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Why 'American Idol' Should Bring Back Paula Abdul

by Jason Hughes, posted Aug 8th 2010 6:30PM
Paula AbdulWith Paula Abdul contracted to CBS for their new show 'Got to Dance,' there's virtually no way she will be among the judges for 'American Idol' announced by Fox ... whenever that happens.

But that doesn't stop her name from coming up pretty regularly in discussions. "I still love Paula," said returning executive producer Nigel Lythgoe in an interview with Variety. "She's signed to CBS, probably exclusively, but I'd recommend we have her in a heartbeat."

With ratings on the decline the past couple of years, the reality franchise is looking to inject new life into the show with the make-up of the judging panel. Abdul was part of the original team, along with Cowell and Randy Jackson, who is expected to stay. Her presence, and antics, helped catapult the competition series to the top, where it's stayed for almost a decade.

Americans quickly developed passionate feelings, both positive and negative, about her on the show. Widely criticized for her loopy and incoherent comments at times, Abdul was nevertheless an essential part of the winning formula. That's why 'American Idol' should bring her back.

1. She's a Cheerleader

American Idol JudgesAbdul was a cheerleader in real life, and she brought that same level of enthusiasm to the judges' dais. Whether jumping up and down, dancing along with the music, or scoring a contestant with an overly dramatic "Touchdown!," Abdul got excited about and for the contestants. Enthusiasm is infectious, so audiences couldn't help but take a second look at the performance they'd just seen. Maybe this is a person we should be getting pumped about. Genuine energy fuels a crowd, and Abdul's presence helped to remind us that this was more than just a singing competition. It's also a live concert, and it's OK to enjoy ourselves.

2. She's Unpredictable

Over eight seasons, Abdul proved that anything could happen when she was around. One of the things audiences love about live television is when people screw up. They always get a big laugh on a show like 'Saturday Night Live,' and when Paula's critiques came out as so much incomprehensible nonsense, we loved it. Whether it was pain medication, her loopy personality or she really was spiking that "water" in her Coke cup, Abdul could be counted on for those unexpected live moments. Without her, the panel felt almost scripted this past season.

3. She Gets Press

The media loves Paula Abdul. Through her run on the show, she got more press than any of the judges, save perhaps Simon Cowell. And when people were talking about Paula Abdul, they were talking about 'American Idol.' If the show wants to stay relevant and on top of the game, it never hurts to have a judge out and about making headlines with virtually everything she does. The adage, "There's no such thing as bad press," applies here, because the more negative things written about her, the more people wanted to tune in and see what she did next.

Paula Abdul4. She Cares

It's easy to forget the contestants in all this mess, but it's their journeys that really fuel 'American Idol.' Abdul helped keep them central in our minds through her genuine compassion for the contestants. She was notorious for taking time out after the tapings to talk with them and offer further advice and support. 'Idol' is a grueling process, and as a performer, Abdul knows the pressure the kids are under. Kara DioGuardi's attempts to show compassion this past season were forced at best, and the guys never really bothered. If the judges don't care, why should we?

5. She Has Chemistry

It was hard to tell this past season if the judges even liked one another, making for some awkward moments on the panel. Ellen DeGeneres and Cowell held a pretty clear disdain for each other, while DioGuardi and Jackson appeared to be in their own separate worlds. For good or bad, 'Idol' found success as much because of the judges than its contestants or format. And when the judges aren't working well together, it's a distraction from the contestants and the competition. Abdul's perkiness and affability give her instant chemistry with those around her, and she was the only one on the panel that could get genuine reactions out of Cowell. Without her, he became boorish and unpleasant.

6. She's Positive

The important distinction about Abdul's relentless positivity is that it always felt genuine. DeGeneres seemed to be setting up comedy bits, while DioGuardi felt like she was straining herself at times to be positive. If it's not your personality type, then it doesn't come across as sincere, and audiences are savvy enough to pick up on that. Abdul created a perfect balance to Cowell's more negative judging style, both for the contestants' sake as well as ours. Positive reinforcement energizes the contestants and keeps us from thinking too negatively about them.

7. She Was Getting Better!

While Randy Jackson was devolving into a canine-related catchphrase machine, and Simon was discovering new levels of boredom, Abdul was actually responding to criticisms about her effectiveness and improving as a judge. She took the job seriously, and in recent seasons began to offer better advice and criticism toward helping the contestants improve their performance, all with a sweetness that softened even the most negative of blows.

Paula Abdul8. She's Reality TV Gold

Sometimes magic happens in the most unlikeliest places. When Abdul was cast in 'American Idol,' it was because producers felt they needed a familiar name on the panel, and Abdul's pop career wasn't so far in the past that audiences wouldn't remember her. They could have never anticipated that she would light up the camera and give them that lightning in a bottle casting directors only dream of finding intentionally. Abdul's blend of loopy lunacy, enthusiastic joy and heartfelt passion make her a one of a kind television personality.

