The Case Against Kara DioGuardi

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Yeah, we saw Mean Girls, too. Photo: Courtesy of Fox

Last night, Kara DioGuardi — the new American Idol judge, a pop songwriter who’s worked with artists from Céline Dion to Britney Spears — did not devote the usual amount of time to commenting on performances, because the episode, of course, was devoted to revealing the 36 semi-semifinal contestants. That might be why we found her so bearable.

Over the past few weeks, DioGuardi’s revealed herself to be a big fun sponge; her weirdly insecure and stiff manner overshadows the other judges’ endearing wackiness. Take her assessment of Katrina Darrell, the young, er, lady who wore a skimpy bikini to her audition. DioGuardi first made sure that viewers knew she wasn’t threatened by Darrell’s beauty before ripping on her singing. But instead of leaving it at that truth, DioGuardi (who had a brief, unsuccessful singing career before moving on to songwriting) demonstrated how the song should be sung, complete with exaggerated arm movements to show scale changes. Hilariously, Darrell then insulted DioGuardi’s version — and DioGuardi looked genuinely peeved.

Why did DioGuardi feel the need to prove she’s better than a girl wearing a bikini? She acts uncomfortable in her own skin, which in turn makes her uncomfortable to watch. During a classic freak-out, Paula put her hand over DioGuardi’s mouth and pretend kissed her, and DioGuardi looked scared instead of amused. (We might’ve been frightened, too, but come on, DioGuardi’s supposed to be a professional.) In her attempt to be taken seriously, DioGuardi’s become an attention hog of the worst kind, upsetting the balance struck between Simon (a-hole), Randy (goofball), and Paula (out of it). Poor Paula — who, let’s not forget, has been with the show since the beginning — even ran out of the audition room at one point, saying “Okay, I guess my opinion doesn’t matter … sometimes we forget there’s a fourth opinion in this room!” The boys used to make fun of Paula, not ignore her. If DioGuardi can ruin that dynamic, is there hope for anything else on the show?