Reality Check: Is American Idol Season 13 in Trouble? Plus: Defending 'Harsh Harry' and Questioning Randy Jackson's 'Mentoring'

Seacrest, we have a problem.

American Idol‘s Season 13 Top 12 performance night wasn’t exactly a memorable one — not for the right reasons, anyhow — and it’s causing even long-time fans of Fox’s reality singing competition to wonder if the rewards of viewership are worth the investment of every Wednesday and Thursday from now through late May.

RELATED | American Idol: What Should the Top 11 Sing for Movie Soundtrack Night?

On this week’s installment of Reality Check, my cohost Melinda Doolittle and I tackle this crisis and speculate that in-house mentor Randy Jackson might be more to blame than the show’s promising but under-performing contestants. We also shine a spotlight on Top 12 week’s MVPs, its Opposite-of-MVPs and the pink-haired rocker chick that Melinda and I are just gonna have to disagree about — for now, anyway. Plus, there’s a deep dive into the subject of “Harsh Harry” (Connick Jr.).

VIDEO | American Idol‘s Kristen O’Connor on Covering Adele and Kelly Clarkson, Not Playing Guitar, Surviving Group Rounds With Sam Woolf

Not only that, but we also check in on Week 2 of The Voice‘s sixth season — highlighting two vocalists who made a somewhat lackluster week worth watching.

So press play below for the full Reality Check experience, then hit the comments and share your thoughts about your Idol and Voice faves. And for all my reality TV news, interviews, ezxlusives and recaps, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!

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

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188 Comments
  1. Sad that I’m still loving your recaps way more than the show itself. (That sounds like a back-handed compliment – but I swear it isn’t.)

    • Kelly says:

      It’s so true though! I would have stopped watching AI years ago if it wasn’t for this recap that I LOVE. HCJ makes it worth it this season.

      • I agree, he is the star of the year. #keepingitreal

        • Emmy says:

          sorry, but after he said that this season is the most talented since the first he lost all credibility with me. That’s the opposite of keeping it real. Honestly, this season is the worst.

          • ben says:

            He didn’t exactly say that. What he said was he felt the contestants as a group had the most potential of any group ever, but that they hadn’t delivered on it.

          • My Alter Ego says:

            @ben — thank you for pointing out that difference, although I suspect it will be lost on those who need to hear it.
            ~
            He also prefaced his remark by saying “this might be an overstatement” — something else that has been conveniently left out.

    • jenna says:

      I only watch reality check…in previous years i used to watch my faves on the internet after but this year i have none…too many kids

    • Bonnie A. says:

      Right in there with the rest of you. I’ve told several friends I only watch Idol now so I can read & understand the critiques and comments on TV Line. Michael Slezak is such a good writer!
      And the comments from the readers are fun and entertaining, too.

      I didn’t think this week was as bad as some have but I do want them all to step it up and PERFORM.

      The one person that has become painful for me to watch is MK who just seems too nervous and then i don’t listen to her singing well. Hope this week is better for her, and she took Harry’s advice and practiced in front of a mirror and did the “difficult, hard” things for her. She has a lovely voice.

      Sam needs to look more comfortable on stage and move around or something, too. His voice is wonderful. Take some risks.

  2. Marcie says:

    Yeah, but sadder still that I can’t even muster enough interest to watch Reality Check.

  3. Flicker says:

    Unless something changes fast, my fear is that this season’s early successes in terms of the positive changes that were made to the show, will be thrown out with the bathwater.

    • Flicker says:

      Ps. Melinda, when you were saying “say something, Randy” in your commentary this week — I had this voice in my head of you singing Alex and Sierra’s styled “Say something, I’m giving up on you…” In fact, we should all make little clips of us singing that song about this season of Idol, and post them online :)

  4. donna says:

    imagine how this season would have looked if we had malcolm and that other wonderful black singer instead of two of the cowboys, and if we had austin wolfe instead of emily. for example. there was great talent int he top 30 but they picked the wrong people…

    • Jeremiah says:

      Maybe. But for all we know Malcolm and George might have choked as well. In fact, I liked Ben and Dexter’s Rush Week performances better than either of theirs.

    • syb says:

      I’m not so sure that’s true. Every season there are some who I believe don’t belong, and some who I can’t for the life of me understand why they were cut. This group seems relatively diverse in style and sound, and even the worst of them have at least flashes of good singing. I think it is a coaching problem, but I’m not sure the source of the problem is necessarily Randy entirely. I’m not so sure Randy spends that much time with them behind the scenes–how much time did Iovine and the guest mentors really ever spend? Have the other behind the scenes vocal coaches changed? Have there been changes in regard to rehearsals with the full band? Are they spending too much time on the gimmicky staging stuff and social media, and not enough on preparing? Are our expectations defined by shows like The Voice that is generally sprinkled with a lot more experienced stage performers? I don’t know but I get the sense that we have a bunch of amateurs afloat at sea, and we’re expecting them to win the America’s Cup in a dinghy.

      • My Alter Ego says:

        LOL, Syb, your last sentence is a fabulous summation of the situation. Poor kids!
        ~
        You pose a series of good questions that TPTB ought to be thinking about. In terms of the amount of time the mentors spend with the contestants, it’s true we really don’t know how much time “real mentors” have spent with contestants in past seasons.
        ~
        In the case of this group, the less time they spend with Randy is probably better, since what he’s seemed to offer (what we’ve seen on camera/through edits) has not seemed to be particularly useful.
        ~
        But again, I think your questions are really valid, and hopefully those who need to see them will see them.

      • Tom22 says:

        It would only be reading behind the scenes but it feel to me like many of my favorite idols really had a lot of good things to say about working with the musicians and Ray Chew, the music director in particular. Note, i didn’t say all idols but I said _my_ favorites. It might take a personality type/chemistry or a certain type of musical flexibilty and broader knack of things that allows that. I don’t know how many new members there are in the band but they might not have developed a working “six sense” for reading Ricky Minors mind in ways where they can pick up on suggestions that help both the singer and the final product of the performances pace and dramatic flow.
        .
        Then again, I could be all wrong! : ) Just a theory.
        .
        More than anything, I agree with both of you. I think the talent is there… and I like the song choices pretty much but the whole performances don’t quite come together as if there is a tentativeness of the singer not exactly knowing what will come next (and really, those mics must be causing some problem because these singers weren’t off pitch acapella unless the auditions were autotuned post production.

        • Tom22 says:

          I meant the _ear_ mics. Does anyone know if they’ve had the same number of pracitices ..
          and OH…
          OH OH…
          . is it true they are not doing professional recordings before the show? That push to get the songs recorded perfectly before dress rehearshals and the absolute need for professional advisors (i.e. iovonines crew.. who’s got real $ on the line for extra sales) could be a HUGE difference in polish by show time!
          . it it true?

          • My Alter Ego says:

            You mean “in ear monitors” ?? That’s a real possibility — it could also be how it’s being mixed.
            ~
            Hmmm .. I wonder … Years ago, I was part of a band. I played a bit and provided back up vocals. The rest of the group would consistently turn to our sound guy to “turn me up” because I sang softly. He’d turn “me” up and then in “my monitor,” I would hear only me, and I’d sing softer. It wasn’t until we all started talking that the balance we all needed was found.
            ~
            There could be some similar difficulties going on for the contestants — I would hope not, but I suppose it’s possible.

          • Jeremiah says:

            I hadn’t thought about it, but you make a good point. The lack of studio recordings so far this season may very well be a reason for why the contestants haven’t been as prepared.

