Audiences have let go of “American Idol,” and so should Fox

By Julia Weingardt

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"American Idol" is a show more about the judges than the singers now. Photo courtesy of

The screaming, the golden tickets, the crazy wackjobs who think they can sing. It was all pretty entertaining—but come on Fox, it’s getting old.

It’s not just the audition madness of “American Idol” that’s getting repetitive.

The show is in its ninth season, which means nine years of Ryan’s perfectly spiked hair and skinny ties, nine years of Randy’s “Yo dawg I wasn’t feelin’ it man” comments and nine years of Simon’s boring t-shirts and equally boring insults.

The opening rounds of the show have really become all about the judges, when in fact they should be focusing on the singers. In the earlier seasons, the judges told contestants that they were pitchy or that they were out of tune.  Now the responses consist of Simon rolling his eyes or Kara slowly nodding her head with her eyes watering in amazement.  A judge’s job is to critique, but clearly this group has decided to leave that up to the voice coaches.

The only real improvement this year is the addition of Ellen DeGeneres, who adds a comedic aspect and a bit of an “every man” vibe to the show.  Her comments are both witty and constructive, and her spontaneous personality brings a much-needed element of originality to the show.

There seems to be a trend in Fox’s judge selection over the past few seasons.  Paula goes a little kooky, so Fox brings in Kara for a trial season.  Next thing you know, Paula’s out, so now they’ve brought in Ellen—all in preparation for Simon’s departure next season.

Simon should be ecstatic.  He’s jumping off a sinking ship and landing on a much cooler British one.  Rumors have it that he’s introducing the talent search show “The X-Factor” to America and bringing Paula Abdul with him.  America has waited long enough for the “Cabdul” showmance to continue, and the “X-Factor’s” success in the U.K. is a promising sign for the show’s American debut.

Hopefully, The “X-Factor” will not suffer from the same hitch Idol has always struggled with: predictability. The infamous ‘We’re going to pretend to kick you off and then surprise you and let you in!’ trick just doesn’t work anymore.  And sorry Fox, we know that when you show us a heartwarming story about a contestant’s family, he or she’s going through to the next round. Your secret’s been let out of the bag!

As if this wasn’t enough, Idol’s ratings are dropping.  Coverage of the Winter Olympics beat the U.S audience ratings of “American Idol,” making it the first show to do so in six years and also marking the end of an era.

Idol is famous for discovering remarkable talent. It’s served its purpose and provided the world with some good laughs and some good voices. Nonetheless, its time has come and gone, and it’s time to let the bevy of competitions take over in the talent search.  So, Ryan, next time you say, “We’ll be back…after the break,” do us all a favor—don’t!

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