‘American Idol’ Deathwatch: Just Die Already

If you asked me before I got on the Internet this morning who the current hosts of American Idol are, I would have guessed 50 Cent, Kim Kardashian and a Hanson brother, with Colin Meloy filling the Ryan Seacrest role. Turns out, though, that Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj are on it now? And some white guy sits between them? (For real: do not attempt to explain to me who that guy is.)

Thing is, the ratings for this season so far are bad: Entertainment Weekly points out that viewership of the premiere dropped 19% from the last season-opener, and apparently the show’s numbers have been plunging since 2008. 2008! That is five whole years of a televisual juggernaut sliding into pop cultural irrelevance. In fairness, I guess The Simpsons is still on.

But if I’m not watching it—never did—and you people aren’t watching it either, then just who are these last 16.2 million American Idolwatchers? When are they going to stop getting in the way of progress, by which I mean Fox freeing up its schedule for some reruns of When Animals Attack!? Stop being selfish. You’ve had your fun laughing at crappy, deluded singers. Why not criticize yourself instead?

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Country Music Site Announces Kelly Clarkson’s Engagement Referencing “Man-Bashing Songs”

Prepare for all kinds of "Miss Independent No More!" headlines … and worse … because Kelly Clarkson is engaged. 

Clarkson is engaged to Brandon Blackstock, a talent manager in Nashville. He is the son of her own manager, Narvel Blackstock, who is married to Reba McEntire.  American Idol’s season one winner, tweeted on Saturday, "I’M ENGAGED!!!!! I wanted y’all to know!! Happiest night of my life last night! I am so lucky and am with the greatest man ever :)"

Of course, celeb journalism wouldn’t be celeb journalism if there wasn’t some annoying sexist twist put on such a straightforward event: for instance, People magazine lead with the line "Kelly Clarkson’s wait for the ring is over." Huffington Post lead with, "Her dreams came true," which, ironically, could also have been a lede for an article about her Idol win. However, both of those versions are better than a post about Clarkson’s on CMT.com, which describes her as the "singer of all kinds of man-bashing songs." 

The blogger continues:

But since some of Clarkson’s biggest singles — "Since U Been Gone," "Mr. Know It All" and "Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)" — are about some of men’s shortcomings, it makes you wonder if she’ll be exploring different musical territory after she ties the knot.

Marriage: it’s a great cure for that whole man hating thing.

Is it really that hard to believe that not all female pop stars are intersted in riding the merry-go-round of John Mayer’s dick? As far as the dating lives of female pop stars go, Kelly Clarkson has generated one-onehundreth of the gossip as Taylor Swift. One of her first hit songs was even Miss Independent, a pop-y feminist anthem. Perhaps they’re all just shocked — shocked! — that someone might want to marry such a harpy.

Contact the author of this post at Jessica.Wakeman@Gmail.com. Follow me on Twitter.

‘American Idol’ Alum Teams With All The ’90s Bands For Doubtful Guest

Reference something that happened in the ’90s, and a surprisingly large subset of the population will begin salivating over it like tasty, artery-clogging nostalgia bacon. It’s a strategy that works for Internet websites, retro t-shirt companies, TV networks (remember those few months where the Internet was stoked that Kenan & Kel was back?) and other people in charge of creating things.

The latest recruit in this unspoken but ubiquitous global mission to bring the ’90s back at any cost is former American Idol contestant Siobhan Magnus, who regularly covers tracks by earlier rock artists like KISS and Led Zeppelin at her shows, but is a fan of the grunge sound. Magnus will be joining a roster of supporting players from a number of popular ’90s bands to form a hard-rock cover super-group called Doubtful Guest. Her bandmates: Everclear bassist Sammy Hudson, drummer Tommy Stewart of Godsmack and Fuel, guitarist Tony Fredianelli of Third Eye Blind and still-active Candlebox guitarist Peter Klett. (Side note: Candlebox are still around!)

“We are all outcasts from something,” Magnus told the Hollywood Reporter. “Only Peter still plays in Candlebox. Then you throw American Idol on top of it, and it’s, like, ‘What are you doing?’”

