American Idol 2013: Dear Producers And Judges: Stop The Manipulation (Op-Ed)

American Idol judges

I’ve been covering American Idol for the past four seasons and I’ve been watching since Season 4. I might not be an expert, but I’m pretty well-versed on all things American Idol.

So last week in my American Idol 2013 Top 4 performance show recap when I said I’ve never seen such blatant manipulation on the show, I meant it. A few readers called me out in our comments section asking if I’ve been watching with blinders on this whole time and am just now noticing the manipulation. The answer is no. I know this show isn’t always 100 percent honest and does what it can to make sure it gets the best-possible outcome.

But never, in my nine seasons of watching, has the judge/production interference been so blazingly obvious. It’s so obvious that I’ve started writing about it. I never thought the judges’ jabs and production interference was worth mentioning until now. I feel like it’s worth mentioning now because American Idol is in trouble and it’s trying to fix itself in all the wrong ways.

America doesn’t care if there’s a female winner or not. They spent the past four seasons voting for guys they thought were cute. Sure it’s going to be nice to have a female winner, but not having a female winner isn’t what’s been killing the show. In fact, we’re definitely getting a female winner this season and ratings are at an all-time low.

So what do producers do now that they’ve insured a female winner? They want to ensure it’s a skinny girl who is marketable. So now they’re shoving the 3rd- and 4th-best singers in the competition down our throats. Yes, I’m talking about Angie Miller and Amber Holcomb. They want Amber and her legs to win SO badly that they will use critique time for Candice Glover to praise and defend AMBER. I’ve never been more offended by this show than I was last week when Nicki Minaj and Randy Jackson used Candice’s time to tell Jimmy Iovine he was wrong about Amber.

And not just because they were using Candice’s time, but because Jimmy was right, not wrong. Amber wasn’t that great. She’s never THAT great. She’s good, but the judges praise Amber like she was produced in a petri dish using the DNA of The Beatles, Whitney Houston, Superman and Jesus Christ. It’s ridiculous.

As I said, Amber is good. And so is Angie. But you know who are better? Candice and Kree Harrison. And the judges all thought so too until the guys were all gone. So that mission was accomplished, so they moved on to mission #2: Who they actually want to win. And that’s clearly Amber. Because she’s the most marketable, apparently?

And that’s just one more thing that’s wrong with this show, and especially this season. Let America decide what it wants. If America gets what it wants, America will keep watching. We all know producers made sure to pick guys that girls just weren’t going to fall in love with and then gave them horrible themes and placed them in vulnerable performance spots until they were picked off one by one. That’s where the manipulation should have stopped. But it didn’t.

So to American Idol producers: Stop forcing Amber on us. We’ve been rejecting her for weeks. Let us decide who we want to be the next American Idol. It might even be Angie without your help. She has a lot of fans. So just let us decide. Let us take that burden off your hands. You can focus on how to save your show by format changes and personality changes. Shake up the things that matter. Keep it fresh. And remember that fresh doesn’t just mean a female winning.

And just to be clear, I don’t have anything against Amber. I think she’s beautiful and talented. I’d think even more highly of her if the judges weren’t exaggerating everything she does. And I’d also think more highly of her if my personal opinion didn’t put Angie, Kree and Candice above her as far as singing ability goes. That’s just my opinion. It’s not my opinion that America almost sent Amber home twice early on, and again last week, however. So it’s not just me who isn’t feeling Amber like the judges and producers. Remember that when you ponder what I just read.

But hey, at least we get a girl winner this season, right? Go ladies!




  1. What is wrong with you people…they been praising all of the contestants! Amber is amber is the best hands down and that’s shy the praise and criticize her and the other contestant. Candice had a cold…(what that mean) amber never had an excuse. Kree pinch nerve. Angela needs a piano( cause she has an advantage over the other girls! what you call that. So just because she do a good performance and they stand its bias.

    • Oh please, give me a break. Check your ears, Amber is clearly the weakest link out of the 4 girls left standing.

