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More Diversity in Finalist/Winners
Phillip Phillips is lovely and we all like ''Home'' (and Olympic gymnastics!), but the fact is we haven't seen a variation on the ''White Guy With Guitar'' winner since Jordin Sparks in season 6. We've all seen the cattle call footage — we know there's a whole rainbow of big voices and different genre specialists out there. Let's see some more variety in the Top 12. Especially....
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Contestants Who Can Actually Engage a Crowd
Why not only put through people with vocal chops and the ability to connect with an audience, like country-singing spark plug Skylar Laine (left)? Trying to come up with new euphemisms for ''I just don't feel anything when Jessica Sanchez sings'' every week was exhausting. (That's only a slightly dramatic statement.)
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The Return of a Healthy Judges' Dynamic
Steven, J. Lo, and Randy barely looked at each other during their critiques, which made for a boring, almost eerily placid panel. With Keith Urban stepping in as a tension diffuser and (dare we say, potential comic relief?), as long as Mariah and Nicki don't kill each other — though WHAT A STORY that would be — I'm anticipating a healthy return to the more spirited Paula-Randy-Simon days of yore.
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J. Lo tried her best for that Lead Actress in a Reality Series Emmy, but we don't want to see any crocodile tears this season. Four judges means it'll be that much harder to get a word in edgewise — so they should make 'em count, with practical advice and honest critiques based on the reality of the current music industry.
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Mariah Carey To Eat Nicki Minaj
No self-respecting woman should sit that close to a huge puff of cotton candy and not take at least a bite.
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More Flamboyant Accessories on Randy Jackson
Because what else does he have to offer?
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Awkward Diva Moments
Idol-makers, hear our plea and serve up a bevy of subtle screen gems from the judges — like this hilarious shot of Mariah Carey turning her head so as not to reveal her ''ugly side'' during a recent E! interview. Pro tip: Get your special TV camera (a.k.a. iPhone) ready — we have a feeling the Mariah vs. Nicki eye rolls and death glares are going to put Britney Spears' X Factor stink faces to shame.
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No More Auto-Tuned Group Numbers
Live finale performances (like the season 10 girls with Beyoncé) can be okay, but those Thursday night results show exhibitions need to go. WE CAN TELL YOU'RE NOT REALLY SINGING!
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New and Invigorating Theme Nights
How about some more Songs From This Century-esque themes to balance out old mainstays like Songs From the Year You Were Born, British Invasion, and Motown? We're not sure we can handle another ''Heat Wave'' rendition from a teenager. (Do you like how this slide is actually a thinly veiled excuse to include an image of season 10's Thia Megia?)
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More Awesome Mentors
Season 11's week with Stevie Nicks was so magical — let's see more visits from well-prepared and enthusiastic mentors like Lady Gaga, Queen, Slash, Adam Lambert, and the list goes on. Hey, maybe even Quentin Tarantino can come back.
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Rein in Jimmy Iovine's Reign of Terror
As Steven, J. Lo, and Randy spent the majority of the past two seasons finding new ways to paraphrase the same old platitudes, Jimmy's brutally honest rants were often the sole voice of reason on a lifeless week. But the live wire has to be so choppily edited that his agenda tends to come across as too orchestrated, with Idol producers pulling the strings. Here's a novel idea: What if Jimmy's not the only one with a real opinion this time around? Shine on, you crazy dungeness crab in a baseball cap.
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No More Kris Jenner Makeover Madness!
Be more creative. There's a whole world of ''characters'' in the Ryan Seacrest Reality TV Empire to copy next! Poor Erika Van Pelt (season 11) never saw it coming.
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Bonus: Has This Pia Toscano Costume Been Burned Yet?