Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Possible Spoiler: The Scoop on the American Idol Rule Change

If you watched American Idol to the bitter end tonight, you heard Ryan and Simon tease a game-changing rule adjustment that "involves the judges more," and that America may or may not be happy about.

(Read American Idol Top 13 Recap and Elimination Prediction: Bye Bye Jasmine?)

To me, a longtime watcher of Idol and countless other reality television shows, that could only mean one thing -- America will determine the Bottom 3 (or possibly 2), and the judges will ultimately choose which individual goes home. There's a possibility the contestants could have to sing again for the judges (the "sing-off" has already been deployed once this season, during the judge's mansion episode), but in my mind there is no doubt the judges will be stepping in in a major way.

I'm not coming up with this out of thin air -- there is definitely a precedent, as this is the way it is done on X-Factor, the show Simon Cowell judges in Britain (and that produced Leona Lewis), as well as the early rounds of the finals on So You Think You Can Dance. And I will add that I can't imagine this rule will be in effect much beyond the Top 7, if it even goes that far. But still, this is a major game-changer.

Is this a good thing or a bad thing? On the one hand, contestants sent packing way before their time (Jennifer Hudson, Carly Smithson) would have survived much longer in the competition, and contestants who long overstayed their welcome (Sanjaya Malakar, John Stevens, Haley Scarnato, countless others) would have had their Idol journeys significantly shortened. On the other hand, contestants who the judges didn't much care for at first but America believes in (Jason Castro, Trenyce) won't get a chance to shine.

There's undoubtedly an element of the show's democratic nature being taken away here, but could it actually benefit the show's entertainment value as a result?

I'm getting ahead of myself -- the "twist" has not even yet been officially announced. But it's my pseudo-Idol historian's hunch.

What do you think of this as a possibility? Fair? Unfair? Sound off below.


Sue said...

The judges have already had too much influence this season.

They kicked out better contestants in the Hollywood rounds than many they sent through. In Hollywood, they pimped the ones they wanted us to vote for and dissed or ignored the others.

With so few contestants going through in each of the semifinal rounds, the voters dutifully voted for anyone that 3 judges cheered.

The judges outright chose the 4 wildcards after arbitrarily choosing the 8 who would get to "compete."

In theory, the singoff might be a good idea. However, Sanjaya was probably the most entertaining and memorable feature of a very weak season. Jennifer Hudson may well have been voted out by the judges. She was in the bottom 3 with LaToya and Fantasia. I doubt that Simon would have allowed his preordained champ Fantasia to leave so early if it was within his power to keep her. Therefore, Jennifer probably had a 50/50 chance of leaving that night.

I've written off this season at this point. I might be lured back but I don't intend to watch. I don't see much diversity. The oldest of the very few females is 20. White males predominate. I have limited interest in the current contestants.

Giving the judges even more say takes the American public out of American Idol. At this point, public input has been largely an illusion. The judging has been based at least as much on backstory as on talent. Doesn't Simon periodically tell us this is a singing contest?

Somehow, the whole process seems tainted.

Morgan said...

Totally agree. I hope America's ready for 8 more weeks of Corkry.

Anonymous said...

Good news doe Meghan Corkrey.

Conservative Democrat said...

Sue, I NEVER liked Fantasia in Season 3 (2004), Simon kept pushing her down our throats, I think he and the Idol producers rigged the competition to prevent Diana (who I voted for that year's finale) from winning.

This year, the judges are acting like the DALEY MACHINE in Illinois, ignoring the will of the people voting and deciding who wins the Idol crown.