Okay, I, admittedly, haven't been a (loyal) American Idol viewer since the adroit Carrie Underwood went all the way during season four.
I actually cried and cheered when Idol almni Fantasia Barrino, Ruben Studdard, and inaugural winner, Kelly Clarkson, snagged their respective crowns on one of television's longest-running and most successful talent competitions.
My interest in Idol all but vanished, however, when standout talents such as Chris Daughtry (season 5) and Melinda Doolittle (season 6) shockingly didn't win... much to the dismay of millions of viewers; myself included.
It seemed that American Idol had somehow shifted from a competition focused on individuals with exceptional vocal prowess, to one where the "cutest" or most "popular" contestants were not only advancing, but winning!
Dial forward a few seasons where it was announced that Idol Judge Paula Abdul, who always provided quirky yet heartfelt commentary, would be stepping down. Shortly after, Idol's anchor of sorts, Simon Cowell, who was acerbic but always honest, announced his departure as well.
This left Randy "sounds pitchy to me, dawg" Jackson as the lone (original) Idol Judge, who'd soon be joined by everyone from Kara DioGuardi to Ellen DeGeneres, Steven Tyler, and even J-Lo at the judge's table.
The revolving Idol door swung right into this season, season 12, with news of yet another set of judges. I had zero interest in watching at this point, until I heard they were non other than my longtime friend, Mariah Carey, my "industry daughter," Nicki Minaj, and the uber sexy Country music superstar, Keith Urban!
And let me tell you, the stellar trifecta of newbies have not disappointed, as far as I'm concerned. You have the diva-esque exchanges between "Nic" and "MiMi" and Keith's sweet/homespun commentary. Match that with Randy's signature "dawg," "we got a hot one tonight," "in it to win it" and "yo!" It all has made for the most interesting Idol season to date.
But, looks like my Idol excitement will be short lived again! News broke last week that Randy Jackson will not be returning for season 13, and my precious Nicki, Mariah, and Keith may not either. Why? Who are they bringing in next?
Part of the reason why Idol was so successful in the early years was because viewers were not only emotionally connected to the immensely talented contestants, but they also loved the colorful personalities of the judges who they got to know beyond their critiques.
Not to sound hokey, but Simon, Paula, and Randy had become our television family.
I'd hoped that would be the case again with Randy, Mariah, Keith, and Nicki. But with an impending shake up, such is not the case.
Ahhhhh... Well, at least Candice Glover, a contestant who I've said all season would go on to win, has made it to the finale! Her future will shine bright like diamonds! Not sure the same can be said for Idol, however, unless they return to the formula that worked in the beginning!