Madonna Fans Rejoice: New Album Due in Spring 2012
Madonna Fans Rejoice: New Album Due in Spring 2012

More reader views on Madge, plus a tribute to Dick Clark, whose 'American Bandstand' helped launch her career.

Ask Billboard is updated every week. As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, sales and airplay, as well as general music musings, to Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S.


Last season, I ran a weekly "Ask Billboard' recap of how my girlfriend, Michelle, and I were faring in our contest to predict the final order of the 2011 "American Idol" hopefuls. (We'd actually both rooted for Lauren Alaina to win after her audition and couldn't complain too much when she finished second to Scotty McCreery).

This season, we decided to forego our weekly competition after Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler left most of our early picks in Hollywood. We thought that David Leathers, Jr. could win the season, perhaps in a final two with Lauren Gray. But, neither even got to the public vote.

Such injustice, however, paled in comparison to Michelle's rage this week when her favorite among the remaining contestants, Colton Dixon, was surprisingly voted out. Perhaps to keep me from starting to wonder why she was such a fan of the singer with much cooler (and more) hair than me, she immediately crafted a rant aimed squarely at the show's judges' apparent favoritism. After they'd used their "save" on Jessica Sanchez the week before but blasted Dixon's creative acoustic take on Earth, Wind & Fire's "September" (one of Michelle's favorite songs), the battle was back on. Not with me, but with Jackson, Lopez and Tyler.

Here's her open letter to the trio.

This year I picked the least offensive top 13 contestant to win "American Idol" because I didn't agree with the other choices we were given. To me, that contestant was Colton Dixon.

Dixon turned out to be very imaginative with his arrangements of the songs he chose, especially "September." I absolutely loved what he presented Wednesday night and how he made that song his own. To my surprise, the judges disliked it horribly.

OK, fine. But, what isn't fine? All season, the judges have had no problem giving standing ovations to Joshua Ledet. How many standing ovations did Dixon receive this season? Hmm, none. He actually seemed a little hurt by that and, in a nice way last week, mentioned that, "Maybe one of these times I may actually get you guys on your feet!" In "surprise," they responded, "We haven't given you a standing ovation?"

Yes, Jackson, Lopez and Tyler should give their opinions. But, this season just feels filled with blatant favoritism. Worst of all, it seems like the judges are trying to sway America's votes to vote how they want, not for what America wants.

When they used their save on Jessica Sanchez, they basically scolded us. "How dare you try to vote off the best singer in the competition. You will not Pia-Toscano us this year! We were prepared this time, America!"

It's one thing when the judge is Kara DioGuardi, a songwriter, not a superstar recognized as the face who's sold millions of albums and who could easily sway voter opinion. But, viewers are much more likely to listen to a celebrity like Lopez, whom they might've long admired. Remember, they are celebrities who get paid millions of dollars in endorsements to sway public opinion on various products (i.e., Coca-Cola, Cover Girl, Fiat). As judges, they shouldn't abuse such power to overinfluence who ultimately wins the competition.

Jackon, Lopez and Tyler should be ashamed. I feel bad for Dixon and think that they've displayed bad behavior! Naughty judges!

But, it's not fair to criticize unless I offer a solution, one actually that will take the bias out of their responses while still allowing them their favorite show of support: as punishment, "Idol" producers should take away the judges' chairs and make them stand for the entire two hours each Wednesday. Finally, standing ovations for everyone, including the singers *we* like!