Part of the problem has been song selection, and the blame for that falls equally on the producers and the contestants. Ever since the fiasco of Showtunes Night last season, the themes have been so open-ended that we're about two weeks away from Songs That Rhyme Night. But when the contestants are left to their own devices, they pick songs that are either not right for their voices, sleep-inducing, or both. This season's Songs of the 21st Century Night was worse than bad --- it was boring.
When you give the contestants a very specific theme, you force them to push against the outer limits of their talents, and you get performances that are either spectacularly awful or ready for the time capsule. Kelly did "Stuff Like That There" on Big Band Night, Clay did "Solitaire" on Neil Sedaka Night, and while "Summertime" came on the relatively unspecific Movie Night, it was a song Fantasia had never heard before. . . .
Again, it's okay if a performance goes bad. Some of the most memorable "Idol" performances have been the out-and-out disasters -- not just freak show auditions like William Hung's, but finals fiascos like John Stevens applying his three-note range to "Crocodile Rock," or Corey Clark sounding like a strangled chicken on "Against All Odds." If you don't give the contestants room to be awful, you probably won't let them be great, either.
This thread is open for this topic, as well as speculation/suggestions for Year You Were Born/Current Hits night.