There are certain things that are absolutely true: there will always be death and taxes, tabloid magazines will always speculate about the possible contents of Jennifer Aniston‘s womb, and American Idol is not a singing competition.
If there was any doubt about the last statement, this year — Idol‘s ninth season — has effectively silenced it. Now that original judge Paula Abdul has packed up her crazy and headed home and co-creator Simon Cowell will be following her at the end of the year, the show has to redefine itself. And, judging by the choices they’ve made so far, the next season of the show could veer wildly off the rails.
While Ellen DeGeneres is a great host and TV personality, her role on Idol still doesn’t completely fit because she’s outside the music industry. Sure, she’s there to represent the voice of the common folk, but the common folk’s voice is well-represented already since they get to vote. Randy Jackson may have experience in the music biz, but he has been useless for about seven seasons now, recycling the same “It was pitchy, dawg” and “Girl, you can saaaang”-type comments for every contestant. This year, because the show hadn’t nailed DeGeneres down as a permanent judge by the time auditions started, a revolving door of celebrities took their turn appraising the wannabe singers. Some of the choices — Katy Perry, Avril Lavigne, a Jonas brother — may not have been the most musically gifted, but their popularity on the Billboard charts at least gave them a reason to be on the show.
Now, though, it looks like Idol is desperate. One of the guest judges for this season is going to be … Paula Deen. As in, the Savannah chef who hosts multiple Food Network shows and is known for her unabashed embrace of the deep fryer. We may like a lot of Paula Deen’s food, but there’s absolutely no reason for her to be on Idol. In the past, guest judges always had some kind of connection — even a tenuous one — to the music industry. Guest judges/mentors like Mariah Carey, Burt Bacharach, and Dolly Parton provided both music advice and industry advice to the show’s contestants and provided them with great material to cover on the show. Quentin Tarantino popped in to guest judge on Season 3, and all they could come up with for his connection to music was that he likes to use a lot of it in his movies. We really can’t wait to see what farfetched reason they come up with to shoehorn Paula Deen onto the show — maybe it will be something borderline offensive, like asking her to guest judge on Country Week or something. Because you know what reminds us of Johnny Cash? Paula Deen. Yep. Totally logical. Replacing one Paula with another Paula is TOTALLY SUBTLE, Idol. Surely we won’t be able to tell the difference between the one with the Southern accent and the one who sounds like she’s drunk.
As for the ridiculous rumor the show was going to replace Simon Cowell with shock jock Howard Stern? It seems surprisingly likely now, considering that the producers are embracing their love of stunt casting.
(Photo by WENN)