By Annie Barrett
Updated May 04, 2007 at 12:00 PM EDT

American Idol‘s songwriting contest has finalists now. You can check them out and vote for your favorite. I would but I refuse to register, plus it’s late on a Friday. I suppose the contest is a good idea. Democratic and s—, and some of the finale songs from past seasons have been notoriously horrible, so why not give an unknown songwriter a shot? But there’s a really obvious alternative. Did it ever occur to anyone at Idol that maybe the people trying out to be pop stars should (blasphemy alert!) come up with a song themselves? You know, like… real musicians?

I know that the point of the show is to create a marketable product, and that many pop crooners these days don’t write their own music. That’s fine. But couldn’t the kids try? Couldn’t they at least collaborate with other professionals? One conversation! Blake (pictured) could, I think, come up with a good tune. Maybe he couldn’t write a whole album. But he could write a song.

What’s going on? Is there something I’m missing, or would it not be way out of line to ask the next winner to do something other than memorize and know which direction to smile?

addCredit(“American Idol: Frank Micelotta”)