'American Idol' may have been foolish enough to let Abdul get away, but she's still worth fighting for. America loves a comeback kid, as evidenced by Conan O'Brien's successes since leaving NBC and 'The Tonight Show,' so they'd show up in droves to support Abdul's return to the stage that made her famous again, and 'Idol' could return to its winning ways.

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davidm3825

I am glad they are getting rid of the regular judges. This is one program I won't have to watch. After this coming season floundering in the ratings, you will hear Simon's name being brought up to come back.

August 09 2010 at 10:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ann

I stopped watching Idol the day Paula left the show. I only watched one episode of last season and got bored to death. Paula was awesome and she was a great fit between Simon and Randy. SHe made an otherwise boring show great to watch.

Paula is not going back to Idol and that's great for her because Idol has lost it's edge and it will never recover to former glory.

Paula can now concentrate on her own show, which btw I'm dying to watch.

August 09 2010 at 8:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
hey

I dont think its a case of "Bring Paula Back" anymore. I think at this point its a case of "Would Paula consider going back"? I dont think she would, seriously. She has her dance show and I think its more likely she joins X factor over Idol. Idol NEEDS Paula though, which was proven big time after both Ellen and Kara flopped!

August 09 2010 at 5:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dinah

I lost interest in American Idol when Paula left. enough said. Is she going to return? No way she is. Idol had their chance to get her. Instead they hired ELLEN who turned out to be a big fiasco and is already gone from Idol (lmao). Kara was another UNECESSARY big fiasco. They were #1 by a mile, they didnt need a 4th judge. With Paula gone, Idol started losing in ratings, DWTS was the #1 show for many weeks this past season. Paula should join American X factor (Simons new show) and help him take Idol DOWN.

August 09 2010 at 5:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
amanda

BRING PAULA BACK! SHE WAS THE ONE WHO MAKE IDOL GREAT! season 9 was boring

August 09 2010 at 5:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Josephine

I stopped watching Idol when Paula left! Only her return can make me watch it again! She is so awesome, adorable, she Knows what shes talking about and is great and picking talent, and shes unpredictable and entertaining. Like Simon says, she is TV GOLD.

August 09 2010 at 5:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
NightOwl

I agree with Richard Ott,the Paula ship has sailed on from AI, so lets just wave goodbye, wish her well and move on. She was a terrible judge from the beginning of her time on the show until the end,and, to me, watching her attempt to comment on the contestants performances was a grueling ordeal. It seems that a lot of people liked Paula, but I am not one of them. Whatever talents and skills she may possess, they did not translate well into being a judge of a singing competetion. Being an inarticulate flake may be briefly interesting in a what-the-hell kind of way, but it doesnt wear well over time.
The problems with AI go way beyond any issues with the judges, so focusing on them so much is ignoring the big picture, which is that the whole structure of the show is a bloated mess, the contestants are poorly chosen and the voting system is a joke. Changing judges may be necessary but it doesnt address the real issues with the show, its only and attempt to gloss them over. I think Nigel is smart enough to realize that the show needs a fairly large overhaul and he is starting with the judges, but will not end there.

August 09 2010 at 12:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jo

Wow, this article is really spot on. Touchdown!

August 08 2010 at 11:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Leroy

I was grateful for the absence of her dippy nonsense this year. Never want to see her on the show again.

August 08 2010 at 11:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Richard Ott

Enough with the Paula Ab-drama, already. She's
contracted to CBS to be a judge on Gotta' Dance, so
unless FOX were to pay her double than what CBS
offered, as well as double the money she'd originally
been willing to have them pay her to remain with
American Idol, let's face it, she's done with Idol.
No matter how much money FOX offers her to return,
and I think we all know where this is going, CBS'
contract with Gotta Dance will never permit her to
even do a cemeo guest shot in American Idol's 10'th
Season finale, or the 11'th season, or the 12'th,
and so on, depending on how well Gotta Dance does,
and also unfortunatly, depending on who's left to
judge on American Idol, or even the overall ratings.
However, in my own opinion, the spirit of American
Idol will live on forever in everyone who attends
the tryouts, and there are millions of Idol fans
and singers who can tell you that, personally, even
former, past and current American Idol contestants,
themselves who lived in their experiences, and are
inspired by the legendary artists who came before
those idols, so American Idol will continute to
air on FOX, forever, or until this juggernaut can't
keep up with the tryouts or the competition, anymore.
LONG LIVE AMERICAN IDOL!

August 08 2010 at 10:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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