‘American Idol’: Let All Four Judges Speak!

The biggest disaster on last night’s “American Idol” wasn’t Lil Rounds’ wilted “Rose” or Matt Giraud’s over-singing. It was the decision to put a muzzle on Simon with a bizarre format change that limited each performance to only two judges’ critiques.

Since bringing the “American Idol” running time down to 60 minutes, the show has consistently spilled over into the 9 o’clock hour on Tuesdays, confounding DVR users and angering “Fringe” fan(s). “Idol” producers are obviously struggling to come up with a solution to keep the show on schedule, but last night’s “Randy and Kara/ Paula and Simon” pairings felt like the show’s limbs had been amputated, and all that was left was a bloody stump. It made for boring television, but even worse, it might affect who goes home tonight.


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Think about it: Love him or hate him, America hangs on what Simon says. While Randy jibber-jabbers, Kara rambles about “package artists” and Paula reads from fortune cookies, Simon’s opinion, to many, is the only opinion worth listening to. A rave from Simon can propel a singer to the front of the pack, while a casual dig at a singer’s outfit can turn a knockout performance into one that ends up in the bottom three come results night. (Just ask Allison Iraheta!)

Last night, when contestants should have had big moments, we had faint praise with little impact to their “Idol” path. Take Anoop, for example. His beautiful rendition of Bryan Adams’ (yawn) “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You” was one of the best of the night, yet without Simon giving a standing ovation or uttering the word “brilliant,” we were left with Kara talking about it “probably” being his best ever. Ditto for Kris Allen, who made a genius move by picking a song that was released in this decade (how novel on “Idol”!) and was given a “pitchy” from Randy and an awkward love-fest from Kara. (Does Kara want to record a song with Kris or just take his pants off? I can’t tell. And neither can America, which means we dismiss anything she says, because they’ll assume her judgment is clouded in cougar-ness.)

I wouldn’t be surprised if tonight’s bottom three is a direct reflection of who was judged by Kara and Randy. Expect Anoop, Kris and Matt Giraud to be fighting for their lives.

What do you think? Did you like the abridged judge segments? What would you cut from the “Idol” format in order to keep the show to an hour? (My vote goes to those pointless “Coke” interviews. Find another way to pimp the soda, “Idol,” but toothless interviews about nothing isn’t a great way to sell your product.) Leave a suggestion in the comments, and maybe “Idol” will listen to us!