Monday, January 11, 2010

It's a Singing Competition

As Ellen DeGeneres prepares for her stint on American Idol, I ponder whether I can stomach another dose of the show. By the end of Season 8, I could barely look at Kara DioGuardi much less listen to her ridiculous commentary on how to become a pop star. How many more times can I listen to "THIS is American Idol" and the other Idol catch phrases: "That was just a'ight for me, dawg", "I don't know, it was kind of pitchy in places", "That song was too big for you", "You made it your own", "That was very karaoke" and my favorite "That was a complete and utter mess".

I realize that it's not only the judges who sound like a broken record. I've been blogging about American Idol for two seasons and I desperately need some new material. So, what do the producers have in store for me this winter? They had better shake it up or I'm afraid I may follow Paula out the door.

If the rumors are true, Simon will be taking Ms. Abdul's lead making this his final season. I've heard that the Wild Card round is history. The producers will abandon the unmanageable Top 36 and instead return to the Top 24 format (12 men, 12 women). That will make the audition part of the show a bit easier to swallow, especially since Ellen DeGeneres is not due to sit at the judge's table until Hollywood Week.

From what I can gather, guest judges will fill the vacant fourth seat until Ellen joins us at the Nokia Theater. Guest judges will include Joe Jonas (is he the one that got married?), Victoria Beckham (in all her Spice Girl loveliness), Kristen Chenowith (she was fantastic on Glee this season), Shania Twain, Katy Perry, Mary J. Blige and Neil Patrick Harris. Not sure any of them will fill the void left by Paula, but only time will tell.

And what about Ellen? Will she be able to boost the ratings that have eroded in recent years? Apparently some Idol watchers are doubting that she'll be effective because she doesn't have a musical background. Hmm. Paula and Randy were both musicians and record producers before Idol and yet I'm not sure how many aspiring musicians they've actually inspired with their musical prowess over the years. But I am fairly certain that the only person Kara DioGuiardi impressed last season was...Kara DioGuiardi.

I won't listen to the naysayers, I think Ellen DeGeneres will be great. She can think on her feet, she's original, she's entertaining, she's got her finger on the pulse of pop culture and she will be a fantastic addition to the judges table. She will be similar to Paula in that she will be the Queen of Nice, but will be the polar opposite of Paula in that she will be eloquent, insightful and coherent. That will be a nice change.

I've been watching AI since 2002 when Kelly Clarkson auditioned for the role. Back then, the median age of the viewers was 29.5 years old. I was, ah-hem, a bit older and watched the show by myself after I put the kids to bed. By the time last year rolled around, the median age was up to 40.3 (I was still, ah-hem, a bit older than the average viewer) but I was watching American Idol with my whole family (and with a few more crows feet and gray hairs to boot.) According to the powers that be, Ellen DeGeneres attracts a median age of 51.8 (old people) but the network is hoping that her loyal following will offset the steady ratings decline.

Hmm. Maybe I will give it one more season. It might be fun watching this year as one of the younger audience members, right?

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