Ever get the feeling that American Idol's producers live in a bizarro world where enabling host Ryan Seacrest's oddball diversions and alienating Glee fans with constant overruns is a good thing?
Now the show has announced changes that offer a similar jarring inconsistency, lowering Idol's age limit for singers by one year and eliminating any Florida community from the list of audition cities.
Singers young as 15 and old as 28 can now audition for the program, ensuring that the crop of vocalists up for next year's cycle of competition will be even greener and less experienced than in years past. (Back in 2004, they raised the age limit from 26 to 28, but news that teen singing sensation Justin Bieber got scooped up by Island Records while waiting to grow old enough for an Idol audition may have prompted this year's change.) This does little to address the main complaint about this year's contestant pool; that too many were uninteresting and unimpressive as performers.
It's also an odd change, given that the biggest pop star unearthed by a TV show recently, fortysomething powerhouse Susan Boyle, was discovered only because the show that featured her, Britain's Got Talent, has no age limit for performers.
Does this signal a bit of capitulation by Idol producers? Have they resigned themselves to the fact that tweens dominate the voting, lowering the age limit to pack the contestant pool with singers closer to the age of the voters?
Idol also announced a list of audition cities that does not include Orlando or Miami, despite the fact that four of the show's top 24 performers this year — including fourth place St. Petersburg native Michael "Big Mike" Lynche — had connections to the Sunshine State.
At this rate, they just might choose Poison singer Bret Michaels to replace Simon Cowell. In a world where ignoring the state that produced a top four finisher makes sense, anything seems possible.