Singing Contests and Artist Judges

The last time I followed American Idol was the season I rooted for Carrie Underwood. I’m watching the latest season of AI regularly again and I’m just so disappointed with the judges. The problem with having artists as judges is that hold back criticisms, seemingly because they worry about their own reputation or displeasing fans once they fire criticisms. It’s not just the Idol judges. The Voice’s judges are worse! They practically never say any negative criticism even when warranted. Ever. I’m not saying they should bash the contestants, but rather give more constructive criticism that can help them grow, instead of praising oversinging/karaoke-singing/mediocre-singing/screeching. This is why shows like these need judges like Simon Cowell or Jimmy Iowine – they keep it real. Or maybe even Kara DioGuardi – I’d take her as a judge over J.Lo or Christina Aguilera anytime. In fairness to Christina, she appears to be a great mentor to her team on The Voice, but a great judge she is not.

Some writers think so too of the judge’s tendency to just praise and praise and nothing else. 

On Jimmy Iovine’s comments:

“All those comments were awesome. And all of which would have been much more meaningful had we heard them Wednesday while voting was open. Come on, “Idol.” If you’re going to st-r-r-e-t-t-ch the performance shows to the full two hours, give him the spotlight for a few minutes. At least it would interrupt the judges’ cheerleading.
And come on, Phillip Phillips. Did you not read our “Idol” etiquette column? Ignore Iovine’s advice if you want, but don’t be a jerk about it.
Ignoring him may not be wise anyway, since based on this week, he’s more in tune with what the audience at home is hearing than the judges are. J.Lo can sit there with her arms folded and a sour look on her face all she wants. If the viewers aren’t buying what she’s selling, there’s not much she can do.”

“Being on “Idol” means rarely having to hear a discouraging word.”

The previous season also saw criticism on the judges’ ability to judge:

“After the first nine singers had performed to near-unanimously positive feedback on “American Idol’s” Motown night on Wednesday, host Ryan Seacrest asked the gushing question, “If you’re at home, how do you vote?”
It’s hard, and not because people don’t know how to call, text or go online to support their favorites. It’s that the judges critiqued the singers as if they were scoring a high-school talent contest: Everyone was great, and the only criticism took the angle of how the singers could be even greater!
That’s where the show still misses Simon Cowell, or at least his crankiness.”

Lastly, I believe this writer captured it all:

“…the judges on Fox’s American Idol and NBC’s The Voice hear nothing but an unbroken parade of “magical,” “amazing,” “beautiful,” “perfect,” “best-ever” singers
If every singer involved is a great “artist”, then we should all be able to name every finalist from every Idol and Voice season — a tough task, seeing as many people probably can’t name The Voice winner from last year.
if none of them can benefit from criticism and competition, then the shows really are just popularity contests
Honesty ends, however, when we get to the actual performances, which routinely consist of overwrought look-at-me screaming, with little relation to melody, lyrics, musical build or the prior coaching. Not that you’d know it from the judges, who were so eager for an encouraging word Shelton even praised a woman for “diction.”
Still, that’s better than the Idol trio of Jennifer Lopez, Steven Tyler and Randy Jackson, who, picking up where they left off last season, have decided that judging means limiting their criticism to song choices and that inevitable “pitchy.”
Compare that to American Idol’s post-performance criticism segment from Jimmy Iovine, who felt free to call people screechy, kitschy and just plain not good enough. But then he was watching on a television monitor. Like us.
I can think of seven judges who should watch with him.”

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