The Changing Face of the Reality Singing Competition.

american idol judging panel jlo steven tyler randy jackson

There was a time, ten or so years ago, when American, and then Australian Idol, hit our screens and was judged by washed-up middle-aged music industry big wigs, like Simon Cowell, Mark Holden, Ian “Dicko” Dickson and the token female on the panel, Marcia Hines and Paula Abdul. These judges were mostly respected, if unfamiliar to Idol’s target demographic. Apart from Abdul’s “Opposites Attract”, I wouldn’t have known any of them from a bar of soap.

Not only was this before Britney, J.Lo, Mariah et al. demanded millions to sit in the judging chair, but it was also prior to the influx of talent shows; reality shows in general, really. Now we have a myriad of Got Talent’s, The Voice, The X-Factor and the truckload of former and current stars it brings with it.

x factor australia judges

For every Britney and Christina, whose careers have been languishing in the pop wasteland for the last few years and could be helped by a judging role, there’s a Nicki Minaj, whose choice to judge the latest season of American Idol in the prime of her career baffles me. And we can’t forget Jennifer Lopez, who was the epitome of irrelevance prior to taking on the gig, and is now once again one of the highest earning performers in the industry (thanks, in no small part, to her franchise of perfumes), deservedly so, as I saw her in concert last year and she is the consummate performer. Closer to home, Guy Sebastian, a reality singing competition winner himself, had a sprinkling of top ten and number one hits in the last few years, but really hit the big time with the Eve and Lupe Fiasco collaborations, “Who’s That Girl?” and “Battle Scars”, respectively, released after his turn as a judge on The X Factor.

x factor judging panel britney spears demi lovato simon cowell

So the “expert” record industry execs have pretty much gone the way of Dicko, albeit with the mainstays Cowell (The X Factor in the U.S.), L.A. Reid (ditto) and Randy Jackson from the original series of Idol, to make way for younger, sexier and more relevant, sometimes with an overhaul in between each season. And then there’s just the question marks that were obviously hired ’cause everyone else turned them down: Demi Lovato, Khloe Kardashian (tenuous) and, arguably, Nicki Minaj.

I think the new season of Idol’s focus on the feud between Mariah Carey and Minaj hinders not only the show (it’s about the TALENT), but also Nicki’s career in the long run. 2012 was perhaps Minaj’s strongest year to date, with “Superbass” being certified platinum, and “Starships” dominating the airways. While she’s never had a number one hit on the U.S. Billboard charts, Minaj was infiltrating pop culture at warp speed, so to her it might have seemed logical to dominate reality television as well. But, to me, singing competition judging panels are the domain of has-beens; people who’ve been down a similar road and can offer advice on the highs and lows of stardom. Who knows? Maybe Minaj will be the one to change that.

What do you think? Do you long for the no-frills early days of Idol, or are you all for big names on the judging panel overshadowing the talent?

Images via People, Wikipedia, Digital Spy.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

The “slut vote” is the reason why Mitt Romney didn’t win the presidency and instead Barack Obama was reelected to a second term. On a side note: WOO HOO! [Christian Men’s Defence Network]

And not only that, but the “black vote” kept that n-word in office. And some people have no shame in taking their racist views to Twitter to lament this supposed fact. [Jezebel]

Is Beauty & the Geek the most sexist show on TV? [MamaMia]

In defence of Caitlin Moran. [New Statesman]

Heterophobia in gay bars. [MamaMia]

Why Britney Spears needs a stylist. [TheVine]

The women of Friday Night Lights call out Mitt Romney for the unauthorized co-opting of the show’s “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose” slogan. (Early Bird note: apparently you can lose, Mitt!) [USA Today]

In the spirit of Halloween just passed and, you know, the persecution of women and minorities since the dawn of time, take this quiz to find out whether you would have been accused of witchcraft in ye olden times. [BBC History Magazine]

Misogyny at St. John’s College. [Daily Life]

Why do people (namely black, female people) hate Nicki Minaj? [Jezebel]

Gala Darling’s account of surviving the Frankenstorm, Hurricane Sandy.

Mia Freedman’s News Ltd. column has been axed amid many other newspaper axings. She should have stayed at Fairfax, where they actually appreciate good journalism and authentic voices. Oh well, this means more of her at her namesake site, MamaMia! Yay!

