This time last year, American Idol was entering what could be charitably called… a difficult period. A year later, and things are about as different as they could be. Season Ten did supremely well, and Simon Cowell’s overhyped X-Factor wasn’t exactly what people thought it would be.
Just about everyone else in the Idolsphere has come up with their Season 11 wishlist, and I’m not going to add another one – largely because the wishlist is kinda obvious. Newer songs, judges doing their jobs, no more stunt casting – this is the sort of stuff people have been saying for a very long time. There’s no need to repeat it this time around.
Now, to be honest, I don’t pay that much attention to Idol until the voting actually begins. As much as possible, I don’t want my opinions of the contestants to be colored too much by Idol‘s editing of the audition process. More than any other time of the year, this is when it’s all about providing a “good show.” Unfortunately, Idol‘s definition of a good audition show is full of drama, hysterics, crying, and profanity. This year, it’s not even delivering that, with some remarkably lifeless audition weeks that make it clear we’re not missing much.
One more parting thought. The ratings for the four audition shows have not been all that great, kicking off yet another round of is-Idol-dying speculation. A lot of it can be blamed on the judges’refusal to judge: it seems that all three picked up where last year left off, and still think that any decently good performance is a gift from the heavens.
On the other hand, maybe more people are like me and “tuning out” from the auditions, Hollywood week, from everything I like to call the Idol preseason. Here’s a little thought experiment. Starting with Season Six onwards, how many of the top ten rated episodes (by viewers) were before any voting began? From most to fewest, they are:
- Season Nine – 9/10
- Season Six – 8/10
- Season Eight – 6/10
- Season Seven – 4/10
- Season Ten – 4/10
Yes, the audition episodes are important, rating-wise… but less so if you have a good, competitive, season. Both S9 and S6 can be regarded as good and proper trainwrecks, and Season Eight had its fair share of trouble.
There are two things that Idol needs to ensure with the top 24. It has to be a good cast overall, and there has to be a little something for everyone. The one thing that would not be good for Idol is if it gets pigeon-holed as a show for White Guys With Guitars and/or country singers only. (Scotty McCreery, rather unfairly, gets tagged with both labels. The country label is accurate, but I don’t particularly consider him a WGWG the way, say, David Cook was.)
I’ll see you back in a couple of weeks when the show really starts.