      • Clearly you have no ear either. People will lies till it become their truth. Like the good ole days. Amber started getting praise after Devin left. She wasn’t even featured till Vegas. That was Kreedom Waffle and piano Miley sma

      • EBONICS???? Where did you find that? Your word of the day calendar? FYI Ebonics is an ADDED SKILL SET and in no way, shape or form considered derogatory as your comment insinuates. WHO THE F#%K YOU THINK YOU IS???

    • Exactly … some see it how they want to…others rigth away brings in race…they try blaming Amber for what judges say …….Amber has the least of followers so not sure what there big deal is.Most likely she will go home but since i vote for her, then there will be no more votes from me.

  2. Amber was just good, never the best, just good. And out of the four remaining contestants, Amber has the smallest fanbase, and the judges praising her won’t help. I think they should just let go, let go of the fact that Amber will never win this competition as far as the manipulation goes.

    • Amber was best during those nights she sang “What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life”, “She’s Leaving Home”, “I Believe In You And Me” and “A Moment Like This”. Candice has “Lovesong”, “Don’t Make Me Over”, “I Who Have Nothing” and “When You Believe”. Angie has “Cry Me A River” and a chunk of her own song “You Set Me Free” to show for. Meanwhile, the would be AI XII Champion Kree has NOTHING.

      From these great performances, Candice should win while Amber is trailing not that far back followed by Angie and Kree as an also-run. However, the result of AI XII will be the opposite of this.

      • True because its been proven the Red States own this show and Nigel thought he could steal his show back. This year supposed of been a fixer it’d not the blame of ratings.

    • Amber will never Win neither will Candice and this year was a fix by the producers to bring back diversity because they were losing rating because its controlled by the red states. And it didnt work because diverse audience been said this show is not about the best singer rather about who red states can identify with.

    • you fake RS talking bull… what you mean the judges should let her go? the results show is on thursday so wth u talking…we know she will go next…but is the best genuine voice….

  3. Branden, you should look at the numbers to find reasons why judges want to push certain artists who they know won’t have a chance to win.

    AI used to pull about 25-30 million viewers during the competition during its golden years, alas…!,quite a bit of years ago. It is now lucky if it can pull 15 million viewers. So, over the years AI has lost roughly 50 percent of its viewers. Who are the people who still stick around to watch AI? They are made of persons like you Branden: white and country-folk incllned viewers. Do you know why out of the last 7 seasons top three finalists, there were 15 WHITES plus 1 mixed blood with just 1 Latino, 1 Asian and 3 African Americans? Do you see anything wrong with the numbers? Unless you are blind, you will immediately see the statistical “reverse death-penalty trend”. Apparently, whites are more talented singers/performers than minorities in AI of recent years.

    The trend of whites winning AI will continue, and, people like you, smartly using “Candice” as your “smokescreen” this time, will declare that judges are doing this and that to favor certain contestant. You already know no matter how hard judges favored certain minorities to win, they will not win because the voting pattern has been for six or so years and continues to these days favors white winners of any flavors.

    Of the two white finalists, Kree will be the most likely winner. It is because she is more country-ish and comes from the South, so she is securing a quite formidable voting block of today’s AI. Angie is, on the other hand, from the Northeast [hate those damned Yankees….] and actually a Christian/Inspirational artist. Do you think people in Nashville will have an appetite or even a room for this type of “damned yankee” artist? Unless, of course, you see the “Christian” backers all over the US unite to vote for Angie, and she may have a chance if that happens. Well, the same group of people had successfully brought Bush II to the White House twice, and they had made a mediocre movie like “The Passion Of The Christ” a major hit and hugely profitable one. They can do the same to Angie.

    So, yeah…, a white woman will win, and it will be the one with an initial “KH”. Will there be any doubt? Well, surprise me…

    So, Branden, you don’t have to “cry wolf”. It’s unnecessary, and you don’t have to cleanse your “guilt” by saying that a certain contestant is “good” but not as “great” and wonderful as “KH” and the smokescreen “CG”, or by hiding behind favorite words of yours every time you present your weekly prediction of who should stay of who should go as “the way you thought the people would vote”. Just, be a man for once Branden!

      • Take a look at numbers. Numbers are not blind. The AI demographic has changed significantly over the past six years, and, because of it, if you are NOT WHITE, you can’t win.

