Can American Idol Survive Another Season?

The title is only slightly misleading. I doubt that Fox is going to pull the show off the air before a winner is crowned in Season 10. What I'm referring to is whether or not enough has been done to save the stalling reality series.

The Good So help me, the judging panel is very good. Randy Jackson is still as incoherent as ever, but he has no problem speaking the truth. If a singer is good or has the potential to be good, he will say yes; if a singer is horrible, he'll tell them so.

Once Jennifer "Jenny from the Block" Lopez got over her "I need to be America's Sweetheart" syndrome (which took all of half a day in real time), she actually got into some good criticism. Like Paula in the past, she focused on presentation. If a good singer showed up looking like a fool, she talked them off the crazy ledge. If a good singer performed like a corpse, she told them what they needed to do. It's refreshing. She may not be the best singer, but she does know how to put on a show.

And then there's Steven Tyler. Steven Tyler might be insane at this point. He's singing along with the contestants, adding mouth guitar or hand-against-table drum tracks to auditions. He's flirting with any thin girl with exposed skin over 18. When he's not being kooky or pervy, he's very knowledgeable about singing.

I'm sure the honeymoon period will end between the new panel. However, they seem to get along great on camera. They have wonderful chemistry and really play off each other. It's a much more optimistic bunch than Simon Cowell and Kara "Classic Aerosmith came from the Mid-90s" DioGuardi. It's refreshing.

Also refreshing? Ryan Seacrest has been mostly relegated to doing voice-overs. Minimal face-mugging and Chihuahua like antics are a big plus for the season. Thank you, returning executive producer Nigel Lythgow, for pushing him out of the audition shows.

The Really Bad Let's go with bullet points:

  • Immigrants are funny. I know I just love to laugh at people who speak another language and come from a country with a completely different musical idiom that conflicts with American standards of what good singing is, don't you? Disgusting as always, Nigel.
  • JLo's playing nice. I tuned in to see super-diva JLo, not "golly gee wiz" Jennifer.
  • 51 people got golden tickets and we saw 3 who sang well. No, really. 3 people gave very good auditions, with proper singing technique, performance, and appropriate song selections. A few were decent. Most will not have a voice by the time they're thirty if they keep singing like that. The rest of the time was montages, judges filler, and "bad" auditions.
  • OMG 15/16!!!1! That's nice. Try putting contestants through that can sustain a note for more than a second and weren't taught by your program that melisma and loud singing are all it takes to be a superstar.
  • Sob stories galore. Call me a cynic, but I don't care if a singer was briefly in a wheelchair, won a lottery to emigrate to America, or tragically got cut on the first day of Hollywood. It's a singing competition. Make with the music.

Diagnosis If you really, truly love Idol, this will be your last chance to watch it. The judges aren't compelling enough to overcome the national turn of opinion against the show and increasingly lackluster sales of the winners. Don't be sad. There's always X-Factor. That show's a train wreck musical circus that pushes bad but entertaining singers through to the voting rounds.