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November 01, 2010  | by: Laura Rosenfeld

'American Idol' winner Lee DeWyze at the season nine finale./FOX

It’s hard to believe American Idol will air its 10th season this January on FOX. I have fond memories of watching Kelly Clarkson become our first Idol winner in the summer of 2002. Clarkson singing and barely getting through her winning anthem “A Moment Like This” would become the defining moment of the series and it would create a cultural phenomenon.

The reality singing competition has since taken over the world, but recent seasons have been a little lackluster with winners disappearing into obscurity. Producers are undoubtedly eager to revive the series with its upcoming 10th season.

Two promos for season 10 premiered during this year’s World Series. Instead of previewing the hilariously uncomfortable bad auditions or highlighting some of the amazing talent we can expect from this season, the promos focus on the past. They showcase the past nine winners, from season one’s Clarkson to the current reigning champ Lee DeWyze.

The obvious move would have been to hype the new changes to the show, like new judges Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez, but the promos definitely still set that tone. The promos show where Idol has been with the past winners montage, but suggest where the show will be headed this year. Even though there are changes to the show’s old formula, the promos show that Idol is still about making superstars and making dreams come true.

Seeing images of all the past winners from when they were on the show to who they are today gave me a sense of nostalgia. Unfortunately, it also underscored, to me, the decline of the series over the years. Idol hasn’t produced a major superstar since Carrie Underwood back in 2005. It will be difficult for Idol to maintain the public’s interest when the basic premise of the show is turning ordinary young Americans into extraordinary music stars.

On the one hand, I think Idol desperately needs to be revived, but on the other, I’m not so sure the audience will be very receptive to the new changes producers are making to the series this season. Along with the new judges, Idol will also be more focused on crafting contestants’ professional personas. This means fewer themed nights to try to make contestants sing out of their comfort zones and more of a showcase for the kind of singer they want to be.

Idol doesn’t need to concentrate on the star-making process to make us love the show again. The secret to an entertaining show is entertaining people. Not only does Idol need contestants who are very talented singers, but they need contestants who can perform. In order for us to believe you’re a superstar, you need to act like one onstage.

Are you going to watch the new season of Idol? Do you think Idol will make it to season 20?

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