Trainwreck Idol – Judging the Judges

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

Last year, I missed an untapped vein of content for the daily blog by watching American Idol, but not commenting on it. The nice thing about the show is that you can pretend that it’s football, and overanalyze it to a dead horse. That’s blog post material to me.

I’m not even sure that I would normally even want to start this early. There isn’t a whole lot to analyze during auditions, or even during Hollywood weeks, because you see a lot of people, and don’t know who is important. At their first stop in New Jersey they gave out 51 gold tickets… sigh… we need Simon. And of those 51 they only showed maybe four people that I thought were any good, so I can’t even begin to really analyze. Except that there is something to talk about already. America got to judge the judges.

The opening segment was as exciting as a movie trailer where at the end you think you may just want to see that movie, but there is something that tells you that maybe it’s going to suck. The segment screamed of, “We’re coming into our tenth year, everybody has bailed from the show, and our ratings are slipping a little even though we’re still number one, so pleeeeease watch us!” But that might have just been my impression.

I feel like I need to review what has been going on, but I’m already seeing this being a much longer post than I want it to be. Ah, what the hell? As it is, I’m not sure I have all my facts straight, so why would I deny myself the chance to look like a moron? Isn’t that what American Idol is all about? Oh really? Finding a new pop star? Hmm. Not that interesting of a show after all is it?

Here is what I think I’m sure of. Nigel Lythgoe dropped out of the producer spot to focus on “So You Think You Can Dance.” Somewhere around that time there were rumours that Paula Abdul was not staying with the show, which Fox Television denied. Then they brought on a fourth judge, Kara DioGuardi, who was not meant to replace Paula. There were rumours that Simon would leave the show when his contract was up, which he only half assed denied, while not really denying it.

But Kara didn’t replace Paula, so maybe we had Fox Television all wrong. They simply thought it was a good idea to bore us to death with four people saying how great a mediocre singer was, rather just three people. Fine. Except that Paula left the next year, and Ellen DeGeneres replaced her instead, because they still wanted to bore us with four people. See, the rumours weren’t true as long as you take them mostly at face value. Then Simon announced it was his last year. Shocking. Then rumours abounded that they would find someone good to replace him… we’ll get to that in a minute.

Somewhere near the end of the season, Nigel came back, and reportedly said that they should just get rid of everybody and start fresh. Then the rumours that Kara and Ellen were out started, and Fox… well, Fox denied these rumours. Except that very soon after, both Ellen and Kara decided that they didn’t want to be on the show anymore. You know, by their own choices. Kara went back to songwriting. Paula went on to her new show, “So You Think You Can Paula.” Ellen went back to her talk show, and how well is that working out for her? Oh, really. Actually pretty good. Well, then I’m happy for her.

There were no rumours concerning Randy Jackson or Ryan Seacrest leaving, which is odd because after the bloodbath, they’re still on the show.

So what do I think of the judges this year? Let’s start with the only returning judge.

Randy Jackson – Randy has always been odd. Some weeks he loves everything, and some weeks he doesn’t love anything. I’ve always enjoyed him though, and I’m glad he stuck around. The thing is that 51 tickets? I swear that those numbers were much lower before. And I’ll deal with some of the people who got through, but they used to be pretty good about not letting people through if they didn’t exhibit at least a hint of being able to win. This year they seemed to be letting people through with a hint of talent.

Jennifer Lopez – You know, I think she maybe gets a little bit of condescending press at times: mixed movie reviews, mixed album reviews, and mixed reviews of her romantic involvement. She does get positive press on many of her entrepreneurial ventures though. Thing is that she’s really cute (though I don’t think anyone was ever doubting that) and I think that she was a competent judge, albeit too nice like Paula was sometimes. And hold that thought about Ms. Lopez as a “replacement for Paula” for a moment as I move on to…

Steven Tyler – I don’t know how it is that this guy is not that cute, but is still so cute. No matter how much he ages, there is this hint of this guy who is good looking, even if I can’t pinpoint why. Keith Richards is probably pretty envious. He met all predictions, at least the one I made and the one my roommate, Jess, made. Her prediction was that he would have trouble containing his voice, and would pull some signature Aerosmith vocal riffs while trying to speak. He did. I predicted that he would judge the talent using Aerosmith lyrics. I was partially right. One of the first people who walked in, Mr. Tyler said, “You know why we’re all here? Because we’re not all there.” And this is why I’m calling it Trainwreck Idol. I know I should look away, but… “I don’t want to miss a thing.” And for the record, I bet that has been used over and over and over by people since they announced he would be a judge, but you know what? I don’t care. If I could take over his body for one show, I would memorize every lyric in the Aerosmith library, and I would fit it all in somehow, even if it had to be done with mirrors, because I just would. It’s nobody’s fault. It’s just how I am. I’m not sure Mr. Tyler did a bad job judging, but since Ms. Lopez’s spot has been on the auction block for a few seasons now, it felt ok that she was sitting there. But I kept expecting that at any moment Ryan’s voice would chime in and say, “Simon was running late that day because of pressing matters at his record label,” and Simon would walk in, and Mr. Tyler would say, “It was awesome being a guest judge.” And it never happened.

There is a band known as Chicago. I once believed that Chicago could go on forever as a band, because for years there were people leaving, coming in, leaving, and it was ok. Then there was a band known as Nirvana that changed the pop radio landscape for awhile, and even if people eventually accepted that guy they got in place of Peter Cetera to sing for Chicago, it wouldn’t matter, because their music was never to be the modern pop style again, unless they took Santana’s lead and had a guest list longer than Lindsay Lohan’s arrest record. She’s been arrested a lot, right? I’m not out of touch that bad, am I? I see American Idol as Chicago for the time being. Peter Cetera is out, though hopefully Simon has better success, and for the time being American Idol still fits the pop culture. They could phase judges in and out for years as long as something doesn’t change the TV landscape too much. I guess we’ll see.

I hope I don’t come off like I’m not still a fan of the show, because I was trying to be funny. I think there have been some mistakes in production the last couple of years, but I was still looking forward to this year, and still am. I’ll write another part about the contestants later, even if there isn’t much to say.

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