What are you doing? You’re capitalizing on the excessive ’90s nostalgia thing happening right now, for one. But even with the tendency to get all sour grapes over this obsession with our sordid, badly-dressed cultural past, I defy you not to enjoy a little Third Eye Blind every now and then. And perhaps this project’s greatest weapon isn’t the #Rememberthe90s card, but the fact that Magnus can sing, and sing well. 

The band will make their debut in February and take to Kickstarter for some financial backing to get off the ground, where the incentives will include show destinations, picking set lists and more. And hey, it could work! If the band put together a set of all Third Eye Blind deep cuts, I’d even consider chipping in. For a slight hint of what’s to come, here’s Magnus tearing into KISS’s "Love Gun" at a show. 

We’re Breaking Up With ‘The Voice’

You watch too much TV. No, you do. So do I. We all follow too many series and overload our DVRs to the point where we have to spend Sunday afternoons clearing them out like they’re our junk drawer. And there are new shows premiering all the time! Some of them worth a look—okay, most of them aren’t, but SOME. But we can’t just keep piling on like this. We’ve gotta start weeding shows out. On the plus side, if you’re a wonky sort, a good TV purge is often a great way to examine what you’re looking for in your entertainment. What you value. So each week here at BlackBook, we’re going to tell you what show you should be giving up on. It won’t be easy, but it has to be done. This week, we’re letting go of The Voice.

Getting Dumped: The Voice

What’d They Do This Time? Look, we all know why we started watching The Voice. We’d just gotten out of a grueling relationship with American Idol that left us disillusioned and with nightmares about LeeDWyze. At the time, The Voice was as good a rebound choice as anything else. A leopard never changes its spots, after all—we’re always going to need some kind of music-based talent show to rally around. And The Voice had a lot of great elements. For one thing, they seemed to value exactly what their title said they would, preferring impressive vocals over gimmicky, freakshow auditions. And the focus on mentorship, rather than throwing contestants out to the wolves not knowing anything, was a cool twist. But let’s be honest: we had one thing on our minds when we were falling for The Voice: those chairs. They were a brilliant innovation, bringing all the spontaneous excitement of a Whack-a-Mole game to the traditional singing competition. Watching the power shift from the judges one minute (will they hit that button??) to the contestant the next minute (which mentor will they choose??) is legitimately exciting TV.

This is the problem, though: everything that’s great about the show is swiveling around in those chairs, and after the audition rounds are over, there are still weeks—MONTHS, even—to go before the show settles on a winner. Which, also, not for nothing, but can you name one winner of The Voice off the top of your head? Do you even know how many there have been? The simple truth is that the contestants have never been more compelling than the judges, and the later weeks really suffer for that. After multiple seasons of trying to make the middle and later rounds as compelling as those wonderful chair-turning rounds, isn’t it time to admit that this is all the show is capable of offering, thank it for some hot rebound action, and start looking for something more stable?

Anything Else? Carson Daly. Why? Why is Carson Daly? Why is he constantly introducing himself to the families? Do the other judges even know he’s there? We should be fine with not knowing the answers to any of these questions, by the way.

What We’ll Miss: The judges, of course. Their competitive camaraderie is a lot of fun to watch. But that’s actually another reason to call it quits now, with Christina Aguilera and Cee-Lo Green leaving after this season. If the sad last few years of American Idol have taught us anything, it’s that the desperate search for random celebrities to plug into judges’ chairs is a sad spectacle indeed. We’ll be able to get our fill of Adam Levine on American Horror Story, and THAT show will get him naked, so we’re fine with the tradeoff.

What We’ll Have More Time For: The Voice is on two nights a week, for three hours total, so it’s like breaking up with THREE shows at once! Mondays are kind of a wasteland if you’re not into Dancing with the Stars or Bones, though we’ve heard good things about Switched at Birth on ABC Family (seriously!). But on Tuesdays, you’ll have more time for the promising Ben & Kate on FOX. No singing on that one, but Lucy Punch kiiind of looks like Christina Aguilera?

