American Idol to Undergo “Retooling”

CKx, the company that owns American Idol is to undergo a major retooling, according to a report from the New York Times. That is, after the company itself undergoes its own reorganization.  The company will consider changes to the voting system as part of the “refresh.”

CKx, owned by the capital equity firm Apollo Global Management, will be rechristened Thursday as Core Media Group. Among its initial plans are a full-scale review, in conjunction with executives from the Fox network, of “American Idol,” where ratings dropped by more than 30 percent this season. Within the next few weeks, the company also plans to acquire what the new president of Core, Marc Graboff, described as a “high-profile production company that has produced 25 series for cable networks.”

Core plans on managing Phillip and Jessica? Simon Fuller and his group, XIX, manage last year’s winner and runner up.  There are also plans to exploit the show further:

“We will certainly manage Phillip Phillips and Jessica Sanchez,” Mr. Graboff said of the two recent finalists. He also has plans to exploit the show further as either cable or digital programming, including a potential series based on behind-the-scenes video of the contest and this year’s national tour.

I’ve been waiting for the show to be re-run on cable. Every other singing show does. Although, I’m not sure how much potential a behind-the-scenes show or concert special has at this point. They need to focus on strengthening the core product before they diversify.

“ ‘Idol’ is still the gold standard,” Mr. Graboff said. “It’s very viable, but it definitely needs to be refreshed and it will be.”

To that end, he said he had recruited the format’s creator, Simon Fuller, who departed in one of several changes in the management structure of CKx, to come back and submit ideas for how to tweak the “Idol” format. Some of these may be based on alterations instituted by international editions of the show. (It is sold in about 100 territories.)

Simon Fuller will be consulted. I wonder if Nigel Lythgoe will be part of the “refresh” team?  He wasn’t very happy when FOX executives suggested that the show should have been rebooted again last year in advance of new competition from The Voice and X Factor.

One of the areas Mr. Fuller is closely looking at, Mr. Graboff said, is the voting process. As many critics have noted, the show has produced five similar winners in a row. “They’re being called W.G.W.G.’s — white guys with guitars,” Mr. Graboff said. These outcomes have been interpreted as a result of so many young girls voting for the cutest male performer.

As for changes in the judging panel, Mr. Graboff said those calls are Fox’s to make.

An obstacle to changing the voting system is  that AT&T is a major sponsor.  Unlimited text messaging throughout the run of the series translates into revenue for the telecommunications company.  I can’t imagine they would be thrilled with attempts to limit the voting.

Honestly, I don’t believe that limiting the voting would change the outcomes of the competition, I really don’t. Changing the voting system is not at the top of my personal tweak list.  Actually, I think unlimited voting is one way to keep viewers engaged.  The more a fan believes they can control an outcome (I’ m going to vote 1000 times for my favorite!) the more they’re drawn in.   DON’T screw with America’s ability to control the outcome! that would include giving the judges more power over who advances.

I hope Core (Aka CKx) doesn’t panic and go crazy with the tweaks. The audition rounds need to be refreshed. The formula has become tedious.  But ANY changes that are made need to  keep the contestants at the forefront. The American Idol formula is the best because it allows viewers to become and stay  INVESTED in the contestants up until the very end.  Any changes Core makes needs to strengthen that investment, not weaken it.

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  • David Facenfield

    3 words spring to mind (in no particular order) SHARK… JUMPING… THE…

  • shouldbedancing

    I enjoyed the after-show they used to air on Fox Reality and the re-runs there so I hope they do something like that. Behind the scenes and tour footage sounds like fun.

    I also don’t think voting should be changed.  Unlimited voting is an integral part of American Idol and the person who “deserves” to win is the one who gets the most votes. Period.

  • revcat

    I stopped voting after realizing a single, or even a handful of, votes is like p***ing in the wind. Also, winning is not an automatic success formula, so why bother. I have watched every season and will continue; don’t care for the other singiing contest shows, but that’s just me.

  • fuzzywuzzy

    “I also don’t think voting should be changed.  Unlimited voting is an
    integral part of American Idol and the person who “deserves” to win is
    the one who gets the most votes. Period.”

    I think that this worked before the advent of power texting, where one individual became capable of submitting thousands of votes, skewing the voting in far too disproportionate a way. At any rate, it’s too late to change the voting system in an attempt to change the outcome, as it’s the viewing/voting demographic of the show that has changed and narrowed over the years and changing the voting system won’t help change the outcome. I also agree with MJ, that there’s too much revenue from text messaging for Idol to limit votes cast by that method.

  • Gwen

    LOL @ “white guys with guitars.”  Did they pick that term up from the blogs/forums?

  • Larc

    Sorry to hear they are bringing Simon Fuller in for “fresh ideas.”  He hasn’t had a fresh idea in years.  They need to do whatever it takes to get him totally separated from Idol.  And that includes permanently ending his choosing any songs for Top 2 week.

  • Guest

    Would you rather it be kept the same?

    I’m glad some changes will be made.

  • Kirsten

    To that end, he said he had recruited the format’s creator, Simon
    Fuller, who departed in one of several changes in the management
    structure of CKx, to come back and submit ideas for how to tweak the
    “Idol” format.

    I hope his production suggestions are fresher than his song choices.

  • Anonymous

    The single most important thing this show needs to tweak is the judging panel.

    I’ve quit watching solely because of the judges.  Worse than useless and interested only in self-promotion.  Losing JLo is a huge start but not nearly enough.

    Get rid of all 3.  Hire the Sing-Off crew – Sara, Shawn, and Ben.  Or at a minimum, find 3 people like them.  Judges who will actually judge, give constructive criticism, inform contestants and audience alike what a contestant needs to do to improve and where/how they messed up.

    If the judging panel is not addressed, the show has lost one series-long viewer, voter, and purchaser.

  • V Jemmy

    Don’t they mention looking at the voting every year as something to ‘change?’  It never does.  Not going to expect it to this time.

    Having done the 4 hour straight voting block on finale night, I agree that it does lead to fan investment, so I completely understand where that is coming from.  But honestly, I would have been as invested in my Idol even if I only had ten votes because it was the Idol I was invested in, not the show.  The show.. I watched it the following two years because I was invested in this blog.  This year… even the investment in the blog couldn’t get me interested in the show beyond three specific episodes (two of which I would not have known about without the blog).

    It really does all come down to the talent and casting the correct people, then hope that they create enough buzz off of them to draw in those who didn’t tune in.

  • Tess

    AT&T texting is only available to 1 in 4 audience members so phone and online voting is still a viable alternative and does result in a heck of a lot of voting.  The problem with Idol isn’t really “buried” within the show it is a lot more about the show’s age, the advent of more and more similar shows, the changing viewing habits of the nation at-large, and America’s insatiable appetite for the next “NEW” thing instead of settling for the tried and true.

    Nothing stays at the top of the heap for ever (ask any professional sports team).  And just like in team sports they can tweak a line-up all they want and bring in fresh new blood and change the management and build a new stadium and offer lots of incentives to bring people into the arena…but dog-gone, none of that can insure a winning legacy.

    Idol is just plain “OLD”.  TPTB should just let it run its course…cause the more they fiddle with it the more they will loose the core audience who has stayed with them for 11 seasons…and all the new eyes won’t make up for the loyal viewers who will eventually just leave a show they no longer identify with.

  • Amy Beth

    I think they should consider scrapping the save and replacing it with a Rockstar/ Voice “sing for your life” decision between the bottom 2 (possibly 3) every week, until Final 5 or so. 

  • Joseph

    Limiting the votes would certainly have an impact. We just don’t know what. I think it’s silly to think it wouldn’t change the outcome. Sure, it might not change the eventual winner, but it’s very likely it would change a lot of the contestants placings. But, really, I think Idol should take an innovative approach towards their voting and create something of an “electoral college” system. The real danger in voting is not the “girls votes for cute guys” scenario. It’s regional. There are plenty of things that can be done to experiment with the voting, but leaving it AS IS is the worst choice.

    The proof you need that changes need to be made? Last year… no one was using “W.G.W.G” in a PRESS RELEASE. Jesus. 

  • Anonymous

    Why not just limit the number of text votes, the same way they limit online votes?

  • Anonymous

    Then the show would be called X-Factor, lol. That’s X-Factor’s exact format. :-P

  • Anonymous

    My suggestions would be to cut down on the number of audition shows, because they are tedious and boring. Second, get some judges that give a damn about earning their money. Stop turning the show into an opportunity for the jduges to hock their wares. Third, choose better contestants, meaning get some urban/hip hop singers,  country pop singers, and alternative rock performers. I love to see some duets with other artist when they get down to the final five.  

  • Reflects On Life

    Perhaps they could consider reducing the voting time frame, currently set at 2 hours post-show, to just 1 hour or even just 1/2 hour, without actually reducing the number of votes allowed.  This would give traditional voters more incentive to vote while still allowing power-voters to express their fan-dom.

  • Anonymous

    ATT offers some prettly reasonable unlimited texting plans so I wouldn’t be surprised if more and more people don’t have unlimited texting.   I don’t think texting is the cash cow for ATT as it used to be.   Too much competition out there for them with other carriers offer inexpensive plans. 

    I think changing the voting would help change the perception that WGWG only need apply.    S8 did some damage with the ATT texting scandal.   Still have no idea how true the 30 million number from Arkansas is.   Yeah, I know ATT and AI denied the reports, but what else would they do?  There were people in the local Arkansas press stating they had voted over 200,000 times each by learning to text in bulk by local ATT employees. 

    Now, if the outcome doesn’t change, so be it.  But I think people would feel there was a level playing field in regards to voting.  I know I might actually vote again.

    Phillip is off to a great start with “HOME.”   If he can do well with his album, that too will help shake off some of the WGWG.   Scotty is doing very well, and I have a feeling he won’t suffer the sophmore slump because he seems to be accepted by Country.   At least I hope so.  If those two can continue to have successs that will go a long way in increasing the musical cred of idol.