          • Tom22 says:

            funny and warm annecdote there MAE !

        • My Alter Ego says:

          Tom, it’s not a mic causing intonation problems.

          • Tom22 says:

            yeah .. lol I”m not sure what I was meaning by calling them ear mics.. I think it was the cordless aspect of them and some how I don’t think of “headphones” as something you use to hear yourself with ! : ) .. “the thing they put in their ears so they can hear what the mics are picking up and broadcasting….

            … But (again admitting my stupidity with the language)
            … say that the feed they were getting on those little wireless ear dojangles was not letting them actually hear what was coming out the speakers….if there was some sort of noise compression by the wireless thing that took the sound up 1/10th of s step or something?

            Again.. I don’t know how they work, and I’m pulling at straws.. but I think there is a straw than needs to be pulled somewhere with the right answer written on it.

          • Emma says:

            My understanding of the ear dojangles is that they are used by production for the sole purpose of messing up the contestants that they wish to eliminate from the competition. hahah

  5. Ron says:

    It’s just Reality Check for me this week. I did watch The Voice, but couldn’t bring myself to watch Idol (I saw clips of like 2 or 3 performances, and that was it). This group of singers are so consistently underwhelming that it’s not worth my time. I think I have yet to see an “A” performance. It seems like it’s always “B” “C” and “D” performances. Even 2 of my favorites (and at this point I’m using “favorite” loosely) have yet to wow me. I don’t think I’d say they’re outright horrible on the whole (that honor goes to last year, with the exceptions of Candice and Kree); they’re just mediocre and forgettable. I have other things to do/watch during its timeslot, so I may be done for the season.

  6. kiteplayer3 says:

    This is the worst season.

    • Zack Quinti says:

      I am starting to gree with you, which is wierd because I thought it was going to be one of the best before the live shows. How did this happen? (Yes Randy is the easy answer, but was that old justin bieber guy real that helpfull? Maybe so.)

  7. goingdownwiththeAIship says:

    When I saw the top 13 I knew I would not last the season after coming back and watching the last two seasons. None of these singers really blew me away with Majesty Rose clearly being the best. I thought the “lack of diversity” would hurt and I was right. Everyone tries to sing “safe” but no one has the charisma to be a great performer.

    • zaza says:

      Yes, it does seem that the judges are going with the “safe” picks when they whittle down the contestants, with leaves us with a very boring selection of singers. Not one quirky or dynamic one in the bunch.

      • ben says:

        I understand a lot of criticisms of this season. But I cannot understand a criticism of a lack of diversity or a suggestion that there isn’t a ‘quirky or dynamic one in the bunch’. I couldn’t disagree more. I think this is probably the most diverse group they have had, and I’d say at least 6 of them are quite different from anything thats been on idol before. As for not quirky or dynamic, I mean Malaya is example A.

        If thats the criticism, I think its way off base. I think the only genuine criticisms which can be levelled at this season is that the singers aren’t actually performing that well, and that Randy isn’t adding anything.

        I also find it difficult to see a season in crisis when the ratings have hung steady – as opposed to last year, a season where I definitely felt there was a huge lack of diversity, and a lack of quirky and dynamic individuals, and the ratings fell through the floor.

        • Name This Tune says:

          The ratings are down. 12 million viewers last year vs 10 million – on Wednesday. 9.5 million on Thursday .
          That’s still putting Idol at the top of its time slot on Wednesday, but the show is getting killed on Thursday. Fox is moving it back an hour, but it is going to have trouble beating the comedies on CBS and Greys on ABC. And frankly I see no reason to interrupt my regularly scheduled programming on Thursday for results. Just check in here at the appropriate time or watch the 3 minutes of highlights on Daily Motion.

          • Ben says:

            Yeah, well I’ve never watched the results show. I think taking it back to half an hour is a good idea.

        • tealeaves says:

          Ben I agree there is a lot of diversity this season! I don’t understand the complaint that it is not diverse.

  8. kiteplayer3 says:

    What is the right formula to be like Kelly Clarkson or Carrie Underwood? There is nobody in this season that can be like them.

    • MAB says:

      If I remember correctly many complained about Carrie being boring and wooden during her season and now you are measuring the contestants to her standards.
      I think we need to give this group a chance. It has only been two live shows and everyone is already ready to flush this whole season down the drain. Give them a chance. There are a few really talented kids in this group.

      • Angie_Overrated says:

        There were some vocal naysayers the last several years, but I’ve never seen the tide of discontent this overwhelming. I think we’re past the point where we can possibly give AI season 13 a chance. This season is dead, dead, dead. If I were the producer, I’d give up entirely on this season and start figuring out what went wrong (i.e., Randy) and look towards improvements for the next season.

        • MAB says:

          I totally disagree with you. You have been knocking this season since before the live shows and according to you you stopped watching. If you stopped watching why are you continuing to critique the singers. Last year several of my friends stopped watching because it was that bad and it was not only because of the judges. So no this is still not the most discontent season. Besides I have been on other sites on the internet that are not as negative as this one. Are they great. No, but I am willing to give these kids a chance. If you are not, can you please stop trying to convince everyone on this blog to throw in the towel on this season. It is getting so annoying that I don’t even want to post anymore because I know I am going to get a response from you about how awful this season is and we should pull the plug.

          • Angie_Overrated says:

            I have stopped watching. I watch the replays on here, and they’re awful. But what you’re ignoring here is look at the ratings. Lots of people agree with me, and not just on this board. We’re talking about double-digit declines in viewership from last year’s “cataclysmic” season.

        • tealeaves says:

          “There were some vocal naysayers the last several years, but I’ve never seen the tide of discontent this overwhelming. ”
          I completely disagree with that statement. I see a lot of nay-saying from people who say last year was a great season. That would not be a majority of people. I am also seeing a lot of people comparing Top 12 week of this season to the best performances of other seasons. It it not an apples to apples comparison. There are many extremely talented contestants this year. There are a few who can go in these early rounds and so far they have been going in a reasonable order.

          • Angie_Overrated says:

            Again, I point to the ratings. The ratings don’t lie. More people agree with me than with you. If this was as talented of a group as you believe it is, the show would not be shedding viewers at this alarming of a clip.

          • Mark says:

            actually, the ratings are flat. They are down 20% from last year, but week to week they are holding steady. The 10 million people still watching are not going away, despite the lackluster live shows.

          • MAB says:

            Idol is not just down with the ratings but The Voice is also down. I think people are just getting burned out on these singing competitions. I know I have been more bored with both shows. We can blame that the talent just is not as good but honestly I think it is over saturation. Especially with The Voice. On two seasons a year is just too much.

          • Angie_Overrated says:

            Dunno about that Mark. Look at the ratings figures. We premiered at 15 million, and there’s been a steady and ugly decline to below 10 million. We may have flatlined here, but only time will tell.
            And MAB, on that point we can agree. The talent is picked over for all the shows at this point, and we are getting some genre fatigue. I also agree two seasons of the Voice per year is too much. But given the ratings it gets and the relatively inexpensive format, I don’t expect them to pare that back anytime soon.

          • MAB says:

            Happy we can agree on something. LOL

          • Angie_Overrated says:

            MAB, you knew it had to happen at some point. :) I apologize if you think I’ve been harassing you. We may disagree, but I’ll try a bit harder to be more respectful about it.

