The buzz is long off American Idol, but allow me to gripe about a few things I wish the producers would note:
* Kill the mosh pit. If the tweeners there can't coordinate their hand-waving and clapping to the beat, then it's just a big visual distraction -- and another embarrassing reminder of how nobody involved in this show seems to know a thing about music.
* Force the judges to come up with new things to say. Even Simon's comments don't feel constructive anymore. If the judges are that bored, then get a new batch. Or, at least bring back the guest judges. Not the hacks, but a slate of interesting, funny and ideally, unpredictable, people. Shake it up: Adam Curry for '80s night, Trace Adkins for country night (that dude is funny as shit) -- or vice versa! What about non-musical people with too many opinions: Chris Matthews, Bill Maher, Rosie O'Donnell. Hell, troll the blogs and bring in a few of the funniest writers. Make it a contest for fans and fly in One Lucky Winner.
* If there must be theme nights, make them interesting. The combo pack of Dolly Parton, Mariah Carey, Andrew Lloyd Weber and Neil Diamond was like an AARP cruise ship from hell. The best theme nights offer both a wide range of song options and lots of opportunity for disaster and sublime transcendence.
* In the spirit of lame clip-shows, below are some of the highlights and lowlights of this season. But let's face it: Those of us over 14 watch this show as much for the horrible bits as the genuinely entertaining bits, so best vs. worst is a pretty fluid criterion.
* Chiksesie going crazy mental on "She's a Woman" on Lennon/McCartney night.
* The world's scariest, angriest version of Lionel Richie's "Hello" from David Cook.
* Paula bleating to David Archuelta after he sang "Imagine": "You are ridiculous, I want to just squish you, squeeze your head off and dangle you from my rearview mirror."
* Learning in one of those idiotic about-the-contestants tapes that biker-nurse Amanda managed to burn down a backyard pool.
* Marveling that AI won't cop to David Hernandez being outed as a male stripper at -- ahem -- Dick's Lounge, even when it's "My Most Embarrassing Moment" week. But as David belts through "It's All Coming Back to Me," a live mike catches Simon snarking: "I'd like to see him strip to that."
* In a relatively tame season of Paula-isms, we got this baffling keeper following Michael Johns' performance of "Dream On" -- "I thought my Chihuahuas were going to join you to stage."
* Paula finally going off the rails big time on Neil Diamond night, hearing songs only in the empty spaces of her own head.
* Andrew Lloyd Webber telling David Cook: "Pretend I'm a 17-year-old girl from the chorus line." Um, no thanks.
* Ryan and Simon, still homo-bashing: Can't these guys get a room?
* Simon telling Carly she horribly dressed. OK, it's true, but ouch. The look on her face -- every woman's been there. And this on Dolly Parton night that celebrated one of the most successful worst dressers of all time. And nobody carps that the guys come out every week looking like they're waiting for the bus ...
* Son of Idol Gives Back. Didn't even tune in.
* Luke doing "Killer Queen" on '70s night. Luke doing "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" on '80s night. Later, missing Luke when it got so dull.
* Kristy Lee Cook's C&W version of "Eight Days a Week" on Lennon/McCartney night. Bonus points for her confusion at judge's unanimous dislike of her rendition: "You told me to go country."
* Brooke trading on that starting-over stuff, her other signature move besides pouting and over-thanking the judges. Does this technique wok if you're not a winsome blonde?
* The Double-Bob Night with Jason Castro. Would have been bad during auditions but was jaw-dropping in the Final Four.
* The new star-spangled Coke cups the judges drink from. USA! USA!
* And finally, the other 55 minutes of the hour-long results show. I don't watch 'em, but even in fast-forward, it all looks dreadful.