    Yeah, yeah, I know it’s a TV show.  But many people, including the press, care about what happens to these contestants after the confetti falls.

  • Larc

    Why not just limit the number of text votes, the same way they limit online votes?

    Or just do away with text voting altogether.  It’s the format that presents the overwhelmingly greatest opportunity for abuse.  Controlling it would be practically impossible.

  • Ellensue Stein

    The voting system must be revamped…This 4 hours of voting has GOT TO GO. This does not represent the actual public support of the Idols which is so obvious when the cd’s are released and the runner up usually outsells the winner. The judges also need to GO. All 3 of them. JLo & Steven Tyler are invested in their own careers & don’t say anything negative so as not to offend their fans. They need to start DOING SOMETHING to EARN those MILLIONS they make. They need seasoned stars that are not looking to boost THEIR OWN SALES & CAREERS. How about some producers & or arrangers that are not as well known to the public? Also Forget that SAVE…and Have the judges do some mentoring. 

  • Kesia Monteith

    Yeah, not a fan of Simon fuller, either. Heard some sketchy things about him that has kind of turned me off. 

  • Pam

    I would be all for changing the voting system, but I don’t think it will change the outcome either and as mj noted, basically don’t remove the viewers even further from the process by giving more power to the judges.  Basically I would start by getting rid of Ken and Randy but that’s just the beginning.  I still don’t think they get it quite yet.  lol

  • Anonymous

    Three words: Goodbye Randy Jackson

    Anything after that is gravy. Personally I’d like less Ford “music videos”, more process – how do the kids go about choosing a song? Who struggled to get a song cleared? Which contestant had ideas about staging? Who is the least fun to shop with for stage clothes?

  • Anonymous

    I would like the audition rounds to just show the people who made it on the show.  So that we get to see everyone who matters and not the people who don’t.

  • Diane

    I would be soooooo in favor of one vote per person or one text vote and one phone vote. I’ve always hated the unlimited votes system. If you want a true representation of what America wants, give everybody one vote. Or two.

  • Anonymous

    Maybe they could replace the judges with a computer that can analyze the singing.

  • Anonymous

    1.New songs–complete new song book and a band who can play it. 
    2. No signing or talking about signing anyone until a winner has been announced.  (devalues the vote)
    3. No save (devalues the vote)
    4. Take a risk that limited voting will increase number of actual people voting and increase number of viewers.(increases value of the vote)
    5. Reward people for watching in real time–(incentive)
    6. Viewing parties–used to do this–try to make it into a social event again. 
    7.Recreate the build–from stripped down staging to back up singers to pyrotechnics.  As it is now, the first show feels like the finale used to.
    8.Get at least one legitimate judge on the panel(Ben Folds type).
    9.No self promotion by judges of any kind.
    10.Shorten the show.  Do not allow it to become tedious.  
    11. Insist on better Ford commercials or get a new sponser.
    12. Engage other parts of the country besides the south–(Incentives)
    13.Allow original work in the mix–if the contestant wants to take that risk let them!

  • pj

    Oh, totally revamp the auditions.  They have never been entertaining.  In fact, I haven’t watched them in a couple of years.  I do know people who only watch the show for the auditions, but that’s not Idol’s core audience. 

    Change the voting.  It may or may not make a difference, but how would we know unless we try it?  Personally, I didn’t vote at all this season.  I used to power vote, but my heart isn’t in it anymore and the idea of tossing someone a couple of votes seems useless.  Now, if I knew people were limited to ten votes, I might not feel that way.

    The judges?  They can all go too.  Find someone who can actually earn the money with constructive critiques.

    The save?  Not a fan of it.  Ditch it.

    Finally, the show is old.  It isn’t always going to be the number one show. As others have stated, there are too many of it’s ilk out there now.  It does well enough.

  • Anonymous

    I understand where you are going with the reduction in voting periods, but keep in mind that this will also reduce the number of votes from people like me who are not home in the evening and vote based on recaps and videos. I do not vote every week but when I do I usually have to sneak a few calls in around whatever I am doing. (not an ATT customer)

  • Anonymous

    Now, if the outcome doesn’t change, so be it. But I think people would feel there was a level playing field in regards to voting. I know I might actually vote again.

    Exactly.  Even if the audience demographics (by which I mean genre preferences and regional preferences, not just census-form-things) are fixed, the perception of a level playing field will make the show appear more interesting going forward.

    Nobody has to vote 1000 times a night to feel invested in the outcome.  That’s ludicrous.  I’m pretty sure the tipping point is closer to 50 votes.  If the votes are limited to 50 via each method (FB, text, and phone) then the hard-cores can still put in 150 votes a night.  That’s the kind of margin a casual audience member might pick up the phone 10 times to overthrow.  But 2000 votes from a power-texter?  Why bother?

    Engagement involves the whole audience, not just the handful of people who buy a texting plan.

  • Anonymous

    At any rate, it’s too late to change the voting system in an attempt to
    change the outcome, as it’s the viewing/voting demographic of the show
    that has changed and narrowed over the years and changing the voting
    system won’t help change the outcome.

    Exactly. The outcomes won’t change until the demographic changes.  Somebody posted outcomes for singing competitions around the world, and men overwhelmingly are the winners, no matter if the voting is limited or not.

  • Sassycatz

    potatorocks, I agree with most of your suggestions, but I have no idea how you would engage other areas of the country, especially big cities where “Idol-mania,” has a lot of competition and a sense of supporting ones’ fellow citizen is pretty nebulous. 

  • Larc

    Three words: Goodbye Randy Jackson

    Plus six more: and Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler!  Then Nigel and Ken Warwick for good measure.

  • shouldbedancing

    I agree with this! I miss the viewing parties. and they definitely got way too hyped with the staging too early in the season. nothing to look forward too when the very first performance is jumping on a piano.

  • Anonymous

    “As for changes in the judging panel, Mr. Graboff said those calls are Fox’s to make.”

    Come on, Fox. Make. It. Happen.

    I really don’t care too much about changes in the format of the show, but I don’t think I can stand those judges anymore and I won’t watch if they come back next season.
    I don’t care if the judges are stars or not, I just want someone who can freaking judge.

  • Kesia Monteith

    This year was the worse in auditions, because they have spent too much time on people who were never going to make it far. Did you notice a good number of the top 10 were people that were hardly shown throughout the show? Hollie, Jessica, Deandre, and Elise barely got screen time. Joshua was shown since groups. So ridiculous. The auditions need to be three episodes and that’s it.

  • Tinawina

    I don’t think revamping the voting will change much. The audience wants what it wants. Here’s what I think could help:

    1. Revamp the judges. The only one I’d keep is JLo (I know, controversial). Get a blunt behind-the-scenes type who has no desire to be liked, and someone who writes songs/produces (they can be a performer or not, I don’t care. Bonus points if they can sing). Make sure they are all RELEVANT TO THE CURRENT MUSIC SCENE.

    2. STOP CASTING “TYPES”. Mix it up a little, please. We’ve seen enough andogynous black male gospel influenced singers, sensitive brown haired guitar strummers, wholesome perky teens singing grandma’s favorite songs, blonde country cuties, etc to last a lifetime. Recruit some new blood if you must.

    3. Freshen up the song selection. Not all newer songs suck, especially if you stray off the pop charts every once in a while. Ditto the themes. This year was a good start.

    4. Keep auditions to 3 weeks max.

    I don’t know if it will change the outcome, but if might not feel so *old* if they try.

  • Anonymous

    Nobody has to vote 1000 times a night to feel invested in the outcome.  That’s ludicrous.

    That figure was an exaggeration (although I know that uberfans vote that much or more) but I think unlimited  voting also has a psychological effect–giving fans the impression that they have as much control of the outcome as possible.

    Having said that, I really don’t care if the voting is changed or not. It’s just not at the top of my list of changes, because I’m not convinced it will change much.

    Also, I’m not convinced the power voters have that much of an affect on the outcome. I suspect that the result of millions of voters tossing in a few votes overwhelms the minority of uberfans who go overboard.

    I can’t imagine there are casual viewers at home thinking….dang those power voters! Because it’s unlikely they are even aware of what goes on inside the bubble.

  • Ethan Furman

    the easiest way to make sure that a wgwg doesnt win next year is DONT CAST A WGWG IN THE TOP 24 !

  • idolstruck

    if they plan to revamp the voting system, they should also look closely into the reports of illegal voting from outside of US. 

  • David Facenfield

    changes (if well thought through) would not be a bad thing.

    IMO hey should’ve made fundamental changes 3 or 4 seasons ago, when they were the only show in town.  But they didn’t.

    And now there is a much more crowded landscape of singing / talent reality competitions on TV.  And with that I think there is a large risk that they start to all become the same.
    So Idol (and I would say this about the others also) needs to make sure that it can differentiate itself from the others, by adapting  to the fact there is now X Factor, The Voice, Duets etc… but also maintainint the core of what made it such a success in the 1st place.

    Based on the details given in the press release (not bothered about the judges, consulting with Fuller, behind the scenes shows, voting systems etc…) I am concerned they will either make hardly any changes (so why bother) or make far too many changes, and end up throwing the baby out with the bathwater – hence the JTS reference.

    But hey, what do I know :)

  • Anonymous

    My suggestion:

    Every creative decision that is currently being made by 50-60 year old British men needs to be delegated to 25-35 year old production assistants.

    Song themes and clearance (including “producers’ choice”)?  PAs.
    Staging?  PAs.
    Hollywood Round management?  PAs.

    And for the love of god, once they have a top 5 or 4, do a “special session” where they go and meet actual working songwriters to develop a coronation song that might get buzz like Home.  No, not all contestants can or will be co-writers (although some contestants will suck it up and put in the time because that’s who they are), but they can at least consult to make sure that the songs fit their personas and respective ranges.

  • Larc

    Two nights (4 hours) would be enough time to spend on auditions.  Then 2 hours the next week for Hollywood and 2 hours for Vegas including the Green Mile and Top 24 announcement.  Go to live shows on the third week.  But that’s probably not gonna happen because it would shorten the season.  FOX and Idol would prefer to stretch it out if anything for more advertising dollars.

