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Nigel Lythgoe Talks About Where "Idol" Went Wrong

Nigel Lythgoe Talks About Where "Idol" Went Wrong

"American Idol" came under fire this past season for losing ratings, bringing on boring contestants, and undermining the legitimacy of the show with that whole Sanjaya thing. During the panel for "So You Think You Can Dance" this weekend at the TCA press tour, executive producer Nigel Lythgoe shed some light on where "Idol" might have gone wrong. He said the show made a mistake by not focusing much on the contestants' personalities:

We were so engrossed with the mentors that were particularly good last season, and we focused on their stories and not really on the Melindas. And we didn't know them as much as we knew the Kellie Picklers from the season before.

Next season, he said, he wants the audience to have more emotional hooks to the contestants — and he also wants the top 12 to be uniformly strong, the way the top dancers on "Dance" are this season. "There's no Sanjaya here," he said, prompting one reporter to ask if that was good or bad. "Listen, I'm not going to knock Sanjaya," Lythgoe replied. "I think Sanjaya helped the last season very well when we were sort of going down and everyone's going, 'Oh, the talent's not as good this year.' Sanjaya came through for us."

Lythgoe definitely put his finger on one of the problems I had with "Idol" this year, which was not feeling like I knew or cared about the contestants at all. In fact, I knew more about the top 20 from "So You Think You Can Dance" after one episode than I did about the top "Idol" singers after a whole season. Do you think adding the back stories back in will help the show reboot next year? Or does "Idol" have bigger issues now?

Photo courtesy of Fox

Join The Conversation
miss-britt miss-britt 10 years
I agree with lythgoe on this one. I definitely do feel they spent way to much time on the mentors and promoting whatever they had instores later that week or month. And the song choice. Because they had acts that didn't exactly appeal to all the different contestants vocals and they didn't help them in the long run. But either way i will watch. But So you think you can dance has been soo good this season.
mizlynz mizlynz 10 years
Blake was the only contestant from this season that I really remember.
pinkflats pinkflats 10 years
I also think that drama of the judges off-camera such as Paula overshadows the contestants. Also why can't they just hire a one or two mentors (a music producer and a vocal coach)? I haven't watched Idol since the first season because the contestants then were so fresh and their talent was new and raw. We really did focus about their singing abilities. Now people care more about the contestants' changing hair dos, nude pics in the Internet, etc. to really care about them. Lastly the contestants now already become celebrities before they even sing their first song as a top 12 contestants. This is just my observation.
Linda-McP Linda-McP 10 years
The back stories will certainly help fix some of the problems with Idol, as will better musical selections and some really helpful, honest critiques from the judges. He has an interesting view of how Sanjaya helped the show. Gotta think about that for awhile!
mwmsjuly19 mwmsjuly19 10 years
I liked the final 3, but I thought that most of the music all season was poorly chosen and really boring. The mentor thing did get heavy-handed, though. I wanted Melinda to win, but Jordin winning wasn't bad at all. I'd have been fine with Blake, too.
kristyrk kristyrk 10 years
I agree. I didn't really get attached to any of them like I did the seasons before. I still think the first season was the most memorable because they didn't have any of the "mentors" or distractions like that. Maybe season 7 will be a good one. ;)
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