American Idol premieres tonight, PopWatchers, which means for the next five months, your life will be about nothing but Ryan Seacrest, the Schadenfreudian thrill of Hollywood Week, and Phil Collins’ “Against All Odds.” Accept it. But whereas last year we tuned into the premiere with a newfound curiosity, wondering how new judges Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler would mesh with returning “judge” Randy Jackson, this year we can’t expect a new and improved American Idol. But that’s not to say the reality series doesn’t need a tuneup for its 11th season. Jennifer, Steven, and “Randy,” here’s behavior I hope to see more of during season 11… and behavior I hope you left far behind in season 10.
We Love You… : First off, as James Blunt would say, you’re beautiful. Secondly, unlike judges from previous seasons (ahem), you seem to genuinely be open to interesting performers that might not have the full package. Not to say that, like us, you don’t enjoy it when they do — watching you squeal over good-looking male contestants’ toned abs will be twice as intriguing now that you’re single.
…But Please Change: We don’t envy you. (Who are we kidding? We do.) But part of judging Idol is making tough decisions — and that includes cutting contestants who aren’t up to par, no matter how recently their relative has died. So when average-but-lovable singers like Chris Medina are inevitably sent packing, let us appropriately sympathize with them. Breaking down in tears for several minutes in front of cameras makes us less empathetic, and more likely to change the channel. Just as long as Gigli isn’t on.
We Love You… : For bringing life to Idol‘s monotonous audition rounds, elevating the kooky at times when viewers most need a pick-me-up (usually around the time a good-looking singer with no personality attempts to tackle “Unchained Melody”). Yes, it’s unbelievably petrifying when you choose to hit on pretty contestants — especially when they either look like your daughter or are underage — but like everyone’s favorite creepy uncle, you’re fun to keep around. It doesn’t hurt that you always look like you got dressed in a teenage girl’s closet. Oh god, please tell us that’s not true.
…But Please Change: Man, have an opinion! For someone who always has something to say about a woman’s looks, it seems it should be far easier for you to have an opinion on someone’s singing. Come to the panel with a willingness to hurt feelings in order to encourage improvement, even if said contestant won you over by auditioning with one of your songs. As an Idol judge, some constructive criticism really would be the feather in your cap — or should I say hair?
We Love You… : Because you once worked with the great Mariah? Because, like an old sweater a relative gave us that we never really wanted, you’re still comfy and familiar? Or, most likely, because you used to look like this?
…But Please Change: Your vocabulary. Stop reading all those phone books the contestants can sing and pick up a thesaurus. (I’ve said it so many times over the course of 10 seasons, I almost need to find some synonyms to rephrase this criticism.) Randy, you’re the one remaining member from the old regime — prove to Idol viewers why the show was a must-see in its early seasons. Show them why you deserve to be at the head of the table and why, as a music executive, contestants should heed your advice more than others. ‘Cuz, right now, dawg, some people just aren’t likin’ it.
Also, a note to all three judges: Please don’t constantly harp on contestants like Haley Reinhart. If you didn’t like them, why did you make them finalists? Leave all irrational hatred to us Idol fanatics, please. Now, PopWatchers, what main criticism would you give to our judges ahead of tonight’s premiere? What do you hope is different this season?