        Do you have any other explanations as to why the last 21 final three’s consists of 15 Whites, and only 1 Mixed blood, 1 Asian, 1 latino and 3 African Americans? I am all ears.

      • Why because he speak the truth? People don’t like to see the damage they have cause, and will lie anything into existence.

      • No, not because he speaks the truth. It’s a television show, for crying out loud. If you have that many problems with what’s going on with it, then don’t watch. Give me a break!

      • Contrary to your belief, I don’t have any problems with this television show. BUT, I do have problem with a writer who claimed to be impartial while he is actually far from being objective. HIS POINT OF VIEW is infact a representative of the large voting block which has been voting AI winners the past 5 or 6 six years. Until he admits about his bias, I won’t let him go that easily.

      • It seems to me that Branden and other writers on this blog have never failed to state when they are giving their opinion or merely predicting how they think voters will vote. Why wouldnt the results be skewed toward the preferences of the voting demographic? It would be hard to explain if they werent. If youre so unhappy with the writing why are you here?

      • I still don’t understand why you refuse to acknowledge that my favorite contestant is not a white contestant. Talk about racism, you might want to look at how you’re automatically putting me into a group just because of my appearance.

      • i’m still trying to figure out why a gay jew with more talent in his little finger than most singers have in their whole bodies came in second to a third rate vocalist

      • It looks like it matches the US demographics to me. African Americans make up about 13% of the population. So 13% of 21 is 2.7 or rounded up is 3.

      • pr63 I am sitting here wondering the same thing as you are? This Branden person smells racist.

      • This Branden person has been calling for CANDICE to win all season. Have you been reading my posts all season?

      • Your one of the true racist on this site. By the way I’d swear “Ralph” is trolling under other names. He disappeared a few weeks ago but the head racist versus white contestants this season.

        As for Brandon I don’t know how much fairer you can run a forum. He’s been terrific with many good post. This one is one of the best articles I’ve ever seen writen on AI. He was spot on in just about everything.

        After the Amber love fest I watched the judges attack Candace and Kree like thier entire season meant nothing. It was how to keep Amber from going home. Wait til wednesday night. Amber will get the pimp spot and the judges will spend thier time talking about Amber and not who just sang. I was thoroughly disgusted last week. Niether Candace or Kree deserved that especially no talent Nikki!. It looks like Candace is the judges target to save Amber. She can sing the lights out Wednesday and Amber will get the standing O’s and the praise no matter what from the judges. I sincirely hope Candace stays. The 1 thing I never thought is AI fixed the voting eroneously. I’m counting on that Thursday.
        hope Candace stays

      • All see what they want…the judges did not pimp that drama for a fool.Did they pimp Amber by bring the person whose song she sang? oh i thought so..they did for the 3 others…..some nonsense talk huh..Amber will go home and cannot wait to see the bull talk pointed to whom..

      • Because playing the race card is a tactic that the some think will win them an argument and get them attention. Its the last resort of the ignorant.

    • Wow, I think you hit the trifecta with this one. You used the phrased “mixed blood,” cited G. W. Bush, AND implied that Branden (along with most of the viewing public) is a racist.

      Good luck out there.

      • Why do you feel the need to even write this piece is beyond me. You are stating the obvious. This year’s idol has been fixed since the very beginning, i.e Curtis Finch ouster right before his previous criminal record and arrest hit the air, five straight guys being ousted and all-girls final five, etc. It follows that judges pushing certain contestant to the forefront should not even be a surprised to anyone, including to you.

      • Nope, I am not saying anything about racism, I am just saying based on numbers that the pool of viewers is now skewed so that it becomes an advantage to a certain demographic. Remember Matthew, numbers speak for themselves.

        Most of the “viewing public” IS NOT watching AI anymore, But, for the AI viewing public, the demographic of recent and today’s AI viewers have been skewing the result of AI. Is that racism? Perhaps. Is that skewed to folks who love country/folks? Perhaps. The problem is there are not that many Asians, African Americans or Latinos are aspiring to be come country/folk singers, the genre which seemingly have an upper hand when it comes to winning AI. Unfortunately, this genre which is favored by the majority of AI viewers is just a little piece of musical pie. Small wonder, these AI winners, especially recent ones, when being sent to the wilderness of pop/contemporary culture, seem to hit a brick wall. AI has been producing one wrong winner after another for at least the past seven years. How can the AI viewing public be that wrong? The answer is simple: THE PRESENT COMPOSITION OF AI VIEWERS DO NOT REPRESENT THE GENERAL PUBLIC MUSICAL VIEW AT ALL. That’s the reason winners of AI will bite the dust soon after being thrown into the extremely competitive music world.

