Knowing for the entire season that Simon Cowell was leaving “American Idol” was a little like finding out in January that you’ve got a cavity, but you can’t get it filled until May. But unlike the cavity, Cowell’s absence is going to be tough to fill.
And that is why it might be time for “Idol” to do something revolutionary. Instead of attempting to replace the judge and come back next winter, the show should think about taking a little hiatus. Here’s why: The show needs a new talent strategy.
Based on the contestants who made it to Hollywood week this year, one might conclude that there’s a dearth of fantastic singers to be had out there. But in a country of more than 300 million, that shouldn’t be the case.
“Idol” needs some time to rethink the way it’s screening contestants. Maybe it’s time to bring in YouTube submissions. What if Justin Bieber brought talent that he handpicked to the table? There’s got to be a way to change the rules and find some Susan Boyles of our own. The show should just take some time and figure out the best way to do it.
Another reason to take some extra time off is because quite simply, Simon’s seat cannot be filled. If there’s one thing we’ve learned about the judges’ table this year, it’s that it was a table completely devoid of any chemistry.
Cowell phoned it in, Ellen DeGeneres never really fit, Randy Jackson dawged his way through and Kara DioGuardi didn’t connect with anyone whose names weren’t Simon Cowell or Casey James. Simply filling the Simon seat with another human isn’t going to make this panel work together any better, and the contestants really need the judges to work as a team in order for the process to pan out the way it should.
When it was Cowell, Jackson and Paula Abdul, they didn’t all agree, but they all had clear roles and opinions that worked together in a way that actually helped contestants. In this ninth season, the lack of chemistry among the foursome led to conflicting advice that resulted in the singers not being able to learn and make the smart choices that are necessary in knowing what kind of artist you are. Some real, thoughtful housecleaning needs to take place to make the judges’ table work.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think that big changes at “Idol” is just an exercise in deck-chair rearrangement. I believe in the show, and I believe that it can survive without Cowell. It’s just time for an extreme “Idol” makeover, one that’s probably been due for several years.
With Cowell’s departure, the timing for such a thing couldn’t be better.
Courtney Hazlett delivers the Scoop Monday through Friday on today.msnbc.com. Follow Scoop on Twitter .