American Idol is set to kick off its 13th season with a two day premiere on January 15th and 16th, but this is not the same American Idol of old. Viewers who have turned their backs on the program are promised to fall in love with the show once again.
The past few seasons, American Idol was subject to scrutiny and ridicule by viewers. The audience was vocal in its collective opinion that the show has long been losing steam. Season XII was overshadowed by bickering between first-time judges Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey. Additionally there was widespread disappointment professed by viewers who grew tired of what they saw as a lack of constructive criticism of the performers, bullying in the form of mockery of contestants in the bad audition reel, and what many parents felt as material inappropriate for children.
Visibly unhappy with her role on American Idol, Carey provided more entertaining critique of the show than she did of the contestants. Carey said that working on American Idol was “like going to work every day in hell with Satan…I thought it was going to be a three-person panel.”
Originally slated to include Randy Jackson, Keith Urban and Carey, American Idol producers ultimately brought in Nicki Minaj as a 4th judge.
It seems as the powers that be of American Idol have done a great deal of soul searching. It was clear that what took place last year was simply not working so they set about to make a change for the better. Looking to rebrand the show, American Idol has signed music industry legend and icon, Harry Connick Jr.
Connick was quick to respond to Carey’s comment by tweeting directly at the star, “Must’ve been hard to judge in hell X( ...Idol XIII: welcome to heaven .” Connick was sure to tag Season XIII judges Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and host Ryan Seacrest in the tweet. That was perhaps a glimpse into the new judge’s quick witted personality and his willingness to say what he feels needs to be said.
During a private screening of Idol’s season premiere, viewers who have become known as the American Idol Tweethearts received a first-hand account of what Connick brings to the table. He is funny, critical, entertaining and helpful to the contestants.
“We’re laughing at the right stuff,” Connicks said referring to the critiques of the contestants. “We’re laughing at the things that are funny, never laugh at the contestants…it’s a great environment!”
Connick’s presence also gives a new depth to the two veteran idol judges.
Jennifer Lopez, more affectionately known by her fans as J-Lo, was beloved by American Idol fans for her nurturing nature in her previous judging stint. Producers knew that she would be well-received as they built this year’s judging panel. J-Lo was able to give constructive criticism while not falling into the trap of coddling. Coddling was one of the chief complaints of those critical of Mariah Carey as an idol judge who seemed to love each and everyone’s performance.
Award winning country artist Keith Urban was viewed as a little “bland and boring” during Season XII. Urban appeared to fade into the background to the ongoing drama of Minaj and Carey that took over the show. But with the developing “bromance” between Connick and Urban, viewers will see a different side of him that is alive, comical and independently opinionated.
Idol viewers will find the chemistry with all the judges, and host Ryan Seacrest, to be much more refreshing, light-hearted and humorous. Yet, the audience will quickly sense the serious focus on the actual talent at the same time. The back stories of the contestants gives great insight into who they are as people and reminds us all that these kids are just that…kids. They bring us a sense of community in that the kids reaching for the stars night after night in your living room could be your son or daughter, your neighbor’s kid, or one of your kids’ classmates. These glimpses into their home life allow the viewer to become emotionally invested in the contestants as individuals. You want to see them learn, grow and develop as artists. The mentorship that Season XIII’s all-star judging panel brings to the table is a breath of fresh air in that even those who don’t make it through to the next round have still walked away with valuable bits of information that will allow them to continue to grow and improve.
Less emphasis is placed on the poor singers who seem to always be ridiculed while lines are crossed in the name of “entertainment.” Rather this year American Idol has sought to bring back wholesome family viewing pleasures that are sorely lacking in most networks’ primetime lineups these days.
American Idol Season XIII premieres January 15th and 16th on Fox.