American Idol Season 13 Adds 'Hollywood or Home' Twist, More New Songs, Broader Themes

American Idol Season 13 ChangesAmerican Idol wannabes who score coveted Golden Tickets at their auditions will face an additional hurdle in Season 13 of Fox’s veteran singing competition.

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In a new round called “Hollywood or Home” and airing on Feb. 5 — three weeks after the show’s Jan. 15 premiere date — before the hopefuls even have a chance to unpack their bags, some of them will be called in front of the judges to perform solo numbers. What they accomplish there (or don’t) will determine whether they continue on to Hell Week or go directly to the airport with a parting gift of shattered dreams.

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Idol held court Monday at the Television Critics Association winter press tour. Here are some highlights:

* Explaining her decision to return as a judge, Jennifer Lopez said her original intention during her first tour with the show was just to stay for a single season. “When they asked me back this year, the decision was just as difficult because of the time frame,” given Lopez’s other projects including producing ABC Family’s The Fosters. “But somehow we were able to [work out scheduling].” She added: “I love coming to work every day which is why I’m back. … I am lucky enough to sit between two people [Keith Urban and Harry Connick Jr.] who I respect and have a good time with.”

* Detailing ex-judge Randy Jackson‘s new role as mentor, executive producer Trish Kinane previewed a two-day, yet-to-be-named Idol element that is a “sort of Randy Jackson workshop” “where the kids go through a series of education, where they can discover things about themselves or we can teach them things.”

* All told, Kinane promised “lots of freshening changes,” from start to finish. “We examined how we find that talent. We took our talent search out [via a bus tour]…. We have a new element called The Chamber… where they’re on their own [with Ryan] to collect themselves [before seeing the judges]…. We condensed the middle rounds into one week and we’re calling it Rush Week,” a revamped semifinals in which viewer votes will narrow the field of 15 women and 15 men down to 13 finalists. That said, however, “It’s still absolutely American Idol.”

* New judge Harry Connick Jr. may prove to be the truth-teller Idol and its ilk desperately need. He related tales of how, as a viewer of the series, he is prone to shout at his TV, “That kid can’t sing!” And, in perhaps more diplomatic terms, he aims to do the same as a legit panelist. “If somebody can’t sing,” he said, “they need to go home.”

* In news that will make TVLine’s Michael Slezak happy, Kinane confirmed that Idol has “expanded the song list” from which singers can choose, offering up “many more contemporary songs.” But with that comes a modification to the show’s hallmark theme weeks. “We’re going to work differently with the themes,” said EP Per Blankens. “We have a new approach … where we try to get songs they can really relate to and pick from.”

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26 Comments
  1. Larc says:

    Likely story that JLo had to find the time in her schedule. She was scratching and clawing to get back in front of the Idol cameras so she could pimp herself and try to pump some juice back into her faltering career. Well, that and the grossly excessive salary FOX/Idol are squandering on her.

    • Timmah says:

      I have no clue why they brought her back. I thought everyone pretty much hated her the first go-round.

      • Stormy says:

        I loved her, still do.

      • Jase says:

        She was better than Mariah. That’s the only good thing I can say about her tenure on the show.

      • marc says:

        IKR! I can’t believe they’re paying her $17.5 million to come back. And for her to suggest it was a difficult decision is insulting. Getting that kind of money to promote yourself and your sh-tty music?!?! Difficult decision, my derriere! Give me an effing break. That’s why I won’t be watching, can’t stand her.

    • hmmmmmmmmmmmm says:

      I’ll take J-Lo on the judges panel over Nikki and/or Mariah any day. Just don’t let her on stage please. Having Keith back and Harry on the panel will be great. Excited about the show for the first time in years. I think it will be much better than last year.

  2. Fernanda says:

    could be Idol last season?

  3. WitchyWoman says:

    Please tell me that someone finally had the nerve to tell Jimmy Iovine that as a TV personality he makes a great record exec.

  4. Kim R says:

    They lost me as a viewer after Haley-gate. I would really like to watch again and just want to see “agenda free” judging. We’ll see.

    • WitchyWoman says:

      I’m still angry about the blatant attempt at vote suppression by unfairly slamming Haley so that they could engineer a country singer win.

    • HTGR says:

      +1 and bringing back Randy AND JLo again was the last straw for me. When they said Nigel was gone and they were changing things and going back to the past I had hope. Then when it turned out they simply meant having Randy replace Iovine and bringing JLo back, haha, yeah, not happening. Not watching this season.
      .
      How the heck does bring back the two who played the biggest part into turning the show into a 100% blatant over the top agenda-riddled show ‘fix’ Idol? This is what sent it on the steep downward spiral. The ratings had a sudden drop for the finale that season and have bled ever more ever since. Silly me thinking for a second there that they actually got it. I mean maybe what they are doing works for the core of the remaining audience but I sure don’t see how it brings back the more diverse audience they originally had. Seems it just pokes the extended audience in the eye.
      .
      “And with Randy a special bit “where the kids go through a series of education, where they can discover things about themselves or we can teach them things.””
      .
      Yes such things as if you have the best performance of the night then you are the most deserving to go home. Or how to become a total sellout of a tool for money.

      • elr says:

        THIS! to the nth degree. If I could I would like your comment about a million times. I was so happy to hear that Randy was leaving the show and I was all set to watch again, even though I was mad that they brought back Lopez, but then to find out he will be a mentor NO! NO! NO! That’s it for me once and for all.

  5. Chablis says:

    Still not changing the voting . Need to follow DWTS model.

    • Stormy says:

      I absolutely agree. The fanatic who power votes 10K times is skewing the results to the detriment of more worthy talents. I realize Idol is in bed with AT&T, but that’s heartbreaking for kids trying to break into show business.

    • Alienate says:

      So true. 50 votes per device is more than ample.

    • HTGR says:

      yeah and this too. Basically the two big problems the agenda nonsense (JLo and Randy can not be back if they were serious in that regard) and the voting are the only two things the don’t fix. great.

  6. james says:

    I hope they don’t lose the themes. Seeing someone like David Cook take something from Mariah week and make his own version is still my favorite part of the show. It’s not the themes that are the problem…it’s the fact that they were so tired and old.

  7. Shroom says:

    Oh no! Does that mean no more “Songs that were No.1 when your mommy and daddy were doing it” or “Barry Manilow” or “Paul anka sings the blues” or something else equally relevant today theme nights? That does it, I’m going to watch reruns of Paula Abdul being a “judge”.

    • Stormy says:

      IMO the tired themes reflect the sad state of current music. Auto tuned singers performing hack pop tunes that need to cover up a less than stellar vocal rather than well written music that showcases a worthy voice is the order of the day. With a few exceptions [Adele etc.] most music today is schlock. For the most part the show has to go back to the 80s or earlier to find memorable music.

    • ChellemaBelle says:

      Just no more Burt Bacharach please. It was charming the first season that they did it. But seriously? Can they not find other songs? Get current bands or ones that are just now breaking (last spring it would have been Alabama Shakes) and get something that actually sounds relatively modern.

  8. waffles says:

    Saying J.Lo is better than Mariah is like saying the flu is better than measles. I wish J.Lo (and Randy for that matter) had never come back but I’m still looking forward to this season. The Voice and X Factor aren’t nearly as fun to watch as Idol.

    • joey says:

      Very well put. The last time J Lo was a judge, she seemed to be there to jump start her own lagging career. I’m happy with Keith Urban and Harry Connick as judges, however.

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