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"Idol" season premier falls flat

Another season of “American Idol” has started and though I have DVR’d the first episode, I have yet to watch it.

In fact, I’m not sure I want to watch it at all. I find myself more interested in football and basketball games this time of year, pushing off the second episode of “Idol” for the Los Angeles Lakers/Miami Heat game Thursday night. Though the Lakers lost, I think it was probably way more entertaining than the train-wreck that is the “Idol” auditions. Plus, there’s always an abundance of reality TV to watch.

Apparently I’m not the only one that feels that way, according to EW.com, “The 11th season debut of Fox’s “American Idol” had the biggest year-over-year ratings drop for a premiere episode in the show’s decade-long history. “Idol” delivered 21.9 million viewers and a 7.4 in the adult demo on Wednesday night, according to Fox’s time-zone-adjusted national ratings. That’s down 24 percent from last year.”

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy watching the auditions most of all. I think that’s probably my favorite part of each season, but ever since Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell left, it just hasn’t been the same. Sure, Cowell was snarky, grumpy and sometimes outright rude, but he was real. He didn’t tell people they were good if they weren’t. He didn’t give them false hope of a career in the music business. He didn’t gush over their “talent” when they clearly had none.

I watched some of last season’s “Idol,” hoping that Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez would liven up the show. Boy, was I disappointed. Randy Jackson seemed to have changed. He wasn’t his usual nice self and had a sharper edge to his criticism of the contestants. I don’t think Tyler knew what was going on half the time, save for his creepy leering at the female contestants and sometimes off-color comments made to them. And Lopez was more a cheerleader than a judge. I was so disappointed in fact, that I quit watching halfway through the season, not caring who won.

After watching the first season of Cowell’s “X Factor,” it’s going to be hard to sit through the 11th season of “Idol.” It just seems old and overdone. Americans seem to feel the same way, if viewer ratings and album sales are any indication. Aside from Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, I can’t think of any other “Idol” winners that have maintained their spot in the limelight. What happened to Ruben Studdard? Clay Aiken? Fantasia Barrino? Taylor Hicks? Jordin Sparks? David Cook? Kris Allen? Lee DeWyze? Scotty McCreery? OK, so McCreery is actually doing some work on the country music circuit, but as for the others, you hardly see hide nor hair or them.

I watched the “X Factor” and was glad to see the variety of contestants on that show. There were people over 30, people under 30, children and groups. There were soul singers, pop singers, rappers and hard rock singers. Everyone had a shot at winning $5 million. Competition was tough and the judges mentored groups that competed against each other. The show, overall, was way more entertaining than what I saw of “Idol’s” season 10.

Unless the “Idol” judges step up their game and actually offer some constructive criticism, I think the show’s days are numbered. How many pop rejects can one show turn out before they call it quits? It’s probably the only current show on TV in which the winners ride a wave of popularity, only to fade into obscurity a year or so later.