American Idol

Quit gushing over finalists, 'Idol' judges: Viewers aren't listening to you

May 17, 2012 at 9:24 AM ET

Michael Becker / FOX /
"Idol" judges Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson have gone totally overboard with their praise this season.

Kelly who? Carrie What's-her-name? That guy who formed a band and had some success ... Daugherty was it? And who was that girl who wound up winning an Oscar? 

It doesn't matter. Forget about those former “American Idol” legends. Why? Because this season’s final three are some of the biggest talents to ever hit the universe. Just ask the judges.

“This girl is one of the best singers in America -- ever!” Randy Jackson said of Jessica Sanchez in April. Mind you, he did so on the week Sanchez received the fewest number of votes and would have been eliminated had the judges not used their save on her.

But his declaration might not even mean she's actually the best this season. After all, Randy also called Joshua Ledet one of the best two “Idol” contestants ever. He did not say who was ahead of Joshua in the historical pecking order, but considering Joshua went crazy with joy when Fantasia gave him a shout-out, he’d probably at least acknowledge that the season three champion is ahead of him.

Then again, Steven Tyler just called Phillip Phillips a new Bruce Springsteen on Wednesday. Uh, what? A new Dave Matthews, maybe. But you gotta pay the costs to be The Boss, and also be a lot more talented.

Of course, all of that praise is ridiculous. The three finalists are talented singers, but none are likely to go straight from the finale to superstardom. But that’s the “Idol” judges for you -- spreading the compliments so lavishly that the viewers can’t help but tune them out.

Randy, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler all strive to outdo themselves each week with their hype and hyperbole, as though they’re selling downloads on an infomercial instead of being the stewards of a reality TV competition. The problem is that it all becomes patronizing. And unnecessary.

Look, all three finalists are really good. Not Rock and Roll Hall of Fame good, but solid bets not to fade into obscurity. There's no need for this kind of nonsense.

Whether or not you think Phillip is something new or merely a fresh version of Dave Matthews, that’s still a nice commercial package to sell. Joshua and Jessica may not have obvious pop music parallels (Joshua as a new Usher? Please. And Jessica's BB Chez alter ego aside, she is certainly no Beyonce), but their voices are much bigger and there is a lot there for record label honcho Jimmy Iovine and company to work with.

All could wind up being stars. But instead of focusing on the potential, the judges are declaring them perfect musical specimens right now. It’s no wonder that the viewers are smart enough not to pay attention.

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