AMERICAN IDOL: Drama and desperation escalate behind the scenes as the pressure mounts during the intense “Hollywood Rounds” which kick off with the guys, competing on Wednesday, Feb. 6 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) and Thursday, Feb. 7 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT). The girls get their chance to win over the judges beginning Wednesday, Feb. 13 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) ©2013 Fox Broadcasting Co. CR: Michael Becker / FOX.

Entertainment Weekly reveals details of what we can expect in the Hollywood Round that pretty much confirms what we reported back in December.

The boys and girls auditioned separately in Hollywood–well, actually, the auditions took place at the Valley Performance Arts Center in Northridge, CA in mid-December. More at Entertainment Weekly

  • The Hollywood round has 3 parts – a cappella solos, group rounds and solos with the band. “There are kids who’ve walked out of here devastated who could quite legitimately have been in the Top 10 or even more,” said producer, Ken Warwick.
  • For the first time, producers chose the groups.  “Voices — we [arranged the groups] with voices. We did it with the keys that they were in,” said producer, Nigel Lythgoe. “There’s one couple who share a room, and the big guy snores, and the little guy didn’t get any sleep — so we made sure we put them together.” (Pretty certain those roommates were Matheus Fernandes and Gabe Brown.)
  • Each group chose it’s own song from a group of 20. “A lot of them don’t know the songs, which is really important to us,” said Nigel. “Because when you do ‘Music from the Movies,’ normally most of these kids don’t know songs from five years ago. If you’re in a part of the country where the radio stations don’t actually play that kind of music, you’re at a terrible disadvantage. So it’s fascinating.”
  • During the solo round, the kids were instructed NOT to play an instrument unless it was second nature to do so.

A couple more tidbits:

  • Sometimes personality and charisma were the determining factor when whittling down the girls, says Nigel, “It was tougher with the girls, who are all very strong voices,” he said. “With the boys, there were real standouts.”
  • “There are kids who were not in the audition shows who are turning out to be fabulous,” said Ken. “We’re going back and telling the producers, ‘Find out where this kid was standing in the line. Find out where they were in the auditorium, in the football stadium. Dig up that footage. Let’s find out what – because we interview every kid that comes in before the judges – find out where there first interview was, what they’re about, what’s their story, is there a story? Is there not a story?”
  • Also, if the judges were split on a contestant, and it’s someone with a “big story,” Nigel would jump in and fight for the person.  It occasionally becomes a “casting vote” says Ken.  Hm.  I heard that Nigel conferred with the judges quite a bit during Hollywood.  The producers have more of a say in who gets cast than they will ever let on, methinks…
  • The American Idol Hollywood Rounds begin today. The guys compete this week, with a 2 hour episode tonight beginning at 8 pm and a 1 hour episode tomorrow on FOX. It’s the girls’ turn next week.

Hollywood Round Photo Gallery

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  • sporkle

    “There’s one couple who share a room, and the big guy snores, and the little guy didn’t get any sleep — so we made sure we put them together.

    Yep, classy Nigel as always.

  • http://twitter.com/desireechick Kesia Monteith

    Half of this info does not surprise me in the least. I always have felt the producers meddling more and more each season.

  • fantoo1

    “A lot of them don’t know the songs, which is really important to us,” said Nigel. “Because when you do ‘Music from the Movies,’ normally most of these kids don’t know songs from five years ago. If you’re in a part of the country where the radio stations don’t actually play that kind of music, you’re at a terrible disadvantage. So it’s fascinating.”

    That’s always interesting when that happens. I remember back in Season 10 when a lot of the kids didn’t know any Beatles songs-in later interviews Scotty, Lauren, and Jacob Lusk had all said they didn’t know any Beatles songs. Scotty and Lauren said they only knew “Hello Goodbye” because of a commercial!

    “There are kids who were not in the audition shows who are turning out to be fabulous,”

    Interesting. As expected, there is some great talent we haven’t seen yet.

  • http://twitter.com/RonnieDRocks Ronnie D

    I can’t wait! This is where it really starts to get good :)

  • http://twitter.com/MissGolightly22 No Thanks

    I always prefer the Hollywood week rounds of the auditions. It’s a psychological test as much as a vocal one.  It’s there where you can see who can handle the pressure and who can’t.

  • http://twitter.com/Stooch101 Stooch

    Finally Hollywood rounds, I can start watching seriously.  The auditions are like slow painful death too me :)

  • Incipit

    The producers are bragging about their manipulations now? They don’t even bother with the pretense of ‘anyone can win’…not beyond the commercials, anyway.

    “A lot of them don’t know the songs, which is really important to us,” said Nigel. 

