The Farr Side: ‘AI’ isn’t broken, but adjustments are needed

David T. Farr

"American Idol” isn’t broken. But, like a well-used piece of machinery, it might be due for tweaking. 

Viewership is down slightly, but that doesn’t mean it’s curtains for “Idol.”

I know “AI” isn’t broken, because just last week I had several conversations about the show and its Season 9 contestants.  That’s proof the show is still viable watercooler fodder. I  need to thank two women at the doctor’s office who asked me my thoughts about the show and who I thought ought to be standing together at the finale.  They took my mind off of why I was there and also reassured me about the show’s importance.

“American Idol” is one of only a handful of recent TV shows that can involve the whole family. Even in my family, we all talk about it. The age demographic doesn’t really interfere. In fact, it adds to the show’s success. 

So, what makes this Season seem different from the others?

I have noticed the judges’ critiquing is off. There’s no consistency to their offerings, unless you count Randy Jackson’s standard reply, “Aww dawg, it was too pitchy for me.” 

More so this season than in others, I’m confused by what the judges say. They want contestants to be current, yet their available song lists go way back. Tweak that!

When they announced that this week’s theme would be the music of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, I was dumbfounded. I’m a fan of the Lennon-McCartney songbook, but c’mon. You guys have already done that.

Then again, the object could be to take one of “those” songs and make it your own, right? Not so much with this group. Anyone who has offered a unique spin has been ripped apart, except for Andrew Garcia’s take on Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up.”  However, the judges felt the need to remind the audience repeatedly that Garcia could never live up to that again. 

I’d like to learn how they determine which songs are fair game. I’m usually surprised come show night about what songs they do sing.

As far as mentoring the contestants, that process could also use some adjustment.  I think the mentors need to spend more time with each Idol to do it right. 

The only thing I’ve agreed with thus far this season is Simon’s thoughts on Crystal Bowersox and Lee DeWyze. Those two both know who they are, musically speaking.  I wouldn’t have them change a thing. They deserve the accolades.

David T. Farr is a Sturgis (Mich.) Journal correspondent. E-mail him at