Americal Idol Season12-Judges

After months of hype, cast catfights and great expectations, American Idol is back for a 12th season? So will you be watching?

I didn’t watch a single moment of Idol’s 11th season – and it seems I wasn’t alone. Idol lost a whopping 23% of its total viewers last season and the season finale plunged by almost 8 million viewers from a year earlier. Sure the show is still a major hit – but Fox needs to stop the declines. And fast!

For me the big reason I tuned out last season was due to judges Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez. Partnered with the consistently ineffectual Randy Jackson, Tyler and Lopez (the former in particular) barely offered anything resembling a critique in season 10, leading to a dreary season where every performance was ‘amazing’ and ‘special’. Total snooze. How I longed for the days of Simon Cowell. Or even Kara DioGuardi. Heck even Paula had some moments of clarity at times!

 But now Tyler and Lopez have departed to ‘re-launch’ their music careers and a new posse have been drafted in – diva Mariah Carey, rapper Nicki Minaj and country star Keith Urban.  Unfortunately we still have to put up with Randy Jackson. Grrr!

But on paper these new judges should deliver. At the end of the day American Idol is a singing contest and vocals have always been front and center on the show (unlike say The X Factor where performance is a bigger part of the package – for better or for worse). By rights Mariah should be totally in her element on Idol when it comes to vocal critiques. At the same time Nicki Minaj should kick butt on the performance front. I’m hoping Minaj will inject flair to the often stale Idol format and encourage contestants to play to the cameras and the audience just as Adam Lambert so memorably did a few seasons back. As for Urban – who knows? To me Urban is still best known as Nicole Kidman’s husband and I would struggle to name a single one of his songs. But let’s be honest – he really can’t be any worse than Steven Tyler when it comes to filling the token rocker role.

But it’s not just the show’s judges that need a shake up on Idol. As I’ve long argued here at Remote Patrolled the show needs to freshen up its weekly themes (no more Beatles’ Night or Songs From The Year You Were Born), calm down the contestant backstories and ‘journeys’ and somehow make those Results shows more interesting (talk about padding!)

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Above all Idol needs to stop crowning white males with guitars as the winner each season – as has been the case for the last FIVE seasons – David Cook, Kris Allen, Lee DeWyze, Scotty McCreery and Phillip Phillips. It’s no coincidence that the show’s biggest sellers to date have been Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood – female artists are just much more saleable in the global market and more chart friendly. Plus traditional ‘pop’ stars don’t face any stigma from their time on Idol. It’s hard to be taken seriously as a male artist appealing to a ‘serious’ fan base when you’ve launched on a TV talent show.

What Idol does have going for it – unlike The Voice and The X Factor – is its star making ability. American Idol is the one TV show that regular churns out contestants that actually go on to have hits (sometimes very big ones!) Okay so the show hasn’t produced a Kelly or a Carrie in a while but last year’s winner Phillip Phillips is already off to a cracking start – his single Home is the biggest Idol coronation song to date (double platinum!) and his album has already sold half a million copies in less than 2 months). And previous winner Scotty McCreery has also performed well with the country market with a million selling debut album in 2011 and a decent Christmas album.

For me a music competition show is always much more compelling when the stakes are high. Idol finalists know that a 12th place finish pretty much dooms their career while a top 3 placement gives them a great shot at future success. That’s real jeopardy – unlike say on The Voice where the show’s first two winners both fizzled in their debuts. I do think both The Voice and The X Factor will produce ‘starts’ this year – namely Cassadee Pope on the former and Emblem 3 and Fifth Harmony on the latter – but for now Idol is the sole hit making show in town.

But heck who am I kidding. There’s one other MAJOR reason we all want to watch Idol this season – to check out the much-reported feud between Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj. I doubt we’ll see much sign of trouble during the heavily edited early round of the show, but once Idol goes live – who knows? A wrong word out of place and there’s a great chance of some juicy train wreck TV!

So yep, I’ll be giving Idol season 12 another shot in the coming weeks – but what about you? Will you be watching – or are you already done with the franchise – and why? Comment away…