    And this is why TPTB prefers the youngsters for their show – not because the label wants them young…TPTB aren’t into what the label wants ‘after’ the show – it’s for “Good TV’ – it’s easier to screw them over with themes and song choice if the odds are they don’t know the history of the profession they claim to want….and that’s the “important” part.

    Must be so disappointing for them to have a contestant who actually knows their history, and is capable of interpreting music and lyrics from before their time, and giving us a good performance instead of a karaoke turn or a train wreck. ()

    someone with a “big story,” Nigel would jump in and fight for the person.  It occasionally becomes a “casting vote” says Ken.

    So, for anyone who didn’t already know – the judges do not have the last word on who goes through – not when we can have a ‘casting vote’ based on a back story. All these new judges who don’t get that the fix is in – Nigel may have to ‘consult’ with them a lot.()

    “There are kids who’ve walked out of here devastated who could quite legitimately have been in the Top 10 or even more,” said producer, Ken Warwick.

    So they work to set up any possible disadvantage – with artificial conditions that have nothing to do with how well a person can sing, and then brag that good contestants have been eliminated before the audience even had a chance to vote. And these are just the details they feel comfortable sharing. Good Grief.

    Why is it that all this makes me less interested in watching? Because I knew it before, but this blatant, cavalier conversation just makes it even more distasteful.

    IMO. Of Course

  • Anny_nanny

    “Sometimes personality and charisma were the determining factor when whittling down the girls, says Nigel, “It was tougher with the girls, who are all very strong voices,” he said. “With the boys, there were real standouts.””

    I love Nigel! Can I understand it as a fact that girls don’t have interesting personality? Can I hit someone? Ugh!

  • http://twitter.com/MissGolightly22 No Thanks

    I dunno.  I just think after 12 years, the producers know the viewers are hip to the behind the scenes machinations and don’t feel the need to hide it anymore.  And it’s not just AI, but all of these competition shows.  Viewers just know most of it is fake drama for entertainment purposes.

    One would think that after all these years, more contestants would come into the show knowing the game as well.  Some clearly do – David Cook and Adam Lambert played the game like pros.  Many of the contestants come on and just aim for exposure because they know the game is all BS for entertainment purposes.

    Maybe that’s why the producers like them young.  The younger they are the more naive they are.

  • http://twitter.com/desireechick Kesia Monteith

    Yep…That’s mainstream showbiz. A real bitch, eh? ;) 

    Ah well, I can barely care anymore…. 

  • http://twitter.com/tinawinabina Tinawina

    I think what he was trying to say is that so many of the girls were strong singers that it came down to personality when whittling them down.

  • Anny_nanny

    “So they work to set up any possible disadvantage – with artificial
    conditions that have nothing to do with how well a person can sing, and
    then brag that good contestants have been eliminated before the audience
    even had a chance to vote. And these are just the details they feel
    comfortable sharing. Good Grief.”

    I understand your idea. But I see that no one will keep these children after the show in the flask, if they can’t withstand the pressure, stress, and that no one will do the thinking for them and feed them with a spoon, possible this kids must choose other games. This is not a very good business and no one will tell you constantly that you are princess, and if they will, you check your personal account, baby.

  • bannanafish

    I always like Hollywood week, and the groups round behavior very much forms the publics future perception of many contestants. However with the producers micro-managing every single choice, they are going to strip the show of any genuine organic moments. Also the fact that they favor finding contestants with very little music knowlege exasperates me. The shows best moments have always been when contestants pull great songs out of the hat that have never been done on the show before, ala Adam’s “Mad World”, Philips “Volcano” or Kris’ “Falling Slowly”. If you give us 12 kids whose music knowledge extends to songs they’ve heard on American Idol then we are in for a season of “I Will Always Love You”‘s and “Against All Odds” ad nauseum. There should be a written test of music knowledge before anyone gets to see the judges.

  • http://twitter.com/MissGolightly22 No Thanks

     I think a lot of the girls are so self-conscious about how they come off they mute their real personalities.  Maybe guys are more comfortable being themselves.  OR they know they can just fall back on being cute and the voters will swoon.

  • Anny_nanny

    I understand what he says, but I’m tired of canaries to singing at the flick of a finger, I want to girls lets have more a faint voice, but with personality. But they constantly cut off the girls for what easy to forgive for guys. Or in the USA remained only plants-girls. Cristal was alone the exception of for many years. And then when I saw  her poor swaying on heels, I almost burst into tears – she was not thinking about the song, she thought that should not fall all the time.
    Why did they cut out Kezban?

  • tomr

    Personality wasn’t an issue last year in  determining the finalists.  Look who finished first and second.

  • http://twitter.com/MissGolightly22 No Thanks

     ” There should be a written test of music knowledge before anyone gets to see the judges.”

