Some thoughts on the "American Idol" Hollywood episode and the ringer epidemic that's either the worst or best thing to ever happen to the show coming up just as soon as I dismiss the band...
How about that? Two hours in Hollywood with none of the pointless soap operatics involving the group singing (which never had anything to do with the competition), or partying, or people sitting in rooms, or any of the other BS usually associated with Hollywood week. Just people singing and getting praised or slammed. Very nice. Even the melodramatic moments, like Josiah's aforementioned meltdown where he couldn't get along with the band (and blew off the vocal coach's invitation to get extra rehearsal with them), had to do with the performances.
Now watch: as always, it'll be the lowest-rated episode of the season, because people would rather watch the freakshow.
So here's what I'm wondering: where do all of you stand on the ringer issue? If you've somehow missed all of this -- and the show certainly has gone out of its way to avoid discussing it -- a lot of this year's contestants either once had a major label record deal, or did well on another competitive reality show, or dated Britney Spears, or all three. (Vote For the Worst has a pretty good summary of a lot of these semi-pros backgrounds.) If you believe the leaked list of the top 24 contestants (which I won't link to here, but it's easy to find), then at least 11 of them would qualify as not just plucked off the street at random.
Now, none of this violates the letter of "American Idol" law. Many past finalists have either self-released their own albums (Taylor Hicks) or previously had record deals (Tamyra Gray) or had lots of performing experience (Bo Bice). But a lot of people feel the presence of someone like Carly Smithson -- who was the subject of a failed multi-million dollar marketing push by MCA -- violates the spirit of "Idol" as a discoverer of amateur talent.
My feeling is that I'd rather watch the best singers possible -- and many of the best performances last night were by the semi-pros (like the Aussie rocker who sang "Bohemian Rhapsody") -- than suffer through another year of Sanjaya and Chris Richardson and Haley Scarnato. I just want the show to be honest about it. I want the biographical clip packages to discuss their backgrounds, even if it's to frame it in sappy "Idol" terms ("Carly couldn't achieve her dream the first time with her record deal, so she's back again"). Let the audience know and decide for themselves what kind of contest they want "Idol" to be. Would they rather have the most polished singers possible, or would they rather suffer through a Sanjaya or a Scott Savol if it means that a real unknown like a Kelly or a Clay has a better shot to go far?
What does everybody else think?