        The remedy? It’s easy. AI should try to regain those 15 million viewers it slowly lost since about 6 years ago. It will very much level the playing field once again, and no single genre or demographic will ever dominate like what has been happening in recent years. nfortunately, it’s not gonna happen though. Most of these viewers have moved on to something better and will not come back.

      • If you wanted to vent you should have just done it. Dont use Branden or his article as a reason. He said nothing to incite the subject or tone of your comments. Stop dragging him in to make your ranting seem relevant. Im not buying it.

      • You are mistaken Mary If I was actually venting. I am actually pointing out a blatant biased made by one of the head writers of this site. I don’t call him racist. I CALL HIM A VERY PARTIAL WRITER. He wants a certain contestant to win. Will he decide to come clean and say the way it is? I think not because from the way he writes many of his pieces by including words “the way I think the people will vote” just to hide from that responsibility.

    • After respectfully reading your entire comment, I am unclear as to what point you were trying to make. You present what you seem to think is supporting evidence in all directions without reaching a conclusion to anything.

      The only thing thats been made clear, and you can deny it all you want, is your disdain for Branden and your seemingly obsessive need to try to negate his opinions and label him a racist.

      • The conclusion: the current AI viewers are now biased because the big chunk of its viewers is from a certain demographic which favors certain contestants to win. Did I obfuscate it enough for you without using the “R” word?

    • Tell it…. Sweet Baby Jesus tell it…. The red states ruin this show and this year suppose of been a fixer to take the control back!!!! But they so greedy and always to feel superior that even give up one season. They ruin this show and bloggers like Brendan just uncover already!!!

    • M everything you say is true,
      the voting base is 10-14 yr old white southern girls,
      and their group is also spending their money on CDs and not crack. And as far as the voting goes, they are
      also the group using their cell phones for voting, instead of calling their dealer, or their pimp.

  4. Amber’s just good at high notes but she can’t hold a middle register one… I totally agree she should be the next eliminated. However I still disagree with you about Angie. She’s got great vocals, better than Kree’s, but not as strong as Candice’s. The problem with Candice is just that she doesn’t have the spirit that Angie has. My bet is that Angie wins with no need of manipulation (especially if she sings her original You Set Me Free in the finale), then Candice and then Kree in 3rd place.

  5. FANTASTIC ARTICLE THAT TELLS THE TRUTH!!! the show is such a joke it’s not even funny anymore. it has totally lost its credibility because of the blatant manipulation going on. the producers must think that the american public is pretty stupid (in many cases we are!) in the end, though, remember that the winner is not necessarily the WINNER!! ask adam, jennifer, chris, and clay.

  6. Manipulation–you bet!! It’s so obvious that it has probably ruined Amber’s chances. Earlier, even Jimmy praised Amber and couldn’t understand why the voters were not connecting with her. No matter what Amber does now it will be criticized. If the judges praise her, it will be “biased.” From the beginning, I thought Candice had a great voice. Last week’s poor taste during her judging was nothing but bad manners. The judges and Jimmy should apologize to her. Candice did not use an excuse the night she had a cold. Mariah brought it up, and Candice said she did not want to mention it. Candice should be in the top three. Kree has a good voice, but they could put a cardboard cutout up there when she sings, and the emotion would be the same. In Season 3, Fantasia was in the bottom twice and Diana was in the bottom three times. Being in the bottom does not automatically mean losing. They finished in the top two.

  7. You hit the nail on the head, Branden, except that I think Angie is better than Kree. I love Kree, but she lacks emotion. Amber is beautiful, and is a very good singer, usually, but not near as good as the other 3. I predict Angie & Candice in the finals, with Angie edging ahead to win!

