10 Reasons Why This Will Be the Best 'American Idol' Season Ever

by Hilary Rothing, posted Jan 12th 2011 6:00PM

American Idol
While many fans and critics are prophetically labeling 'American Idol' season 10 a complete trainwreck, we've got 10 reasons why putting Steven Tyler, J.Lo and a bunch of 15-year olds on live TV together may make for the best season yet.

1. So Long, Simon!
That's right, 'American Idol' season 10 is better off without the man who made it a household name. Yes, the acerbic, biting commentary and Cheshire Cat grin will be missed, but when the star/lead judge of the show is more bored by the competition than you are, it's time to bring in new blood. His absence will surely be felt early on, but fans can be a fickle lot. If J.Lo, Steven Tyler and Randy Jackson can bring back that power trio magic of 'Idol's' early years, fans will find letting go of Simon (and Ryan Seacrest's constant ribbing of the Brit) that much easier.

2. Cutting the Crap
If there's one thing we've learned from the past nine season of 'Idol,' it's that winning isn't everything -- or even anything in some cases (Taylor Hicks and Ruben Studdard can attest to that). In fact, it's often the finalists, and not the winners, who find the most post-'Idol' success. Which is why the move to cut the round where the Top 24 is whittled down to 12 makes sense. 'Idol's' producers smartly reason it will give viewers more time to get to know the cream of the crop with special "musical challenges" rather than wade through three weeks of mediocre performances. It'll be a welcome and much-need tightening of the season.

3. Open to Experimentation
Season 10 brings in the biggest changes 'Idol' has ever seen -- most notably, of course, the departure of Simon Cowell. It's clear that executive producer Nigel Lythgoe and company are open to experimenting with the show's winning formula. Everything from music videos to online voting to letting 'Idol' hopefuls showcase their own originals have been tossed around as ideas. While not all these suggestions will come to fruition, it's encouraging to hear the producers recognize the need for change after nine seasons of the same old thing.

4. The Chairman of the Board Mentoring
As the top dog at Interscope Records, Jimmy Iovine knows what it takes to make (or break) a superstar. After all, he's the man who gave us both Eminem and Gerardo. Clearly his 30-plus years of music industry experience has honed his sense of who might be a true pop phenom vs. a mere flash in the pan. The idea of having a behind-the-scenes industry vet like Iovine work with the Idols throughout the season, getting to know and thus groom them, makes way more sense than bringing in larger-than-life superstars like Usher and Jamie Foxx for one-shot quickies where they barely get to know the contestants.

5. No More Fish-Out-of-Water Theme Weeks
Sure, the next 'American Idol' should exhibit some versatility but making someone like Crystal Bowersox go the Ke$ha route is just silly. In the past, the judges have harped on finding an Idol who knows who they are. So why bother making a performer who's a little bit country go a little bit rock n' roll? According to Jimmy Iovine, "We're not going to ask a country singer to sing an R&B song, or an R&B singer to do Led Zepplin. If the theme is '80s or Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, every song will be customized to that contestant." Somewhere, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page are sighing in relief.

6. Hello, J.Lo!
J.Lo holds the promise of the best of two worlds: With the music industry experience of Kara DioGuardi and the potential for Paula Abdul-esque shenanigans, Jennifer Lopez may be the real scene stealer this season. As her movie and music careers have both flagged, her tabloid cred and reputation for outrageous demands have only risen. In fact, we posit J.Lo has the potential to make Simon, with his sky-high salary and frequent smoke breaks, look like a choir boy. Love her or hate her, you know you wanna watch J.Lo's throw a Rachel Berry-like diva fit while critiquing a belligerant 1-year-old.

7. Ray Chew to Back a Different Kind of "Amatuer Night"
With season 10's new judges also comes a new music director and I couldn't think of a better choice than Ray Chew. Having handled musical direction duties for 'Showtime at the Apollo' and its notoriously brutal "Amateur Night," for some time now, Chew is more than qualified to handle the musical selections of a crop of contestants so musically sheltered that some have allegedly never heard a Beatles tune.

8. "#*& Yeah!, Steven Tyler!
As rock frontmen go, Steven Tyler has see it all and done it all (and possibily everybody) in his fabled career as Aerosmith's lead singer. Some might write off Tyler as an over-the-hill, cliched rock star in the twilight of his career, but we say the 62 year-old rock icon will bring new life to 'Idol,' a show that may also be in its twilight. And at the very least, Tyler, who asserts that his off-color commentary will not be subject to a tape delay, will keep 'Idol's' producers on their f*&#n' toes.

9. An End to Gender Equality
Yes, it's important to keep some kind of gender balance on a show like 'American Idol,' where hormonal tween girls make up a good portion of the vote, but it's time to put an end to the show's forced "gender parity." It's just a statistical inevitability that one sex will dominate each season. In the interest of scaling down the talent pool to the very best, putting an end to this pointless restriction will make for a much better season.

10. Timbaland to Put His Spin on 'Idol'
With the addition of Universal Music Group and Jimmy Iovine comes a roster of hit-making producers, including hip hop and R&B vet Rodney "Dark Child" Jerkins, brit beatmaker, Alex da Kid and the man who can turn a baby's giggle into a Top 40 hit, Timbaland. If anyone can shape the likes of Tim Urban into a chart topper, it's this group of studio phenoms.

Do you think 'American Idol' season 10 could be the show's best?

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