How to Fix the ‘American Idol’ Voting Problem

With Pia Toscano’s exit, the show’s rules clearly need an overhaul

Last Updated: April 8, 2011 @ 9:46 AM

Okay, now this is officially ridiculous. After Naima and Thia were voted off in one fell swoop last week, I asked a simple question: Does "American Idol" have a female problem? There's no longer any question that the highly-rated series does.

For the fifth consecutive time, "American Idol" voters booted off a female contestant Thursday night. When Ryan Seacrest revealed that Pia Toscano had tallied the fewest number of votes, not only were the three judges stunned — Jennifer Lopez even cried — but the in-studio audience nearly revolted, as did an impressive tweeting celebrity peanut gallery of Tom Hanks, Ellen DeGeneres, Snooki and many others.

Also read: Does 'American Idol' Have a Female Problem? Naima and Thia Voted Off

Now, I'm no singer. The last time I attempted karaoke, my voice cracked while singing "Private Eyes" by Hall & Oates. But to my tinny ears, there didn't seem to be many flaws in Pia's game. She's energetic, poised and exceedingly easy on the eyes — but her vocals aren't just a mere add-on, as this clip of her ridiculous vocal range will show. More than any of the remaining nine contestants entering this week, she seemed to have the best shot at capitalizing on her talents in a huge way, or at least seemed like a lock to make it to the bitter end.

But there's no denying anymore that the voting rules need a serious overhaul. It's also beginning to seem obvious that if "American Idol" producers don't fix the problem, they're going to lose a lot of their more sensible viewers. And that's because the voting rules make zero sense.

The rules state that you can vote online up to 50 times via the official "American Idol" website — 50 times! But worse, you can cast unlimited number of votes using text messaging and by phone. These rules are truly remarkable in their stupidity.

Yes, "American Idol" is, in the end, little more than a popularity contest, and there will always be the potential for manipulation due to the potential abuse inherent in voting via phone/text/online. There's no easy fix for either of those issues. But at least allow only one vote per phone number and only one vote per computer (as tracked by IP address).

Or better yet, the show's producers should follow my proposal. Fan voting still occurs in the (blantantly moronic) way it does currently, where some 50 million votes from about 50 screaming teenage girls arrive via text message and other archaic means. But balance this out by soliciting votes from a revolving panel of experts — culled from the voice coaches and producers who help contestants out during the season, perhaps, or just a select group of industry luminaries — whose opinions are heavily weighted, so that the total votes are a 50-50 split between fans and experts. That way "American Idol" can remain a popularity contest but also add in a measure of each competitor's potential bankability.

Regardless, six dudes — including Scotty "Captain Smirk" McCreery — and two women remain. Tune in next Thursday to watch either Lauren or Haley go home.

A quick P.S. here — Iggy Pop was freaking amazing last night. He was so freaking amazing, in fact, that I'll coin a new word to describe the 63-year-old's performance: framazing. I'll say it again: Iggy Pop was framazing last night. That the punk icon seemed to scare the crap out of Jennifer Lopez only ads to the framazingness. Check it out.