          • MAB says:

            I never thought you were harassing me. I just think we are both passionate about what we believe. I love Idol and it is killing me that this season has not turned out the way I hoped. The judges are really great, even JLO has stepped up but it still is not pulling in the viewers. I think so many people have given up on it and just will not give it another try. The thing that hurt more than the contestants is some of the mean things that happened. The airplane hanger and the kids who sat for two hours and were not given a chance to sing. As far as the contestants I really want to wait until I declared them awful. I want to give them a chance and I just feel so many are willing to throw in the towel on them and they deserve a little time. One thing I agree with everyone about is that they have to raise the age. It is very rare that a 15 or 16 year old is going to be spectacular. They are just too green. I really do think that is one of the things that destroyed XFactor.

          • Angie_Overrated says:

            Totally, MAB. I love(d) Idol too. It used to be the highlight of my week, and now my world is shattered that I can’t find any joy in the current season. The judges are perfect this year, particularly Harry Connick Jr, and the production is much slicker with a better pace. It just doesn’t have the talent it has had in past seasons. I’ve always been able to find someone to root for every season, and this season after Paula Hunt disappeared, I found myself scratching my head during Rush Week asking “what… the… hell?!” The groundwork is there for an awesome season 14. I haven’t given up hope on next year.

          • MAB says:

            Angie_Overrated. Don’t throw in the towel yet on this season. I really think Majesty Rose may be one of the highlights. Also some of the others may come out of their shell. I remember in season 5 when Daughtry got voted off, I was never going to watch the show again and I really did not have another favorite after that. I really did not like Taylor Hicks and Katherine McPhee was just okay to me but I still enjoyed the show. Season 10 my favorite was Haley and when she did not at least come in second I was so upset. I barely watched the finale. Last year I hated the show. I thought there was some good talent with the girls but I did find them boring. A couple of the performances, mostly from Candice moved me but as a whole I thought the season stunk but I kept watching because as I said it is my favorite show. You and I like different music and that’s okay. I like a performance to be the full package not just technical singing. The only one I felt who knew how to entertain was Janele but I was not wild about her type of music which is basically country. I really liked all the girls and felt they were all good but I just felt it was too many ballads and everyone just standing there in one spot singing. Candice even did that when she performed a couple of weeks ago and she received no big sales boost from being on Idol. On the other hand Phillip who sang last week jumped up the iTunes charts because he entertained and made you feel good. He was fun. That is what I look for in a performer. Hopefully we will see some better performances this year. I am really hoping they bring it this week and will be really disappointed if they don’t but I probably will continue to watch until the show gets cancelled. I will never feel the same about The Voice. I enjoy it but if I have to choose it would always be Idol. Either I am loyal or just plain stupid.

          • Angie_Overrated says:

            Majesty’s a talented girl, but she hasn’t given me any performance that has blown me away. The best singer of the finalists we saw during Rush Week was probably Jena, and I hear she’s renting out a vacation home in the bottom 3. Figures. I’ll youtube the videos and see if there’s a reason to come back, but I still need to do a marathon viewing of True Detective, and 2 different singing show competitions for 6 total hours of reality tv are going to interfere with that! It sounds like we like very different taste in singers as I thought PP was painful and still do. Dude has a range of 6 notes. He sings those 6 notes incredibly well, but I kind of prefer my singers to have 16 or more to choose from.

  9. Tommyo2000 says:

    Unfortunately the did a bad job filling out the last slots. Based on previous tryouts Brianna Oakley should have been given a shot over Kristin or Emily. Both were so bad its no wonder they went out 13 &12. Why even put someone in like that? Brianna, even though she maybe had a bad week, would have had a shot to recover and possibly be a dark horse type … Those other two girls didnt… Same thing with Malaya. She has a personality, so you hope the performance aspect could catcth up, but she has no control over her voice yet ,and is 2-3 years away … I am not as down on the entire season though. Last week was a dull week it reminded me of watching last year, but one dull week doesnt make a season … everybody was raggin Haley in the first few weeks, and bitching about season 11 in the first few weeks and then it turned … trying to be hopeful here

  10. u says:

    forget about idol… it’s terrible. and please do more coverage of the voice which is so much better and fun to watch… 3 minutes at the end of a 15 minute long reality check is too little… and obviously unfair.

    • u says:

      sorry… not even 3 minutes… one and a half minutes of the voice.

    • Angie_Overrated says:

      Once it gets to the finalists, I’m sure more time will be spent talking about the Voice. Having watched every Voice episode, there are some exciting vocalists this season, but there’s isn’t a whole lot to say yet.

    • Matrix says:

      Yes. Pls more voice coverage. Should be at least 1/3 of the video if not more!

  11. Name That Tune says:

    Randy jackson—–10 million dollars
    Ryan Secrest——-15 million dollars
    Jennifer Lopez——17.5 million dollars
    Keith Urban———-5 million dollars
    Harry Connick Jr—-5 million dollars
    This is a show that is desparately trying to cling to viewers. We have Randy and Ryan, who represent Idol under the old producers. And Harry, who represents Idol under the new producers. Am I the only one who thinks that maybe Ryan and Randy are not all that invested in seeing the new team succeed?
    I say fire them both and let’s start over.

    • Cogamimaje says:

      Fire seacrest and this is REALLY OVER.

      RANDY FREAKING JACKSON IS THE PROBLEM. MENTOR MY ASS! I';; take Jimmy over him any single day 24/7.

      • Name This Tune says:

        You know, The Voice found Carson Daly. At a mere 40,000 dollars per episode. The show is not about Ryan Secrest. It’s about the talent.
        Idol is paying 53 million dollars in salary to 5 people. Two of them contribute nothing to the show and could be replaced.
        The show is losing revenue and they are still paying Nigel and Ken. It’s time to cut the fat.

      • Timmah says:

        I’d pay Randy 10 million not to show up.

        • Angie_Overrated says:

          HA!

        • gdv says:

          Seriously! Who the heck decided keeping Randy was a good idea? FIRE HIM. I really miss the guest mentors. Some were lame—or didn’t get much time with contestants—but others (Andrew Lloyd Weber comes to mind) really knew their stuff, and had spot-on critiques, especially with song choice.

    • MAB says:

      Why do they justify giving Jennifer over three times the salary that Harry and Keith get. No wonder Idol is losing money. 10 million for Randy is just wrong. I think Ryan is great but 15 million. Come on.

      • Name This Tune says:

        It seems that to get a big name female on the panel, you have to pay a certain amount. Mariah Carey has been quite vocal about what she was paid and has said she would not done Idol for less than 12 million dollars. And 12 to 15 million is what XTina and Shakira get on The Voice (the guys get 6 million). Paula Abdul was cheap.
        But I think we can agree that there are women available who would bring as a much or more for far less money.

      • They should have just hired Jennifer Hudson and given all the judges 5 million. Not that J-Lo has been a bad judge this year, she’s actually been great.

      • The Other Leah says:

        I don’t understand what’s so great about Jlo that she needs 17.5m. She’s definitely not worth it.
        I wouldn’t mind another Kara, to be honest. Someone who knows more about music at least.

    • Tarc says:

      Randy is worth precisely ZERO dollars, and JLo should take the same as the guys or she should be replaced. Seriously, the cash bloat is insane.

    • The Beach says:

      Wow…Randy Jackson gets $10 million for doing absolutely nothing? Amazing!

