10 Ways ‘American Idol’ is Trying to Win You Back
The "Idol" panel at the Television Critics Association on Jan. 13 [photo: Reuters/Kevork Djansezian]
Last year, "American Idol" Season 12 ended pretty much the way it began: in tears. It ickily kicked off with a tabloid-fueled Mariah Carey/Nicki Minaj feud that alienated much of the show's conservative fanbase, and it wrapped months later with an astounding 20 percent ratings drop.
Then there was the failed-to-launch single and multiple album-release delays for winner Candice Glover; runner-up Kree Harrison's unprecedented inability to secure her own record deal; sluggish ticket sales and canceled dates for the "American Idol Live!" concert tour; the demotion of original judge Randy Jackson; and the departures of Nicki, Mariah, Fox reality exec Mike Darnell, and executive producers Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick.
So now, as "Idol" returns for a hopefully less unlucky 13th season, Fox's powers-that-be would no doubt like to erase all traces of Season 12. You know how "Dallas" once wrote off an entire season as Pam's year-long bad dream? Well, I wouldn't be surprised if "Idol" tried the same tactic on this week's premiere, kicking off the episode with a benevolently beaming Bobby Ewing in the shower, reassuring wary viewers that Season 12 never really happened.
But Season 12 did happen. So how will Fox really undo the damage and lure viewers back to the show? "We didn't want to do anything radical. The original format really works," executive producer Trish Kinane explained at Fox's Television Critics Association presentation this Monday. "[But] we went back and examined every single element of the show, from the talent search right through to the finale. It's still absolutely 'American Idol,' but it's a million tiny decisions and little refreshments that make a fresher whole."
So here's the plan:
1. Cut out the quarreling. No one enjoyed seeing those Real Housewives of Idol, Nicki and Mariah, side-eye each other across the judging table or threaten each other with Q-Tips last season. The tension was thicker than Ryan Seacrest's copiously gelled hair, and it was no fun. But this season, returning judges Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban and new cast member Harry Connick Jr. are total besties, sharing an easy-breezy chemistry that was glaringly missing from last year's disastrous panel. And there's even a beautiful bromance brewing between Keith and Harry that rivals the one between "The Voice's" Adam Levine and Blake Shelton. (Seriously, I don't think they'll let J.Lo sit in between them for long.) It's all about good vibes this year, and that should make for good TV.