The honeymoon is over. I officially no longer give a crap who wins Idol.
I've noticed for a while that the show had been becoming more and more formulated and predictable, which is a shame. For the first few seasons I was glued to the TV but over the years it seemed that they started picking contestants more for their ability to fit into a convenient niche or their ability to predictably appeal to marketable demographics and the fact that they could (not always capably) carry a tune was a secondary consideration. It seems like every year there MUST be an ambiguously gay man, a rocker chick, a rocker dude, a cute kid, the perky girl, the black guy and girl, the Latino/Latina, the sob story, etc... I think with Taylor Hicks winning a few years back the producers had a shocking "OMG" moment and realized "This guy is easily not marketable and selling his records are going to be difficult." Since then they've seemed to have stacked the deck so that at the end they would stand a better chance of having a winner who could sell records. The result has been a string of safe, non-controversial winners who are easily forgettable. Honestly, do you find yourself saying, "I simply could not live without my David Cook CD?" Me either.
And now that Simon is leaving as well the only highlight for me during the "critique" part of the show is going to be Ellen's occasional one-liners. The snarkiness at the end of the line of drivel was usually some of my favorite part of the show. Randy's "Dude! Dog! What?!" and Kara's overwrought mental contortions do nothing for me. If they do not find someone who is absolutely ruthless and nasty to replace Simon (for me they will have to out-Simon Simon) I don't know if I will actually watch it next season.
And what the hell is going on with Seacrest? Is the strenuous schedule the man keeps causing him to crack? He does realize he's just an emcee, right? The moments where he transformed into Contestant Advocate Man were awkward and unbecoming. His responsibility should be to make sure that the show flows along at an acceptable pace, not to ensure that the judges are giving adequately constructive feedback.
If Idol wants to keep me as a viewer next year they have to go back to what they were during season one: an open competition where anyone with a great voice can get a shot at a record deal - not a controlled marketing machine pandering to the largest possible demographic mix.