Let’s face it… AI is getting a little long in the tooth… so here’s a few suggestions to fix the biggest problems that the aging franchise has:
1. No more plants, ever. The biggest fix the show needs is that it’s time to go back to searching for America’s next undiscovered Idol. That means no more Broadway performers, no more “they had a record deal but don’t anymore” types, no more close friends of the producers. Change the rules so that if you had a record deal, you’re not eligible. Simple enough.
2. Stop pimping. Please. Once the voting starts, the judges aren’t allowed to predict who will win, or suggest how America should vote. Look, we know the sheep will vote however the judges tell them to vote – so stop telling them how to vote. Critique the performances. Suggest how the singers can do it better next time. But stop telling us that a particular performer “will be back next week” or “is going to make the finals”. Those become self-fulfilling prophecies. And that’s just not fair.
3. Transparency is good. Nobody trusts the results. There’s allegedly a Fox staffer running around New York telling anyone who asks that she knows who the AI8 Final Four are. Not her opinion, she says, but “the producers have decided these four are the final four”. It’s believable, because nobody outside Fox/19/Fremantle know the votes. There’s a simple way to head that off. Make a deal with one of the Big Four (KPMG, Ernst & Young, Deloitte or PricewaterhouseCoopers) and have them audit the AT&T results each week. They don’t have to tell us the number of votes. Just tell us that they independently verified the totals. That will end the rigging rumors for once and for all.
4. Cut back on themes. I can see an occasional theme week. But this is a competition to find a hot, new, contemporary singer. Forcing them to sing genres they’ll never touch if they do have a career is ridiculous and forces good singers out too early. Maybe have a theme week every 2-3 weeks… but free the singers to choose contemporary songs they want to sing, and pay the damn compulsory licensing fees. You’re making a killing from AT&T texting charges. Spend a little. And if you can’t do that, at least go through the 1990s or 2000s and find artists who are current, with deep catalogs, and let the singers loose on them.
5. Randomize the singing order. You can’t tell me that an Idol preshow on Fox Reality or TV Guide Network, where the performers pull their singing order from a drum, wouldn’t make a few bucks for Fox. And you could give previews of the songs coming up… interview the celebrity guests… give us a bit more backstage information… all without taking away from the live performance show. This also goes back to transparency. It’s believed that singing order is used to help determine the results. If the order is clearly random… there goes that talking point.
5a. Put Paula into rehab, already. It’s painful to watch her stumble through the show in a haze. Please. This is fixable.
There you go. A 5.5-point plan to fix AI.