    • Amy says:

      I’m shocked JLo makes the most. Wtf? makes her have the “MEGA”star power to get that kind of $? Because everyone thinks she’s pretty? I seriously don’t get it, and myself….I think Ryan deserves the highest pay. Wow. Randy (who I don’t hate like everyone, but I do understand the criticisms of him) making 10 mil! (no wonder he held on for dear life)….he could care less how he’s made fun of…all the way to his little bank. Amazing. Bottom line is they’re all grossly over-paid, if you really think about it. That said…I think Ryan’s an asset, Keith deserves more, JLo I don’t get, and Harry’s the new guy, so I can see him starting lower.
      The show itself this year…love the new production. Underwhelmed by most of the contestants and the overall bunch of scruffy-looking “average joe’s” they’re over-promoting. I love country music but that “Ahm straaayght off the farrrrm, Amerrrrrica”, good ole boy stuff, on Idol is old.
      Sam’s still my favorite vocalist, by far…but is suffering from deer-in-the headlights shyness and no performing connection with the audience. (Like Keith…I’m still chomping at the bit to buy an album of his, because his singing always makes me want to hear more and have it on my iPod.) Magesty Rose is the strongest so far…star-quality, performances, though her vocals are on and off. Caleb’s been strong in terms of “who he is” as a performer. The rest eh.
      I still tune in to Idol and enjoy it, but Season 7 remains Idol’s apex for me with standout talent and best vocals.

  12. Kate says:

    Jason Averett, are you OK? Do you need a hug, or to be unlocked from a closet or something? Where is your flavor???

    • Scott says:

      This, this a thousand times this!!!!!!! Where is he?

      • Leticia Prado says:

        I miss Jason a lot, but because they are covering 2 shows, we wont get him for a long time.
        Dear Tvline, please note that half the message board has been about voice x idol. Let us not have that next year, it is annoying. Make two separate shows and bring Jason back.
        Melinda and Michael are great at what they do, but the comedy behind Jason’s inserts and subtitles are part if what sets this recaps apart.

  13. Rachel says:

    This show is way past it’s prime. They need to cancel this wreck and stop bringing it back. It’s done, time to move on.

    • Zack Quinti says:

      still finished in the top 5, and is cheaper then a drama series.

    • I have to agree with you on this. No longer holding my attention. It seems I only watch the 2nd night to see who goes and they give you a brief look at their song from the night before. 3 hours is just too much for me.

      • Rachel says:

        It’s boring and I am sorry the judges have not chemistry and whomever said Ryan Seacrest is a good host should have their head examined..IMO he is one of the most over-rated and annoying television personalities ever.

        • Stormy says:

          I couldn’t disagree more. Ryan is the benchmark for hosts. No other MC comes near his level of poise, charm and approachability.

          • My Alter Ego says:

            Stormy, I agree with you completely. I remember how well he dealt with “Charlie’s” meltdown last year and he has shown extraordinary aplomb with a variety of emotional situations. During AI auditions, he’s been decked (unintentionally) and hoisted up and thrown over people’s shoulders. And, still he’s there every year. In truth, he’s probably worth his weight in gold.

          • Mark says:

            Ryan used to be one of the things I hated most about the show. But in the last few seasons his presence has ceased to be a point of irritation for me. I think the instant when he turned it around, for me was when Simon left. Their pointless homoerotic barbs toward one another and Ryan’s incessant need to justify his salary by sparring with Simon were major reasons that I had a hard time watching the show. But once Simon left and Ryan assumed the role host rather than comedian, his performance became much more tolerable.

          • Tom22 says:

            Ryan is the ultimate pro. I was getting a little tired of his hyberbole about the ‘best’ ever an “most votes ever” stuff for a season or two.. but that probably had more to do with Randy taking his steam away.. that is Ryan’s job but randy did such a bad job at it hearing it again from Ryan just got cloying. I also really appreciate that he’s switched from “who gets sent home” to “who did america want to keep”. Sublte but very important to me. I’m not sure what the evolution of that was over the years. Whatever he was doing in season 6 might have been the same by season 10 and 11 but maybe because it felt he was trying to force it too much. Idol was a phenomomon in seaon 4,5 , 6 and 7 after Kelly then Carrie were really superstars and the show’s reputation had spread to the point of a major pop culture event.

            As huge as it was, there was still a sense of optimism and hope behind Ryans pizazz then… as if he were honestly wowed himself by the sucess and his stage persona was legitimately backed by a personal honest awe about the event.

            As he perhaps became less personally in awe.. and being a inside business person with his own private production companies and shows (he is very big beyond idol, in his own right now… read up on it) that he was pushing too hard…

            We humans can read fear and lies and even if the same words are used and no matter how good an actor there are going to be subtle signs. Thats why you have Juries assessing the veractity of peoples statements at trials. Body language and word choice and so many things give tells when people are faking it.

            At some point in the last few years I started to feel that Ryan was no longer buying his own statements.

            He’s adjusted to saying very positive things that he does 100% believe in.. his job is to create excitement but he can choose words that he believes are true to create that excitement and come off far easier for me to hear.

          • Amy says:

            I totally agree Stormy, and find myself rewinding to watch Ryan this season…just to marvel at well he does what he does. He’s never looked better(he does have a line of clothing coming to Macy’s soon, hence the hip, well-fitting suits), polished or been more upbeat and smoothe. I agree with all the rest of the comments here on this too…good points made by all My Alter Ego, Mark & Tom22. Love also that now there seems to be comradarie (whether well-acted or real) vs. the tension that used to be between he and Simon…that was always awkward, and I never could tell if it was supposed to be funny. It was awful.

          • Amy says:

            oops left out a word on the last post… that’s “marvel at how well he does what he does.”

          • marie says:

            Actually, Nick Lachey on The Sing-Off (a/k/a “The best reality singing competition on television that TVLine doesn’t cover” – yes, I’ve said that before, but it bears repeating!) is just as good at his job as Ryan is at his. They’re both terrific.

  14. Joe says:

    I’m still part of an invited group that polls fans of reality TV & Idol online for comments and critiques. I’m fairly certain everything that is said in this survey goes straight back to the producers as I’ve seen suggestions come to life. What they are focusing on the past 2 weeks is grading the judges. It’s clear to me they are trying to wrap their heads around whether Harry and the refreshing honest judging is working with the core audience or turning us off. I’ve been very vocal that Harry is the best thing on the show right now. While the contestants are not good with the exception of Majesty and maybe Alex if he can stop himself from doing reggae, I think the show is rediscovering itself through Harry’s critique. I also think they are really trying to determine if J. Lo is worth 15 million a season. I believe that’s why she’s actually trying to judge this year because what she had done in previous seasons isn’t worth that kind of money. I don’t think she draws in viewers. It’s just interesting that they are polling on judges more than the contestants. It really makes me think they don’t get it. If you put 15 great singers through who can nail their songs week after week and you’re devastated to see them go, you have a show. The only thing keeping me tuning in is how refreshing it is to see someone like Harry be honest with these dreamers. You don’t see that on Idol usually and you certainly don’t see it on The Voice. He’s the best reality singing judge working right now hands down.

    • Name This Tune says:

      You hit the nail on the head. It is an entertainment show. Right now I am not being entertained by 16, 17, & 18 year olds who don’t know what they are doing. I’m feeling more entertained by the singers on The Voice – even on an off week.
      It’s crunch time fellas. I am not willing to invest 6 hours a week on these things. And right now Idol is losing the race .

