Looking Ahead At the New Season of "American Idol"

1/08/2010 Posted by Admin

By our guest blogger, Catherine Fuentes

Editor's Note:  Meet Catherine Fuentes, who recently signed with WeekinRewind.com to be our "American Idol" columnist for the entire season.  Fuentes knows the show--really well--and she will share her thoughts with you the day after each show in her "American Idol" column.   Her insight is fierce, so be prepared for that energy to come through her columns, the first of which is below--and the second of which begins January 13, after the season premiere. 

Welcome, Catherine! 



On January 12, the long awaited new season of American Idol premieres, with episodes that rank as many viewers’ favorites--the auditions. Due to the changes, rumors and gossip surrounding this season, "American Idol" has been a fixture in the news long before its premiere. The loss of original judge Paula Abdul shook the show and its fans, and its implications are seen in all stages of early judging. However, that change aside, "American Idol" producers have learned what works and what doesn’t, and it seems clear that this already is shaping up to be a must-watch season of "American Idol."

When asked about Abdul's departure in just about every current interview with past "American Idol" contestants, unanimous praise is given for her constant optimism and nice attitude toward the contestants.  However, to believe that with her departure, Simon’s criticism will become even more prominent is a serious misstep. When Ellen DeGeneres sits in the fourth judge’s seat when the show gets to Hollywood on February 9, 2010, she will bring a constant source of optimism and positivity to a judge’s row of industry insiders, all of whom have a more critical and nuanced understanding of the music. Ellen DeGeneres is one of the most positive and up-beat hosts currently on television--this positivity won’t end when sharing a table with Simon.

The way I view it is this--"American Idol’s" winner is voted by the viewers, the majority of whom have no sort of musical expertise. They are voting for their American Idol based solely on what they see in front of them, who they think is best and how that can translate into success. That is the same mind-set that Ellen will bring to the table--she will offer her commentary solely with the knowledge of what looks and sounds good to her, a self-proclaimed music lover. While Ellen might lighten tense moods with her strong sense of humor, I believe she’ll take her new job  seriously in an effort to avoid any sort of backlash that Kara DioGuardi received last season.

Because Ellen didn’t sign onto the show until September, and auditions were filmed over the summer, each city will see a new celebrity guest judge to fill the fourth seat. It’ll be interesting to see how celebrities such as Joe Jonas, Mary J. Blige, Victoria Beckham, Katy Perry, Shania Twain, Avril Lavigne and Neil Patrick Harris can effectively judge a music competition.

For the most part, audition weeks are seen as entertainment and serve as a solid and thorough introduction as to who might become a major contender in the subsequent weeks. There is not much nit picking in these quick auditions--a contestant either is laughably bad and there’s a universal consensus that that's the case, or the person is good enough to make it through to the next round. Given this, I can’t imagine much negativity coming from the celebrity guest judges, because I really don't see Joe Jonas as the dream-shattering type the way Simon proves to be during these early rounds. Still, as last year proved, the remaining three judges tend to be tough and fair, and these celebrities likely will fill Paula’s “nice” role.

I feel it may have been more interesting to see past contestants and winners serve as guest judges during the auditions, because not only would they shed light on the music industry from an insider’s perspective, but they also understand the "American Idol" process, and thus could serve as some good, immediate inspiration to the contestants. I feel that the commentary of someone who has been through the game and survived would be particularly welcome and interestesting in such tense moments.

This year also will prove to be a return to basics for the show. Last year featured the controversial wild card round, in which the judges each selected a few contestants to perform again for a wild card slot after already being voted off by viewers. After the performances, each judge picked a contestant to become a finalist--thus bringing the total to a final 13. Viewers hated this practice, especially since "American Idol," as a franchise, long has been founded on the belief that home viewers control who makes it and who doesn’t.

Last year was an interesting mix--two of my favorite contestants, Anoop Desai and Matt Giraud, held their own in the competition, while the decision to let Megan Joy Corkery continue to sing each week continues to confuse me. By eliminating the wild card aspect of the show, the semifinal rounds will feature a group of 12 males performing one night and 12 females performing on another night, thus returning the show to the tradition that was lost last year.

  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • StumbleUpon
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Technorati
  • Facebook
  • TwitThis
  • MySpace
  • LinkedIn
  • Live
  • Google
  • Reddit
  • Sphinn
  • Propeller
  • Slashdot
  • Netvibes