by Mikey Rox
Idol producers: When stars of the show that made them famous start throwing
you shade, it might be time to cue the swan song.
Let’s recap, shall we?
Jennifer Hudson – the seventh-place, season-three Idol
finalist who has since become a
Golden Globe and Oscar Award-winning actress – recently
that while she’s “proud to have come from American Idol
once-dominant singing competition “should go out on top.”
“Everything has its time,” she added, suggesting that the
Ryan Seacrest-hosted reality show is not as popular as it once was.
And she’s right. The Season 12 premiere earlier this month
was down 19% from last year’s premiere.
That shouldn’t come as a surprise to any of us, though. In
fact, there are so many reasons for the decline in viewers that it’s hard to
decide where to start.
First, let’s get the revolving door of judges out of the
Randy Jackson, Simon Cowell, and Paula Abdul had chemistry
from the beginning – there’s no doubt about that.
It’s part of what made Idol
the juggernaut it was when it debuted and for many years after.
But it wasn’t long before a brilliant talking head in the
back decided to muck up the formula by adding the dastardly Kara DioGuardi to
the mix, which ultimately threw a wrench into the wheel of this perfectly oiled
machine. Before you knew it, Paula was out, Kara got to stay (HOW did that
happen? Oh, yeah – thanks brilliant talking head), and Ellen DeGeneres was
added to the panel to take Paula’s place. One season later, Simon abandoned the
sinking ship, both Ellen and Kara walked the plank, and Jennifer Lopez and
Steven Tyler hopped aboard. After two seasons of Steven’s screeching and J.
Lo’s crocodile tears, they both parted ways with the show. Which brings us to
the current panel: Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj, Keith Urban, and mainstay Randy
And therein lies the problem – incompatibility.
What American Idol
did for J. Lo (made her likeable again and, dare we say it, charming even)
seems to have had the opposite affect on catty schoolgirls Mariah Carey and Nicki
Minaj, both of whom already have a terrible reputation for being divalicious.
While Mimi’s on-screen personality is bearable (we’ve been
dealing with her theatrics for over two decades now, daaaahling), Nicki comes
off pretentious, bossy and bratty – traits that won’t sit well with most of
Frankly, it’s baffling that Miss Super Bass was chosen for a
place at the judges’ table at all, given her brand of music, loud mouth, and
frequent industry feuds. That’s simply not gonna fly with the wholesome-family-values
crowd that accounts for a significant number of Idol’s viewership.
Of course, that’s precisely why Keith Urban was invited to
the panel – to provide balance and broaden appeal. It’s just too bad he doesn’t
get a word in edgewise. Not that he has much to say anyway. Dude’s boring –
with or without clown faces constantly talking over him.
Still, while it’s clear that this latest crop of judges lack
chemistry, there’s another thing they seem to be missing, too: Authenticity.
teased a brewing battle between Mariah and Nicki for months, which came to a
boil when video of a mid-audition meltdown between the pair was “leaked”
online. Plenty of people bought into the ruse given the girls’ personalities
and penchant for drama – hey, it was possible – but when the season premiered,
it became clear that this was all a setup. A poorly orchestrated (and acted)
one, at best.
Whether or not Mariah and Nicki genuinely like or dislike
each other remains to be seen – perhaps they truly hate each other’s guts – but
they’re not doing well to convince viewers of the tension. Their childish
back-and-forth banter is too over the top, too frequent, and too early in the
season to give the feud any cred. It’s completely disingenuous. If they really
hated each other, they would pick their battles – it’s a long season, after
all. Instead, they’re picking every
battle with each other – which became tedious and tiresome 30
minutes into the
The biggest issue that American
Idol has this season, though, isn’t its inability to properly pair
compatible judges or coaching its ‘mis-picks’ on the art of authenticity.
Rather, it’s the quality of the contestants and the judges’ willingness to send
to Hollywood singers who clearly don’t make the grade.
Take Tenna Torres, for instance. The promotional model and
Camp Mariah alum (yes, there’s an actual place for people to worship Carey) butchered
James Taylor’s “You’ve Got a Friend” with her own high-pitched, nasally
. Of course, Mariah acted like Torres’ voice was akin to angels
ascending from heaven (you think she’s gonna tell a Camp Mariah alum that she
sucks on national TV? Fat chance.) and the others followed suit. It was a
head-scratching-but-telltale moment of the new season that solidified that the
current installment of AI
is merely a
memory of its former self.
Sad, but true.
It’s also true, mind you, that American Idol
changed the face of talent competitions on TV Shows
changed the way superstar singers are discovered. And it gave us some of the
most popular, successful, and talented artists in the industry today, including
Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood.
Lately, however, the only thing it’s doing is forcing us to
quietly wonder, “Are you people deaf?”
If only we could be so lucky.
Have an opinion on
this lower-rated season of American Idol?
Let us know in the comments below.