I think I have a possible solution for American Idol's consistent "I can't believe America voted to keep this person in the contest when he/she is clearly the worst singer" problem that seems to rear its ugly head every season. Instead of opening the phone lines inviting people to vote for someone, how about opening the lines so America can vote against someone.
Don't you think it would be much easier for the approximately 30 million voters each week to concentrate their efforts on bouncing one of the dreadful singers out of the competition, rather than trying to lend their support to one of the better singers, while hoping that more people vote for the good instead of the bad?
Think about it. Let's take this week for example. It's obvious that Sanjaya doesn't belong in this competition anymore. Everyone, except for however many people voted to keep him on the show, knows this. Judging by the way he did the Charlie Brown sad walk back to his seat, even he knows he shouldn't be there.
So what ends up happening? Those that want him to stay, vote for Sanjaya. Those that want him out of the competition vote for Melinda, Lakisha, Blake or whomever. Safe to say the people that didn't want Sanjaya to stick around probably didn't vote too many times for Brandon -- clearly a better singer, who unfortunately, was pretty underwhelming throughout the competition. So, Brandon gets the raw deal. Cue the viewer outrage.
Instead of hoping that enough people vote for the better performers (Brandon, Phil, Jordin, etc.) instead of Sanjaya for example, it would make much more sense to have the audience call to vote someone out. Everyone voting would simply have to target their vote toward the person that clearly deserves to go. I think the cream would rise to the top with this change.
Sure, it might make it a bit more awkward after each performance when Ryan instructs the audience, "Ok, if you didn't like Sanjaya's performance and think he should be going home tomorrow, here's the number to call..." while Sanjaya wipes tears from his face with his flowing locks, but still.
Now who knows what was going through the voters minds, or how often they vote, or if they vote many times for one contestant, or spread their votes to more than one of their favorites. I have no idea. Honestly, I've never voted for anyone on the show before, but I think my solution might clear up some of these problems.
I'm sure the folks at Fox love the buzz that is created when Sanjaya (and Haley) get to stay much longer than they should, but if this truly is supposed to be a contest to find the best singer, then I think some changes need to be made.
Even my six-year old, Megan, knows things aren't right. She was talking about it two days after the fact.
"America messed it up! Brandon was better than Sanjaya," she said.
Truer words were never spoken.
Sidenote: If all goes well, beginning next week, Megan will be my American Idol correspondant on the morning show.