  • Anonymous

    The Washington Post TV columnist does an Idol column every week that it is on the air.  It gets into the paper, not just online.

    She has not stopped talking about the power texters since S8.  Anyone who has ever read her column knows about it.  I don’t think “reading the occasional newspaper article about AI” counts as being in the bubble.  But that’s a lot of people who have heard about it, especially since she’s syndicated.

    Like I said, the show needs to fix the perception that it is fixed even if the results don’t change.  Loudly proclaiming that people can’t power vote their favorites to victory needs to be part of the package or those casual viewers will see the other changes as window dressing, even if they actually matter more.

  • fuzzywuzzy

    “But 2000 votes from a power-texter?  Why bother?”

    I’ve seen fans brag that they cast over 10,000 votes for a contestant per show.

  • pj

    I have to agree that the casual voter knows about power voting.  Ryan pretty much tells the viewers to vote, vote, vote on every episode.

  • Anonymous

    She has not stopped talking about the power texters since S8.  Anyone
    who has ever read her column knows about it.  I don’t think “reading the
    occasional newspaper article about AI” counts as being in the bubble. 
    But that’s a lot of people who have heard about it, especially since
    she’s syndicated.

      You can’t convince me that the number of people reading the ravings of a single syndicated newspaper columnist is reaching a significant number of casual viewers.

    If there are changes made to the voting system, I don’t think it will change much either way…except maybe it will end some of the voting conspiracy theories, which would be a good thing, for me anyway. lol.


    I have to agree that the casual voter knows about power voting. Ryan pretty much tells the viewers to vote, vote, vote on every episode.

    Sure he does, but how would people know that there are fans voting thousands of times? Even if they are aware of it, I just don’t think the casual viewer is concerned with such matters.

  • pj

    Well, when local fox newscasters joke about power voting teens (even if it’s really middle-aged women), I think it’s beyond the bubble.  It may not change the outcome, but it would be good for the show

  • Anonymous

    For me, power voting discourages my investment in the show.  I don’t put the effort into voting the “old fashion way” like I used to because my little drop in the bucket will be made pretty meaningless by power texting.
    I wonder why they have made on line voting both difficult and limited?  They must not want people to vote that way.

  • Kayla

    Yeah, not a fan of Simon fuller, either. Heard some sketchy things about him that has kind of turned me off.

    Well now that has me curious. What sort of sketchy things?

  • Axxxel

    I think I know the answer on the last question… P2 ???

  • Anonymous

    Randy has his faults, but he helped a number of former Idols after the show and with little fanfare.  If he leaves, his assistance leaves with him and many contestants may not get a door opened for them otherwise.

    Besides, who out there really current/relevant is interested in living in the Idol fishbowl?  And what if fans are cold on them before the new crew even gets a chance to show their stuff?

    Not to mention some will not want to be attached to an aging show.

    These widely-wanted changes are easier said than done.

  • Axxxel

    Why not at least 1 American Idol alum as a judge ? Melinda Doolittle ? Carrie Underwood ?  Ace ? any other suggestions ?

  • Anonymous

    If it were just one columnist, no.  But she’s not the only one remarking on it.  When EW and Zap2It and other newspaper columnists all mention it, some “casual viewers” are going to see the coverage.  AI is or was a watercooler show.  Those stories spread via word-of-mouth.

    Like I said, I agree that the results probably won’t change that much, but it’s important for the reputation of the show that they make an effort to address the issue.

  • Rob Hoffmann

    The simplest fix might be the best one (and MJ mentioned it): FOCUS ON THE SINGERS.

    The show has slipped too obviously into product placement, judge promotion, movie promotion, FOX promotion — all to the detriment of the one thing that will actually engage a larger audience… getting to know the singers better.

    Nobody really does that — although The Voice auditions come closer, they tend to focus on singers who don’t make it as much as singers who do.

    Some things they can try:
    * Edit the audition episodes to showcase Hollywood Week singers (even if they’re editing the shows before the Green Mile, they can at least aim their focus on Hollywood singers). 
    * Cut back on the “bad auditions” – the joke is old.  If you have to, do one “bad audition” show.
    * Scale back the audition shows completely to allow for one or two shows where they focus on the Top 24.  Show us each singer’s path to Hollywood — meaning you need two shows, probably — with a 3-4 minute vignette showing their judged audition, one Hollywood performance, and some kind of bio.  Give us a reason to care about all 24 (or so) singers.
    * During the season, use the product placement to support the singers, not overwhelm them.  I don’t care if we wind up with Coca-Cola Voting by AT&T Presented By Ford if it means the time wasted on the Ford Music Video or incessant AT&T plugs is used to showcase the talent instead.
    * And as noted by other commenters — if you want to stop having WGWGs win, stop casting WGWGs.  Seriously, there are so many auditioners that they should be able to winnow it down to a workable top 24 that doesn’t have a WGWG.

    Basically, it’s time to go back to basics. 

    Which they won’t do — after all, hasn’t FOX already announced we still have bloated 2-hour performance and 1-hour results shows?

    Oh, and get rid of self-promoting judges.  Whoever said that FOX should go sign the Sing-Off judging panel is on the right track. 

    If FOX and Core make the right tweaks, they can get a few more years out of the show.  If they don’t, Season 12 will probably be the end.

  • Joyed

    I honestly do not think a true casual fan knows the extent of the power voting – especially not to the point to feel disillusioned.  My proof?  Idol contestants will mention fans coming up to them and saying things like, “I voted for you so many times – I think I voted for you 5 times that night!”

    If they are a hard core enough fan to be meeting them in person, but still think 5 votes in one night is giving someone a lot of votes,  I just don’t think many obsess about 1000+ votes per night fans – they have no clue they exist, IMO.

    I also think Phillip is proof that changing the voting system would not have changed the outcome of his win.  He is killing it on iTunes.  A lot of people (mistakenly, IMO) complain that America votes for the WGWG and then doesn’t support them with their $.  By looking at just how dominant Scotty and Phillip have been on iTunes after their respective wins, I think that is one myth that should be put to bed.  They were voted high, and then people bought them. 

    Selling 278k of a single in a week should be proof enough that the votes weren’t “wrong” – Phillip has real world popularity. Unless the demographic changes in terms of musical preferences, this is who would have won no matter the voting format.

    I also think columnists who write about Idol are actually kind of clueless about how the show works.  They get these strange biases and then act as if they are factual without having any more evidence than a random poster on this site would. 

  • guinness 416

    Well what are we trying to fix?  Get a woman winning, increase viewership, reduce the influence of the white southern christian vote, improve “credibility” of the judging, increase sales for past winners, change staleness of the song selections, improve access and engagement for folks “in the bubble”?  Or just generally come back with a vibe of shiny newness?  All those “problems” imply different solutions.

    Being in Canuckistan I have no opinions borne of personal experience about voting really.  I do agree with reducing the length of the shows, doing something with the boring audition episodes and I LOVE the post that talks about having talented/creative up and coming 25-35 yr olds from the Real World of design or advertising or fashion or whatever making decisions rather than a bunch of British old farts – I like this notion for the ford ads, the song choices, and the (to me, oftentimes staggeringly cringeworthy) staging.  I’m not a massive fan of propping contestants up with stellar backing vocals either.  I honestly don’t think they’ll change much at the end of the day though and I’m not sure they really need to.  Everyone seems to be making their money!

  • phil_atlanta2

    Idol will never change unlimited voting because they would not be able to brag about new world record of 125 million votes, for example.  I bet the number of people who vote is a small fraction of the number of viewers, maybe less than a million? I mean with 20million viewers for the finale, the coronation single sold 276K so unique voters cannot be more than an order of magnitude higher than that.

  • Gwen

    I think that even if they limit the voting, people will find ways around it.  They always do.  

    Part of the appeal of Idol is the passion of the fans.  Yes, most people don’t hang around blogs following these contestants around months after the competition ends, but they love feeling invested.  I’ll never forget Jenna Bush  bragging on the Tonight Show that she loved David Cook so much that she’d voted for him 40 times.  Of course, I laughed because that was just a drop in the bucket for the fanatics.  But, I believe that in reality, that’s how most casual viewers vote, and I’m convinced that those are the ones who make of the majority of Idol’s viewing audience.

    So, to say that fixing the voting will fix Idol’s problems would be like using your finger to keep your boat from sinking.

    It’s bigger than that.  It’s deeper than that.  Yes, Idol is ageing, but nothing improves with the same old, tired people at the head.

    You draw in different viewers by changing the norm. People can talk about Simon all they want, but he’s onto something with getting Britney Spears and Demi Lovato on that X-Factor judging panel.

  • milwlovesadam

    1) Reduce the over-staging and over-production. I agree with whoever said the first live show looks like the finale used to.

    2) Judges who can talk music and voice. They need to critique. Critique. Critique. No more over-praising.

    3) Judges must be familiar with the material. Ignorance of the song is inexcusable.

    4) Limit voting. Somehow.

    5) Absolutely no judges performing.

    6) Bring back more former Idols as mentors and performers.

    7) Show former Idols meeting and interacting with current crop.

    8) No more covers of certain songs. If it has been done more than 3 times in the past = no more. The audience just can’t take it anymore= boredom= I’m changing channels.

  • phil_atlanta2

     Remember when results shows were 30min long?

  • Anonymous

    I said this last year, so I’m repeating myself, but I think the voting system could be changed to accommodate both broad fan bases and passionate ones.

    1. Change the system to allow up to the number of contestants during the semi-finals and finals up to the final 2.  Allow voters to vote via facebook, twitter, phone, text, etc.  But put the same limit on all devices.  This would create more of a level playing field for most of the season and help casual voters feel more engaged, since they will have as much say as a power-texting teen.  

