Of course you’ll be interested in season 12 of American Idol

American Idol Season 12 Cast

The ratings leader of singing competitions returns with fresh faces and a freshened format. And, regardless of changes, it’s going to continue to kill anything in its vicinity.


I’m not afraid or ashamed to admit I regularly enjoy drama within my day. (Have we met? I do work with the CliqueClack staff, after all. *sidelong glances at An and Jeremy and Ivey as they walk down the hall*)

Now, many people enjoy drama … so long as they’re not dropped smack dab in the middle of it. Some like a little drama: gossip about a neighbor or co-worker, someone making a scene at Starbucks because their half carafe of soy free latte venti monkey mocha isn’t mocha-y enough. Others enjoy something a little more meaty: drama that drops the jaw, drama that turns heads, drama that makes you shake yours back and forth and exhale at the pointlessness of it all.

Something more or less in the middle of the dramas noted above is about to rear its head for a 12th season. Touted as “the most important reality singing competition on television,” American Idol returns with three of its five cast members fresh and unseasoned, with a completely unknown dynamic (let’s face it: we’re really not going to know the true chemistry of how this line up works until we get down the road some on the show) and hauling in a cadre of hopefuls certain to push buttons just as soon as win hearts.

Me? I’m ready for that kind of drama right there.

“I’m not one of these people that just want to wave a flag and go, ‘American Idol the greatest thing.’ We’re a springboard.” — Nigel Lythgoe

Interestingly (at least to me), there are a lot of friends and associates who have collectively stated “there’s no way in hell they’re sitting through Idol this season.” For the life of me, I can’t understand that mode of thinking. With all the hoopla surrounding Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj and the insertion of “referee” Keith Urban — let alone a brand new season filled with unknown surprises — what’s not to get excited about?

Prior to season 10, when it was announced Jennifer Lopez and Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler were due to usher in the show as new judges, I was excited. Well … excited Tyler was coming into the fold. Truth be told I wasn’t exactly thrilled about JLo entering the fray. But I kept an open mind going into the then new season. I was going to give both of them a chance — especially JLo — to put their talents and their experiences to the test and come forth with honest critiques of the hopefuls as the weeks flew by. There was rough going that first stint, but JLo ended winning me over in many ways at the end of it all. I wasn’t so put off by her on the panel; she was engaging at points and she wasn’t as irritating as I’d been led to believe. Tyler? You knew he was going to be entertaining, but add to that the fact he offered many insightful and instructive assessments and I was colored pleasantly with him. Of course, the two mucked up some of their studies of the contestants over the two years they held court with fluff and fodder and downright incomprehensibilities, but not everything is going to come out colorful rainbows and heart-warming puppies.

Coming into season 12 of Idol, we have a whole new dynamic once again. Randy Jackson is flanked by newbies who may or not hold their own. They’re going to be scrutinized up and down and all around as the weeks progress. And even though Idol is not about the judges, it certainly is about the judges. That’s just the fact of the matter.

“They know they’ve got a big job on their hands because Jennifer, Steven and Randy did very well with Scotty McCreery and Phillip Phillips. They’ve … got to live up to that …” — Nigel Lythgoe on the judges for season 12

In a recent conference call with Nigel Lythgoe, the producer declared the three will have to put on their big boy pants (or sequined diva panties, as the case may be) and hit the ground running: “They know they’ve got a big job on their hands because Jennifer, Steven and Randy did very well with Scotty McCreery and Phillip Phillips. They’ve … got to live up to that …” From publicity that’s gone all the way back to last summer with claws coming to bear and feuds exposed for all to see, it will be an interesting watch to see the interaction between Carey and Minaj while they try and concentrate (or not) on the contenders. You can bet dollars to Ding Dongs there’ll be nails and coiffed hair a’flyin’ …

Speaking of which, one of the interesting items during Lythgoe’s call was his comment about their feuds … and about Minaj in particular: “I’m not into that sort of publicity. What I do think we’ve got though is … people to watch to see if they grow up on television. I would much prefer that they watch because these judges are excellent. Nicki Minaj, I think, is one of the best judges I’ve ever worked with.” Wow. That’s a pretty bold statement. And, not knowing much about Minaj, it has me interested in what the cotton candy-maned, loud-mouthed artist is all about and what she can contribute to the show.

But I’m skeptical as all get out about the two prima donnas — if, indeed, you can refer to Minaj as one. (She certainly comes across that way.) I abhor Carey about as much as I did JLo when I found she was on board the Idol train a few seasons ago. The difference is I detest Carey even more. Yes, she’s got a voice, but the diva-esque attitude I see in her no matter where she’s at, no matter when she’s performing is completely off-putting to me. (Honestly: If I caught wind of “All I Want For Christmas Is You” pumping out of reception area speakers or while caught ascending in some elevator one more time during the holidays, I was going to do damage.) Minaj? She’s a clown as far as I’m concerned. (And we all know how much I like clowns.) Her music does nothing for me, her flamboyant looks are distasteful and she appears more style than substance. But if JLo can win me over, I’m willing to take the blinders off once again and watch this 12th season to see what these two can do.

“We are extremely lucky that a record like (Phillip Phillip’s) ‘Home’ sells over three million records. It was picked up by the Olympic Games. It was picked up by a movie. It’s astounding how successful that’s been and now, hopefully, we’ll use that … to get the attention for this year’s American Idol.” — Nigel Lythgoe

I’m less skeptical about some of the altered format changes the show will be debuting/falling back on. We’ll see it going into the finals with only 10 contestants, not the 12 or 13 of the last few years. The tour will take the less traveled road in seeking out hopefuls in small towns (as well as friend and family nominations who will no doubt be surprised at their sudden usherance onto the show). The Las Vegas Rounds will be expanded from one to two weeks and, before that, the Hollywood Rounds will be divided male/female to mix things up, hopefully zeroing in on talent more closely. Best of all, those dumbass wildcard picks by the judges have thankfully been tossed out the window. Thus, Idol has made moves not only to streamline the program, but to make it that much more fun and frolickous. What’s not to like about that?

