Let me start by saying that I don't watch American Idol, in fact, I think I'm the only person who has never seen the program. I have seen clips when there is some controversy as there seems to be now.
These shows that depend on audience participation in the form of votes are more popularity contests than talent shows. From what I heard today, one of the performers seems to have no talent but is being returned each week because of viewer votes.
This is similar to what has happened and seems to be happening now on Dancing With the Stars which I do watch. About two seasons ago, a rapper came back for several weeks even though he could not dance, nor did he seem to have an interest in dancing. He was so bad, he would have made me (who has no rhythm) look like a fantastic dancer. It looks like this season will be the same. I have nothing against Billy Ray Cyrus, but he was not as good as Paulina Porizkova who the judges added class and grace to the show. I guess she's not as well known as Billy Ray Cyrus.
Some commentators have said the controversy adds to the show and will get people to watch. I think they're wrong.
Let's call these shows what they really are - popularity contests with no regard for talent. If they want to emphasize talent, listen to the judges. If they must include the audience, let their vote count for a fraction of the judges' vote. Then we'll really know who is the most talented newcomer or best dancer.