New Judge Tasks on ‘Idol’ Soul Night

Adjusting by the week to its ratings slip, “American Idol” announced Wednesday that the season would be, like “Survivor,” the guys against the girls.

But isn’t that what every season is? Boys against girls? And how would this play out?

All it would mean, said Ryan Seacrest, who didn’t sound as if he understood it much either, is that the guy and gal with the lowest vote totals would be indentified and only then the judges would decide which of them stayed and which went home.

The move finally gives the judges something to do than to incessantly praise every contestant as the slow process of elimination moves along.

It’s almost a quality control against the home voters such that the person with the lowest vote totals won’t necessarily go home. Nobody said how long this process will be in place.

In the meantime, the inaugural live performance night for the finalists was better than expected. Just about every singer is insanely talented, with far fewer obvious candidates for elimination at this point.

And they’re receiving expert advice – guest mentor Mary J. Blige had a perfect suggestion for nearly every one of the 13 that improved their performance on the spot. She should be a regular mentor on some show or under consideration as an “X-Factor” judge.

It was the 400th episode of “Idol,” and for 399 of them, judges always chastised contestants who’d try to sing Whitney Houston – a minefield that hardly anybody could handle.

But the theme for the women was the late singer – a choice that may have had something to do with helping build ratings. Their posthumous Michael Jackson episode had done well last season. The surprise was that nearly every one of them traversed the difficult vocal gymnastics with nearly the same power. Only nerves prevented some of them from towering performances.

The guys had an equally tough singer to emulate on this soulful week – Stevie Wonder. And how great was it to hear a night of his music, all pretty well done, also?

While “The Voice” has been beating “Idol” in the ratings the last couple of weeks, at least “Idol” delivered better entertainment and more singing than all the fuss and hype of the battle rounds on the other show. At least for this week.

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