    2. In the finale only, all hell breaks loose and voters are allowed to vote as much as they can for the four hour period.  They are also allowed to purchase the coronation single on iTunes, with each purchase counting as a single vote.  This will allow fans to express their passion for the final two contestants.  It’s the Idol who inspires the most passion that should eventually win in the market place, after all.

    I think maybe Jimmy should set up a pre-order system through the Idol website to allow pre-orders for the Winner and Runner-Up’s eventual albums.  I would say have pre-orders be part of the vote, but then power-voters would probably pre-order and then cancel their purchases the week after the show.  But if they allowed fans to pre-order the albums (especially with a special sale price), it would help the eventual debut total and capture purchases when people are the most excited about their favs, instead of waiting for months by which time the fans will have moved on.

    Also, I think they should make more of the Top Five perks.  We know about the Disney appearances and such, but if more people knew about those things, they would be more invested in seeing their favorite reach the Top Five milestone  — which would make the mid-final rounds more interesting.  Maybe they could eventually add Top Seven and Top 3 perks, too.

  • Anonymous

    Most likely, AI has records of all votes cast (probably ever, but certainly the past few seasons).  These are not paper ballots counted by hand.  These are electronically received and counted, and associated with the voter (email address, cellphone no, etc.). 
    There must be a database somewhere with all that information.
    Anyone with a any type of programming knowledge can write a program in 30 mins to parse these results and determine if limiting votes would make a difference (for example, counting only 10 votes per device).
    Since rating goes by number of eyeballs on the screen, it would be rational for producers to limit votes if they find that contestants with the least amount of followers are not being voted off because their fewer followers are power-voters.

  • Anonymous

    I find this show boring on both ends:  the audition rounds drag on and are boring and the top two or three nights are also boring.  I don’t watch audition rounds and tend to tune out when they get down to two or three singers singing, unless they are diverse.  The finale would be better if they featured more of the top ten; they always feature the top two or three and we have just had a couple of weeks of them – not to mention that if you don’t like the singing style of the projected winner, you will hate the finale. 

  • Anonymous

    If it were just one columnist, no.  But she’s not the only one remarking
    on it.  When EW and Zap2It and other newspaper columnists all mention
    it, some “casual viewers” are going to see the coverage.

    I’m totally aware of those columnists, and they are all inside the bubble. I’m sure some causal viewers have read their coverage, I’m not convinced it makes a difference in overall voting behavior.

  • guinness 416

     Yeah your number three is spot-on.  How is it possible that the judges don’t or can’t take ten minutes to listen to a tune three times on youtube before the show?  Most of us working schmoes would be fired for being so unprepared for a meeting.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t vote a lot, because I never intend to make a vocation of it and I know my vote means very, very little.  They need to stop the power voting, if only because it attracts certain obsessive personalities.

    Oops, responded to the wrond post (once again).

  • Eilonwy

    Sure he does, but how would people know that there are fans voting thousands of times?

    Well, Rolling Stone mentions it in their Idol finale coverage, complete with tweens texting like crazy for “innocuously handsome white boys,” here. This is the nation’s premiere music publication.

    This HuffPo blog on how tweens and “older women” vote like crazy got heavily linked around the interwebs, including at the Wall Street Journal’s online news site. 

    The LA Times Pop & Hiss music blog pretty much never shuts up about WGWGs and voting in its coverage of Idol. Same goes for the WaPo’s Idol coverage. These are flagship newspapers. Ditto, on the never-shutting-up part; this is a major entertainment site.

  • Cathy Knott

    It wouldn’t really change anything but cutting down the time.  I would still get maybe 30 votes in if I’m lucky.  The text voter will be able to send 1000 votes in that time.  It’s not worth the effort to vote by phone or computer.   

  • koshka

    “Sure he does, but how would people know that there are fans voting thousands of times? Even if they are aware of it, I just don’t think the casual viewer is concerned with such matters.”

    Ah.. but the casual voter no longer votes either.  They are disenfranchised with the whole process and I’m not convinced that they don’t understand power voting. Its been 10 years and countless call in reality shows, I’m sure they have a greater understanding than is assumed. Your blog has an audience that has specific interest in AI. Its surprising how many people here DON’T vote. Even if it doesn’t change the outcome, as its been said, it sure would help change perception. 

  • DLPF

    I disagree that the voting system is not a major problem.  Clearly text voting is vastly easier than the other methods, and power text voting will be limited to those people who pay for unlimited text plans and have plenty of spare time to sit around sending texts all evening.  Not everyone has this option or inclination.  Dialing a phone or voting online absolutely doesn’t compare.  We end up with winners who reflect a narrow demographic of viewers.

  • Platonic Tech

    It is, and should be, all about ENTERTAINMENT!  The rest is either window dressing or silliness.  Voting issues are only important because it destroys some of the drama of the show — if the current system produces only the WGWG winner, then that destroys a big aspect of any competition show — who is going to win.  It’s kind of like knowing the sex of your yet-to-be-born baby.

    Judges changes should be made to make the show more entertaining.  Right now, there is no tension or surprise generated by the judges.  Once judges’ critiques become part of drinking games, the thrill is gone.  You can make it entertaining by adding a mean character, a funny character, and a knowledgable character.  Right now, we have a nut case, a narcissist and blithering idiot.

    Make it easier for the performers to excell.  Give them more time to work on a song — maybe get rid of the silly stuff they have to do each week (like the Ford Commercial).  Give them a better selection of songs (and never let either Nigel or Simon get close to song selection ever again).  Let them sing a fuller version of the song (not just 2 mins).

  • Anonymous

    “They need to stop the power voting, if only because it attracts certain obsessive personalities.”

    I tend to think the obsessives are the ones everyone is fishing for.

  • fuzzywuzzy

    True, but I think that Idol already has a narrow demographic as voters/viewers, so even if power texting is eliminated, the outcome will still be the same.

  • koshka

    ITA!!! You had me at nut case, narcissist and idiot. LOL ;)

    I’ve been bitching about those ford commercials for years. What a time suck. 

  • Guest

    If you take away the older women and tweens, then who else do you think is going to vote?
    And if they change the voting rules and a WGWG wins again, then what?

    They need fresh people at the top of this show, from the producers, cast selectors, judges and then an improved song catalog.

  • Miz

    I’d love if they didn’t bring back the current judges and picked up those from ‘The Sing Off’, particularly Ben and Shawn. I’m still pissed that NBC axed that show and are bringing in a decidedly lame singing game show instead.

  • Anonymous

    I’d love to see “all-star” duets at Top Five.  Bring back some of our favorite Idols.  I don’t particularly care who.

  • Eilonwy

    If you take away the older women and tweens, then who else do you think is going to vote?
    And if they change the voting rules and a WGWG wins again, then what?

    I’m not saying tweens and “older women” shouldn’t vote. I’m saying the meme that their vote swamps everybody else’s is out there, far more broadly than the bubble. The popular press frames the show as being dominated by two demographics that vote until their fingers bleed, rather than as resulting in a winner with broad support by American music fans. 

    As far as who else might vote… well, I would. I don’t fit either demographic. And I’m not sure why male viewers who happily vote for All Star picks wouldn’t throw in 10 or so votes for a favorite singer if they thought voting accomplished something. 

    If the voting is changed and a WGWG wins again, at least he wouldn’t be saddled with the headline that he won for being the “innocuously handsome” choice of a derided demographic. P2 is very lucky to have gotten a better-than-average coronation song to push that headline aside temporarily, but it’s still a crappy thing for a songwriter to be defined by.

  • Anonymous

    I would like the audition rounds to just show the people who made it on the show.  So that we get to see everyone who matters and not the people who don’t.

    I would like to see more about the semi-finalists, but I like that there are some people we get interested in who don’t make it.  It helps us understand how hard the “journey” is.

    Chris Medina’s cut during Top 24 last year was great television, and it led to him releasing a single, which was an interesting side-story during Season 10.  (Of course, it just encourages people to exploit their backstories more, but I don’t remember a lot of backstory nonsense this season.  The girl who lived in a tent, the one whose boyfriend had a stroke… that’s about it.)

  • Miz

    I’m having a hard time buying into AT&T caring about them dropping unlimited texting. I don’t know a single person who has texting as part of their phone plan who doesn’t have unlimited. I don’t text, so I don’t have it. I also get annoyed when someone texts me because I have to pay for that call as an additional charge on my bill.

  • Miz

    The thing I would like them to do is to air the show live on the internet. That would boost their ratings and ad revenue. Living on the West coast, I’d love to be able to watch it live. I’d also love to be able to vote early … that is, if I voted.

  • Anonymous

    Oh yea… subtle manipulation like that will go a long way in bringing back authenticity to the show…. not! 

    No matter what, they need to put 24 talented singers and performers in the top 24, and if that includes 24 white guys who play guitars, so be it.   The show engages in enough manipulation as it is – it doesn’t need that sort of desperation move on top of everything else.

  • Anonymous

    If they are a hard core enough fan to be meeting them in person, but still think 5 votes in one night is giving someone a lot of votes, I just don’t think many obsess about 1000+ votes per night fans – they have no clue they exist, IMO.

    Well, most of these aren’t formal meet and greets, are they?  AI alums get to go to a lot of tapings and hospital wards and general media and business events where some casual voters might be.

    I have no doubt that there are people out there who don’t recognize the problem.  The point that I would make is that there is a level between “this is a fun TV show” and “hardcore invested fan” and plenty of people in the middle are likely to be the types to read major entertainment media and pick up on this meme, which has been a headline story off-and-on for three years.

  • dabney c

    Hmmm, I dunno about all these changes. The show has a magic formula, and I’m scared if they tinker with it too much, it’ll lose its charm. I don’t really want a new team of 25-35 year olds making the show slick and sleek and less cheeseball. Its cheesy goodness is a large part of its appeal (for me, anyway).

    Reminds me of an article I read in Newsweek or Time – back when ‘Dancing With The Stars’ first became a huge success. The writer said that it’s such an unlikely hit  because it had the look and feel of a variety show you might find on Bulgarian television circa 1972 (lol, still males me laugh). But the thing is, there’s something comfortable about a show that’s wholesome and slightly unhip.

