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Humble Suggestions: The Challenges 'American Idol' Contestants Must Perform

Steven Tyler, Ryan Seacrest, Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson will be back for the new season of American Idol, featuring ... challenges! Michael Becker/Fox hide caption

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Michael Becker/Fox

There's news that one of the format changes on American Idol next season will involve challenges for the contestants. No longer will warbling your way through a warmed-over rendition of something your parents listened to be adequate to earn you a record contract. No, you will have to perform challenges. While visions may dance in your head of perky nineteen-year-old country twangers dangling from their ankles suspended from vines, the challenges will allegedly involve such things as making videos and creating performances with dancers.

This is inadequately ambitious and will not do.

Therefore, it is time for ... Humble Suggestions.

1. Dog-Bothering. In this challenge, a large, friendly dog sits on the stage, lulled into a restful and placid condition by Ryan Seacrest, who will lean down and say, "Who's a good dog? Who's a good dog?" while scratching it behind the ears. The dog should be named Rusty. When Rusty is calm, each contestant will be placed behind a chicken-wire barrier and required to bother Rusty until Rusty gets off and lumbers offstage. Contestants may not use any words (such as "squirrel" or "vet"), but are permitted to use braying, yodeling, shrieking, or any other skills contained on their audition tapes.

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2. Working Retail. Contestants will be expected to demonstrate that they are not fancy; they work regular jobs from which they hope to be rescued by reality television and the power of public acclaim. To this end, all will be expected to operate a basic cash register, restock a shelf of Flintstones vitamins, and accurately explain the difference between "matte" and "glossy."

3. The Rise. This is a seemingly simple challenge that nonetheless frequently has tripped up contestants in the past. The contestant will be assigned to sing "Somewhere Out There," the classic mouse love ballad, and will begin by sitting at the edge of the stage. At the climactic moment in which the final chorus begins, the contestant must smoothly rise to a standing position in such a way that it appears that standing up is something that has happened naturally, rather than something that has happened as a result of being poked from offstage by a large stick.

4. The Glory Note. If you have never heard of the glory note, it is the moment in every Idol performance in which the singer simply throws his head back and hollers as loud and long as possible in an effort to force the audience to applaud appreciatively for the simple reason that the note is still ongoing. (In other words, "That note may not be any good, but what it lacks in quality, it makes up for in its suggestion of the concept of eternity.") In the Glory Note Challenge, every contestant will get most of the way through "The Star-Spangled Banner," and on "land of the freeeee," he or she must stop and continue the note for as long as possible. As each turns purple to the point where a majority of the judging panel is prepared to call the shade "pinot noir," each will be disqualified until only one remains standing, at which point that one will be admitted to the hospital for an immediate lung re-inflation.

5. Dance Like You Can't Hear The Music. If there's one thing Idol contestants are known for, it's not being able to dance. In order to turn that negative into a positive, in this challenge, contestants must complete a dance to Stevie Wonder's "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" in a way that offers absolutely no hint of what song is on. Any grooving, sound-appropriate swaying, or recognizable coordination between the beat and one's "booty" will result in immediate disqualification.