  8. yes i agree wholeheartedly i can not finish watching this season, im 54 so im not voting for cuteness, but they do need to sing their hearts out if they want us to buy the cd

  9. Great Article..Candice has superior talent, discussing Amber during Candice’s time was ridiculous and unfair. The bright side is every person that loves Candice and believes she should win are mobilizing to vote as much and as long as we can.

  10. I think the shoe is ripped in hollywood there a lot of greats guys josh hoilday and johnny keysner they were great that why they didnt pick them

  11. Brandon you are right on week after week. I am really unsure what this is all about. May the best girl win!!

  12. I’ve been behind Candice from the get go. Maybe because I’m a little older and she does have a beautiful voice..and a beautiful face and she dresses to suit her body very nicely. Your article was spot on!

    • I like Candice the best too. She really has such a unique voice, although she reminds me of Ella Fitzgerald sometimes. She seems to be getting even more beautiful every week too. Maybe a case of “beautiful is as beautiful does” but I hope she wins it.

      • Omg! I agree with you so much… I would buy Candace’s music right now, her voice is so beautiful! I’m sorry but Amber should be the next to go, she misses notes every week and reminds us of a high school musical performer!..

      • not true… but of course join the club. Why talk ig….they are all good singers.. Amber gets all my vote because of the ignorance about her…she will be next to go home…then i will see the garbage talk about next….

      • ^^^^ I made this observation in a thread here several weeks ago. Candace does remind me exactly of a young Ella Fitzgerald. The young folks on this forum have no idea how well that classy lady could sing. Thanks for the reminder!

      • Yep. I remember reading your comment that mentioned Ella Fitzgerald. You reminded me then how much she sings like her. She has a sweet personality too. Always thanks the judges for their critiques, good or bad. I was so pissed when those damn judges took up her time to talk about Amber. What nerve!

  13. This is what ruin this show blogs, message boards, bias writers, the red states viewers and more than likely you guys are headed over to NBC to ruin the voice. Amber is the only pure vocalist on the show that’s why she is compared to Whitney or Natalie Cole not cause she sound like them. Idol is a fox(foxnews) majority of red states kind of show now and lack of diversity ruin. Branden you ruin the show and people like you.

  14. Yes I agree too! At first the judges loved Kree & said she would end up on the Grand Ole Opry, now they are cutting her up and saying she isn’t bringing it! Well their wrong she sings so effortlessly & her voice is so smooth I will follow her career win or not! I have never liked Ambers voice i’m not saying she isn’t talented because she is but she is not the best oout of the 4 left like they are trying to tell everyone! I do like Angie but I can’t see myself buying her album not my cup of tea & neither is Candice

  15. I’ve been having suspicions about what you wrote here. From what I deduce from AI, they would let Amber and Angie proceed to the finals – If America’s votes do not get counted??!! I agree with Angie, but Candice should be in Top 2.

    • The judges preference does not include Amber.They say good things to all 4 but obvious favorites are Amber and Angie…………

  16. They also don’t care who they hurt, such as Kree. She is the best but they have put her down so much that her confidence is shaky. Why don’t they let us decide and we will tell you who is right. Randy, you were good but your time has passed. You cannot judge this show cause you can’t act. Mariah, quit posing. I want talent teaching talent. Not someone politicking and saying nothing. Nicki, you offend me. SHUT UP. YOU DON’T LOOK SMART WITH YOUR OFFENSIVE NAMES. Can you sing? Keith, you actually judge and respect the contestant. You respect them and us by critiquing in a respectful helpful way. Keep him. Let the rest go. And no, Jlo was no good. Steven was when you would let him. Thank you and good night. I feel better now

  17. Absolutely on target ( although I felt JLo had it in for Haley – that was the “cute country couple season.”)

  18. All the girls are good but Angie and Amber are the complete package as they say. If Kree and Candice had really thought Idol was important they would have slimmed down for the show. Having the best voice is not a winner IMO you need the complete package. Amber looks and sounds like a star and so does Angie and she write her own songs.

    • Well it’s a good thing that Ella Fitzgerald, Adele, Barry White, and Mama Cass didn’t know they should have slimmed down prior to getting their record deal……

      • They didn’t go through this tedious process of AI competition freak show with results being skewed and biased to a certain demographic. Had they gone through that, the music history would’ve been written quite differently for those names you had mentioned.

