While Mariah Carey may not be the person who can fully save American Idol, she does seem to be the person keeping the series in the game. Adding the pop princess who predated Jennifer Lopez, Britney Spears, and Christina Aguilera is Idol’s way of keeping up with the Joneses – and by Joneses we mean The X Factor and The Voice. Carey is the ace in Idol’s slowly unfolding hand of cards. The Fox series has clearly upped the ante on all reality singing competitions' Pop Princess category, but that’s not going to keep Carey from falling into old judging traps.
Getting a little more Mariah in our lives could be a blessing, provided that she stick to these unbreakable rules helpful suggestions:
1. Don’t Use Idol to Launch Your New Album
It’s just a little seedy. We put up with it when J.Lo did it, mostly because the singles were so catchy we couldn’t get them out of our heads, but it distracts from the purpose of the show: fostering these young voices and their potential success. We can’t be reminded that you, the giant pop star, actually needs Idol to maintain your own success. That opens a whole “music industry in decline” discussion that sort of puts the kibosh on the wide-eyed big dreamer motif.
2. If You’re Going to Perform on the Show, Don’t Showboat
Look. If an Idol contestant showed up onstage in hot pants and a fringe crop top surrounded by a legion of dancers and flashing lights, Randy would rush the stage and clobber them. (Or he’d at least make a mixed metaphor about wanting to do so.) You’re here to foster these kids and help them succeed on merit, not budget. Lead by example, please.
3. You Can’t Love Everyone – Be Honest With Us, We Can Take It
There’s no way everyone is “beautiful” and that beauty, real or not, is not going to make anyone a star. Let’s tone down the hyperbolic responses a bit so when you do really love someone, it feels like you really mean it. There is an element to judging that allows you to be, well, judgmental. Use it. These kids have Jimmy Iovine to play mentor.
4. Remember That Your Advice is Gospel To These Kids
And while Jimmy is there for the kids behind the scenes, you, as a pop star, are the living example of their life goal. You made it, and you know how you got there. Journeying through the belly of the beast and emerging on the other side, still shiny enough to judge American Idol means you did something right. Help these kids figure out how to learn from your success.
5. Don’t Leave After a Year or Two
Please. Adjusting to new judges is a painful process. Sure, as long as Ryan Seacrest keeps telling us when it’s time to do things and that zippy Idol song is ringing in the background, we’ll feel sort of at home, but keep in mind judges are our guides. When they get bored after two years and leave, we have to begin another uncomfortable journey to accepting their replacements and learning their quirks. Change is jarring and a big element of Idol’s appeal, with so many other singing shows in our view, is comfort. Please don’t pull the rug out from under us again. We couldn't bear it.
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