American Idol Season 9 Preview

So it’s time once again to watch crappy auditions, good performances, strange comments and crown the 2010 American Idol. Obviously, it’s a bit too early to say who the winner will be, but before we even start watching the audition shows we’ve got some things to address, so let’s get started.

Paula Abdul leaves Idol
With singer-songwriter Kara DioGuardi on board, Paula’s role was reduced to little more than being the (allegedly) stoned/drunk cheerleader. Despite my ranting in previous seasons about Paula being useless, I will probably miss her presence on the show, mostly because her nonsensical ramblings often were a highlight of a poor performance. They say you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone (they being Joni Mitchell, Amy Grant and Adam Duritz, among others), and I’m sure we will all be pining for Paula because of the development I’m discussing in the next paragraph.

Ellen DeGeneres joins Idol to replace Paula
I’ll be honest, I don’t find Ellen to be as unfunny as other people on the interweb seem to. Her guest judging appearance on So You Think You Can Dance was exactly what I thought it would be – less about the dance and more about getting in some one-liners. This is fine, because it’s what Ellen does well. However, when you’re a PERMANENT judge you can’t keep doing that, because it will get old very, very quickly. I have to give Ellen the benefit of the doubt, but I really think that this will end badly. Still, we have to get to the voting rounds (or maybe boot camp week) before we see Ellen, so before that we get…

Guest Judges during the auditions
Idol decided to get some stars with bigger wattage than Paula for the auditions, so we will get to see (among others) Posh Spice, Katy Perry, a Jonas brother, Shania Twain, NPH and Mark Linn-Baker as guest judges.

(insert tire screeching noise here)

Wait, Neil Patrick Harris and Mark Linn-Baker? Those are some… inspired choices. Look, I realize that NPH has the Dr. Horrible thing – easily the best thing Joss Whedon’s ever done – in his favour given that there is actually singing in the “films”, but he’s still best known for being either Doogie Howser or the lech NPH from Harold and Kumar and How I Met Your Mother. I can’t imagine the his judging will be legend- you know the rest, but I think he’ll at least be competent.

Anyway, back to Mark Linn-Baker. Yes, THE Mark Linn-Baker, the guy who played cousin Larry on Perfect Strangers. That’s pretty much all you would know him for. Why the heck is he a guest judge? Could they have not found someone more relevant? Was William Hung not available? Thrown Taylor Hicks a bone, maybe (what IS the greatest bomb in Idol history doing anyway?)?

The Top 24 format is back?
The return to the vote-in rounds apparently did not please the powers that be, as we are back to the three weeks of attrition that occurred in the previous four seasons. This is a welcome return, as I felt that the vote-ins left some decent talent out and the Wild Card rounds were simply an agenda to get two somewhat undeserving singers onto the show (Jasmine Murray was in at least a year too early and the Hippychick… ’nuff said). This format is not perfect (Ace Young carried momentum from his first song way longer than he should have) but it’s a better way to see how the competitors cope with a grind.

Finally, here’s the biggest news of the offseason
Simon Cowell is rumoured to be leaving Idol after this season
And don’t think that Cowell won’t do it. The main reason that Pop Idol only ran for 2 seasons in the UK was that Cowell wanted to produce his own show, resulting in the Idol-like show The X-Factor. My thoughts on this are that Cowell will continue to give Idol the same effort that he always has, and I would not be surprised if Idol makes it’s curtain call for an American version of The X-Factor in 2011.

If you’ve been reading my Idol postings in previous years, you know that I pretty much ignore the audition rounds. This year will probably be more of the same but I will try to add some extra content to fill the void during those weeks – and this will also allow me to add some commentary about any singers I see that have Top 24 potential, and probably rant about the judges.

Kevin Wong has been writing for Inside Pulse for about 5 years now. You can follow him on twitter at but the tweets are few and far between since he doesn’t have a Blackberry.

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