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‘American Idol’ Judges Revealed: Nicki Minaj, Keith Urban, Mariah & Randy

Ryan Seacrest tweeted the next panel of American Idol judges just an hour ago and it’s filled with one or two surprises: Nicki Minaj, Keith Urban, Mariah Carey and Randy Jackson. I guess Nicki Minaj’s contract with Pepsi  didn’t keep her off Idol after all.

Everybody knew Mariah would be joining Randy on the cast and rumors of Nicki Minaj and Keith Urban had been circulating through the late summer. But so many other names were up in the air — Nick Jonas, Aretha Franklin, Alanis Morrisette, Kanye West , P. Diddy — that it felt like casting rumors for the 50 Shades Of Grey movie: literally everyone is up for it.

None of these judges are particularly impressive, although I don’t doubt Nicki Minaj will make great TV. But at least American Idol will have one thing over X-Factor judges Britney Spears and Demi Lovato: you can’t really accuse Mariah or Nicki of abusing autotune

Pepsi/Coke Feud Could Keep Nicki Minaj Off ‘American Idol’

Nicki Minaj’s shot at a seat in the American Idol judge’s chair could be derailed by a can of Pepsi, The New York Post reports. American Idol is famously Product Placement-palooza for Coca-Cola … which could be a problem for Minaj’s multimillion dollar endorsement deal with Pepsi.

Pepsi sponsors Nicki Minaj’s Pink Friday Reloaded tour and the rapper also fronts the brand’s Live For Now campaign. While it’s unclear exactly what her Pepsi contract says, it is likely that it carries language barring her from working with a competitor. American Idol plans to start holding auditions in the next week or two, so they’re anxious to sort this out soon. I mean, maybe they can just let her sit next to a Pepsi can instead of a Coke can?

I think the hashtag for this should be #richpeopleproblems.

Contact the author of this post at Jessica.Wakeman@Gmail.com. Follow me on Twitter and Tumblr.

Nick Jonas Could Be Your New ‘American Idol’ Judge

Well, now I’ve seen everything. Nineteen-year-old boy bander Nick Jonas confirmed yesterday that he’s in the running for a judge position on American Idol. "The rumors are true," Jonas tweeted. "I am being considered to be a judge on American Idol and it would be a dream come true if it happens. #nickonidol."

Nick’s cute and all, but other than several years making teenyboppers scream and a run on Broadway in How To Succeed In Business, what are his qualifications as a cultural tastemaker? After all, he has Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler’s shoes to fill. Jonas would be joining recently hired Mariah Carey, who has also been around the block more than a few times. 

Perhaps Nick Jonas just wants to get in on the TV action: his brother Kevin Jonas is starring on a terrrrrrrible-looking new reality show with his wife Danielle called Married To Jonas and brother Joe (AKA the hot one) is on some D-list singing competition show on the CW called  called The Next: Fame Is At Your Doorstep. (You’d better be getting paid a lot of money, Joe.)

If Nick Jonas does get hired for American Idol, I will really be surprised that Fox was so desperate for the "youth demo."

Mariah Carey May Be Your New ‘American Idol’ Judge

Mariah Carey is reportedly finalizing a $17 million deal for the next season of American Idol, filling a place recently vacated by the departures of Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler. Congratulations, Idol. You found the one songstress in Hollywood kookier than Paula Abdul! 

The prevailing theory, according to Deadline Hollywood, is that Mariah Carey got scooped up by Idol so quickly because she was also being courted by The X Factor, Simon Cowell’s singing competition show which has both Britney Spears and Demi Lovato as judges. Hmm. I guess when hubby Nick Cannon crowed that American Idol "couldn’t afford her," he was wrong.

Aretha Franklin And Her Silly Hats Want To Judge ‘American Idol’

Say a little prayer that this will happen: Aretha Franklin has thrown her hat into the ring to become a judge on American Idol. This week saw both Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler take a hike from the show, followed by much tongue-wagging as to who will replace them. Turns out, Aretha’s free. 

The Queen of Soul responded to an email question from CNN asking whether she would be interested in joining the cast of Idol as a judge or mentor and she responded, "Yes, I am interested as a judge." And she’d like to bring Patti LaBelle along as a sidekick.

Fox declined to comment about Franklin’s statement of interest. But think about it, Fox people: the Internet could use a rehash of that silly hat meme.