New “American Idol” producer Per Blankens brought with him sweeping changes to the show in Season 13, but the show’s audience continued to drop as quickly as the contestant pool during Hollywood Week.
As the show gears up for Season 14, Zap2it has a few changes in mind for the aging show. Below, find the 12 steps “Idol” needs to follow to rehabilitate itself into a major player once again.
1. Cut the Dawg
Okay, so Randy Jackson is officially out this time. But that’s what they said before, and then he transitioned from useless judge to useless mentor. We’ll believe it when we see it.
2. Cut the results shows
Good news! This is allegedly happening. But “Idol” producers are fond of promising things and not delivering (see: Randy Jackson), so we’re still waiting for this to actually be implemented before we exhale.
3. Cut the B.S. mentoring
If you’re going to have guest mentors, great — some of them do an excellent job. Stevie Nicks has always taken her role seriously, and Harry Connick Jr. was so great they brought him on as a judge. Hiring superstars to give the amateurs advice makes sense — just make sure the people you choose care enough to make the time worthwhile. We don’t need an episode-long commercial for so-and-so’s latest single. We want to see the singers improve from week to week.
4. Bring back old contestants
No one has more insight into the “Idol” process than former contestants. They bring a wisdom and a true understanding of the show that no one else can recreate. Many of them have incredibly successful music careers. And “Idol” is not utilizing their expertise why?
5. Fix theme weeks
Disco week and its ilk were dated, but as we saw in Season 13, giving contestants carte blanche over song choice resulted in way fewer creatively inspiring moments. If the singers aren’t forced out of their comfort zones, we’ll never get moments like Kris Allen’s “Heartless” or Chris Daughtry’s “I Walk the Line.” There needs to be a way to introduce themes without having 16-year-olds sing the Barry Manilow songbook.
6. Stop trying to compare to ‘The Voice’
“The Voice” is a phenomenon, yes, but its ratings are dropping too. That’s not the direction you need to look. Stop trying to chase the Zeitgeistiness of NBC’s singing competition and embrace the “Idol”-ness that makes you unique. The audition process, Hollywood week, the hometown visits — these are all quintessential “Idol.” You don’t need to shy away from that.
7. Pick more interesting contestants
With the exception of winner Caleb Johnson, who got into hot water over a joke he made on-air and later over some language he used in a post-show interview, Season 13’s contestants were, put simply, boring. The judges overshadowed the singers in every way, and that’s because the kids they chose had pleasant enough voices but all the personality of a loaf of Wonder Bread. Interesting, outspoken people are your friend, “Idol” producers! Plus, a little controversy might get more people to tune in. You need that to happen.
8. Eliminate the start-of-episode voting — and if you don’t, just don’t show the live results
There’s no reason you should be able to vote for someone before you’ve heard them sing that night. It’s that simple. And why show the kids who’s winning while they’re still performing? It’s just cruel.
9. Let new mentor Scott Borchetta shine
Hey, this guy found the biggest music star of 2014, Taylor Swift. He knows what he’s doing and you need to let him do his thing with these kids.
10. Don’t bungle the semifinals
In Season 13, half of the singers who made it to the semifinal live shows were sent home without singing a note. Many of them were fan favorites from the audition rounds, but those fans never even had a chance to dial in support of the singers they’d begun to love. That’s B.S. If they’re semifinalists, they should all be able to sing.
11. Eliminate the save
Sure, this has allowed some talented singers last much longer (Jessica Sanchez made it all the way to the finals in Season 11), but part of the thrill of investing in a weekly elimination show is getting incensed when your favorite goes home far too early, then rallying around the other people left in the game that you love. Have the stakes actually mean something. If they don’t get enough votes, they go home — it’s as simple as that.
12. Please stop letting the audience clap along to performances
No one in the audience has rhythm. Ever. Off-beat clapping distracts not only the poor performers, but also viewers at home who just want to watch some talented young people sing some songs. Please make them stop. Is that too much to ask?!
“American Idol” Season 14 premieres Jan. 7, 2015 on FOX.