11 Ways to Fix American Idol
With the 11th Season of American Idol complete, we feel like things are getting a little tired in Hollywood. Don't get us wrong: Phillip Phillips is a deserving champ, but it was just a bit too predictable that he'd win, even in the face of some amazing competition. Will a girl, even one as talented as Jessica Sanchez, really have a chance to win ever again now that the young girls of America have proven their voting supremacy?
Simply put, the show is in serious need of a makeover. Below, we've compiled 11 ways we would fix American Idol, including adding a new judge, a "swear jar" and a revamped voting process. Check 'em out!
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1. Eliminate Tommy Hilfiger! The votes are in, and the American fashion designer just didn't make the cut, color or style as Idol's inaugural celebrity image consultant this season. Not only were some of his early calls suspect at best (advising Erika to go with a short, black pixie cut?!?), but some contestants, including Phillip, didn't listen at all and stuck with their own style. What was the point? Instead, go with a brand like H&M and bring in a younger stylist who has closer ties to the music industry.
2. Jimmy Iovine needs a promotion! We'd happily sacrifice Steven Tyler or Randy Jackson to make room for Iovine at the judge's table. Week after week, he's the only person on the show who has anything remotely insightful to say about the performances. When a contestant chokes, he's not afraid to let 'em have it, which also means his praise holds more weight than the other three judges combined.
3. Enroll in Judging 101. We'd never dream to take away each of the judges' colorful ways of expressing themselves; that's just part of the fun of watching. But we'd like to get some real, meaty critiques in there. Ignore the "boos" and give us some content!
4. Institute a "swear jar." Make the judges throw in a Benjamin for every time J.Lo tries to make "goosies" happen or any time Randy utters whatever his catch phrase du jour (or season) is. The proceeds could go to an appropriate cause, like music education in schools. Once again, we don't want to dampen the judges' styles, but someone ought to benefit when they trot out old material.
5. Cough up money for real background checks. The Jermaie Jones situation was embarrassing and poorly handled from beginning to end. Not only did Idol rely on a self-report application on which Jermaine (surprise!) neglected to come clean completely, but the revelation of his run-ins with the law was so blatantly exploited that it was uncomfortable to watch.
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6. More behind-the-scenes footage. One of the most fascinating things about the American Idol experience is that the contestants are cooped up in an Idol bubble, virtually cut off from the outside world. What is life like at the mansion — do they all sit around and eat dinner together every night? Are they being sent to the gym for grueling work outs (everyone gets so thin!)? How many outfits did they try on before making a final decision? Don't get us wrong: We love the singing, but we would also love to get a sense of what Idol life is really like.
7. Ryan Seacrest fake tans in, fake-outs out! Let's cut the results show to an action-packed 30 minutes, so we don't have the need for filler. And yes, we count Seacrest's musical chairs rigamarole and misdirections ("I'm sorry to say... you'll have join your friends on the couch. You're safe this week!") as some of the worst time-wasters ever. It even makes us miss the Ryan-Simon insult-banter!
8. To hell with cheesy group numbers. Let's put ourselves (and the contestants) out of our collective misery and ditch these things for good. The juvenile step-and-clap choreography is like watching the understudies from a bad off-Broadway play. Give them more time to focus on their individual performances, which actually count for something.
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9. Let fans rock the vote (on song selections). The judges often criticize contestants for choosing songs that the audience won't identify with, so why not let the fans wield the power for a week? On Thursday after the results show, the remaining contestants should provide viewers with their top four song choices, giving fans 24 hours to choose for them. It's the perfect way to stir up audience engagement, and also reward viewers with getting to hear what they actually want to hear.
10. Contestants should be able to sing original songs. Randy continuously preaches the importance of being a "true artist," right? So why not let the finalists who can sing and write music strut their stuff?
11. It's [not completely] up to you, America! We know this has been said before, but it bears repeating. For the past five seasons, men have won the Idol title. They were all good-looking, charismatic and talented, but not always the most deserving. The tween girls decidedly dominate the voting polls, and something must be done to remedy (and balance) the situation! We're proposing a voting system in which America's vote is weighted in combination with the judges (a la Dancing with the Stars' scoring and The Voice's mentor-distributed percentages).
What do you think? What would you change to make Idol better?