    • You’ve lost your ever loving mind and are clearly dilusional. It isn’t “Miss America” it a singing competition IDIOT!!!!
      There are lots of good looking people who try a music career. Alot of them FAIL. You don’t buy a CD to look at the cover you buy it to LISTEN to the music. Based on your moronic thinking Adele should have never made a record. You do know who she is dumb a$$?

      • I know you meant well, but it sure didn’t sound too flattering to Adele- if she’s even around to read this. Besides, she didn’t go through the so-called idol competitive process to find her fame, so it’s irrelevant. Melinda Doolittle was actually multitude times better than Candice ever will, but she didn’t win AI season VI because? Coincidently, AI has been very much going downhill ever since. I called it “the curse of Melinda”. In addition, do you care to explain the last five idol WGWG winners based on your own thesis above though?

      • DId I even put the weight as an issue here? I thought Ann, the original commenter, pointed that out. I was just responding to Stan who named Adele as a rebuttal to Ann’s POV. Adele is irrelevant to this argument since she wasn’t becoming famous because she won any of the talent shows. Pay attention to the thread when you are replying.

  19. Nancy is correct.. every episode leading up to the final judges eliminations, the really good male singers were being eliminated. Keeping those like the studderer kid…. I couldn’t separate who I was more mad at, Nikki for her foul mouth, or the elimination of good singers.

  20. This is true. The judges are overrating Amber Holcomb. If I may speak freely, and npt everyone will agree with me, Janelle Arthur, and Curtis Finch Jr. are better than her.

  21. Hi Branden,

    Thank you for your comments which seem pretty accurate to me. As you say, there is always some sort of manipulation going on, and in years gone by the judges have gone on in an embarrassing way to try to push their view. Someone here said that J Lo had it in for Haley – yes, that’s for sure.

    The Amber push is also embarrassing and yes, rude when they went on and on and should have been talking about Candice.

    I question their tactics though, with adding the votes from last week as surely this will be a problem for Amber. Of course, Candice could be the one they are gunning for. Anyway, I always enjoy your articles and the other fellows too. Thank you,

    Warm Regards

    Julie from Australia.

  22. I like Amber a lot, especially when she channels Natalie Cole. But the votes have shown that white teenage girls don’t vote for black girls or guys very often and certainly not anyone who is overweight or too cute. Angie has become more and more real and not a beauty queen pageant singer, but still I think Kree would put on the best all-around show.

  23. This will be my last season of American Idol. The reason why The Voice is kicking Idols butt, the
    judging is much more realistic, and the chemistry between them is very appealing. Plus, all the
    contestants are very VERY talented. No need to sway any voters to hear
    something that isn’t there. Trust me, with Bose surround sound system, I
    can hear exactly what these girls sound like.
    Last week, Angie and Candice were tied for first, with Kree and Amber already on their way out.
    the public voting,(and who is that really?) Had Angie and Kree top two.
    So this week the judges set out to discredit Angie and Kree, to sway
    the votes to Candice, and Amber. They have an obvious prejudice towards
    Amber, who IMO is a Beyonce wanna-be, without the talent. Candice has
    the most powerful, pitch perfect voice of the four, but the 10 to 14 yr
    old voting will never vote for candice, or buy any of her cds.
    Tonight, IMO was Candice’s night. Though someone should have went home last week, AI
    decided they needed to milk the call in 99c per vote cow for another week. Angie did a great
    job as well, but the Amber leaning judges disrespected, and down right ridiculed her after her
    performances, as well as Krees. But gave standing Os to Ambers very pitchy performances.
    This will be my last Idol season, they have disrespected the fans of this show, by blatantly
    attempting to manipulate the public, as if we are all tone deaf out here, and they are the only
    ones who know. The attitude of “are you gonna believe us professionals, or those lying ears
    of yours?” Is a condescending, and disrespectful way to treat faithful AI fans.
    Honest results, and total vote tabulation should have Angie and Candice still tied at #1, Kree
    slightly further behind, and Amber going home.

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