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Mentors we’d like to see on ‘American Idol’

Dolly Parton could give charm lessons, while Mariah Carey help the “Idol” girls pick out clothes for their big numbers.
/ Source: contributor

Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton Launches Her First UK 'Imagination Library' Scheme
ROTHERHAM, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 05: Country and western superstar singer Dolly Parton entertains the audience at the Magna Science And Adventure Park on December 5, 2007 in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, England. Dolly Parton honoured the former steelworks town to be the first European location to participate in her 'Imagination Library' literacy scheme. The charitable programme, which she launched in her hometown of Sevierville, Tennessee in 1996, encourages young children to discover the joys of reading, with every participating pre-school age child being sent a free book every month. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)Christopher Furlong / Getty Images Europe

Dolly Parton is a musical marvel. She was inspired to write the song “9 to 5” by the click-click-clicking of her own fingernails for cryin’ out loud. But she’s also the queen of down-home charm and self-deprecation. I’ve never seen an interview with Dolly Parton where she didn’t beguile my pants off. So in addition to the usual song run-throughs, I’d like to see Dolly give the “Idol” kids some media training. Every “Idol” hopeful knows that when Ryan Seacrest is chatting you up in front of the swirling Coke logo, a well-delivered quip can help you win the hearts, minds and votes of America. It’s probably impossible to teach likeability, but if anyone can, it’s Dolly. (If Dolly passes, call Reba McEntire. Bill it as “Salt of the Earth Week”).

George Michael

Britrish pop singer George Michael performs during a concert in Athens
epa01077855 Britrish pop singer George Michael performs on stage during a concert at the Athens Olympic Stadium, Greece, 26 July 2007. EPA/SIMELA PANTZARTZISimela Pantzartzi / ANA-MPA

George is living proof that it’s possible to transcend a cheesy showbiz beginning and become a respected, Grammy-winning artiste. What’s more, George has always seemed ambivalent about stardom and it would be refreshing to see a mentor interrupt a kid’s big note to tell them to save their sanity and go into nursing. And wouldn’t it be fun to see the “Idol”kids rip into his catalogue? If Sanjaya had been able to do “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go,” he might have gone all the way. Do it, George. You need to get out of the house. And we’ll send a car so you won’t have to drive. (If George passes, call Elton John because what “Idol”needs is an effete, blunt British man.)

Mariah Carey

Mariah Carey
Singer Mariah Carey launches her new perfume \"M\" at a department store in Glendale, Calif., Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2007. (AP Photo/Gus Ruelas)Gus Ruelas / A-RUELAS

If there’s one thing pop goddess Mariah Carey loves more than charm bracelets, unicorns, rainbows and butterflies, it’s riffing. Yes, she’s the queen of the scale-jumping vocal gymnastics and it would be hilarious to watch her suggest a riff to an Idol, like “Why don’t you go ‘laa-laaaa-oooh-oooh-aaah’?” and then watch the poor contestant butcher it. But more than singing, I would love to see Mariah go outfit shopping with the “Idol” girls and teach them, for example, how a bandana can be worn as a top. But no one mention “Glitter.” (If Mariah passes, call Celine Dion but be prepared for lots of exclamations of “You go, girl!” even with the guys.)

Chris Daughtry

Chris Daughtry
**FILE** Singer Chris Daughtry performs during MTV's \"Total Request Live\" at the MTV Times Square Studios in this June file photo in New York. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)Jason Decrow / AP

Of all the past “Idol” contestants, this rocking fourth-placer would be the most intriguing to welcome back. Chris seemed a bit too cool for school when he was on the show. How would he act now as a chart-topping superstar? Viewers with high-def might actually be able to see his flesh crawl. Still, Chris could give expert advise on how to hone a coherent musical persona while navigating the show’s wacky theme weeks … and how to keep your dignity while shticking it up in the Ford Focus music videos. Cougar chasing, pro and con, is another topic that might come up. (If Daughtry passes, call Kellie Pickler who can discuss the perils of getting a Barbara Eden in “Harper Valley PTA” makeover.)

Liza Minnelli

U.S. singer Liza Minelli sings during the Jose Carreras Gala rehearsal in Leipzig, eastern Germany, Thursday, Dec. 15, 2005. Carreras has hosted this TV show, in aid of people who suffer from leukemia, since 1995. (AP Photo/Eckehard Schulz)
U.S. singer Liza Minelli sings during the Jose Carreras Gala rehearsal in Leipzig, eastern Germany, Thursday, Dec. 15, 2005. Carreras has hosted this TV show, in aid of people who suffer from leukemia, since 1995. (AP Photo/Eckehard Schulz)Eckehard Schulz / AP

Not only would “Idol” offer Liza with a Z a chance to rebound after her recent backstage collapse in Sweden, but the “Idol” kids could sure benefit from someone who approaches a song as an actor first and a singer second. Remember how dead-eyed Carrie Underwood was during her early performances and no one ever called her on it? Well, that vacant gaze crap wouldn’t fly with Liza. She may not have the best pipes in the diva-sphere but she knows how to connect with an audience’s emotions. A Liza session would also let us decipher which guy contestants are gay. They’ll be the ones who openly weeping. (If Liza passes, call Barbra Streisand but be prepared to paint the contestants to match her outfit.)