I was once a very passionate American Idol watcher. I loved the idea of a national talent search that showed the entire process from awkward auditions to painful contestant elimination rounds to the wonder of “Hollywood Week.” My interest in the show began to fade around Season 5, mostly because the front runner of the show completely annoyed me. It happens. I returned for Season 6 but just could not get over the Sanjaya situation. Season 8 I watched the final couple of weeks, but only because of Adam Lambert. Wow.
Then American Idol and I stopped seeing each other.
It might have had something to do with the shift in the judges. With the addition of Kara DioGuardi as a judge for Season 8 there were four judges and that was exhausting. Season 9 had Ellen DeGeneres and no Paula Abdul. While Ellen was a cool energy to have on the show, it wasn’t enough to have me tune in. Then, the unthinkable happened, Simon Cowell left the show.
How could there be an American Idol without Simon Cowell? Not in my house.
I laughed when it was announced the new judges joining Randy Jackson for Season 10 were Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler. I watched an episode to verify my assumptions and yup, the judging was a mess. I started to feel sorry for the contestants on the show.
Seasons 11, 12? Nope. With a judging panel of Randy Jackson, Mariah Carey, Keith Urban, and Nicki Minaj for Season 12, I just could NOT do it. No way. Turns out I wasn’t the only one. The ratings for Season 12 were down 23% from 2012. The LA Times says the show lost fans because of the tone of the show and because of “the animosity between superstars Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey.”
Here we are, Season 13 and suddenly I’m having feelings about American Idol again. Suddenly I am doing things like reading up on contestants and watching Hollywood Week and last night I knew it was serious because I SET MY DVR FOR A SEASON PASS. So what changed? What brought a cranky, no thank you, not interested, gal like me back?
No More Mean Audition Coverage
One of the aspects of past seasons that always drove me bonkers was when they would show clearly unstable people during the auditions. Sure, some folks were just being silly or trying to get on TV, but some folks were unhinged. If the unhinged folks were met with kindness I may have let it slide, but almost in every case they were made fun of either to their face or behind their backs. It was horrible and cruel. I am thrilled that the show has stepped away from this and opted to spotlight people who were seriously giving their all.
You Can Vote at the Start of the Show Now
One of the things that has changed is when you can vote. Before you always had to wait until the show was over to do it, but according to Deadline, who spoke to Per Blankens, one of the new Executive Producers of American Idol, you will soon be able to vote at the start of the show.
Jennifer Lopez Found Her Groove as a Judge
I found J. Lo to be a bit too timid when she was a judge in earlier seasons. So far this season, she has been just the right combination of helpful, generous, and honest. You can tell she doesn’t want to upset contestants, but she has figured out how to deliver her notes firmly and well.
The Director Used to Direct Solid Gold
Louis J. Horvitz, the director of American Idol, has some AMAZING ideas for making this show more experience-driven and it all starts with cameras. His plan is to have as many as 18 cameras going and use a 16:9 framing. He says, “When you use the cinematic frame, it really draws the people at home into the show. The focus is to get everybody to watch the show not as a rock concert but for the narrative, which is the contestants — give the audience as much information about the contestants as we possibly can in every single area.”
All New Show Stuff
This Tuesday a brand new American Idol set will be revealed during the live show. Baz Halpin, the set designer, told The Hollywood Reporter, “We wanted to capture that immersive feeling and really heighten the sense for the performers as well. We have a lounge area where the other contestants will all be seated watching their co-contestants perform, so there’s that extra sense of pressure. We wanted to create multiple areas where performances could take place. The ‘B’ stage area [helps us] to change … what our background is, what we’re looking at. It really helps us to open up the room.”
Harry Connick, Jr. Is a New Judge
Oh. Hi. I am very happy about this. I have nothing more to say. There really is nothing more to say. Just. Hi Harry. So glad you are here.
Harry and Keith Urban’s Chemistry
You remember how Paula and Simon had this weird banter and awkward playfulness during their shows? Harry and Keith are the opposite of this. These guys seem like genuine pals who build off of each other. I am really looking forward to more interaction between them. I never really gave Keith any attention before, but seeing him get giddy with Harry over a contestant is pretty adorable.
ALL THE GUITAR
This is the first year that contestants were able to audition with guitars. This year I am looking forward to a very new flavor of performer — especially since a totally different kind of performer was courted.
The Contestants ARE GOOD
Right now the judges have narrowed it down to 31 contestants. There are 15 girls and 16 boys. This number will swiftly change next week as the very first America’s vote happened and the results will be revealed on Tuesday, February 18th. The judges could not decide between two male contestants: Ben Briley and Neco Starr.
I have been completely amazed by so many performances and for the first time in ages I am swept up, EMOTIONALLY, in these kids. Because we’re getting a chance to become emotionally invested in the stories of the contestants, it made it all the more powerful when M.K. Nobilette became the first openly gay contestant on the show. M.K. has made it to the Top 30 along with Malaya Watson who is an early favorite of mine. Oh boy did she bring on the weeps. She is 16 years old and seems to know who she is so clearly. It is inspiring.
Watch Malaya Watson Perform and Find out That She Made Top 30:
Image Credit: American Idol on Instagram
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