A billion dollar franchise is on the line. Were do these people come from that end up on camera? Why don't their family tell them they can't sing so they want keep making a fool out of them selves?
To be sure, American Idol's not going anywhere soon. But even the show's biggest fans have to admit that there's a little something wrong with the Fox network's golden goose last time out.
Things can only get worse this season, as a field of lackluster contestants come and go.
Last night we saw the nuts come out. Here's a few ideas:
ACTIVELY RECRUIT CONTESTANTS. When open casting calls kept attracting the same kind of people then recruited a more diverse group that helped revitalize the program.
Idol expands its open casting calls every year, yet the same nuts increasingly lineup. Sparks was even rejected from the Los Angeles auditions (she won a contest that flew her to Seattle for another try), and Doolittle only auditioned because she was accompanying a friend.
Idol overseas had the same problem; eventually, the same sorts of contestants keep showing up to open casting calls, and more compelling talents refuse to debase themselves by submitting to the process. Time to take the initiative and find new voices.
UPGRADE THE CELEBRITY COACHES. NOW. Every celebrity mentor who performed on Idol sounds markedly worse than the contestants themselves. And some - say, disco icon Barry Gibb - have little connection to the current pop scene.
It's time for coaches who are better performers and teachers. Who wouldn't tune in to see Prince or even Michael Jackson put these kids through some changes?
COMBINE JUDGES' VOTES WITH THE PUBLIC'S. One of the biggest post-Idol problems for winners such as Ruben Studdard, Fantasia Barrino and Taylor Hicks is that their musical styles are not the most popular genres, limiting their chances to live up to the Idol title. More guidance is needed from the presumed industry experts.
STOP PADDING THE SHOWS. The trade magazine Variety noted every week that ratings for Wednesday Idol editions are far higher than for Tuesday; nearly a third of Wednesday's audience just tuned in for the ejection episode and hadn't watched the competition on Tuesday.
Time to stop filling out episodes. Cut the results show back to a half-hour and don't even think about interrupting the competition for a week of charity fundraising. Cool at is was to see Idol raise $70-million for the needy, it required hoodwinking the competitors and the audience about what was going to happen that week.