teams and let them collaborate when choosing songs.

    – Bring back the guest judges. I used to love when idol would bring in a guy like Clive Davis to sit in with the judges. They should do that for the live shows and include former contestants, current singers (hopefully that can actually sing themselves), and producers, etc. Even if you have 1 mentor that works with them during the week, the guest judge can mix it up.

    – No more group numbers, I can’t remember the last one that was worth listening to. Also, reduce the results night to 30 minutes. Thats enough time for 1 performance by a current artist, and even 1 former contestant, then do the results.

  26. I actually really enjoy the draft idea.

  27. Pat says:

    Michael Slezak, I always love how you are so optimistic about AI, and you almost always have great suggestions to fix it — as do many AI fans. However, whether or not they bring Randy back as a mentor, I’m afraid this will be AI’s last season. Because of the simple fact that they are bringing back JLO as a judge. I use the term “judge” loosely. I mean doesn’t the term “judge” imply some impartiality? The way she “judged” Haley Reinhart was anything but impartial or objective. She should have been F2 if not the outright winner of that season. I know that I do not want to listen to another season of “ooh you give me the goosies!” JLO cares about one thing, and one thing only — JLO. She will not give a fair critique of anybody who is a threat to her in any way, whether or not the producers let the judges give their honest opinions. Whether it’s jealousy, or the fact that she perceives that if she’s honest it will hurt her own career, or likely it’s a combination of the two, we will be in for another season of insincerity, whether it’s overly positive or extremely negative. Whoever it is on Fox who decided that rehiring her is a good idea, well they should be shot (or at the very least have their head examined).

    Having said all that, if they then bring Randy back as a mentor? Well, what a disaster. Inarticulate, an inability to give harsh constructive criticism when needed, and another season of “for me for you dawg,” well no thanks. The biggest things that the AI producers can do to fix AI and make me want to watch this season: (1) Reverse the JLO decision and hire just about anybody else; (2) Do NOT bring Randy back in any capacity; (3) Fix the voting so that there is a finite number of votes per phone number or email address (five or less); (4) Stop trying to predetermine the winner and then convince America that’s who we should vote for; (5) Stop bringing a majority of contestants because of a back story meant to garner sympathy from viewers; and (6) Broaden the song choices for whatever categories each week.

  28. lyn says:

    Michael: Why don’t you ever deal with the unlimited voting issue? it’s the biggest problem.

  29. PFitzDC says:

    Love every idea–which makes me all the more depressed that they ain’t NEVER gonna happen… As you said, if the new producer is even THINKING about bringing Randy Jackson back, then there is no hope for bona fide fresh, rejuvenating ideas….

  30. Mark says:

    You missed the single most important improvement the show could make: Get rid of unlimited voting.

  31. I think Randy would make a great mentor, but if that means losing Jimmy, ithinknot, cuz he’s the best at his job, he gives it to the idols straight, and he’s always on point with his critiques, no sugar coating with Jimmy, he go hard, and that’s exactly what a mentor should do, I love Jimmy, do not get rid of him no just no!!!!!!

  32. Linda says:

    Great suggestions, Michael. Now if only the producers would read this and actually implement some of these changes. Sigh. Not gonna get my hopes up.
    P.S. “Human barnacle” = best description of Randy yet. Lol.

  33. Joe Strummer says:

    Why don’t they make Harry Connick a Mentor instead of Randy. He tore him a new one on the last show they were both on. Harry actually KNOWS what he’s talking about.

  34. Wendy L says:

    I won’t be watching the show anymore since they are bringing back the awful Jennifer Lopez – and Randy Jackson as a mentor!? Are these people that make decisions actually PAID?! Idolatry – you get all my attention – I feel free for the first time in years.

  35. Linda Hays says:

    I just don’t understand what JLO did that made them bring her back. Horrible decision.
    Keith is likable, but bringing back Randy as a mentor is ridiculous. So much for new stuff.
    AI had died and has come back with Zombies to haunt us.
    I am so glad Adam Lambert did not get a judging spot. He is way too good for that show.

  36. Tahoe Mike says:

    NO FRAKING RANDY OR J-HO, IN ANY CAPACITY! They are dead and gone, bury the memory forever and let us never speak of it again!
    SING THE WHOLE SONG. No more ninety second wonders!

  37. Name That Tune says:

    Man, the people who are running Idol these days are CLUELESS. What was the frickin’ point of all those changes in May if they just plan to rehash the past?

    I feel bad for you Michael, because you’ve invested a lot of your time and career in this show, but it is dead. There is absolutely no point to it anymore. And auditions are starting soon with J-Ho as a judge. What a disaster.

  38. CAM says:

    Great ideas! How can they be so stupid that they would even consider Randy? Anything you read about Idol anywhere is full of anti-Randy sentiment. Someone has also already commented correctly about JLo. the only reason she would be on again would be for shameless self-promotion. It’s all about her and how she looks and her ridiculous performances. UGH! PLEASE SAY IT A’INT SO!

  39. CAM says:

    Everyone here needs to write Per Blankens and tell him NO RANDY, NO JLO!! And send him a link to this article for real fixes! Messages could also be sent to his FB page or send him a tweet at @perblankens

  40. Emily says:

    They should bring David Cook in to teach them about song choice but especially song arrangements. His version of Billy Jean is still my favorite performance on AI.

