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Back In The Saddle

Can the new American Idol win back the jaded hearts of its loyal fans?

Okay, bear with us.  A lot has changed since Camp Should-A-Been closed its doors last July, and we need some time to get everything straight.  Let's see...Steven Tyler is in.  Simon Cowell is out.  Nigel Lithgoe was out, but now he's back in again.  J-Lo's coming and Ellen's going.  Randy Jackson and Ryan Seacrest are still here, Paula Abdul's still not, and Kara...uh, has anyone seen Kara lately?  No?  Okay, that's a plus.

As for the format for Season Ten, we've heard there will be 16 semifinalists chosen from the Top 40 out of Hollywood Week.  Or maybe just 12 finalists.  Or 20 quasi-finalists.  One thing's for sure: they're definitely all going to live together in a Big Brother-style mansion, a la AI3.  Or not.  There will be broader theme nights and fewer guest mentors...or was that fewer themes and broader mentors?  Well, either way, the contestants will still be able to play instruments (we think) and maybe even be allowed to perform their own original songs.  Unless they aren't.  And the voting system will change drastically, or maybe a little, or maybe not at all.  Um, yeah.  Still no sign of Kara, right?

To be honest, just like everyone else, we don't know what to expect starting tonight.  American Idol, the most popular show on US television, and arguably the most popular show in the history of television, has entered uncharted territory.  Which is not necessarily a bad thing, considering that the territory they left behind was getting kind of rank.  We know from watching the commercials for AI10 that Fox is promising us Amazing Talent (just as they did before Season Seven), Intense Drama (like before Season Eight), and Thirteen Weeks Of Nothing Particularly Memorable Happening, Culminating In A So-So Finale.  Well, okay, they didn't actually advertise that last bit before Season Nine.  But they would've had to if the FCC was doing its job.

In all seriousness, we're approaching this season with a mixture of curiosity and completely unfounded optimism.  AI10 might be very good or very bad, but it's a cinch to be very different.  And, we'll take that.  There have been so many contradictory rumors flying around that we're amazed that MJ and the folks at EW haven't checked into a sanitorium yet.  Every day in our inbox, it seems, there's another official-looking faux press release or gossip-site dispatch purporting to peel back the veil of secrecy around Season Ten.  We've given up trying to make sense of it all.  Heck, even in a "normal" year, Idol doesn't often make a whole lot of sense.

We do have two recommendations for the producers, and visitors who've spent more than 90 seconds on WhatNotToSing.com in the past already know what's coming.

First, keep the pre-competition pimping of contestants to the barest of minimums.  As we've shown time and again, it skews the future voting results for months, usually in undesirable ways.  Besides, as we've also shown, you, uh, really kind of suck at it.  Actually, you suck a whole heaping lot at it.  So just introduce the contestants and stop aiming for those gosh-darn tearjerking Hallmark moments, okay?

Second, for the love of all that is good and holy in the world, please hit the fast-forward button on the music.  When you hire a secretary, do you choose the one who can replace a typewriter ribbon the fastest?  If American Idol is still around in 30 years, do you honestly believe that your successors will try to choose the best unsigned pop superstar of 2041 by having them sing golden oldies by Ke$ha and Justin Beiber, ad nauseum?  (Incidentally, if they do, your humble WNTS senior editors hope to be dead by then.)

As for the rest, we'll leave it up to the folks at 19E, who are fully aware that this is a make-or-break season.  We're waiting for tonight...and please, for once, let the music do the talking.

- The WNTS.com Team

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