    I, personally, can’t stand The Voice/XFactor/Duets. They’re missing some elusive, well,  X factor that Idol DOES have, so they need to be very careful how they tweak it. In my opinion, the single biggest thing the show needs is a judge who judges. Keep Randy (relic from the Golden Age of Idol, and comic relief), and bring in a Simon. In fact … bring Simon himself back *sigh*. Or put Jimmy in Steven’s seat. Or get some smart, fearless, cranky executive who has a smidgeon of schadenfreude in him when he tells the kids to pack their bags after a bad performance. The show needs tension, and these judges provide none.

    Plus, the show is just old, and no amount of nip and tuck is going to bring back its youthful glow. It’s still drawing relatively huge ratings,  so let it ride out its final years with dignity and integrity. It should not resort to desperate middle-aged shenanigans – the equivalent of buying a new sports car, dating a girl as young as its daughter, and wearing gold medallions on its greying chest. Well, you know what I mean. ;)

  • Brittney

    I think the voting system is one of the first things that needs to be changed. How? I don’t know. Maybe limit the amount of votes  because the typical people who are power voters like teens/tweens those who have typically voted for the last five winners. Limited voting works very well for DWTS and they have and had have many viewers and voters since the show began. They don’t seem concerned having millions of votes and stuff like that.

  • Anonymous

    If I had to pick one thing that has turned most of the people I know off this show it is the obvious manipulation.  It used to be only people like us were aware of it–now the majority know it.   This season we actually had judges looking at one another and asking each other “do we stand?” The manipulation can not be missed.  A season of honesty — which would mean completely new judges—would help this show immensely.

  • fuzzywuzzy

    The problem is that Idol isn’t interested in judges who make the kind of technically detailed critiques as Ben and Shawn. Those kinds of critiques would not go over well with the Idol viewers who aren’t voting for technically sound singers.

  • Ashetalia Staatz

    ita. Idol is dying a slow death, and it’s going to be hard to reverse the process. As the show loses its audience, its viewer/voter demographic becomes solidified, which in turn determines winners. imo changing voting rules without changing the demographic will not change much; whether the same group of people are allowed to vote once or 1000 times is really immaterial.

    One example: allowing each person to vote unlimited times in this year’s presidential election would in no way change the fact that Obama will win Massachusetts, and Romney will win Utah. Such is life.

  • Chris

    For any voting system, there are cheaters so it may not change the outcome. On DWTS, the votes are per email address. But you can have more than 1 email address right? So people were still brag posting about hundreds of votes for their favorite. Rules slow down the power votes but where loopholes lie, someone will take advantage. I think some score, maybe iTunes sales or YouTube views could be 50%.

  • Anonymous

    I think there’s room for some objective technical terminology without those techniques being super-detailed.  What makes people resent the judges is the sense that the judging has nothing to do with the actual performance instead of the notes from the production booth. 

    As long as the critiques are still brief, I think it’s fine.

    Of course they won’t pick up the Sing-Off judges.  The press would be brutal about that.  But there’s something to that model that could work for this audience and that panel.

  • Eriko

    IMO, it’s
    because of the current voting system that both Kris and Lee won. According to
    Dial Idol, Lee won Crystal by 30-40%, but still Crystal outsold Lee by 30-40%
    when it came to album sales!!! I know Dial Idol isn’t that accurate, but those
    numbers are too big to ignore. Kris had only marginally more votes on DI, but
    Adam outsold him by over 200% the first week. How can that NOT be related to
    the voting system and reflect what demo power votes?

    So that
    would of meant only 3 wgwg, 1 female and one guy that’s the opposite of a wgwg vs
    5 wgwg in a row 

  • Skyler Epic

    I always liked the idea of voting for who you want to be ELIMINATED instead of voting for who you want to be safe until the Finale.

    It would probably change the outcomes greatly as opposed to the current voting format but the results would probably be a lot more correct and fair in judging the contestants and booting the right person.

    Also, I like the idea of the Judges saving one member of the bottom 3. Between the remaining 2, the votes decide who goes home.

    Scrapping the Save might be a good idea. I used to think limiting the votes would greatly help but with people like Jermaine Paul winning The Voice, who knows. o.O

  • Anonymous

    I would argue that most of that coverage is on the internet and inside the bubble.

  • Anonymous

    I agree with MJ, the problem with the show is the long auditions. This season was the first time I looked at my clock to see if the audition show is over soon. Also, when announcing who will be in the Top 24, how about recording that episode earlier, and have it edited for later that night to air? The spoilers online ruin the episodes.

    Second, I would add a judge who is not afraid to criticize. Often, these judges would let bad performances go unnoticed, or criticize really great performances.  I would also eliminate those sheets of paper in front of the judges that give the producers’ critiques of the contestants. 

    Third, get more songs cleared.

    Fourth, if there are going to be 2 hour long episodes, how about letting the contestants sing the songs in its entirety, or at least give more time to sing the songs.

  • jan

    The one thing Idol has going for it is that it has a rich heritage. I would highlight that. Stop trying to pretend that each new season has the best artists “evah”. Show a highlight reel of outstanding performances from a particular season and give the contestants something to aspire to. (Viewers could be reminded of a young Kelly Clarkson or Fantasia or Daughtry or any of the other wonderful contestants.) Or perhaps have mentoring from past contestants according to season. The mentoring could be in person or a video of past contestants talking about the best advice they received during the season or warning about mistakes that they made.

    There is glut of this type of show now. By the time Idol rolls around next year, viewers will have been treated to another season of The Voice, X Factor, America’s Got Talent, the newer Duets, and that new show which is going to be some kind of game show/talent show mash-up. (Next up, a show in which we drop a bucket of pigs blood on the eliminated contestant.)

    They can make some tweaks to make Idol fresh but I think they should remind people of what was great about it to begin with.

  • jan

     I would hate the idea of voting for who you want eliminated. That would lead to alliances between fan groups and voting off of the most talented contestants as they would be perceived as threats.

  • Anonymous

    I always liked the idea of voting for who you want to be ELIMINATED
    instead of voting for who you want to be safe until the Finale.

    And then you’d have fanbases working together to eliminate the person they’d feel is the biggest threat to their favorites winning, just like in “The Hunger Games”. ;)

    ETA: Jan, looks like we had the same thought.

  • Tiffany

    I think the voting system is the biggest flaw.  Ive watched every season but 1 and I saw its finale.  By season 6 I was sick of having to sit 2 hrs every week hitting redial, but if you really liked your fav and wanted them to win you did what you had to do.  Season 6 was such a sleeper for me I never voted except in the finale and a few times in season 7 and 2 in season 8 and finale season 9.  I voted some last year but got back into it this year due to Elise and Josh.  I think more people would vote if they thought it counted.  If you cant sit up on a work night and vote 2 hrs you don’t feel your few votes count so why bother?  ATT is one of the highest cell plans so I choose a different one so my texting isnt allowed. I do believe texting picks the winner since phone lines only allow x number of calls, depending on the area you live in and the limit is always reached.  Either limit the votes, cut back voting to one hour, open texting to all plans.  IF everyone felt their vote counted, we might actually get a true count of who is voting, who the fan fav actually is and they might support their fav post idol. 

  • Skyler Epic

     That’s a good point. But I only really see that happening with crazy online fans. I don’t see that happening with the casual viewers. Just an idea. lol :P

  • Anonymous

    no they should change the voting system because i dont like to stay up a two extra hours voting.  Its a relieve when your fave is save but on weeks where i voted for skylar two hours staright and she still got elminated anyway really sucks.  I was like well that was a total waste of my time.  I don’t think it will really change the outcome that much.  For the finale this year i think it was clear phillip would win even if the voting had been limited.  It wont change the results too much, but it will allow all of us to NOT have to waste 2 hours of our time that we don’t have.

  • Skyler Epic

    Honestly, so many changes would have to be made to Idol to successfully reboot it, that alone makes me doubt any changes will be made.

    And with Simon Fuller consulting with the Retooling team for fresh ideas, God help us all. I hope my favorite singing show will do well enough to limp to Season 15. 

  • Anonymous

    And for the love of god, once they have a top 5 or 4, do a “special session” where they go and meet actual working songwriters to develop a coronation song that might get buzz like Home.

    Oh, yes!  Let us watch that process.  When I able to watch Majors and Minors, they started having the kids write a song with a mentor (not the guest mentors, but the permanent ones).  It was really fun.

    That coke song thing is annoying.  But watching the creative process as the contestants work with a songwriting “mentor” to create what will eventually be their first single would be great.  Even if the song is written for the contestant, we can see them listen to it, give input, work out an interpretation, and then we get to see it happen.  I’d love that!

    And I’d really want to buy all of them — even if they sucked.

  • Anonymous

    Yes,yes,yes, Dabney. I agree with everything you said.:)

  • Anonymous

    I always make time to watch the show, but I am far too busy to schedule 2 more hours pressing talk/end on my cell phone. I am happy to cast 4 or 5 votes for my favorites, but in recent years I have felt that my votes have been rendered null by the demographics that casts thousands of votes for their contestants. The current voting system makes me less invested because I feel irrelevant. My favorite was Elise this year but I don’t really feel that there were a lot of fans in her voting demographic that would phone/text non-stop for two hours, which put her at an unfair disadvantage. Limiting phone/text/online voting to 10 per method would at least put it back on a fairer platform re sex/age/ethnicity/attractiveness and make it about singing-ability and performance. It won’t be totally fair but at least I can feel I’ve done my part for my favorite.

  • V Jemmy

    I like the idea of voting against someone, but agree that it would cause fanbases to unite to get rid of perceived (or actual) threats.  (Would VFTW be changed to VFTB)?

    I would like to see a 3 person finale.  That would get rid of the ‘vote against someone’ as opposed to ‘vote for someone’ mentality that has been commented on in the past when it’s down to the final two.

  • Anonymous

    If they are smart, they will limit votes per device, but will make performance song downloads be worth 100 votes.

