American Idol isn't doing so well in the ratings. That is to say, by most shows' standards, it's doing phenomenally well, but by Idol's No. 1-all-the-time standards, it's faltering--enough that NBC's rival show The Voice is passing it in the ratings on what's starting to look like a routine basis. The show's also got another, more recent arguable stumble: Jermaine Jones was disqualified in what, depending on your level of cynicism, is either an unplanned disaster or a carefully planned conspiracy. (We're not taking either side. The irony of the show's hand-selected wild card being eliminated, and of the oft-proclaimed "gentle giant" having a violent crime record, is a little too neat, but this is also a legal minefield too risky to just play around with.)
So when MJs Big Blog reports that Lana Del Rey was listed on the audience tickets with slated performers Daughtry and Demi Lovato, it's hard not to see this as a ratings thing. It's not a ridiculous ratings thing, of course. Lana Del Rey's certainly not out of the ordinary for artist bookings, having an album out that sold much better than it could have and came out recently enough that the performance circuit is still open. (Plus, the Idol judges have already dropped her name as a favorable comparison.) And Idol's guest performances are usually pre-taped, which rules out another SNL debacle.
But the thing about that SNL debacle? Lana's appearance on Saturday Night Live tarnished her reputation, even if the publicity meant her sales weren't so tarnished. For NBC, though, it was the second-best telecast for the network's coveted 18-49 age demographic, and the No. 1 show (Kelly Clarkson/Charles Barkley) had a NFL Wild Card show to goose it. Controversial singers draw attention, and Lana certainly qualifies.
At the very least, Idol's top twelve could take plenty of notes from a Lana Del Rey performance. Career-launching notes. Notes on how to sing. Notes on how not to sing. It might be the best feedback they'll ever get on the show!