American Idol’s long-anticipated live announcement of judges was filled with technical difficulties, but the verdict is finally in: Randy Jackson will be joined by Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez to judge Season 10 of American Idol.
Following the announcement, a full panel gathered for a press conference to answer questions from the media regarding this season sans Simon. Here’s what they had to say.
Randy, looking more trim and fit than ever and sporting a new mustache, emphasized that Idol is not looking to replace Simon, but instead is looking to find the best American Idol ever.
Again alluding to Simon’s absence, Lopez asserted that she doesn’t believe in tough love or being cruel, but that a message can be conveyed in a nicer way. Paula Abdul should be happy to hear that.
When asked why she decided to join American Idol, J.Lo said her career has always been one of evolution and change, and that it “felt like the right thing at the right time.” She has high expectations of Season 10, saying that she is looking to find the next Michael Jackson. Good luck with that.
She is also happy to be settling down for at least six months in L.A. with husband Marc Anthony and their children.
Steven Tyler (aside from seeming hard of hearing, asking more than a few times that questions be repeated) had some encouraging words for long-time American Idol fans. He is looking for talented performers who are more than “shoe gazers”-his term for someone who just stands behind a microphone and sings. He is also looking forward to living vicariously through the new, young talent.
When asked how his Aerosmith bandmates feel about his joining Idol, he said their 40-year marriage has had its ups and downs. “They were jealous at first because they heard about it from the press and not me.” But he was quick to add that just four months ago the band was looking for a new lead singer.
Returning to the helm is Nigel Lythgoe, who was busy with So You Think You Can Dance for the past __ seasons. He made several bold statements about the format of the show. First, they don’t want the judges worrying about ratings (i.e. on-screen drama for drama’s sake), but rather they should be focused on the talent before them.
Second, a huge change from seasons past is the weekly theme format. No longer will they have “the country singer do rock, or the rock singer do folk.” They are looking at a more serious, nurturing side of the music industry, where talent is guided and coached to “develop what they are good at”-just like the music business really works.
Third, when asked if Season 10 would include guest judges, his response was that they have a panel of judges they like and feel will work well, and it is not in the plan to have guest judges or mentors this year. However, if an opportunity presented itself that would add to the show and talent, they would be open to that. Remember that Nigel never liked the idea of guest judges in the past, and was very vocal about his dislike of the four-judge panel.
Co-creator Ken Warwick reiterated that they are not looking for singers to just stand behind a microphone or hide behind a guitar week after week (ahem, Casey James). They are truly looking to find and develop an artist whose growth will be apparent to the audience week after week. Warwick’s belief has always been that “Idol is not a destination but a journey” and he intends to bring that journey to the show.
The other major change on American Idol this year is the addition of Jimmy Iovine in the role of “music czar.” Iovine is the chairman of Interscope Geffen A&M Records. His plan is to help the musicians move along each week through better guidance. With the help of producers Timbaland and Polow Da Don, he actually plans on working with the contestants to improve their performance, style and originality. Wow, what a concept!
As mentioned above, there will be no more guest judges or mentors, as Jimmy Iovine will serve as the “resident mentor.” The panel also stated that the judges will have more input and interaction with the contestants, as well. Instead of just telling them “you sounded better last week” they are going to actually be able to provide more direction on how performances can be improved.
While the questions from the media kept leading back to how Idol Season 10 is going to be different from past seasons, Iovine talked about how everyone seems to be hung up on things being the same. He went on to say that, like other great shows, Idol is evolving into something better.
Lythgoe concurred that the dynamics of past seasons worked and alluded to the old adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” This season provides “the opportunity to recreate the magic we started with.”
I’ll admit I was growing tired of the seemingly endless drama over the summer over who would be the new judges on American Idol in Season 10. However, after watching the live announcement and press conference, my excitement for Idol is renewed. I don’t think it will be long before people will be saying, “Simon who?” Okay, maybe that’s stretching it, but I’m still optimistic.
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