Beginning of the End For American Idol?

Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler shown pictured with Ryan Seacrest will be the American Idol judges for the 2011 season.

After many months of conjecture the names of the American Idol judges were released on Wednesday. It is unlikely that any of these three judges will make Idol fans forget Simon Cowell and it wouldn’t surprise me to see his American version of  X-Factor become more popular when it debuts next fall on the Fox network.

Randy Jackson will return so we will be hearing a lot of his catch phrases again like “yo dawg”, “blew it out of the box”, “check it out”, “that was bad dawg”, “dude that was not good for me”, “sorry dawg that just didn’t work for me” and the old standby “too pitchy.” Most viewers if they are like me have no idea what being too pitchy means.

Jennifer Lopez who has been a guest mentor in the past will be the only female judge and is reportedly making $12 million for her judging stint with American Idol.

If my memory serves correctly Paula Abdul asked for $10 million and was turned down when she knew Ryan Seacrest was earning $15 million a season for hosting the show. In retrospect it would have been better to pay Paula what she requested since she was more important to the show than Ryan Seacrest.

Steven Tyler will be the other judge and is the least known judge except to Aerosmith fans who should enjoy seeing their frontman on national television twice a week in 2011.

Losing Simon Cowell may lose a lot of fans of the show. His sarcastic and sometimes cruel remarks were a hallmark of the show and now we don’t know who will assume his role or if any of the judges in 2011 will assume that role.

Ellen Degeneres did everyone  a huge favor by resigning from the judges’s panel. Her attempts to be funny fell flat many times last season when her “jokes” fell flat. She was out of her element and should never been selected in the first place. Her forced humor and lack of musical knowledge was too much for her to overcome.

Kara Dioguardi did a credible job as a judge in my estimation. I am not sure if she left the show on her own or was told to quit by the producers. She may have tired of hearing the rumors that she was going to be let go and quit so she could concentrate on her songwriting career since it was evident she wouldn’t be asked to return.

Kara was the perfect judge to me. She felt compassion for the contestants and her musical knowledge far exceeded that of Ellen Degneres. She was the best at offering constructive criticism by telling the contestants they had not sang well but still encouraged them to do better.

The jury is out on Lee DeWyze whose debut album will probably be released in November but it wouldn’t surprise me too see Crystal Bowersox outsell DeWyze when she releases her debut album.

I thought Casey James did better than either of them when he was allowed to play his music the way he wanted but the judges seemed intent on making him into the singer they wanted instead of letting him stay in his element and discouraged him from playing his great guitar riffs.

The 2009 winner Kris Allen was a surprise winner but his debut album is listed 1,523rd in sales at while runner up Adam Lambert who probably had fewer negative comments than any other American Idol contestant is 239th in sales for his debut album.

David Cook the 2008 American Idol winner is listed 2,224th in sales for his debut album while second place David Archuleta’s debut album was way down the list with 6,643rd ranking but his latest album that won’t be released till October 5 is already 407th in sales.

The 2011 season could be a crossroads season for American Idol. American Idol needs another Kelly Clarkson, Chris Daughtry or Carrie Underwood who have been the best selling artists of the American Idol winners.

Season 5 winner Taylor Hicks is probably the least successful of past winners with his debut album listed 69,140th in sales and his 2009 album 50,259th in sales.

Contrast that to Chris Daughtry another Season Five contestant whose debut album from four years ago is listed 521st in sales and his 2009 album is 107th in sales over a year after its release.

The voters who vote for the contestants have not voted for the most commercially successful artists lately. Chris Daughtry is an excellent example of the voting prowess of the voters. He finished fourth in the voting yet his debut album reached a million in sales in only five months which was a record for any debut rock album in history.

Daughtry is third among American Idol winners in record sales trailing only Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood.

So the winner of American Idol is not always the best singer of the contestants.

The producers have a difficult task ahead of them in 2011. They hope the chemistry of the judges will gel early in the season and that they will have some contestants that will keep viewers watching the whole season.

They will fight another ratings battle with Dancing With the Stars and with Simon Cowell gone American Idol may finish behind Dancing With the Stars more often in 2011.

There has to be some questions about the audition process since it is evident that the judges will have to come up with a better final twelve than they have had in the last two years.

We will know if American Idol is on the way out or rebounds from one of their worst seasons to be the force they have been in the past by next May’s finale night.

Author: Andrew Godfrey

Retired from newspaper work after 38 years. Had served in the Army in Hawaii and Vietnam in the 60's. Am now retired and living in Sulphur, Louisiana.

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