      • zaza says:

        You are sooo right. If they don’t give us singers we can root for (because of their good singing, NOT their back stories), they we will tune out. That’s what happened for me last year. I prefer quirky girl singers (not balladeers) and alternative-rock guy singers. Not seeing anyone this year that I really am excited about.

    • Julia says:

      Totally agree. I get those polls, too. I’m only watching Idol occasionally to see the judges. Boring teenage singers don’t do it for me.

    • Angie_Overrated says:

      Wow, thanks Joe for representing. You’re dead on in your take, and I hope enough of the folks in the survey are relaying similar information because I agree with everything you just said.

      • Joe says:

        Angie Overrated – I always get nervous that the other people in the poll are the “Harry’s too mean”, “More Randy!” types. I do believe they exist if you read these forums enough. That said, I think there’s enough people with real sense participating as I’ve seen many of the suggestions I’ve made come to fruition over the past few years.

        • Angie_Overrated says:

          Harry is the greatest judge Idol has ever had, but I fear he’s not actually the right man for the franchise. I, like Harry, view the show as a singing competition, but we’ve seen time and time again that it’s a popularity contest more so that a singing contest. I hope I’m wrong on that front because he’s amazing, but I don’t think I am.

          • DonB says:

            Angie,

            I think most people see it as a performance contest.

          • Angie_Overrated says:

            Maybe, Don, but that doesn’t explain why the most talented singer rarely wins. Last year was one of the few times that arguably the most talented won. Phil Philips was clearly inferior vocally to Jessica Sanchez, Elise Testone, Joshua Ledet, etc and Scotty McCreery was clearly vocally inferior to Haley Reinhart and the list goes on. Look at Ms. Doolittle! Sometimes the most talented wins, but it’s more the exception rather than the rule. And by “most talented” I’m referring specifically to vocal chops, not presentation or other intangible factors. I’m not slamming PP or McCreery as I know people do love them, but if Idol was a singing competition in the way I was using the term, neither would have won.

          • tealeaves says:

            Phil Phillips is seriously underrated as a singer. He has a very nice voice and style of singing.

    • I think the producers SHOULD be asking about the judges/mentors instead of the contestants. The live show contestants shouldn’t be hand-selected by Per Blenkens, they should be hand-selected by the judges, and he should have no input as to who stays and who goes. If the judges pick a bad crop of contestants, then at that point they should consider hiring new judges or waiting to see if they’ll do better. The apparent lack of contestant manipulation this year has been really refreshing.

      • Joe says:

        Matthew – I see your point, but the failure in the show this season is the contestants. I don’t believe for one second that J. Lo, Keith & Harry picked these kids. I think they were cast by Producers and I think the casting went awry. The disconnect from what we saw in Hollywood week performances and the live shows is the biggest we’ve ever seen on any show. It’s Jeckyl and Hyde almost across the board. That’s not the judges fault. It’s the fault of a show that thinks America only wants to see very green children sing karaoke in the search for a new superstar. They’re reaping what they sowed this season. Inexperience/deer in the headlights isn’t refreshing, it’s boring TV. The only thing worth watching is Harry being honest and frankly J. Lo trying to keep pace so she doesn’t look like some retro Paula Abdul Pollyanna. There’s not a star in this group of contestants unless something shocking happens. I’d pull Iraheta out of the background singers and let her compete. She’d wipe the floor with this group. Idol should take a year off from finding America’s next superstar and do an all star season since the majority of the former contestants would kill for a cash prize/record label deal for a year.

        • Angie_Overrated says:

          Rarely, if ever, do I agree with every point made in a longer post, and this is one of those rare exceptions. Thanks, Joe. I wasn’t aware that it was the producers who picked these contestants though. If so, then we definitely have a problem. I simply assumed the talent pool was weak. That’s a very easy problem to fix for next year though, which is good news.

        • Lynn says:

          It’s not the “green children singing karaoke” that’s the problem. It’s the shoe-ins for the top 5 that are underperforming. The producers always stack the odds for their favorites, see last year for a good example. When you have experienced performers (half of the remaining 11 are not “green” by any stretch of the imagination) announcing songs from their set lists and then giving mediocre, if not terrible, performances, viewers are going to tune out. I totally agree that the judges have little choice in who ends up in the top 13. I think the producers just messed up on their hand-picked favorites this year. I can’t see any of them having any success in the music or entertainment industry.

    • Bonnie A. says:

      Great post!

    • marie says:

      “He’s the best reality singing judge working right now hands down.” Yes, Harry is terrific. But I’d say he’s one of the two best current reality singing judges, the other being Ben Folds on The Sing-Off. If you like Harry, give Sing-Off a try the next time it’s on; it’s terrific, and Folds is, like Connick, a true musician with plenty of constructive advice for the contestants.

  15. kcostell says:

    When Melinda’s commenting on Emily’s performance and lack of mentoring, I’m picturing her singing to Randy

    “Say something I’m giving up on you!”

  16. I had high hopes for this season. They’d lost me for a while–I couldn’t take the lack of serious criticism, the boring staleness of judges like Randy and the mediocrity of the contestants. I really respect what Harry Connick Jr is bringing to the table and I enjoyed the first audition round. I then didn’t watch until the top 13 and I couldn’t believe my eyes or ears. What a dismal group. Nobody deserves to be there. It’s an unmitigated disaster.

  17. James says:

    Unless CJ goes nuts this week he better be in the bottom 3. Jena being in the bottom 3 is bogus.

  18. Huntyr says:

    I’m assuming that they’re giving Randy airtime to attempt to justify his ridiculous salary. Take a lesson from the NFL – cut the dead weight, pay him if his contract says you have to, but get him off the TV and get Jimmy or some Ex-Idol’ers back mentoring.

  19. Norda says:

    I agree nobody from The Voice stands out at all. That one lady they pointed out, the bigvoiced power belter was over the top and shrill. I do think certain Idol contestants are some of the best we’ve seen. Love Jessica, Alex, and Majesty.

  20. marie says:

    I’m not ready to give up on Idol yet. As Melinda says, these contestants can sing (for the most part). It seems simplistic to blame the problems entirely on Randy, although obviously he’s not helping. But with so many improvements on the show, it’s disappointing that the contestants aren’t also improving rather than faLling flat. I’ll still watch, though, and hope.

    • Mark says:

      This group doesn’t lack talent–what most of them lack is charisma (with the exception of Malaya, but her issues would take up an entire paragraph). Unfortunately, talent and charisma are two things that no amount of coaching can fix. So far, only Caleb seems to have equal amounts of talent and stage presence. Since the rest of this group is unlikely to produce a dynamic performer, the focus for the remainder of the season should be on the talent. Pick songs that these kids can sing and sound great. Forget about moving around the stage and being a showman. Be a singer. Sing good songs that emphasize their strengths.

      • deedee says:

        Majesty Rose has loads of both charisma and talent, plus she’s fresh and current-sounding. Caleb is great, but a total tribute band frontman.

    • deedee says:

      I’m so not into it, I even forgot to check out Michael’s recaps last week! And only today remembered to watch “Reality Check”! :-O This is TERRIBLE!
      .
      Not liking Uncle PB at all — in fact, I hate calling him Uncle PB because it sounds too cute and forgiving. He’s made some annoying and unnecessary changes which take away from the enjoyment of the show for me :-(. The facebook updates, the constant split screens, the tendency to fill in every nook and cranny of screen time with useless talk, the stage setup!!! What is that small round sem-finals-level stage? Ughh, everything is irritating me about Per Blankens’ vision.
      .
      Yes, I know I’ve ranted about this before, but it makes me feel better, ok?! My show has been abducted! I miss American Idol! :'(

  21. zaza says:

    The thing that really bugs me about this crop of contestants is their lack of commitment. None of them seem to feel their songs and nothing about the story of the songs are being expressed through their eyes, faces or body language. Don’t just sing the song…tell the story! Stop looking bored or frightened. Caleb, for sure, acts out his songs, but it is just an act. He’s like a little boy playing at being a glam-rocker; I don’t believe him at all.