  • Amy Beth

    They will NEVER do this, but they should have the “big name” judges stay away from the contestants until the show goes live.  On a show like the Voice, the coaches are supposed to be invested in their singers. But on Idol, the judges are supposed to be objective. However, I think the judges get way too invested in their personal favorites.

    If they used one set of judges to pick the top 24 (or this year top 13) and a different set of judges to critique the vote-eligible performances, I think we’d hear more useful things.

  • Ashetalia Staatz

    I disagree. imo it’s not the mechanics of voting, but voter demo, power voting or not. I don’t believe that changing voting mechanics will change results, if the viewer/voter demographic stays the same.

    To change results, they need to widen the appeal of the show. I have no clue how they can manage that at this late date, with the proliferation of reality singing shows. Mostly I agree with mj: limiting voting could reduce the audience further, and no one wants that.

    Re voting against someone: imo that is a terrible idea. I’m an Adam fan. Had the voters been allowed to vote AGAINST a singer, then Adam would have been out (probably) after Ring of Fire. Voting for someone forces people to consider talent, song selection, interpretation–all sorts of positive stuff. Voting against someone could invoke all sorts of bigotry which no one wants to contemplate–“negative” vote bringing out all sorts of negative reactions.

    However, I agree that switching to negative votes could increase the appeal of the show. Whether such a change would lead to positive results AFTER the show, I don’t know. Reminds me of Hunger Games, the Musical.

  • Guest

    I wouldn’t really count Duets as contributing to singing show fatigue.

  • Anonymous

    I’m all for a more behind the scenes element to idol. You here these kids every year talking about what they go through yet we never get to see the process. I would love to see the results night have some reality tv elements that show what the contestants are doing day to day to get ready for the show and cope with the stress.

    As for other tweaks, I agree with limiting text voting. I think having the phone vote unlimited is sufficient.

    Ditch the judges save.

    Make a rule for the judges that they have to deliver an actual vocal or performance critique for every contestant after every song. No standing Os.

    And yes, shorten the audition rounds. They are pretty boring these days. We used to watch for the funny train wrecks and Simon’s caustic wit as well as the blow your mind audition. Those days are gone.

    Would also not make such a huge cut from the top 24 to the top 12.

    Curious to see what will come out of all the talk.

  • Anonymous

     ” They need to start DOING SOMETHING to EARN those MILLIONS they make.
    They need seasoned stars that are not looking to boost THEIR OWN SALES
    & CAREERS.”

    They probably thought Steven was old and stoned enough not to be doing this. But … lo and behold … he’s not the reflective retiree they expected. lol

  • Eriko

    “Mostly I agree with mj: limiting voting could reduce the audience further, and no one wants that”
    Why on earth would someone say “I can’t spend hours voting, so I’m not watching anymore!” ???  Frankly, I find that hard to believe, but even if there are such individuals, what percentage of viewers would that be? I think less than the ones who want a fair result and want their vote to count and make a potential difference. 

    Is there a new “voting addiction” that I’m not aware about?

  • Anonymous

    I think the bulk of the people who vote are in the idol bubble.   If they are that invested to vote hundreds of times per night, then they are looking up information on their favorites on the internet and stumbling upon idol blogs.   So yeah, I think the meme over the power voting does impact people who vote.  Not viewers, voters.

  • Anonymous

    I also think it hurts the show that you don’t hear the winner much on the radio. I think it would have made the show hold up better if the current winners were a viable part of the music scene. Of course there is no guarantee but maybe idol should collab with clear channel and cummulous to help launch thes guys with radio spins the first week or something to get them heard.
    Thank goodness Scotty has done well.

  • Anonymous

    ” I would hate the idea of voting for who you want eliminated. That would
    lead to alliances between fan groups and voting off of the most
    talented contestants as they would be perceived as threats. ”

    Somebody should pitch that idea to NBC, though, because it looks like it could be right up their alley. And they could even steal another networks’ title: Survivor: Music City.

  • Anonymous

    Ah.. but the casual voter no longer votes either. They are disenfranchised with the whole process…

    There is no proof that’s true. Unless you have some hidden stats to share.

    With 130 milllion votes in the finale, I find it hard to believe that all those votes are coming from power voters.

  • Leandro

    I think limit votes is a freeway to the WGWGs to win. The casual viewer like them. If there’s any chance of a girl to win is in powervotes.

    We saw what happened with limited votes on The Voice. The guys advanced easily through popular votes while the girls had to fight to be saved by their judges. And that’s because they’re reported to have an audience less conservative.

  • Anonymous

    To touch on a few things that have been suggested:

    * While BETTER staging would be great, I don’t think the issue is over-staging for the most part. 

    * The three judges they have?  Have something worth talking about.  Randy clearly understands music and has worked on the executive end of the industry.  Jennifer can provide great insight into stage presence/dancing.  Steve can do a little of both.  So again, it’s a matter of being better at it what we know they’re capable of doing.  The knowledge is there.  But they need to be kicked in the pants about it.

    * Give the judges the selected songs 3 or 4 days ahead, and that’s enough time to listen to various versions on YouTube.  3 hours a week is all they really need for this.  It shouldn’t be hard.

    * It’s not a big deal to have judges perform, as long as it’s kept to finales and special events.  It can enhance the show, when done properly.

    * NO WAY to former idols being mentors.  This will cause fan wars to end all fan wars in all kinds of ways. Besides, former Idols do perform on the show at a good clip. Likewise, having former contestants interacting with the new crop would seem contrived and cheesy.  And some fan base is bound to get butt-hurt over their favorite not being on the show.  Not worth the hassle.

    * TPTB can control the catalog without eliminating songs.  Just develop better themes and half the problem is taken care of before the Idols even get to pick.  Just because a song has been covered doesn’t mean it can’t be approached in a new way.

    The ideas mentioned are good and creative, but again, I think it’s easier said than done, especially for show as old as Idol.

  • Jenna

    They don’t need to change the voting system, they just need to stop allowing contestants to play their own instruments. Cute males will still have an advantage, but I think people tend to be more forgiving for flaws in vocals/stage presence when they see an instrument on hand, because according to people like Randy it automatically makes them a unique artist.

  • Anonymous

    My number one suggestion is…get rid of the judges completely.  The general consensus is they don’t judge anway.  If they do anything it’s manipulate.  We The People are supposed to decide on the winner, so why don’t we?  With all the time that the judges used to spend babbling contestants can sing *gasp* full songs.

  • pj

    The fact that even Idol is using the phrase WGWG means that the general public is aware.

    I wouldn’t stack the top 24 with no WGWG just to change the results.  But why not go back to the old days when instruments weren’t allowed?  I think the last season that had no instruments was also the last season a female won.  Season 6 – Jordin Sparks. She has done better than many of the subsequent winners.

    I like the idea of bringing back former Idols.  How about one on the judges panel?  Or as mentors.  Or in filler, because lord knows they have enough filler.

    I’d like to see limited voting.  I just don’t see how this past season could have record number of votes if the ratings are down and less people are watching the show.  The people who vote 5 times probably voted 5 times last year.  The difference has to be the power text voters.

    ETA: I also like the idea of a songwriting contest/original week like they did on Rock Star. I know some won’t come into the competition with that sort of experience, but they could all work with the same co-writer.

  • Incipit

    The staff at “What Not to Sing” ‘may’ be feeling cautiously optimistic behind this ‘re-tooling’ announcement. Or maybe, they’ve just heard it all before. But a lot of the suggestions in this thread are also present in their 2012 Year-End Editorial, Future Shock, and in between the humor, they’re serious ones.

    If you haven’t yet treated yourself to reading it – it’s worth a look, if only to figure out the real names of the *Faux 2013 Contestants they use – (the winner will make you chuckle. Maybe.) as the editorial is written ‘as if’ it were a recap of next years show, already over, but with all the issues from this season still in play.

    And the point is – “If Only” Idol had made these changes in 2012! So, maybe they are. Some of them, anyway. It remains to be seen if this ‘re-tooling’ goes the way of many others, of course – but mj, I’m appreciative of the WNTS link on your Blog Roll – to remind me every week to check for always interesting commentary from people who ‘really’ know this show! IMO.

    (*How many did you get without looking them up? *snerk*)

  • koshka

    I think it depends on how you define “casual”. I’m talking about the person that watches the show not really caring if their favorite wins enough to vote. Also the person that watches the show for entertainment… To me those are casual voters. There are LOTS of people, unless you have stats to disprove that I think we are both working on assumptions.

  • Stefan Wind

    The voting system needs to be changed, along with a judge or two. Like many I’m tired of watching J-Lo’s Idol instead of American Idol. 

  • Anonymous

    I think if a 2 hour voting period brings in 60 million votes and a 4 hour voting period brings in 130 million votes, it’s pretty much the same block of people voting for twice as long. The show definitely doesn’t have 130 million viewers.

  • Anonymous

    There are LOTS of people, unless you have stats to disprove that I think we are both working on assumptions.

      Everybody here is working on assumptions. I’ve been careful to qualify most of my statements, though.

  • Reflects On Life

    Agree with your point. It would even affect me, since I usually watch the recaps & vids and not the live shows. But I’m guessing that folks like us are in the minority, and that people who primarily watch AI online (1) aren’t contributig to ratings and (2) aren’t voting at all or are voting very few votes OR vote their fav regardless of watching that week’s episode.  Besides, the 2 hour cutoff is arbitrary.  Usually by the time I watch the recaps & vids, I’m past the 2 hour deadline to vote anyways.

  • diedrupo

    I suspect that next year, every male in the top 24 will be not-white, or flamingly gay. This year they tried that by having only two white guys in the top 13, but that clearly failed because one of them was your prototypical WGWG.

  • Anonymous

    Actually, I think Paul Hewson would trump Robert Zimmerman in a WGWG battle myself. Most of the white male winners we’ve had can, actually sing.

    They’ve got some interesting ideas over there, and their database is a great resource, but it troubles me that they can’t, or won’t explain the methodology they use to come to their conclusions, so I take their “stats” as entertainment, and with a pinch of salt.

