How would you improve 'American Idol'?

American_idol_judges_l‘Tis the season for American Idol pundits (myself included) and fans (yes, you!) to come out of the woodwork and tell the show’s producers how to improve a ratings juggernaut that crushes everything in its path. You know they love us for it.

Alan Sepinwall from the Star Ledger makes a case that Idol would benefit from more screen-time parity for each semifinalist — since the contestants who don’t get shown before voting gets underway (i.e., Stephanie Edwards, AJ Tabaldo) are put at a distinct disadvantage — but producer Nigel Lythgoe has no intention of making that change, saying it’s his job to produce the best hour of television possible. "If they’re as boring as hell, I’m not going to show them," he says. "Once they do something that’s interesting or good and we believe are going to excite the public, then we’ll put them on." This, of course, raises the question: If a singer is "boring as hell," why in the name of all that’s holy would he or she make the Top 24? Also, Nigel, great singing is never really "boring as hell."

That aside, as I suggested on an episode of Idolatry last year, why not run a special Saturday-night episode (or two) of American Idol showcasing the auditions of every singer who made it through to Hollywood. I’d love to see the kind of talent (or lack thereof) that the judges deemed worthy of a Golden Ticket. I’ve got three other ideas to help keep Idol on top of the ratings heap, too. Without further ado…

addCredit(“American Idol: Michael Becker”)

1) Shake up the judges’ table once the live performances begin. And no, I am not advocating Gladys Knight or Neil Sedaka sit in ever again (though Tarantino is always welcome).Instead, why not rotate the critiquing order, so Randy doesn’t alwaysgo first and Simon last? This would accomplish three things. First, wewouldn’t have to hear Randy stammer and "dawg" and "yo" for 30 secondswhile trying to choose from his grab-bag of four adjectives. Second,Paula would be forced to have an actual opinion on every thirdperformer, rather than simply mimicking Randy. And finally, Simonwouldn’t always find himself getting cut off by the clock-consciousRyan Seacrest. Don’t you HATE when that happens?

2) Focus on the contestants, yes, but please don’t turn TV’s best singing competition into Extreme Makeover: Aspiring Singers Edition.Yes, yes, it’s great that the producers have realized Season 6 focusedtoo much on guest mentors, but when I hear Lythgoe talking about how hewants to inundate us with contestant backstories, it makes me skittish.In other words, I liked knowing Carrie Underwood came from a smallfarming town, and that Elliott Yamin had an adorable mom, butultimately, it’s the performances, not the maudlin interview packages,that should be bringing me to tears.

3) Bring on Dolly Parton night! Don’t even argue with me that this would be the greatest evening in Idol history.

That’sall from me. (Except for a brand new "Idol Public Service Announcement" below.) How would you make Idol a better show this season?

Comments (176 total) Add your comment
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  • Eric Friedmann

    How would I improve “American Idol”? Simple – I’d take it off the air forever!

  • EB

    I’d be happy if they canceled the show altogether, but barring that, I’d love if they stopped airing bloated extended episodes and put duct tape over Seacrest’s mouth.

  • drella66

    more singing and less swaying from the judges. I think that no one can ever win who the producers don’t want to win. Stop showing the really bad bad auditions that people only do to make it on the air as BAD

  • mark in nyc

    I would really like to see more mentoring…I know the producers say they spent too much time with the mentors last year, but when it works it works great…..the Andre Botticelli episode is a good example.
    I would like to see the contestants have a duet with the mentors…that waywe could see hwo can really sing and who cant
    In fact a duet night would be great.

  • Thad

    The judges should listen and send the worst person home each week. No public voting until the top 12!! Then you should have at least the top best 12 singers. There would be no Sanjaya’s etc. Pretty simple. Let the judges, well judge and then eliminate.

  • Anonymous

    why even ask these questions? mainly trolls and haters are gonna respond. i would change one thing, less time on MENTORS, and more time for the judges. also, maybe paula can go first sometimes, or even last, that would be nice. i would also like to see simon go first sometimes.

  • Stephanie T.

    One, by convincing teenagers that there is more to music that “Disney Pop”. In the past singers such as Taylor Hicks, Bo Bice, and Chris Daughtry have shown musical diversity but Daughtry was the only person that managed to have staying power. Idol needs more of that *umph*. Secondly the celebrity coaches need to give the contestants more of a challenge to improve their performance skills as well as their vocal ability. I think they should do a classic rock night and get Ronnie James Dio or Bruce Dickinson involved. I can also see a Brit-Pop/Shoegaze night with former Blur lead singer Damon Albarn and even an 80′s new wave night with Stuart “Adam Ant” Gossard. Idol just really needs a makeover badly.

  • Anonymous

    LESS MENTORING, MORE JUDGING. mentors are useless and they dont really care about the contestants anyway. maybe the judges could even get like 50 % of the votes.

  • Bill

    I wish they would keep some artist nights as mainstays. Like every season have Queen night, or Elton John, or Billy Joel. I don’t think they need to change the music that much.

  • Anonymous

    please remove the mentors. or only have them on every 3d episode or something. and no more boring guest judges, PLEASE. i would like to see the 3 judges speak even more on the live shows.

  • Elizabeth

    1a.) Let’s start retiring some songs. Yes, we’d be killing some standards, but there are songs that if I hear them now, I break out into a cold sweat & shakes.
    1b.) A song can only be sung once. If you sang it during your audition or during Hollywood week, its time to move on and find a new one.

  • Anonymous

    I want more focus on the judges, and less focus on other stuff like mentors and guest singers. ps: can i just say how freakin excited i am about paula abdul at the superbowl!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • daisyj

    In the not-gonna-happen-but-a-girl-can-dream category, I’d like to see a lot fewer tragically bad auditions (we get it! there are people who can’t sing who think they can! and some of them are fat!) and some more good/great or even not quite good enough, just to get an idea of the distinction.

  • fan

    i want the show to focus only on the contestants and the judges. i dont wanna see a bunch of other crap, like guest singers, guest mentors, guest judges etc etc

  • Anonymous

    definitely to keep it more simple by just focusing on judging and contestants, and not get carried away by having all these other celebs on that take up air-time. so, keep it simple!

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