    • Tom22 says:

      I’m with you (and harry and Keith and j lo) about hope for more in the future “lack of commitment” .. in terms of a “all in commitment to delivering a message as if the truth became crystal clear in a matter of inspiration(or an angel in your ear etc) and a real urgent desire.. to explain this complex thing you find so remarkable to the audience…share these sublime and timeless thoughts of analogies that explain something complex about the human condition….
      .
      … however.. I’m not with Harry or Micheal or Melinda and many readers I’m sure, about what some of these songs “mean”.. “waiting for the world to change ” is a very optimistic thing for me. To me, that conveys and optimism and a certainty that destiny is on our side and the world will change.. just like the bus will come . To me, the statement “The world is going to change” is far more negative. The most important reason is that it isnt’ about those special human traits of “hope” and “dreams” and “faith that good will prevail”. “Waiting” conveys all those human positives (maybe I’m a Captain Kirk vs Spock.. 70’s perspective on what it means to be human) “The world is going to change” is far more negative to me stated as a fact. As a fact, it seems to dwell equally on “the world is bad now” and the future aspect seems to be “about time” rather than “destiny is on our side”.
      .
      But, maybe that’s just a matter of thinking … and a realist (on the fact side) vs a cornucopian perspective (time is on our-side).
      .
      It is more than that.. and .. really such things that are far beyond words are what songs are about…they’re analogies and strings of images of profound things masquerading behind lyrics.. which can sometimes often mean the opposite (its not you, its me .. or “not that I feel that you’re letting me down but” )… but even if not the opposite literally, musing about beauty when singing about loss is about the beauty, not the loss to me. Really again.. if things like this were clear to say we wouldn’t need songs.
      .
      Also.. people are different. I think Harry Connick really struggles when a message to a song means far more than what the words themselves say.
      .
      His renditions of the national anthem show, that he seems uncomfortable with the allegories of a flag being something that gives us hope and resolve and that the song is about a tenacious willingness to endure hardship for an ideal of freedom, with the words like brave…making it an individual resolve bearing a particularly american notion of the individual… and the whole song speaks to our mythic ideal that the underdog will prevail. Even if the specifics are different for each person, I would expect that people would be thinking, not of some revolutionary guy in a trench.. but Rosa Parks or Martin Luther kind marching on Washington… or the families walking across the prairies in covered wagons for the hope of a better life… or the young men with the commitment to step into fire and sure death for many landing on the beaches of Normandy.
      .
      If you’re that type, even “get down on the floor” is far more about the resolve to “do what you want without worry about the stupid shackles society tries to put on you” and only very remotely about sex itself (all singing about sex is analogous with freedom to march to the beat your own drummer for me.. as all love songs about man and women are about all sorts of love and aspirations achieved or gone wrong etc). But, I guess Harry lives in a different world.
      .
      I’ll link a couple national anthems. I purposely chose 3 with men singing …really the best ones are often by women but that might not be fair

      Harry, who seems to flounder and have little conception about how grand and allegorical the song is. As in key as it is, the song seems to be about so little to him.

      .
      Adam Lambert, who I can only imagine might be thinking about the hard fights for other rights and acceptance others endured to let him far more openly being himself…

      (I don’t think Adam’s fans were initially prepared for how serious and connected and worshipful he was going to be when he started) There are handfuls of other ideals who did amazing jobs and others..even winners who flounder terribly (don’t even try to find Lee’s)
      ..
      and The Grateful dead,

      .
      Included to show that soft versions can still have a love and passion and build towards something more spiritual to them. (Jerry Garcia who are far from militaristic but certainly with a sense of working-mens struggles from the blues grass transnationals behind so many of their psychedelic jam band rock).
      .
      Bottom line .. I agree there wasn’t enough buy in to songs by many performers the last couple weeks but Keith Urban knows buy in.. I don’t trust Harry one bit on that.. too linearly tied to lyrics as if they mean just what they’re written as and don’t have grander meanings tied to separate words and phrases and concepts and idioms encompassed within the simple device to string the stand alone thoughts together.

    • Leticia Prado says:

      This, I guess, is the curse of the singer/songwriter. They are way too committed to what they ALREADY do, that they can´t find the energy to interpret someone else’s song.

  22. scrutinizer says:

    i want to know why melinda hasn’t been invited to either perform or, more importantly, mentor contestants on idol in the last several seasons. it makes no sense when her POV is so spot on. we need to rally to get her on the show at some point. the contestants, and audience, need to see and hear what “intelligent choices” are when it comes to music. super talented alumni such as melinda, adam, carrie and allison are what this year’s aspiring singers need to have as role models and examples of professionalism and poise.

  23. LeahKittyS says:

    I’m not giving up on Idol just yet, not after how long I have been obsessively invested in it. But the truth is, I don’t watch to see a new superstar in the making, because I know how little that actually happens. It’s cool when it does happen, but the odds of it happening are slim. I watch to see the hopeful performances, buy the studio recordings, and use them as the soundtrack to a story. The performances this year are just not at the usual level of good/great, and if I don;t get at least one recorded song from each finalist by the end of the season, then I won’t have enough music to write a new story. I will be very sad if it comes to that; it will be the end of an era for me.

  24. The Idolsphere seems to only be good at over-reacting. The Idols had one bum night, and Top 13 week was great. There’s no way they aren’t gonna bounce back strong next week, especially with such a fun theme.

    • Angie_Overrated says:

      One bum night? I think there are some people who might disagree strongly with the count of how many bum nights there have been.

      • I don’t count rush week. With two or three exceptions, semi-finals have always been bad. And the producers took the regular bad and piled onto it with a bunch of nerves by not telling the contestants if they were performing until the second before they went on.

      • Timmah says:

        We’ve had four live performance shows now and I’d say they’re 0-4. Maybe the first guys’ night was ok so 1-3 if I’m being generous.

  25. Matrix says:

    Anybody else feel idol should replace the segment that showcases these mediocre “bands that should be discovered” with a segment that features past idol alums (e.g., Adam, Allison, Melinda, etc.)?

  26. ????? says:

    I love HCJ but I wish he was more succinct. He trends to ramble which always makes me feel like he hares everything a lot more than he really does.

  27. Forwarddad says:

    Please fire the stylist while you are at it.

  28. The truth is, it’s pretty easy to pick out the raw talent but harder to predict which ones with blossom and which ones will choke and wither on the vine.

    • Z says:

      Same thing in professional sports. How many times do we see coaches and fans assume a player touted in the draft or based on college performance fail at the pro level. The successes in both cases depend on how that talent deals with pressure. How will that talent deal with a live audience or strong competition. I thought several of this year’s contestants were promising, as many others did, but so far they’re struggling with pressure. This can still change in the weeks ahead, but I think older, more mature, singers have a better chance than teens.

  29. Lisa says:

    Honestly? Like many people here, I only watch Reality Check. Have totally stopped watching the shows.

