Powered by i.TV
October 24, 2014

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.

Follow Us

From Our Partners