A letter to conservative politicians from Just Another Rapist (*trigger warning*). [Whatever]

Image via Twitter.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

How a uni student wearing a modest floral dress, tights and a cardi inspired a fellow (male) student to give her a note detailing all the reasons her outfit was slutty and distracting. [Footage Not Found]

Why Bridesmaids should win an Oscar. [Daily Life]

Some snarky ways your Personhood-holding feotus can have their constitutional rights granted. [Jezebel]

A timeline of Chris Brown’s heinousness. [BuzzFeed]

Rachel Hills is a Friday feminaust. [Feminaust]

Why is it okay for gay men to bag women when we would never accept the same behaviour from a straight man? Is it because we don’t see gay men as “real men”? [Daily Life]

Nicki Minaj has got the same sized hands as Marilyn Monroe? [The Grio]

My year as a rom-com watcher. [Jezebel]

Hugo Schwyzer responds to Bettina Arndt’s assertion that women who dress provocatively and then complain about attention from the “wrong” type of men are teases:

“The calculus of entitlement works like this: if women don’t want to turn men on, they need to cover up. If they don’t cover up, they’ll turn men on. If they turn men on, women are obligated to do something to assuage that lust. Having turned them on, if women don’t give men what they want, then women are cruel teases who have no right to complain if men lash out in justified rage at being denied what they’ve been taught is rightfully theirs.” [Jezebel]

Image via Footage Not Found.

Music: Top 11 Songs of 2011.

“Born This Way”, Lady Gaga.

Before it was even released, the world knew that “Born This Way” was going to define 2011, if not for its controversial comparison to Madonna’s “Express Yourself”, then for Glee’s 90-minute special dedicated to the anthem. Gaga was accused of racism and plagiarism for the song, which spawned a website in which gay users can upload images and affirmations. Like it or loath it, you’ve got to agree that Gaga has her heart in the right place with this one.

“Friday”, Rebecca Black.

Ahh, the song that you can never get out of your head. While I think “Friday” is the work of a genius (Lady Gaga thinks so, too!) and enjoy bopping around to it, grabbing my bowl, grabbing my cereal, going to the bus stop, choosing which seat to take, I understand that the majority of the world doesn’t feel the same. But for a viral video, you’ve got to give the girl props for permeating the zeitgeist so.

“Rolling in the Deep”, Adele.

I’ve only recently gotten into Adele, but now that I have, I could listen to her voice for hours. Whether it’s “Someone I Used to Know”, “Turning Tables” or “I Can’t Make You Love Me”, as opposed to “Rolling in the Deep”, you can’t deny that Adele was everywhere in 2011. And she was warmly welcomed for her heartbreaking love songs and her alternative look.

“Party Rock Anthem”, LMFAO.

Up until a few days ago when I asked my friend April which songs she thought I should include in this list, I thought this song was called “Shuffling”! No matter; the whole world has picked up on the gist and beat of the song, and that’s all that really matters, right?

“Moves Like Jagger”, Maroon 5.

Another song that I was oblivious to until recently. Rather, I was oblivious to who sung it, even though the vocals of Christina Aguilera were unmissable. My awakening to “Moves Like Jagger” came the night of my birthday party, when a random partygoer likened my moves to being even better than Jagger’s!

“Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)”, Katy Perry.

The song is somewhat forgettable, but Katy Perry’s “Last Friday Night” was all about the film clip, featuring the aforementioned Rebecca Black, some guys from Glee, Hanson, and Kenny G.

“(Run the World) Girls”, Beyonce.

While “(Run the World) Girls” isn’t by a long shot the best song on Beyonce’s latest album, 4, it was the one that set the ball rolling for total 2011 Beyonce domination. For my money, “Countdown” and “Best Thing I Never Had” are better, but the controversy the song stirred up and the film clip are what make the song rate.

“Somebody I Used to Know”, Gotye.

Until I YouTubed this song just then, I’d never heard it before. But I’d heard the hype surrounding it. While alternative Australian music isn’t really my cup of tea, it does invoke a certain nostalgia of music my parents would play when I was a child, like Cat Stevens and some others I can’t quite put my finger on.

“Super Bass”, Nicki Minaj.

If it weren’t for the Ellen show sensations Sophia Grace and Rosie, “Super Bass” wouldn’t hold such a special spot in my heart(beat running away)! Is that wrong…?

“On the Floor”, Jennifer Lopez.

This time last year J.Lo couldn’t have been less relevant. Whether it’s the calibre of “On the Floor” (one friend is particularly irked by the “Back it up like a Tonka truck” line from Pit Bull!) or her highly publicised divorce from Marc Anthony (how fitting that the title of her latest album should be Love?), J.Lo was back in a big way in 2011.

“We Found Love”, Rihanna.

Rihanna also had a big 2011, and it was hard to choose just one of her myriad of songs from the past year. I have a penchant for “Only Girl in the World”, which was officially released in 2010 but seemed to transfer over into 2011, and there’s also “Man Down”, “S&M”, “California King Bed” and “Cheers (Drink to That)” that were hits last year. And of course, we can’t forget the hullabaloo that resulted from the filming of the video for “We Found Love”. Farmers and Irish fields, anyone?

