Photo Credit: Michael Becker / FOX
If you caught Wednesday's American Idol (Fox, Wednesday and Thursday, 8 p.m. ET), then you probably noticed: The show has been totally Twitter-fied. As of this week, viewers can tweet what they think of the judges' decisions (by either using #IdolAgree or #IdolDisagree hashtags) just moments after the panel pronounces them.
This could have been annoying: Do we really need another graphic cluttering up the view when Fox already spams the screen with tune-in info for other shows? But as it turns out, the gimmick is quite satisfying. Why? Because when you're pretty sure the judges have lost their minds, you get instant validation that, in fact, you're not crazy for thinking they're totally wrong.
Take the evening's supposed highlight: Zoanette Johnson singing The Lion King's "Circle of Life." Johnson is a Liberian woman with a huge afro, flashy clothes and lots of bright makeup. She comes across as warm, loopy, emotional, and ... slightly off. Her voice is big, and her confidence is deep-seated and inspirational. Honestly, though? Probably not the next Whitney Houston.
Yet when she finished belting out her voluminous rendition of the song, Keith Urban, Nicki Minaj and Randy Jackson all rose to give her a standing ovation, and Nicki gushed over Johnson so fervently that she had to hold back tears. In past seasons, the overall impression of the moment would have been: We can all go home now! We've found our Idol!
But not so fast. Up popped the Twitter graphic, and, what do you know? Only 50 percent of viewers agreed with the judges' assessment. When you consider that starting next week, the singers' fate is in the voters' hands, the message of the moment turned into: Calm down, judges.
Later, the judges narrowed the current pool down to two contestants, Janelle Arthur (whose performance they'd criticized) and Rachel Hale (whose performance they'd praised). In a final, nonsensical twist, they sent Hale home and kept Arthur. In the past, viewers might have simply yelled at their TV screens and went to bed. But on Wednesday, with their iPads and laptops at hand, they took to Twitter -- and 70 percent of viewers cried foul. Will producers take note and bring Hale back next week? Stranger things have happened.
Since this viewer feedback has brought a new and interesting layer to the show, maybe viewers should be now be allowed to weigh in on the judges' performance in their roles as "experts." But for the time being (at least until next week), the opinions of nasally Nicki and her cohorts matter. Here are the five contestants they put through to the finals last night:
Tune in Thursday at 8 p.m. ET to see the judges choose the final five guys.