  • Tinawina

    I agree. I feel like most of the WGWGs get a bad rap because there are so many of them LOL, but the crushing monotony of their winning all the time doesn’t mean they are not all talented guys who actually know their voices pretty well. They are for the most part good singers/interpreters I think, even if they were not the very best pure singers of their seasons.

    What Not To Sing always has interesting essays. I do remember reading something about their methodology and only understanding about half of it. Heh.

    Honestly, I don’t think any changes will make a bit of difference in the outcome, which is why I can’t see myself enduring another year. But I do agree with them about needing younger songs and about the inherent dangers of the sudden death semis format. I don’t agree with them at all about the audition/Hollywood/Vegas rounds… I think that is where people start getting really invested so that folks care about the kids when the voting starts. Getting rid of that would be a kiss of death for Idol, at best they could shorten it just a little bit IMO.

  • Anonymous

    I’d like a more current song catalog.
    I’d like the contestants to be able to sing more than 1:30 of a song.
    I’d like the contestants not use instruments or be limited to a certain number of performances with them.
    I’d like the contestants to be aware of all the themes for the season as early as possible so they actually have time to design their performance.
    I’d like the voting methodology altered to limit votes.

  • Anonymous

    But I do agree with them about needing younger songs and about the inherent dangers of the sudden death semis format.

      The thinking behind “sudden death” was to add some drama to the later rounds (same with the save, I think) but also to goose the ratings, because of the lag in the middle weeks before the finale. The thinking was that viewers got bored seeing the same contestants week after week.

    But unfortunately, sudden death has the unfortunate consequence of eliminating hopefuls with potential who can’t hit a home run out of the gate, or didn’t get much screen time in the early rounds.  Ratings dropped anyway, despite shortening the round. The 3 week semi was the lesser of two evils.

    Bring back the longer semi, but throw in a twist to keep the drama.

    I’ve come to LOVE the Vegas round. So entertaining. Some of the VERY BEST performances of the entire season happen in Vegas. Do not meddle with that please.

  • Hazehel

    My big suggestion to Idol – ignore what the fans say, just concentrate on making entertaining TV.

    The worst thing that happened this year was the show taking into account fans’ complaint about joke contestants and bad singers, turning the audition episode into worthy but dreadfully tedious TV.  The endless parade of OK singers who keep getting “yes”, “yes” and “yes” just became monotonous and completely unwatchable. The fact that Michael Slezak had the gall to say that the audition had improved is a sign of what wrong with many fans – they can’t see that most people watch a TV show to be entertained, they don’t want to see auditions for a music school where you get an endless parade of OK-ish talent with only the occasional outstanding one.  The show was a success because it amuses people, draws them in and keep people engaged with the contestants they like.  Just keep people amused, entertained and interested, that is all.

  • Diana

    Yeah, that’s how I approach WNTS, too. It’s an useful resource to find out who sang what, and it can be a good read that gives me information on their opinions, but that’s as far as it goes for me.

  • Tinawina

    I’ve come to LOVE the Vegas round. So entertaining. Some of the VERY
    BEST performances of the entire season happen in Vegas. Do not meddle
    with that please.

    AGREED. Some of the most awesome, creative performances have been during that round. And we get them before the kids have all the life ground out of them during the voting rounds. Heh. That needs to stay IMO.

  • Ashetalia Staatz

    I was talking about the “feel” of the show, whether you vote or not. The idol myth atm is that the viewers/voters are in total control. Its non-judgmental judges, and its seemingly unlimited voting underline that myth. You don’t have to vote for hours to be sucked in.

    Idol needs to widen its viewership. imo limiting voting will only reduce the show’s appeal within its demographic, without appealing to folk outside of its demographic. That’s a lose-lose situation no show wants to face.

  • Leandro

    “many young girls voting for the cutest male performer.” Do they still think that are the young girls who vote for P2? They didn’t even had the work to look at P2’s facebook and see the age of his typical fan.

  • Anonymous

    Let’s not forget that WGWG’s often have been performing for years with bands and acoustically, which helps their performing chops and lets them get comfortable with finding their sound while doing covers. A young ballad singer like Jessica has probably sung the National Anthem and the same big ballad covers whenever she’s had the chance to perform for big audiences at talent shows and events. I really think that experience helps the WGWG’s (aside from their cuteness quotient). Phil might not have had a lot of performing experience, but I think in spite of everyone talking about how he turned everything into a Dave Matthews cover, he also sounded good on fast rock songs, giving him some diversity.

    One thing no one ever brings up is the power of the network. Producers cater to the network execs, who get exactly what they want. So some things you might not like might come from Fox.

    Finally, they might not be so worried about the audition rounds if the producers had managed to find a water cooler moment this year like “Pants On the Ground” or some William Hung like bad singer. But it never happened and got the show off to a slow start…

  • Leandro

    well, maybe they shouldn’t search for it cause it’s too embarassing. I kinda felt myself disturbed when I saw old grandmothers almost sexually harassing James Massone from The Voice. And I guarantee, these people know how to powervote. And if u take away the powervote it’ll not matter cause they are the majority of casual viewers.

  • guinness 416

    Too funny.  I suppose I can see it, Pee Pee has a look that could pass as a guy from their 1970s heyday – or the young man doing the gardening who “drops in” on the lady of the house for a lemonade and a …. well.  I thought Colton was the eye candy this season myself, if you could ignore the bible thumping anyway.

  • Reflects On Life

    This is a classic business-school case-study unfolding right before our eyes in real time.  It’s quite exciting, actually.  AI has “invented” and then held a virtual monopoly in the USA reality singing competition for 10+ years, its effect even influencing the scripted tv and movie world to embrace song – either directly it the action, like HSM, Glee, Smash, Across the Universe, Chicago; or indirectly by showcasing the soundtrack, like Greys Anatomy, 500 Days of Summer, etc.  Then in the space of 1 year, 5 or more reality singing competition shows crop up to claim a piece of the pie, or to even dethrown the giant.

    So what is AI’s USP (unique selling proposition) now?  How does AI differentiate itself in this marketplace, thrive in this marketplace, and given the fickle world of entertainment, work to keep this marketplace as a whole from deteriorating, especially when the competition doesn’t share its long-term vision and is out to last just a few years and make as much bank as it can in that time (hello Voice x 2?).  Add to that, the star of your monopoly run is now one of your competitors.

    Here are my suggestions for its USP –

    – Solidify your branding as “the gold standard”. Keep singing ability important.
    – Emphasize your USP as the contestant-centric show, as opposed to the judges-centric or performance-centric show.
    – Being that the contestants are the stars, choose star-worthy contestants.  The talent of S11 combined with the personalities of S10 will keep the singing quality top-notch while keeping us interested in the contestants as people.
    – You are the only show now that has no judges involvement in the voting structure.  Keep it that way.  Even consider getting rid of the judges save, thus differentiating yourself more.  I always liked the judges save, just as an interesting plot device, but given how much the judges hold sway in the voting on the other shows, the 1 judges save on AI seems positively quaint now.
    – I think you are the only show with unlimited voting also. Keep it that way.  Perhaps reduce the voting time frame from 2 hrs to 1 hr (or even 1/2 hr) so that casual voters will still feel they have a say, power voters will still feel they make a difference, and ATT can still sell a few more cell phone plans.
    – Make it even more about the contestants by showing us more of what goes on behind the scenes.  S9 did a bad job of this – showing the contestants eating donuts in the green room.  S10/11 did better, showing mentoring sessions with jimmy.  I’d suggest more pimp-pieces about the contestants in their every-day lives back home (spread equally across all contestants & during the live rounds not before), combined with more proccess-pieces, showing struggles with song choice, vocal coaching, concocting arrangements, etc.
    – WGWG winner isn’t the worst thing.  With multiple reality comp shows nowadays, one way they’ll differentiate themselves on what kind of winner they’ll bring you.  If AI is the go-to show for the WGWG winner, then I know which show I want to watch if I like WGWGs.  Perhaps emphasize that further with an original-songs round – at least the WGWG will have to prove his mettle.
    – Keep the live rounds running many weeks. We get to know the contestants, get invested in them, see the pitfalls of early front-running, watch growth arcs, watch end-game peaks, etc.

    They’ve done a good job of adopting best practices from their competitors –
    – make sure there are 2 good singers from your focus genre in your live shows, not just 1 (who appears to be a token rep), that way you’ll encourage the folks who love that genre to watch that season (S10 scotty/lauren, S11 jessica/joshua)
    – S11 overall upped the level of production values without overshadowing the contestant (with a couple of exceptions)
    – S11 had several contestants who could perform, command a stage, and sing simultaneously (skylar, josh, and in the back pack, deandre & heejun).
    – there have been many younger songs, many fresher songs, and many genre-specific new-to-you songs (scotty/lauren especially ran this way).

    Beyond that, consider adding some conventions from other reality show genres –
    – Winner of the round:  unlike many competition shows, we don’t know who won the round.  We are told who lost (since they are booted or saved), or we are told who are the B2/B3 (or we are led to believe it with vague language like “one of these 3 is going home”, which was used almost every week of S11). And we know who’s safe, but we don’t know who won that week.  Perhaps knowing who won would get the fans of the remaining field more invested in voting for them, and keep more viewers interested in tuning in week-on-week for the game aspect.
    – Immunity: Survivor offers this multiple ways in the game process. Top Chef and Project Runway offer this with two challenges in the show, the first challenge bringing immunity for the 2nd. To keep this in the hands of the viewers, AI could offer round-to-round immunity, maybe up to top 5.  So the winner of top 10 gets immunity on top 9 night, etc. After Top 5 night, there is no immunity.
    – I’m sure there are other conventions they could consider, but those conventions should not turn into manipulations.

    Sorry that turned out so long :(

  • Anonymous

    I think unlimited voting also turns off a ton of people, too. Why should I bother voting 10 or 20 times for someone when I know that some people are texting 1,000’s of times? What’s the use? What would happen if every household/device got one vote? Is that even possible?

