‘American Idol’ season 12: Why it is all about Mariah Carey and the judges

American IdolOver the course of the past several months, we have heard a good many people express an understandable amount of rage over the fact that reality singing shows are really about the judging panels. We have “The X Factor” paying $15 million to a lifeless Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera getting massive raises for “The Voice,” and most recently Mariah Carey becoming the highest-paid reality judge on the planet for “American Idol.”

The idealist in us as a TV critic wants to say that any of these shows can really be great if the right contestants are there, and we have have someone to root for. However, every season of “American Idol” has at least had a few good contestants, even if some of them (season 9) produce weaker overall crops than others. Therefore, so much more emphasis is placed on whether or not the judges can actually … well, judge properly.

The reason that this show in particular became the behemoth that it is today is thanks to the presence of Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, and Randy Jackson. There had been talent competitions long before this one, and none of them fared as well. Back in season 10, announcing the arrival of Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler was successful in bringing the show some new blood and good ratings. The panel was great during the auditions, and then flopped in the live shows as Steven and J.Lo became well-known for being do-nothing judges who believe that every performance under the sun is “amazing” and worthy of some sort of gold star (even when it is not).

Therefore, almost everything for the future of the show is riding on Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj, and Keith Urban to deliver in the place of Randy Jackson. Personally, we do feel that four judges are too many, and the show would have just been better off ditching Randy (who is a shell of his former self) and going with the new blood. Regardless, these are the people that are going to keep viewers hooked at this point. We’ve seen so many contestants over the years that it’s easy to grow cynical on them, and not get so excited when someone can come out and deliver a few high notes. However, a show with bad judges can make a good talent pool look far worse than it is, especially when some of them fail to really improve and become the great artists that they could be since they are not being pushed.

What’s your take on all of this: can a good judge really make a reality show much better, and are they at this point the most important part of a production? If you want to view some recent “American Idol” music, including tracks from Kris Allen, be sure to head on over to the link here.

Photo: Fox

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