  30. Matt says:

    Can we address the fact that last year we were bombarded with headlines the day after each broadcast about the ratings? And every journalist (including this site) placed so much blame on the judges. Then all summer we heard about revamping and harry connick and (for some still unbelievably stupid reason) the decision to bring back JLO despite her proving to be both ineffective as as a judge (also lacking serious credibility ) and a ratings draw. Now this season the ratings are worse than last and getting worse each week. Yet the ratings aren’t getting nearly as much attention by the media. Maybe everyone is afraid to admit they were wrong and that this show is just done. No matter who they bring on, people just don’t care anymore.

  31. Mamatyrone says:

    Somehow this entry age for AI (what is it, 15 years old?) is making for very ‘green’ contestants. Granted, they have good voices and loads of potential, but they haven’t clocked as many hours on stage, nor gathered enough emotional arsenal to support big performances. Yes, you’ve been in band or theatre, but that’s kind of like pre-school in the music world. You can really see how some of the older contestants (+20 years old, which is not even much older) have been gigging etc., and have just that bit more of a performance edge and emotional depth. Really, if Malaya and Sam could just hook up, he might actually get some emotional dynamics and she might simmer down! I know they’re young, but a little smooching never hurts…

    I digress…unfortunately the producers and musical advisors seem to be buffing down the natural sparkle in some of the contestants. Everyone this year seems to be unique and artistic in their own way. I’m not sure if the format of theme weeks and tired/mismatching/poorly arranged song choices works to bring out the best in this particular batch of people. I agree wholehearted with Melinda, these kids need better and more attentive coaching.

    And the sound, people? From the poor mix to the in-ears making the singers sing out of tune–but why, oh why, did they split the band into two sections on stage? Anyone who’s ever been in a [good] band knows that you need to be close and feel each other to really play well together and get it pumping. Even with the in-ear monitors (yes Rickey’s band wear them too), the physical split is yet another factor where someone unmusical in the upstairs offices made a anti-music, pro-visual decision.

    • Julie Anderson says:

      Oh my god, I didn’t even take note of that. I definitely think a big part of the problems are band/sound mixing ones.

    • marie says:

      I don’t understand how the in-ear monitors could cause them to sing out of tune, when the whole purpose of the monitors is to allow the singers to hear themselves and so make sure they ARE in tune. Theory sounds doubtful to me.

      • deedee says:

        Believe it! A couple of years ago, I recorded something in a professional studio. I’ve never had pitch problems (plenty of other singing-related problems, though), and hearing the playback shocked the hell out of me. I was totally flat! Yet,in my headphone monitors, I heard myself completely in tune while recording. Not sure how that happened but it’s possible!

  32. Leticia Prado says:

    It is funny to me when Michael and Melinda say that Caleb seems to be doing the same song every week, because that is how I feel about every R&B contestant ever. It is only a matter of knowing and/or liking the contestant’s music style, of course.

  33. Alienate says:

    I blame NBC for Idol’s problems this year on the live shows. They dumped Jay Leno. That meant they dumped his BAND. That stupid band is now back at Idol with Craptacular arrangements that do not help the kids one bit.

  34. Deb says:

    American Idol has not been good since James Durbin went home

    • Country J. says:

      Ten million viewers is still a coveted number for most tv shows. but;

      1. The power structure that pays huge salaries to certain insider celebrities agents and tags-on the immovable Randy, etc. Financially, it’s bleed it while we can, by those who control the production, in collaboration with Interscope Records. There likely will be a season 14, but the J. Lo and Seacrest contract amounts may be a catch, unless ratings rise to support the commercial costs………………………………………………………….

      2. The show drags with so many commercials, useless babble and ballyho, that you really have to love Idol in order to stay interested. I know many people who are just recording the show, jumping past commercials and Judges banter — so advertisers are not getting the audience posted by the ratings.

    • Emma says:

      I think it was good for one more week after that, then it all went to cr-p!

  35. Grandma Jane says:

    I think Majesty connects really well with her music, and I also think she has a good presence on stage. I think too she’s really interesting to watch, its like she has an inner glow or something. Such a unique performer. I hope she doesn’t loose confidence from that one bad note last week.
    I really like Caleb’s voice too, but he needs to do something different this week. Can’t decide about Jessica. Her voice seems good, but hard.

  36. LeahKittyS says:

    I will say, though, I have not completely given up on this season’s contestants. For lack of standout performances, I can’t predict who will win yet, but I have a feeling the Top 6 will be Majesty Rose, Jena Irene, Sam Woolf, Jessica Meuse, Alex Preston, and Caleb Johnson. Majesty because she’s the best singer and is adorable, Jena because of the “underdog” contestants she is the strongest singer, Sam because he’s a handsome WGWG (and I really like him), Jessica because she stands out from the other woman and is from Alabama, Alex because he’s a WGWG and at least tries to interpret, and Caleb because of his energy.
    So, my fellow Idol loyalists, who do you think could break through this wall?

    • LeahKittyS says:

      To answer my own question: Dexter Roberts, because he’s a good old country boy from Alabama. But if he’s gonna pull that off he’ll need to show us more “Lucky Man” and less “Aw Naw.”

      • Country J. says:

        The one on your list that I am doubting to make it to top 6 is Jena. Although I enjoy her, she’s already been bottom 3, and 2 more girls (unfortunately) will be out in the next 3 or 4 weeks. I’m also watching The Voice and enjoy the happiness of the family and friends backstage, when someone gets a chair to turn around.:)

        • LeahKittyS says:

          Fair enough. But I’m pretty sure those two girls are going to be Malaya and M.K. Hopefully Malaya goes first; I really wanted M.K. to make the Top 10. But one more off week and it won’t happen, I’m afraid.

          • Country J. says:

            On softer ballads and soft pop songs, I like MK’s voice the best of those 3 – but she’s been bottom 3 twice, so will need a stellar song choice to survive this week and/or next.

          • LeahKittyS says:

            I do have a little hope for M.K. Haley Reinhart was considered a weak link at first, and kept landing in the Bottom 3, until she blew us all away with “Bennie and the Jets.” Hopefully M.K. can have a similar breakout moment before it’s too late.

          • My Alter Ego says:

            @LeahKitty — it’s interesting that you brought up Haley Reinhart’s early trips to the bottom three in relation to M.K., because I had been thinking the same thing earlier. A critical difference is how Haley responded to those “trips” and also her performances themselves. Haley never came across as being a nervous performer — perhaps, a bit awkward from time to time, but not nervous.
            ~
            Not true for M.K. — her (unfortunate) discomfort is palpable. It surprises me that she even tried out. Unless she can get a quick fix on how to deal with that discomfort, I suspect she won’t last much longer. And that would be too bad, because she’s got one of the loveliest voices of the women.

          • Adam Fachry says:

            MK? Haley Reinhart she ain’t.

            Yes, Haley didn’t really show her fangs prior to the groundbreaking Bennie and the Jets but even her so-called lesser performances are miles better than MK’s at her best.

  37. BrazenSongBird says:

    What shocks me is that a show with this much money to throw around (those salaries!) can’t get their sound issues solved.
    I mean, how tough is it to turn up the volume on the LEAD SINGER’s mic?
    The band should NEVER have been physically split across the stage from one another.
    It’s not the Ricky Minor show. His band should be there to showcase the contestant.
    Four background singers for inexperienced talent is too much! It’s not only confusing, it’s LOUD!
    And I suspect that that studio is a sound sponge.

