There is no doubt that Richard Rushfield has been covering the American Idol beat for a long time. No doubt that his knowledge of the inner workings of the Idol machine is unsurpassed. But what is in doubt, and in my opinion flat out wrong, is his criticism and conclusion of the judging of American Idol's judges and their impact on season 10.
I haven't been an American Idol fan for very long. This is my second year of sitting through an entire season rather than grazing on the occasional show.
If you haven't been paying attention, here is a quick overview of what is happening:
Season 10 introduced new judges, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler
Those who cover Idol are complaining that the judges are not critical enough
Complaints are in that the judges comments are so overhyped that they have become irrelevant
Viewership is up
Talent is some of the best the show has ever had in one group (According to bloggers)
Voting is up
Blogger Hilary Rothing writing for TV Squad even tries to explain that even though the ratings aren't dropping to support her arguements, it is only a matter of time.
A Comparison in Contrasting Styles
For 9 seasons American Idol was a showcase for Simon and company's withering criticism on aspiring singers. Tears of shame was part of the reason the show was popular. We watched like videos of high speed car chases that end up with total destruction everywhere.
But this season things have been different. The judges have taken a different approach and the results have been immediate.
When you are on stage, performing in front of so many people, with so much pressure and it comes time for the feedback, things said are very different than things heard.
First 9 seasons
Judge says to singer - "You had some good points but you had problems here, here and here."
Singer hears from Judge - "blah, blah, blah, You SUCK!"
Judge says to Singer - "I loved this, this, and this. You can improve here, but loved it anyway"
Singer hears - "blah, blah, blah, blah, You're GREAT!"
This is not oversimplification. When performing on stage you zone out, you are not hearing or responding to specific items, you are more involved with the emotion of the event, feeding off the energy and not necessarily anything that is actually said.
For 9 seasons, the judges crushed the contestants emotionally. Bashing them with a big club, telling them how bad they were, and then sparingly handing out a tidbit of approval.
This is not the way to inspire people. This is not the way to get the best from a person. This is what emotional bullies do. Like parents who believe that showing to much compassion will somehow make a child soft.
Instead, this year the judges have been a direct cause for the unusually high level of talent. Their positive reinforcements have allowed these contestants to continue to bring more and more of their best effort, to continue to take risks. The contestants do it because they know they are appreciated and loved.
Maybe Love isn't a popular word to use when talking about the music industry. But watch an evening of American Idol and see the compassion, the affection, and genuine love that the judges have for the contestants. You can feel it through your television and you can bet that each person on stage can feel it as well.
Here is leadership inspiring others to overcome their fears to raise themselves to levels that they didn't know they could achieve.
Anyone can sit at home with a computer keyboard and hack out criticism. That is easy as shown by so many that see themselves on the inside, knowing what is best for the show and for the contestants.
Thank goodness season 10 of American Idol is all about how good someone can become.