    I think they need new, hipper judges. And better song choices, of course.

  • dabney c

    I agree — but how come Idol took down the youtube vids of the Vegas solo (sing for your life on a moat) round? I used to watch Josh’s “Up to the Mountain” every other day. Then suddenly, it was gone, as were all the others.  They took nothing else of the competition down — only Vegas solo. What’s with that?

  • Axxxel

    You should write the case study and have it published in Harvard Business Review hehehe….

  • Anonymous

    I like slezaks idea of retiring songs… Need more current music and clear more songs… I also like the idea of longer song 2:30-3:00 especially in the later rounds….

  • Loretta

    1) Sorry but I think if texting is going to be allowed all texts need to be allowed regardless of carrier.  AT&T was Bell South and AT&T is the predominant carrier for the South.  It is an unfair advantage for the southern contestants which is why so many winners hail from the South IMO.  I have Verizon and I should be able to text should I wish. 

    2) New songs are a MUST! More current Invest in a new song catelog. 

    3) Get rid of tired themes.  Let the artist sing songs they like.  Songs that showcase who they will be as artists. 

    4) New judges

    5) Better mentors who are more vested in the success of the contestants.  Ones who will help them develop their own unique voice.

    6) LOVE the idea above of having the top 5 involved in the writing and selection of their coronation song should they win. 

  • GaryOC

    I completely agree. Allowing the contestants to start playing instruments in Season 7 was the single worst change they ever made to Idol. It’s no coincidence that a WGWG has won every year since then.

    Some people here are saying that limiting the votes wouldn’t change the outcome, because the viewing demographic leans towards WGWG’s.  I disagree.  The people who are skewing the results by power-texting thousands of times are but a small subset of the viewing audience. There are plenty of men (such as myself) who watch the show, but the big difference is, we generally don’t power text (IMO). Obviously I can’t speak for all the male viewers, but as for me, I have better things to do than text in votes for 2 hours. And I consider myself an avid Idol viewer.

  • Ashetalia Staatz

    I didn’t know that att was the predominant carrier for the South. I also don’t know when the show started allowing texting. The Southern connection goes back to the very beginning of the show, though. The winner of season 1 and both the winner/runner up of seasons 2 and 3 are Southern. “Red States,” have dominated all along; among the top three finalists, Red-Blue state ratio is something like 23-10. This is quite outstanding, considering the dearth of winners from highly populated states like California and NY. Illinois has only one–DeWyze.

  • teacup

    Yeah, adding instruments was the mistake. It creates an unfair disadvantage for the contestants that “only” sing. “Oh, you have elite vocal talent that’s extremely rare? Too bad you aren’t a real artist!” It’s become ridiculous. 

    I don’t agree that TPTB should just throw their hands up like Nigel because whichever contestant fits a certain profile is going to win no matter what. They have to do something to at least TRY to get more diversity in the winners. If it fails, so be it. But they need to make the effort.

  • merkureye

    Great comments/suggestions all!  I really thought the faux-judges for the last two seasons have been inconsistent and manipulative (anybody remember JLo exhorting the audience to “pick-up the phone and vote” for Deandre?  I wonder how the other contestants felt?  I’d prefer the judges limit themselves to critiques of performances, not conduct fan club phona-thons. 

    It seems that there is consensus to continue unlimited voting to “keep the results in the voters hands.”  However, keeping the results in the voters hands led to Jessica Sanchez being eliminated at 7th place (w/o the save).  How would that have worked out for the credibility of the show?  Coupled with Pia last year (say what you want, she wasn’t a 9th place talent), obviously, some tweaking of the voting system is in order.  I am in favor of 1 hour of voting. 

    Too much emphasis has been on auditioners who go nowhere.  I believe only the top 24 should be showcased.  The viewers will not know who actually is a T24 until later.  What I saw this year, after the T24 reveal, was many who didn’t make it were given greater amounts of screen time than those that became semi-finalists.  No time to get fanbase momentum.  This does not make sense to me.

    Not enough of the sing-for-your-life rounds (T24 semi-finalists only please).  From what little was shown from those performances, they seem magnificent!  I watched Elise’s snippet of Its a Man’s World numerous times and enjoyed all 45 seconds of it.  I wonder why AI took all of the SFYL performances down?

    Aside from the show itself, the AI website is brutal.  Slow-slow-slow with too many commercials and low quality video playback of performances.  Searches for favorites or features are non-responsive.  The AI website is the only place to get the proprietary “judges critique” after the performances.  You would think that AI would like to capture has many “looks” from its viewers as it can but it is a chore to navigate there.  Invest in larger servers maybe?  AI’s website literally drives its potential viewers to YouTube because of its horrible website.

  • guinness 416

    It would be interesting to know what suggestions past contestants would have, and if they’ve ever been asked by the powers-that-be.

  • Anonymous

    The only valid voting system would be a ranking system but that is too cumbersome when you have a lot of contestants. Some people only vote for their favorite….which essentially means they are voting against everyone else….treating them as equals even though they aren’t. Other than I’ll Stand by You I never ranked Pia #1 but I never rated her last either.

  • steph6449

    Yeah, adding instruments was the mistake. It creates an unfair disadvantage for the contestants that “only” sing. “Oh, you have elite vocal talent that’s extremely rare? Too bad you aren’t a real artist!” It’s become ridiculous.

    Agree. Also the finalists who play guitar tend to get OTT-praised as singer-songwriters without ever having to put up any evidence for the audience to vote by as to whether they can really write good songs for themselves. 

    Some examples in prior years of contestants who were appealing apparently to a broad audience when singing the various performance show covers. But their songwriting and musical choices when they put out their own albums were of interest to a much narrower group of people.

  • aizjanika

    I don’t like the idea of giving the judges more power to decide who stays. One of the things I most disliked about The Sing-Off and The Voice is that I felt a lot less engaged because the judges decided who stayed most of the time. On Idol, I really hate the save, and I wish they’d do away with it. I wouldn’t mind if they limited the voting. I agree that 50 votes per method is probably good. It’s enough that I can split them between several contestants early on, not so many that I wouldn’t bother to use at least some of them.

    I think having a sing-off between the bottom two like what they did on Dancing with the Stars this season (and one round of AI) would not work for me. If they did that, I’d probably stop watching entirely. I want the vote to decide who stays and who goes. If the judges are just going to decide anyway, why bother? There’s already so much manipulation on this show and I’d hate to give the judges any more power. I’d do away with the save entirely.

    Personally I’d like less Ford “music videos”, more process – how do the
    kids go about choosing a song? Who struggled to get a song cleared?
    Which contestant had ideas about staging? Who is the least fun to shop
    with for stage clothes?

    I like this idea. I’d love to see more of that. I also wouldn’t mind a behind-the-scenes show. I’d probably watch.

    potatorocks, I like some of your ideas, too. The only one I don’t like is #7. I didn’t watch the show early on, but I’ve seen a few videos on YouTube of earlier performances, and I wouldn’t like to see that. I prefer the live band throughout.

  • getaway1

    Yeah, adding instruments was the mistake. It creates an unfair disadvantage for the contestants that “only” sing. “Oh, you have elite vocal talent that’s extremely rare? Too bad you aren’t a real artist!” It’s become ridiculous.

    There seems to be a double standard.  It’s not just the guys who play instruments.  No body seems to have a problem with Crystal Bowersox playing the guitar (and piano).  Ironically, she probably played it more throughout her season than David Cook, Kris Allen, Scotty McCreery, Phillip Phillips in their seasons.

  • koshka

    “There seems to be a double standard.  It’s not just the guys who play instruments.  No body seems to have a problem with Crystal Bowersox playing the guitar (and piano).  Ironically, she probably played it more throughout her season than David Cook, Kris Allen, Scotty McCreery, Phillip Phillips in their seasons.”

    Not for me… I find all instruments distracting and misleading. There are many who see an instrument and equate it with “artistry”. I’m not just talking about winners. More than a few have limped along in the season when they should have been gone sooner. Sort of like Sanjaya’s hair.

    When I buy or listen to music for me its about the voice I can’t see if an artist is playing on their own recorded song. Besides she didn’t win, so she isn’t going to be the focal point. Other than John Mayer.. I can’t tell you who has played on their own record and who hasn’t.

  • mchcat

    I agree with a lot of the suggestions.  I vote on line and it is a pain – have to really like someone to do more than a few. 
    One thing I do wonder is why they put so many thru to Hollywood.  Maybe having a smaller group would allow more time to spotlight the ones that “might” make it to Vegas. Then again take a smaller group to Vegas.  If there are fewer contestants, there will be more time to add video, backgroud stories, etc.  I want to “know” the ones that make the 24.  I want to be invested in their stories.  I think this is really what puts Idol ahead of the others.  This year I didn’t think they did a very job of picking the 12.  The girls were all alike – big voices, loud notes.  The guys were a little different but most of them were like the girls – loud. That might be why Phil won – he was the only one of the 12 that did not use a loud, big voice.

  • Anonymous

    I agree. I don’t think changing the voting system will change anything. The demographic for idol has changed since S6.

  • Anonymous


    How can the producers fix the problem with this show if they- apparently- can’t even identify the problem in the first place.  The problem with “Idol” has nothing to do with teen and tween-age girls power voting for the WGWGs they find cute;  if anything, it’s their mothers and grandmothers who are the culprits there.  It’s the fact that the producers force these contestants to perform the same old, tired songs, the judges have been absolutely awful since Simon Cowell left, and most of the contestants are JUST NOT INTERESTING.  Say what you will about the vocal quality of the contestants on the British versions of “The X-Factor” and “The Voice,” but I’d much rather watch complete and utter trainwrecks like Tyler James and Jedward than boring, Céline Dion wannabes like Jessica Sanchez and Pia Toscano.  Seriously, if the producers are just going to tweak the format so that they can ensure that their chosen plants are forced down our throats (see Amaro, Melanie), then they just don’t get it.