  38. Laura says:

    I think the root of the problem is that American Idol is so worried about casting that they overlooked so much good talent. I don’t know how they came up with these top contestants but none of them have star quality – at least they haven’t shown it yet. Harry Conick Jr is the best thing to happen to the show since Simon left…seriously. He’s amazing. He has made the other judges step up their games.

  39. Tahoe Mike says:

    I know everyone has spent years begging for more modern music, but this season feels like an example of, “Be careful what you wish for.” So far this season I have heard maybe one song that I know and like, done terribly, and that was “Folsom Prison Blues.” Sometimes I cant tell if it’s the song I don’t like, or the performance. I often don’t have a frame of reference to know if they did it well or not.
    ~
    Slezak and many others often complain about the contestants singing the same old songs, but I think it allows for direct comparisons of styles and abilities. Yes they run the risk of having people say that so and so did it better, but they also have the chance to make me say “Wow, that is the best version ever.”
    ~
    I haven’t liked the broad themes this year that are essentially just, “Sing whatever you want.” Part of the successful history and formula of Idol has always been the themes. Starting with Scotty McCreery, it has become the thing for the contestants to defy the themes and just stick to what they do. He made everything sound country. I like seeing them forced out of their comfort zones, and made to show versatility. I’d like to see a return to much narrower and strictly enforced themes. I also miss when they would book a real star for results night, have them mentor that week, and make the contestants sing that artists catalog. Remember when Tony Bennett or Queen would come on? I don’t care if these kids know those songs or not, part of the Idol challenge is showing that they can learn on the fly.
    ~
    I have basically given up ranting about how much I wish they would stop casting 16 year old’s. I’d much rather see people who have been working at it for years without getting the big break. They should have some road miles on them. Once in a while a real prodigy does come along, but ninety percent of these kids really will be better when they are at least old enough to go to Hollywood without their parents. I nearly always end up rooting for the older contestants.

    • Mark says:

      I couldn’t disagree more with you on the issue of themes. The problem this year is not the broad themes, it is the performances. If they were trotting out the same tired themes as in past seasons, I believe everyone would have turned off by now. Weak performances of tired themes is not what anyone wants to hear.

      On the age issue, I am in complete agreement. I don’t know whether that is attributable to 19 Entertainment or the legacy of Simon, but the youth fixation is a serious problem that also contributed to the fall of XFactor. This obsession with discovering a prepubescent Bieber or a Hannah Montana without the twerk is killing this show.

  40. Tyler says:

    More Voice recap please.

  41. Adam Fachry says:

    Harry is delusional for thinking that this year’s contestants as a whole have more potentials than previous seasons. He comes off as a smug who doesn’t want to feel like he’s made a mistake. Feel free to defend him all you want, but I never feel like his criticism hasn’t helped anything for the contestants’ improvements yet. Yes, part of it was also Randy Jackson’s incompetent ability as a mentor. But I honestly don’t think that even if Jimmy Iovine was still the mentor, we wouldn’t have seen the trainwrecks.

  42. Nancy says:

    Ok, Ryan is the perfect host. HCJ is very good and I like Keith Urban as well. JLo and Randy, not so much. I don’t like when she wears plunging necklines. A lot of children watch this show. Most of all to me, there is no real talent within the contestants. I don’t care who wins and that’s bad for A.I. If you renew A.I. make sure that you have very strong talent or the show will be as dull as it is this season and there will be even fewer viewers.

  43. I just miss Jimmie. He was a good mentor. Randy just speaks in cliches and nonsense. I don’t know what is going on with the contestants but they are not performing well, Very out of tune and just flat performances.I do like Jessica but I agree with Melinda that she maybe looked bored but sometimes I think they look scared really.I truly hope it gets better. I also really wish they would cut the results night down to 30 minutes.

    • Country J. says:

      Randy is mostly just a prop for a mentor, but is one of the “insiders” that have control of this show., so he steps-in again with a nice contract.

  44. Terry says:

    Sorry but I don’t think any amount of all night mentoring sessions can help these kids. I don’t see anyone in this group that has “it”, and you either have it or you don’t. I’m not surprised people are tuning out this season more than ever. You need interesting, engaging, entertaining contestants to grab people’s attention and keep them coming back.

    • John Anthony says:

      I agree with your critic as to the talent of these performers as a group. My wife and I agree that there has been no ” WOW ” performance thus far. Maybe the talent in this group is not there to give one. If one of them has that kind of talent they had better show it soon before there’s no home audience left to watch it.

      • Stormy says:

        Yes. This is similar to season 9. Lee and Crystal were not “stars”. Worthy yes, but not more than small venue/coffeehouse performers. The same is true of this year’s group. Jessica [my fave] is an opening act not a headliner, and the same is true of the rest. Caleb is good, but rock is gone. Malaya is simply awful. Ben and Dexter can make a living on the county fair circuit, but will never be recording artists. Sam will disappear as will Alex. CJ IMO is scared to be there. Jena and MK are forgettable.

  45. tealeaves says:

    I think Michael and Melinda are on point with what a ‘mentor’ needs to do. Harry is too. Steer them away from songs that they like, but that are not right for their voices. Steer them away from songs that are not interesting or dynamic enough to create a memorable performance. Force them to consider the meaning of the song and to connect to it. That is a MUST for a great performance. Focus on the vocals first, and then on moving around the stage.
    Almost every one of the contestants left can really hit it out of the park some night.

  46. toughcritic says:

    There is only one high point on this season’s A.I. and it is the only reason I chose to watch after a hiatus of four years. The reason, Harry Connick Jr.. I suggested him as a judge over five years ago when it was obvious to any real music lover that the judging was deplorable and the selection was totally flawed. This year’s so called talent ranks poor to bad in my opinion. There is not one great voice among them. Harry has gotten the reputation of being tough, hyper critical etc. He is a respected knowledgable musician, vocalist and arranger of many years. J- Lo is a joke. She is a poor vocalist, has little or no real music training or knowledge and lip syncs most of her shows. Urban is a little better but not much. The whole format has to be reworked. I know they will never ever consider my suggestions but I would like to see them be much tougher at the auditions as to actual vocal quality, pitch, knowledge of music insofar as the key they are singing in etc. Secondly, pick singers of varying singing genres including traditional pop, jazz, country and even light classical. Then, once the finalists are chosen make them all perform songs of different styles: Broadway musicals, Jazz, Country and traditional Pop. As it is now you’ve got the screamers, yellers and growlers but no pure voices. I was sad to see the pretty nurse get voted off. She at least had a more pure voice. My last beef is with the studio audience who seem to be an average age of 15. They know nothing of good voices or good music and sadly it’s the same group that votes across the nation.

  47. darcy the slutty twin says:

    When Michael said “pigs running around,” why did we get a shot a of Caleb and Dexter?

  48. PJ/SJ says:

    Out of all the years of AI I personally think this lot is the least talented…they’re truly Kareoke material! The big guy/Rocker…I like! If what Harry said was true (about him seemingy not wanting to be ther)….it would only be because HE’S THE MOST TALENTED and he’ll go onto do big things as a “rocker”!

  49. :( says:

    the top 13 should have been

    Girls:

    Austin Wolfe
    Kenzie Hall
    Jessica Meuse
    Majesty Rose
    Emily Piriz
    Jena Irene
    Jillian Jenson

    Boys:

    Sam Woolf
    Alex Preston
    Caleb Johnston
    Malcolm Allen
    George Lovett
    Dexter Roberts

    Then we would have a season…

  50. r says:

    Malaya had the BEST performance this week .

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