So which were your favourite songs of 2011?

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Underlying Message in Glee‘s “Born This Way” Episode.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] My Week in Pictures: Birthday Edition.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Battle of the Friday Anthems: Rebecca Black VS. Katy Perry.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Beyonce: Countdown to Overexposure.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Guest Post: Rihanna’s Man Down—Revenge is a Dish Best Served in Cold Blood.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] “S&M”: Is It Really So Much Worse Than Rihanna’s Other Stuff?

On the (Rest of the) Net.

“The Case for Dry Humping: Why Being Prude is a Feminist Statement.” [HuffPo]

Alone time is my siren call. Here, Jezebel’s Social Minefield tells you how to get more “me time” without offended those who want to have “we time” with you.

One woman goes mirror-free for a year. [Jezebel]

Lady Gaga’s run out of people to plagiarise, so she’s turned to herself for inspiration in her latest video for “Yoü & I”. [Fashionista]

Nipple slips from Khloe Kardashian, Nicki Minaj and Kelly Rowland in quick succession: shock, horror! [The Washington Post] (SFW)

Camilla Peffer on Beyonce as the anti-feminist. [Girls Are Made From Pepsi]

The gender politics of Justin Bieber. [FBomb]

Is there a need for women to have their periods?:

“… I do want to raise the question that while we do the work of destigmatising menstruation and teach young girls to be proud and excited about their menarche don’t we also have a responsibility to question its necessity? We tell women they don’t have to have sex to have children, that breast cancer can be beaten, that they can have their tubes tied and then re-connected and their faces lifted and de-wrinkled. We live in a modern world with modern solutions, isn’t it time we started seriously thinking and talking about the need to bleed?” [Feminaust]

Porn star and new mum displays picture of her breastfeeding her newborn daughter in an exhibition challenging the Madonna/whore dichotomy of motherhood, controversy ensues:

“The idea that there is something inherently prurient about a porn star breast-feeding plays right into that classic either-or thinking: Her breasts are erotic in one venue, so they can’t be wholesome in another. It’s a wonder anyone lets her breast-feed at all! On the one hand, it’s surprising to see this attitude coming from a pornographer; on… [yet an]other hand, it’s perfectly appropriate given the way motherhood is fetishised in porn.

“…We don’t like to think of moms as sexual beings—except for in the taboo-busting world of porn (paging Dr. Freud). It’s fitting for a porn star mama, the rare industry ‘MILF’ who is actually a mom, to remind folks that, generally speaking, one has to have sex in order to become a mom.” [Salon]

Anne Hathaway’s new effort, One Day, has a “bleak worldview of co-dependence where men need women to improve them, and women need to improve themselves to deserve men’s notice and achieve their purpose,” with The Film Stage dubbing it “the most toxic romance of the year”.

Also at The Film Stage, a breakdown of Katherine Heigl’s stereotype-reinforcing rom-coms, from the career-making Knocked Up, which she subsequently dissed for being sexist, to the just-as-sexist Killers and Life as We Know It.

Here’s an extended version of Erica Bartle’s debut piece for Sunday Life. While I don’t necessarily agree with her sentiments on faith most of the time, this is a great read. Better than the published piece, dare I say? [Girl with a Satchel]

Taylor Swift VS. feminism. [Autostraddle]

Is it “time for an abortion pride movement”?:

“… Women should not merely have the right to end unwanted pregnancies, they should have the right to be proud of having done so. Surely, there is enough suffering in this world already without adding infants with Tay-Sachs disease and Lesch-Nyhan syndrome to the mix. Women who step up to the ethical plate and have the strength to say, ‘This is the wrong time,’ or ‘This is the wrong fetus,’ should hold their heads high in the streets.” [Opposing Views]

Oh, the hilarity of Photoshop on this Glee/Vogue/Fashion’s Night Out advertisement. [Styleite]

It’s not just women who get the short end of the stick when it comes to Disney films: “Sexism, Strength & Dominance—Masculinity in Disney Films.” [FBomb]

The awesomeness that is Adam Lambert. [Autostraddle]

One from the vault: Buffy’s Willow Rosenberg destroys the world when her lesbian love is killed, calling into question the show’s support of the LGBT community. [Salon]

A mother’s perspective on the dysfunctional Twilight-saga relationship between Edward and Bella. [Persephone Magazine]

The politics of the SlutWalk. [New York Times]

Five of The Simpsons’ best recipes, including 64 slices of American cheese and Vaseline toast! [Warming Glow]

Image via Chubby Wubby Girl, Styleite, Salon.