Sometimes viewers are told in advance what the following week's theme will be, sometimes not. Trying to guess the week's theme is just as much fun as actually watching. The singers, of course, are always entertaining and enjoyable to watch. And, while we may not always agree with Simon Cowell, he was and is definitely needed, as his words get the contestants to improve. He is not afraid of the truth, and neither should the contestants.
Make no mistake about it. The show is still very good, and the judges give a message to the contestants- and all of us- about how we can learn from our mistakes. But the main reason why ratings have plummented in recent years is because Simon Cowell is no longer on the show. We sometimes need to hear a voice like his, even if we don't agree with it. And what makes this show better than the others is that contestants are not assigned to a team. As a result, the judges are freer and better able to be honest and neutral. This is a much-needed show.
The loss of Randy Jackson is a loss for the show as well. He was neighborly and warm- the kind you'd want to have as a neighbor, just like Mister Rogers. This show is still excellent, but it will never be the same.