"Idol" is still a singing competition. Unfortunately, this season's singing has often been unremarkable. There was too much fat, with contestants in the Top 12 that had no shot of being the next big pop star. (Sorry, Lacey Brown, Paige Miles, Tim Urban, Didi Benami …).
Singing wasn't the only deficiency. Season 9 did not produce an Adam Lambert, Allison Iraheta or even a Clay Aiken, the idiosyncratic character to root for. Even Sanjaya Malakar would have livened things up. And that was the problem: The personalities just weren't there.
"Do we need another soft-rock white guy on 'Idol'?" wonders Jojo Girard, Baltimore's Mix 106.5's morning-show host. "That's what Lee would be. Last year was really entertaining. Whether you liked Adam Lambert or not, he was creative. He analyzed music. No one does that this season."
The audience's lack of connection with dynamic performers could be responsible in part for eroding viewership. Ratings this season have averaged 24.5 million viewers, a far cry from the 30.5 million average who tuned in for Season 5 in 2006. And in the first week of April, ABC's "Dancing With the Stars," packed with a more buzzy cast (Pamela Anderson, Kate Gosselin), dethroned "Idol" for the first time by more than a million viewers.
According to Billboard, average ratings have dropped 8.3 percent since 2006.
"I've been calling it a Taylor Hicks kind of year," says Reagan Warfield, Girard's co-host. "It's one of those off years."