I’d like to hear some L7 or Babes in Toyland

I’m sure you haven’t heard that American Idol returns tonight. I won’t be watching — I’m going to skip the audition phase in the interest of my own sanity (and in the interest of not annoying my girlfriend more than is absolutely necessary).

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MSNBC.com has a funny list of potential Idol theme nights. So of course I have to toss out a few ideas of my own:

1. Make them sing what they know. This would expose the wannabes whose musical knowledge goes only as far back as the Spice Girls or Rascal Flatts. But we’d have to sit through a lot of, um, Rascal Flatts.

2. Include a sight-reading contest. What? Many singers can’t read music, you say? Fine, but doesn’t the public have a right to know who can? Wait: Let’s just change it to a reading contest. Literacy is important.

3. Make Simon show rather than tell. You know you’ve had the same idea: “Let’s hear you do ‘Heat Wave’ without yelling, you big meanie. Oh, and show us your perfect physique while you’re at it.”

4. Let each voted-off loser decide whether to sing or make somebody else sing. Better yet, always make the second-from-the-bottom contestant sing the loser’s song, just to test the theory that “song choice” makes a big difference.

5. Give Paula a really large, really black coffee before the show. I’m just sayin’.

And finally, let the gay ones be gay. (And no, I don’t mean Ryan Seacrest.) Every season, at least one contestant sets off everyone’s gaydar but is (presumably) told to act straight. Let’s make this the year I understand why — other than an utter lack of inspiration — someone chooses to sing Come to My Window. Again.

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