    • trimaran12 says:

      Billy Jean was great but it wasn’t his arrangement. Great choice, though. Might was well bring back Kris Allen and Phillip Phillips to show how to search youtube for arrangements to copy.

      • Mel says:

        I will be happy if you share links to YT where Phillip copied his versions Movin’ Out, UGIB or Beggin’, but I agree that they should bring back Kris, David and Adam to teach beginners how to find interesting little-known covers.

        • trimaran12 says:

          No fault of the contestants, whether they create or find the arrangements. It adds variety to the show. I do get annoyed when the judges/producers and others go on and on about “originality” when often these arrangements are anything but.

          • Mel says:

            It should not irritate, this creates an element of surprise for the show and makes it interesting. At least for me, for I am not looking for just a good vocal, I want to found very creative person, whose music I would be interested to listen to after the show. And I don’t care who comes up with the songs and arrangements for him, but I understand that in today’s music business these skills give indisputable advantage to the artists and all the guys that are listed previously, these skills are, albeit in varying degrees.
            And my question: I really want to understand who made the arrangements for Phillip, I’m curious. I really want to listen to the original artist and maybe find there more interesting arrangements.

          • trimaran12 says:

            @ mel: I am irritated with judges when they don’t recognize the borrowed arrangments and praise the contestant’s originality. The judges should know better, based on either their knowledge or research. The contestants should do anything they think would show the kind of artist they want to be to the fans. I enjoy hearing the re-arrangements, regardless of who created them. However, please do not forget these contestants do not create these performances in a vacuum. Michael Orland and other various vocal coaches, the two bandleaders like Rickey Minor and Ray Chew, etc. Not to mention the other musicians, lighting and stage crew, and so on. The Phillip incident that comes to my mind is Volcano, which I quite enjoyed, by the way. I attempted to find the judges’ comments on that performance to confirm my memory of what happened but could not. But I rewatched the performance because I liked it so much. :) Anyway, I am glad you found an artist that you love on Idol (I personally have two former Idols that are among my favorite artists).

          • Angela says:

            @trimaran12: I get irritated at some of the music history the judges don’t know, too. I hear them talk about how they weren’t familiar with this artist or that artist and I think, “Really? Okay, I know who they are, and I’m younger than you!” One would think if you work in the music industry you’d have a lot more knowledge of the history and of a wide variety of genres and artists. But if it’s not top 40, or a notably classic artist, they don’t seem to be familiar with it. Very odd.

  41. Andi4sure says:

    American Idol, keep arranging those chairs on the deck of the Titanic!

  42. J says:

    Ever watch Sundays Best on BET? It’s awesome. You get a little back story and snippets of rehearsals and then you get to hear truly talented and passionate singers sing. And you freaking care about them even though they sing for oh maybe 1 MINUTE. It’s not filled with any fillers. It’s filled with pure talent. Every time I watch Sundays Best I think “now if only American Idol could do that.” Make it about the talented kids or however old the contestant is. Make it about them and their passion for singing. Nothing else.

  43. Jenny says:

    I wish when they got to around top five when they sing more than one song, the contestant sings all there ones in one segment. Sort of like a mini concert showing us what we might expect from one of their shows. I feel like we would see some if these contestants very differently if we had to watch them for say 10 minutes singing multiple songs.

  44. cgh says:

    Michael, please send a copy of this to AI producers.

  45. TVDIVA says:

    Michael you are soooo good at this you should be the producer. No guest performers unless they can sing live the night of the show. Let the contestants pick and sing their own choices when it is down to the final 4. Ban Randy Jackson from returning in ANY capacity. Bring on Melissa and Adam – two great people who have the sense to do the right thing with coaching and judging. Kill any desire for a song by Whitney Houston, Britney Spears – anything that has been done to death.

  46. trimaran12 says:

    Micheal, I really like most of your suggestions but power texting has ruined the show. Votes need to be limited somehow. Casual voters/viewers have finally learned that their handful of votes don’t make a difference anymore.
    And the number one suggestion: Cast Interesting Contestants! They will challenge each other and the cream will rise to the top, even if they don’t win.

  47. CathyM says:

    Personally would love Adam Lambert as a Judge, he is a product of Idol he understood how to play the game and he played it well. I would not mind if he became a mentor for the same reasons. I also think they should limit the voting, I like the system employed by DWTS……

  48. Honestly, all great great ideas, but you are sooooooo right about the stupid “bad” auditions. they were kind of funny for one or two years, but now they are unoriginal, embarrasing, and just…. bad.

  49. Chablis says:

    I don’t get the reason limiting votes because of AT&T connection. All other shows have mobile connections DWTS, XFactor, Voice and they limit. I don’t even think carriers bake money. So many people have unlimited texting.

    • HTGR says:

      ANd wouldn’t parents take away their kids cell phones after the first week they sent of 4,000 texts without having an unlimited plan?

  50. Lea H. says:

    Michael, you should really contact this Blankens guy with your ideas because if he is seriously bringing back JLo and Randy? (WTF) he either doesn’t really care about the show surviving or he is totally clueless on how to revive Idol.