American Idol Is Taking Away Your Voting Power — and It's Infuriating

Jennifer Lopez already has a big-money Las Vegas concert residency, a recent Season 2 renewal for her NBC drama Shades of Blue, an A+ Dubsmash game and a badonkadonk worthy of being sculpted in marble and displayed at the Louvre.

Now, however, she’s sneaking into your living room with a masked Keith Urban and a maniacally cackling Harry Connick, Jr. and stealing your right to vote in the American Idol Season 15 semifinals (beginning tonight at 8/7c on Fox). And I, for one, am mad as hell.

Indeed, it’s traditionally been the Idoloonie Nation’s job to start voting right after the “Green Mile” Top 24 (or Top 36) announcement and choose a Top 10 — with the judges adding a few Wild Card picks to the mix once the results are tallied.

In Idol‘s abbreviated farewell season, however, it’ll be the judges narrowing the Top 24 down to the Top 14 — a process that flies directly in the face of what has made Idol so successful for so many years: The belief that average citizens — not soulless record execs or manipulative TV producers — get one chance per year to pluck a talented kid from relative obscurity and give him or her a major-label record deal.

Oh, sure, the Scott Borchettas and Simon Cowells and Nigel Lythgoes of the world have always had a million and one ways to influence our votes — through crafty editing, not-so-random performance order, song-choice restrictions and deeply biased feedback — but at the end of the day, Idol fans had the final say… with no one to blame but ourselves for choosing (flashback alert!) Karen Rodriguez over Kendra Chantelle or Ben Briley over Malcolm Allen.

How does it benefit the show to essentially fire its loyal fans from a job they love and cherish, and outsource it to a trio of industry vets who often gravitate toward wide-eyed youth over emotional maturity, and telegenic personality over vocal prowess? (Remember J.Lo’s declaration of just loving “fifteen-ness” or her comment that female contestants past their teenage years have a defeated look in their eyes? Oy!)

To clarify, here’s how the semifinals — one round of 12 has already been taped — will play out:

On Feb. 10 and 17, we’ll see pre-taped performances from 12 contestants apiece, with the judges eliminating five singers on the Feb. 11 and 18 results-shows (that will also include contestant duets with Idol All-Stars), resulting in a Top 14. That group will be whittled down — again, mainly by the judges — during the Feb. 24 and 25 episodes, with viewers saving some Wild Cards to complete a Top 10.

After that, the competition airs only one night a week starting March 3 until the April 5-7 series finale week, with the Idoloonie Nation finally regaining control of the voting process.

In other words, your Farewell Season voting window is going to last about six weeks. Cast your ballots promptly, passionately, and most of all, responsibly!

What do you think of Idol‘s voting changes for Season 15? Do they leave you dismayed, enraged, disinterested or not all that worked up? Share your thoughts in the comments!
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