The early word on the upcoming 10th season of "American Idol" is that this time, for real, the focus will be squarely on the singers and their path to potential stardom.
The news about the changes you can expect when the show premieres in two weeks has been leaking out over the past week. So far, we've learned about everything from a new set and musical director to a sudden-death voting round, the return of the "Idol" house for finalists and the elimination of gender parity.
And while producers want you to know that this season will be less about the bickering, flirting and verbal strafing from the judges' panel, in the first go-round without iconic judge Simon Cowell and following the departure of Ellen DeGeneres and Kara DioGuardi, you can be sure early attention will be paid to the new judges at the table.
When sole returning musical adjudicator Randy Jackson sat down with his new cohorts, Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler and actress/vocalist Jennifer Lopez, for an Entertainment Weekly cover story, the trio promised that they're pitching in on the most radical overhaul in the show's history.
"We definitely miss [Simon], but it's a different kind of vibe. It's a different kind of energy now. And I think in season 10 the show actually really needed it," Jackson said. "It's not about replacing him or any of the others: Paula, Ellen, Kara, anybody else. People have been saying to us, 'Who's mean?' We've all traded off on that because I think you have to always give people the truth, no matter what."
Even though they've only had a few months to build the kind of rapport that Jackson developed over nine seasons with Cowell, Lopez said this judging panel will have a very different energy than the ones in the past. Whereas the other judges and the audience used to look to Cowell for the definitive word on performances, former judge Paula Abdul for the wacky comedy and Jackson for the catchphrase platitudes, the "Jenny From the Block" singer said this group is more of a team.
"We're more of a collaborative judging group," she said in excerpts of the cover story released on Thursday (January 6). "We're always leaning over to each other and saying, 'Oh my God, I think she's good.' 'Oof, I don't get it.' 'You don't like it?' I mean, not in a way where it becomes disrespectful to [the contestant's] moment, but we discuss things. We just have a totally different style than any of the past judging tables."
With criticism from Kid Rock and other peers about the seemingly out-of-character choice to join the reality show, rock icon Tyler has already suffered the slings and arrows of "Idol" criticism before the first audition footage has even aired. But the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer brushed it off and said he's already found some truly impressive talent.
"It's just astounding," he said. "We throw the drift net out and look what comes up? Gold. [I'm] crying, honestly, from someone who hit the notes so sweetly and beautifully, not just that it's the end of the day and thank God this mother----er is the last one. Not that."
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