I really pity the contestants on the next “American Idol.”
Ever since Paula Abdul left the judge’s platform on “A.I.” the focus has abandoned the true meaning of the show: Discovering true musical talent. Paula, with her quirky reviews of the hopefuls auditions and performances, constantly provided freshness for the show. Even though she may have been overly soft, she still was able to let the contestants know that they did not bring their best. What Paula gave gently, Simon counter-attacked with a roar. But America expected it. America did love Paula and her ways. She and Simon worked well together. Maybe it was Paula’s demeanor off the American Idol stage that rendered her vulnerable for public scrutiny. As she was said to have interviewed in a “drunken-state” on different morning talk shows, the American public still gave Paula the benefit of the doubt and wanted more of her. They kept viewing the show. However, even before the goofy TV appearances there was talk about a sex scandal. Almost like a sex-tape being shopped around, Paula’s encounter with an “Idol” contestant was the first bout of confusion for the show. Not only did the producers of “American Idol” forgive Paula, America stood by her side. Finally, after eight successful seasons on the ratings giant, Paula called it quits and announced that she would not be returning to the Fall 2009 season of “American Idol.”
There was no ploy for more money for Paula. There weren’t even any bidding wars for Paula’s replacement. Somehow, someway, the producers of the show must have felt that Miss Abdul was getting bigger than Simon and the show itself. All the talk was about her. There could only be one narcissist on “Idol” (quite similarly to the leader of the “Today” show today). So, as Paula made her exit two lesser known icons would come and go as well. Kara Dioguardi, singer-songwriter (fired by American Idol) and Ellen DeGeneres, actress and talk-show host with no musical experience (who quit the show as public opinion questioned her role on the show to judge talent), both could not occupy Paula’s cursed-seat. One would have thought that the producers of “American Idol” would see the writing on the wall. Even with messy track records, the show’s producers only proved that the show was not about the contestants, but about the star quality it was able to produce. Enter aging rock star, Steven Tyler from the famed rock band Aerosmith. Dude not only looked like a lady but he made every attempt to conquer the young talent as they graced the auditioning stage. Lookers-on may have even equated that platform for a casting couch. Needless to say, the rocker chick remained groupie-status. Alas, Jennifer Lopez, a.k.a. Jenny from the Bloc, a.k.a. J-Lo. Also with a not-so-stellar track record, Miss Lopez was thought to be able to bring glam to the show. With public scandal still under her belt due to her association with Puff Daddy, now P-Diddy, mediocre record sales and inconsistent box-office success, J-Lo obviously had a great Manager/Publicist who fought to prove her worthy of the ill-fated position. Yet, even as Mr. Tyler’s and J-Lo’s first season failed to garner improved TV ratings, producers were blind-sided by the savvy Miss Lopez when she publicly announced that she wasn’t sure of her return for a second season. This was definitely a slap in the faces of the producers as their unpreparedness forced them to give-in to the demands of Ala-Lopez. Again, proving the show was not about the contestants. With the calculated and orchestrated skits about being personally attached to certain hopefuls, quite a few more talented youngsters were released from the show. As Randy Jackson, the longest standing or sitting judge on the show, gave his critique he knew just how to manipulate public opinion. Not that there are or were many musical geniuses sitting at home at the time of his reviews of the singers, Randy seemed to favor the more “pitchy” – according to his standards over the “pitch-perfect” according to the viewers at home. Maybe there was a deeper payoff…somewhere. There’s a lot we could learn from Tyra Banks’ show “America’s Next Top Model.”
In her attempt to prove that she is still in top manipulative form, J-Lo tries to upstage Cameron Diaz while promoting their box-office bomb, “What To Expect When You’re Expecting,” by announcing that she wasn’t sure she would be returning to “Idol.” That could have had everything to do with the fact that Britney Spears had just secured a $15 million payday for her role on Simon Cowell’s “X-Factor.” With Britney being a much bigger star and “Idols” lack luster ratings, why should the network pay a sagging artist more money for nothing? Again, this is still not about the performers. Simon had never been a true fan of Jennifer Lopez and even said that he felt his show “X-Factor” would triumph in the ratings. It’s first season may not have grabbed the numbers Simon stated it would in its first season, but Simon is still confident of his show’s potential. And, to make sure Simon does not one-up them, the producers of “American Idol” have acquired a higher-caliber star to serve as a judge: Mariah Carey. With still having two young children on her hip, producers may have failed to see the liability such a diva could be for the show and the network. Should Mariah need to make a maternal exit, who would be her replacement, Nick Cannon – her husband? Still, this is not about the contestants, but about the TV ratings and star quality. Mariah should give one hell of a finale show. Will we ever care who the winner of the show is?
Were there not qualified potential judges with different baggage to bring to the show? Take for example: Ricky Martin, Frank Ocean, Chely Wright, and Keri Hilson? All these performers actually do their own work. Not only do they write and produce for other artists, they can all hold their own on a stage. That divided $18 million paycheck, I’m sure, would be happily received by the mentioned artists. I guess it would still be such an honor to be able to audition in front of all that brightness that sparkles and blinds us from seeing Mariah’s true beauty. J-Lo tried to use the “American Idol” platform to promote her new album, CD…whatever. But, with Mariah being worth roughly $300 million and counting, why be associated with an ill-fated spectacle? If you notice, everyone who has left as a judge has always occupied Paula’s seat. If Randy stays, maybe he should slide over…into Paula’s seat. Let’s just hope that Mariah will really be a diva and use her own mind about who should be in the Top 20 or Top 10. We would hate to find out there was a list being floated around before the show even started.