Since the charming, talented and unapologetically blunt talent scout Simon Cowell's exit from the superstar-hunting singing competition, American Idol has been hemorrhaging fans. Now Idol is coming back for its fourteenth season stronger than ever with three incredible judges and one tough enough to give Simon Cowell a run for his money: They call Harry Connick Jr. "Hatchet Harry" for a reason. But that's not the only change: Idol is shaking up the format in an effort to up the dramatics and earn more viewers. Once the brand new Idol hopefuls make it it to the Top 10, Idol will only air one night a week — removing elimination night from its traditional format.
It seems like Fox will be taking some moves right out of Dancing With the Stars' playbook — eliminating one contestant on the same night as the live performances based on the votes from the previous week. If the competition that was once the highest-rated reality show on television can bring back even a fraction of its viewers, and subsequently its voters, there's no reason that Idol can't find a Kelly Clarkson or Carrie Underwood-worthy contestant. Right?
Still, changes to a classic show are always tough. This new change in format could either make or break the effort and here's why:
The Major Cons
Idol fans will soon realize that the season-fourteen contestants are already at a disadvantage because they have to perform knowing they might be eliminated that night. The talented hopefuls have always been expected to perform each night like it's their last one on the show, but now their next performance won't matter if the previous one was even a little iffy. In other words, a contestant might have the best performance of their life, but if their vocal didn't make the cut the prior week they can still go home that night. Talk about some added pressure.
Meanwhile, American Idol used to be so popular that it took up Fox time slots on three consecutive week nights and somehow still held people's attention. Idol is being made to trim its time down to once a week for one (or both) of two reasons: either it's not making enough money to air on multiple nights or numbers were dropping because fans couldn't stay awake through the overly dramatic hour-long elimination episodes. Neither of these options can possibly mean anything good for Idol's future.
The Potential Pros
Going into the live shows each week knowing, their last performance could have already marked the end of line, might make the contestants more jittery than ever, causing for some brutally nervous performances. Or it could mean the exact opposite. With any luck, this new Idol format will weed out the contestants who are too timid for the industry and find the ones who are clearly — as Randy Jackson would say — in it to win it. Those will be the ones who step on stage every week with the mindset that every performance could be their last performance.
But beyond that, Idol airing only one night a week might also scare the fans into actually voting. If your favorite singer completely bombs one night, that's when you call, text, email, and VOTE VOTE VOTE. He or she could come back next week and shock everyone with a killer performance, but if you didn't vote the previous week, you may have helped to screw him or her out of a record deal.
Harry and the other judges are determined to find us some major talent this year and come on, we all have one night to spare. You no longer have to wait a whole day and a whole extra hour to find out who's safe — so get watching, make sure you vote, and help Idol get back on its feet.
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