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TWoP 10: Things American Idol Needs to Fix

by Angel Cohn January 15, 2010 6:00 am
TWoP 10: Things <i>American Idol</I> Needs to Fix

Paula's gone, Simon's got one foot out the door and yet, American Idol will still soldier on through 2011, if not beyond. But based on what we've seen over the last eight years, including the first four hours broadcast this season, we have some suggestions for tweaks the show should make in order to keep us hooked after Cowell and his cutting critiques are gone.

10. Give Stupid People Less Screen Time
Look, we realize that some things are never going to change: Jack Bauer will never give up his man-purse, Heidi and Spencer will never stop being publicity whores and Idol will never do away with showcasing idiots during the audition rounds. However, that doesn't mean that they need to give people who are clearly there solely to be idiots and get on TV the lion's share of screentime. Just cut back a bit on the Skii Bo Ski's of the world, please.

9. Never Again Do Cheap Reenactments
It's one thing to make fun of the talentless yokels and give them screentime they don't necessarily deserve on what is ostensibly a singing competition. But following Jesse Hamilton around to joke about the fact that he nearly died three times, with needlessly stupid Benny Hill-meets-Hee Haw-style reenactments was just plain cruel, not only to Jesse but, more importantly, to the viewers who had to sit through such pathetic, humorless dreck. Say it with us: singing show!

8. Don't Let Kara Talk, or At Least Make Her Less Condescending
Kara may have music industry experience, but that doesn't mean we care one whit about what she has to say. Perhaps it's that she insists on calling people "sweetie" or "honey" in order to cushion their rejections, but she's just freaking annoying. She never has anything constructive to add, so just let her just sit there and smile vacantly and drink mystery substances out of her Coke cup.

7. No More Idol Gives Back During the Run of the Show
This doesn't happen during the audition rounds, but it is on the horizon. Obviously, we're all for donating to charities (and urge you to help Haiti now), but this special shouldn't air right in the middle of the competition. Put it on the week (or day) after the finale and get all the kids to come back, along with every random celebrity in the world, and really make it something to remember.

6. Call a Moratorium on Original Songs
We're not going to deny that we've been singing "Pants on the Ground" -- and listening to the remixes that have cropped up - since we first heard it. However, catchy original tunes are few and far between on the show. Most of the time, you just get losers who drone on and on under the mistaken impression that they're songwriters as well as singers. It's hard to judge the vocal abilities of the tone-deaf if you don't at least know what they're attempting to sing in the first place. And that takes us back to the too-much-attention-to-idiots thing. We can't say it enough: it needs to stop.

5. No More Tears... Unless We Hear the Singing
In an effort to save time this season, we've been treated to montages of auditioning singers just getting rejected. We see their sad faces, or furious outbursts, but we don't actually get to hear how off-key they really are. And the only reason for watching these endless audition rounds is to hear people who can't sing try to sing. Vocals are the point, not reaction shots.

4. Stick to the Age Limit
General Larry was hardly the only old person to "sneak" through the doors and audition. He was 62, but there are often other people who are way past the cutoff. It's not like these folks are fooling the producers; they are encouraged to perform their "acts" for the bemusement of the judges. That's what America's Got Talent is for, folks, not Idol.

3. No More Janis Joplin (or Celine... or Whitney... or Usher)
Every time someone says they're going to sing Janis Joplin, or something by Celine Dion or Whitney Houston, we literally brace ourselves against our couches. It doesn't matter if they have the chops -- the fact that they are taking on songs that we've heard, badly, a million times before just fills us with dread. And all the suave guys who think they can be the next Usher also need to check themselves. The show needs to put out an off-limits song list for the auditions.

2. Get Guest Judges With Something to Say
Posh Spice, though she had fun with Simon, had nothing but fashion advice to offer the contestants, and Mary J. Blige mostly just stared at all of them and barely uttered a word. And in years past, the majority of the guest judges were either too nice or just repeated what had already been said before so as not to look like total asses. Find people who actually have opinions and something original to say. It can't be that hard.

1. Have the Judges Act Like Remotely Professional Adults
If there's one thing we hate, it's when the judges just sit there laughing at the contestants, sometimes practically rolling around on the ground. It's not only unprofessional, since these are supposed to be actual auditions for a talent search, but it's also wildly immature. Simon mostly manages to sit stone-faced through some of the most painfully annoying acts that are thrown at him, so why can't the other judges keep it together for a couple of minutes?

Share your suggestions for improvements below, then find out who we think can possibly replace Simon.

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