American Idol is turning 1o. Few shows remain huge hits in their 10th year. Idol’s producers are aware of this.
There are things they can’t control: whether time, competitors, the departure of Simon Cowell, and changes in the culture have made their show less compelling and relevant. There are the things they can kind of control: how well the new judges, Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez, are received, and whether the new batch of finalists captures America’s interest.
And then there are the things they can control: the format of the show and the competition. In this area, there is apparently a big revamp going on—though two reports today from EW and The Hollywood Reporter don’t completely agree as to what they will be.
For instance, THR says there could be as many as 15 finalists; EW says there will be no more than 12 and maybe as few as 10. THR says the contestants may perform original songs, there might be a music-video challenge and there may be online voting; EW says no to each.
Both reports, though, agree there will be a quickie elimination process of some sort, rather than the drawn-out winnowing of 24 semifinalists to 12 finalists. And as has been reported before, the producers will revamp the theme weeks to let each contestant sing in his or her own genre—no more country singers doing R&B or vice-versa, &c.
That seems like a good idea, or a refreshing change, as does the notion reported by EW that Idol will not have a mandatory gender balance among finalists if there are more talented singers of one sex this year.
That is: those changes sound like they would make for better singing. But there are always multiple considerations with Idol, and I don’t know if they will make for more viewers. Nor do I know whether any of the changes under discussion will solve the problem of poor music sales by the winner—though a possible plan to speed up the music-release calendar might.
As for THR’s report that one “change” will include housing the contestants in an “Idol mansion”: I honestly do not recall the living arrangements in recent years, but the Idols were housed together in a mansion at least at some points during its earlier seasons. In any case, the less we see of it, the better—which goes double for the car-commercial videos.
But I’ll be watching the performance for time.com regardless. What will it take to get (or keep) you watching?