Since discovering Idol with its 5th incarnation, I’ve continued to enjoy it. Regardless of the naysayers, the ones who have claimed it’s lost its edge, the Vote For The Worst asshats (Thankfully, that site is closing), the whiners who state the show is pointless and old and a joke … none of them have dampened my spirit about the show or what Idol truly is: A launching pad for new artists as determined by the viewing public. It’s the original of the singing competition field and still maintains its juggernaut status in a crowded schedule filled with relative newcomers such as The Voice and The X Factor. It delivers surprises and feelings and wonder and laughs and awe more so and better than any of the others and this year’s chapter will be no different.

The (repeat) four-judge format might slow the pace somewhat just as it did years ago. The drama will again raise its head and threaten to shift the focus from the contestants elsewhere. Ryan Seacrest will continue to be vilified in the coming weeks (by me). But American Idol is back, folks … freshly Febreezed and new and revamped.

And I welcome it as I do every year, with open arms and a warm, gooey feeling. *swoon*

Photo Credit: FOX

9 Comments on “Of course you’ll be interested in season 12 of American Idol

  1. There really is something exciting about the premiere atmosphere. I wish we didn’t have to go through the whole audition process and the really bad singers, but I just can’t sit them out. This is the formation of the judge “team” and I want to see it happen.

    Question: Is American Idol still the ratings leader for “singing shows”? The Voice had a good year, but I didn’t check the numbers.

  2. I lost interest a few seasons back when the show became a joke instead of a talent competition, casting people more for the drama they would bring to TV instead of based on their talent, and out of all the seasons there have really only been two winners that have reached any level of success and sustained it: Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood … which just goes to show that the people voting have no real eye (or ear) for picking talent.

    • *sigh*

      Not just the winners of the show, but quite a few others farther down the line have seen great success with singing and their careers with Idol as a springboard, Chuck.

      Here are just a few:

      – Season 8’s runner-up Adam Lambert has had two chart-topping albums, great success with the band Queen and is currently huge in the Orient

      Taylor Hicks (despite the general perception of him) is doing exceedingly well on his own with a hit show in Las Vegas that began last year and runs through December of this year.

      – You cannot deny the overwhelming success of 4th runner-up Chris Daughtry from season 5 with two platinum and one gold album and a #1 smash hit.

      Jennifer Hudson? Need I say anymore?

      Kellie Pickler: Certified gold and platinum singles and continued success.

      I could continue, but you get the idea.

      Making it in the music business – along with maintaining success – is difficult enough. But there is undeniable proof Idol launched careers for many an alum. It’s for this reason, and others, I continue to embrace the show.

      • I know there have been careers launched — I liked Adam Lambert’s first album — but no one has matched those two that I mentioned as far as the winners. In fact, I think you proved my point when I said the voters have no eye or ear for real talent by pointing out how much success the non-winners have had! But where is Ruben Studdard today (even Clay Aiken seems to have flamed out), Fantasia has become a hot mess, Taylor Hicks did do Broadway, but a Vegas show already? Where is David Cook these days? He was actually one of the ones that I liked. And it seems like everyone since him has been country, so they’re still not crossing over into the music mainstream. But, my real point is the show became a joke back when they started picking drama — Bikini Girl, Tatiana Del Toro — over real talent (like when Danny Gokey’s friend got cut and they kept people who couldn’t carry a tune in a paper bag). That was when I stopped watching, and after being disappointed for a couple of seasons by who ended up winning. But that’s just one person’s opinion!

        • I, of course, see your points – as you see mine – but I will reiterate: it’s difficult any way you see it to continue a solid and successful music career.

          If that can branch out (Would anyone not stop and think about doing six figures for a Vegas stint guaranteed for a year and a half? Academy Awards? Philanthropic ventures?) and you’re willing and able, why not?

          To each his own, however … and I respect your (quite possibly wrong) opinion about the show.


          • **snort**

            I know all too well, from my years of working in record stores, how fickle the music industry is, so I don’t hold anyone’s success or lack of against them (unless they screw it up themselves … ahem, Fantasia). I just don’t like the artifice of the show itself anymore. I certainly don’t hold it in the same regard as So You Think You Can Dance where you see each and every person put their heart and soul on stage, and the judges give real, constructive feedback to help the next performance. You can’t fake your way through a dance routine the way someone can play the audience even when they’re singing off key. Idol just devolved from a talent competition to a drama-fueled reality show with the casting of people who can’t sing and Seacrest’s teases during eliminations. It really just became interminable to watch.

  3. I have problems looking at Minaj. By that I mean I become physically disturbed. Mariah is a puke-inheimer. I haven’t watched a complete season since Scotty won. When was that?
    Maybe I’ll watch here and there. After all, I do watch (used to watch) GLEE. Who am I to judge?

  4. In the case of American Idol, the type of people who are watching the show also tends to heavily reflect on who the winner will be. Thanks to the success of shows like Nashville Star there are very few country music sensations coming from the American Idol camp. However, you do on occasion have a country treasure to find, after all Carrie Underwood and a few other Idol rejects are doing extremely well in country music. The personality of the viewers tends to show in the actual contestants. Those who perform well in styles of music that the audience can connect with tend to stay on the show much longer.^

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