Open Mic

Guest Blog: A Long Time 'Idol' Watcher Says that Show is Broken and Needs to be Fixed

Chuck Ross Posted May 27, 2010 at 1:10 PM

This is a guest essay from one of the biggest fans of 'American Idol" that I know; Judy Pollack, the managing editor at our sibling publication, Advertising Age, where I used to work once upon a time. For as long as I can recall, Judy has had a passion for "Idol."  Judy is based in New York City.

Memo to American Idol Producers:

Even 3,000 miles away, I can hear the gnashing of teeth over “American Idol” losing the vast viewership that Coke, Ford and others so covet. There’s fretting that those still watching are older and that the Idol voter base has bifurcated into two rabid factions that are skewing the results – teens and so-called cougars.

Given that, why in the world would you trot out a bunch of oldies-radio refugees for the all-important finale? There’s something seriously wrong when Bret Michaels commands the freshest, most-exciting moment of the program. Alice Cooper, Hall and Oates and Chicago all sounded as if they were out on leave from the rest home (Cooper at least still looked the part, I’ll give him that). And it’s downright sad when Michael Lynche out-sings Michael McDonald.

Now, I’m of the age to have appreciated these acts in their prime – hell, I even saw “Saturday Night Fever” in a movie theater. But if the idea is to revive “Idol,” bringing back the Bee Gees is not the way.

There were moments – Janet Jackson, Alanis Morissette and Christina Aguilera did the show proud. During their performances I almost regretted pulling my living room shades for fear of being seen watching. But for the most part, the show made we wonder if this is some sort of conspiracy to bury Idol post-Simon.

And speaking of Simon, what was with that I’ve-been-on-this-show-nine-years-and-all-I-got-was-this T-shirt sendoff? With Cowell being the best part of Idol all these years a far better farewell could have been devised – I mean, you had a whole season to put it together. Seeing Paula again was great and parading the former winners out was very touching, but it seemed oddly unfulfilling. Much of the blog chatter, in fact, isn’t about what was in the tribute but who wasn’t -- David Cook and Adam Lambert.

What’s more, it seems like you aren’t even trying anymore. In past finales, there were some exciting matchups for the two last contestants. Pairing Glambert with Kiss was pure genius. And though I will bow to your decision this season to have Crystal Bowersox and Lee DeWyze match their gravely tones with Joe Cocker, saddling Lee with Chicago – ‘cause he’s from the Windy City suburbs, get it? -- was just plain insanity.

Perhaps the biggest disappointment is that there isn’t a lot of surprise anymore in who will win. I don’t want to take away from Lee’s talent – because he has it in spades – but as the years roll on it’s predictably the cute guy left standing in the confetti shower. Not that I have anything against cute guys, but it seems to me there’s less incentive for talented women to give Idol a shot.

And you wonder why last night’s preliminary rating is coming in the lowest since season one. Producers, I plead with you as an Idol fan: Please find a way to fix this. I really don’t want to have to watch ‘X Factor.’