American Idol is undergoing a major facelift for its 13th season. An article from The Wrap describes the changes as “nuclear,” yet a different source I found at Vulture states it is nothing but a rumor. Regardless if it’s true or not, I see these changes as Idol’s ultimatum, which will determine if it can redeem itself or if its expiration date is reached.
If you know me personally or have had conversations with me about the entertainment industry, you know I strongly think that Idol got cancer when Simon Cowell left, and it worsened when the panel of judges kept changing constantly. This inconsistency is what may have caused audiences to stop watching the show. Also, a cooler guy named The Voice joined the soccer team, leaving Idol with fewer friends.
The original panel of judges consisted of Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul, and Simon Cowell, lasting for nine seasons. Kara DioGuardi’s presence in season eight and nine proved to be good. However, I believe the cancer began when Ellen DeGeneres (yes, Ellen) joined season nine. Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez joined Randy Jackson for seasons ten and eleven, and it changed again for this year’s season with the addition of Keith Urban, Nicki Minaj, and Mariah Carey.
So what is all the nuclear talk about? As I’m writing this blog, Randy Jackson has just announced his departure. "I am very proud of how we forever changed television and the music industry. It's been a life changing opportunity but I am looking forward to focusing on my company Dream Merchant 21 and other business ventures,” he told E! News. Also, a source close to Fox has stated that the company plans to completely change the judging panel. They want to invest less money in the judges and focus more on the talent. Mariah Carey received $18 million this season, the highest salary for a judge on Idol history. (Jennifer Lopez received $15 million and Nicki Minaj $12 million).
Fox has a lot of work to do in regards to rebuilding their brand, getting back their target audience, and thinking carefully about how to change the show without completely getting rid of its roots. The source close to Fox also stated that longtime executive producer Nigel Lythgoe will be let go.
Ratings declined 22 percent this season and hit an all-time low last Thursday with only 11 million viewers compared to 30 million viewers on episodes from season six. The cancer hasn’t killed Idol yet. It is a powerhouse for Fox, which brings $836.4 million in ad revenue. As I mentioned above, the show lost its authenticity when Simon Cowell left and a rapidly swap of current or very well known stars happened in the judging panel. Competition, mainly from The Voice, might be another factor, but I don’t think that’s the biggest reason. This season dragged and didn’t flow organically. I was expecting a lot from Mariah Carey; even though her critiques improved from the audition process all the way to the Top 12, she failed to meet my expectations. Keith and Nicki were good judges in the way they got their message across and evaluated the singers technically (although I will say Nicki gave too much importance to outfits). Randy, well, “he’s not in it to win it.”
The finale for Season 12 is next week. What are your thoughts on this season and the show through time? Feel free to comment below and share this blog post.