Wanna know why this year’s edition of “American Idol” won’t be as stuck in idle as last season's, even un-Simon-ized? PopcornBiz asked judge Jennifer Lopez, host Ryan Seacrest and producer Nigel Lythgoe for you.
“What this show is about is extracting the people who are really real,” Lopez tells Popcorn Biz. “It's like, 'Are these real performers or is it just somebody who just has a nice voice?' There are a ton of people out there that can sing, by the way, as we learned from touring the country, but that doesn't make them an artist. That doesn't make them someone who has something to say. That doesn't make them somebody who can get up on a stage and perform and give people goosepimples or fascinate people so that they can't take their eyes off of them. It's a lot of different variables.”
"I would say that none of us are quite like any of the other judges that you've seen before," offers Lopez on the roles the much-ballyhooed new panel will play. "So I think it's chemistry. When you put different ingredients together you get different things, and I think that this year we have a style that you haven't seen before."
What does Seacrest think distinguishes the season? “It's the new contestants,” he says. “I think with technology and the access that these kids have had to make their own music, to make their own videos, they're brighter than ever before. They're more poised than they've ever been before."
“We didn't say this yet, but they are some of the most extremely competitive individuals I've ever seen on the show,” reveals Seacrest. “They want to win. They know it's an individual competition. I don't know about sabotage yet – that's an extreme, but they definitely know what the show is about and they know that there is one winner.”
While Lythgoe’s seeing a new breed of wannabe Idols (they’re younger and more country-flavored, by and large, he says), it’s the new mix of judges – Lopez, Steven Tyler and mainstay Randy Jackson – that will jumpstart the season.
“Randy has become very, very positive,” says Lythgoe. “Jennifer actually critiques what's in front of her. She doesn't just throw out glib remarks – she listens. She weighs is it up and then she says how she feels. Then I think with Steven, who doesn't have a bad bone in his body, he finds it very difficult to say 'you suck' to anybody.”
“There isn't a learning curve per se,” he adds, “because Jennifer has watched the show since its inception, so she knows it backwards. With Steven he's just giving his opinion. So they're not playing roles here. They're not playing parts. They're being themselves and giving their opinions. So it's really very simple to do, as long as you remain honest.”
As for any extra grace notes to sweeten “Idol’s sound, Nythgoe’s weighing his options. “I'm not sure I'm going to use any guest judges, to be frank with you,” he says. “We've got an entire record company behind it now with Interscope. We've got Jimmy Iovine and all of his producers – Polo, Timbaland. You've got real professionals here. I don't know why I need anyone else. They'll just get in the way.”