    Actually that would make a fun segment on a result show episode.  Do a quiz show segment on musical knowledge.  But not all of the young ones are that naive.  There have been a handful that know their musical history.

  • Anny_nanny

    Maybe guys understand that the show is not the last chance for them (when they do not understand this we see the frightened DeAndre), may be the guys are self-confident, but where are the girls who know this and that overconfident? Grow whether you girls and boys in different aquariums?
    I know that now a lot of the infantile children, but in the last two seasons on AI I saw Casey, James, Scotty, Paul, Phillip, Colton, HeeJun and only Skayler and Hayley – may be someone else was, but I could not see them.

  • http://twitter.com/MissGolightly22 No Thanks

    Just wanted to say, that even though Idol manipulates their show like crazy, it is still basically a microcosm for the entertainment business.  Things don’t suddenly get “fair” once contestants leave the show.  It’s a thousand times harder, crazier and more manipulative.  So if an Idol can come off of the show more or less in one piece (and hopefully a hell of a lot wiser) then there is hope they can carve out a career post show.

  • http://twitter.com/annmgee Ann Gardner

    Will Peggy Blu be a group vocal coach this year? She’s my favorite.

     I think the mix of young and older contestants,  knowledgable and naive, makes idol great. Would you want to miss that young one who just has “it” and needs some experience and grooming? Or the older and wiser contestant who just needs a break? It takes all kinds. That’s the fun of it, who will make it this year? I like being able to follow it through the season and see who starts to hold my attention and who I end up voting for. 

  • http://twitter.com/tinawinabina Tinawina

    I dunno, last year I thought there was personality on the girl’s side. Skylar, Elise and Hollie were full of personality, to me anyway. The year before we had Lauren, Haley and Naima, and others in the semis.

  • http://twitter.com/MissGolightly22 No Thanks

     I always find the girls FAR more sparkly and charming AFTER their Idol runs when the pressure is off.  There are very few I can think of that were exactly like they were during their Idol runs.  I would put Kelly Clarkson and Fantasia in that category.  They were true to themselves, warts and all.  Carrie too in her low key way.

  • Tom22

    Well, I didn’t think anyone was still naive enough 12 years in to think that the judges opinions were the main influence on contestant selection.  I assumed that the producers made the decisions with the “advice” of the judges,  not the other way around…at most as “partners”.   This interview confirms that fairly strongly directly from the mouths of the producer and a senior manager involved.   

    A lot of what was said is pretty confusing… the way it is quoted it almost sounds like Nigel is bragging about trying to trip up the contestants and giggling about how he hazed them but I’m sure I’m reading the quotes out of context : ) .
    While I knew Nigel was intimately involved in the selection, I sort of thought he watched selected tapes and snippets.

    I was really surprised when we saw him right there on camera during that incident with the fire alarm on the Queen Mary .  He was like two steps away and walked right up to the judges and assumed (continued) directing how things would flow.  The idea that he sits there and breaks tie breakers supports the idea that he’s so hands on… yet also supports the idea that the judges have a bit more say than I thought.  I thought he’d just put a bunch through and let the judges add a few more …. perhaps with notes coming in that the judges had to put certain people through and the show declining to put poor performances of those people on TV.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/XDQP2Y46M5B3OHOKALDDGDHQCM Leandro

    “The producers have more of a say in who gets cast than they will ever let on, methinks…” 

    In other relevant news, the sky is blue.

  • Anny_nanny

    Elise went wrong during the season, she’s a strong singer but a weak person. Her confusion and self-justification broken something inside me every time. As a strong Erika. Erika for me it’s her words and her tears after you select the Top-24 – she has personally, but not the sort of personally of which I spoke above.
    Hollie and Lauren were managed as and Jessica. They are canaries of their season. I’m not saying that they are bad kids, they’re just kids. I don’t remember Naima almost , she was not enough. Hollie struggled, but she was too naive and too frightened, she’s just not found itself yet.

  • http://twitter.com/tinawinabina Tinawina

    That doesn’t sound like you want “personality”, which to me just means someone who doesn’t come across bland or generic when they speak or in the little video packages. You are looking for a specific type of person who is strong in who they are – which is more about character and maturity I think. But it’s all just semantics I suppose. To me, Lauren came on uber confident and flirting with older men while dressing like a grown up pageant kid. LOL. I got a kick out of her, that was certainly not a bland of generic girl IMO.

    Now as the contest went on she got less confident and OTT, and that was about maturity and the contest playing head games on her I think. I agree she, Hollie and Elise were all victims of that same phenomenon.

  • http://twitter.com/MissGolightly22 No Thanks

    I agree, the competition can screw with your head.  And the less mature and confident one is before they show, the more the show can throw you off your game.  And I have no doubt reading Twitter and other social media messes with their heads as well.

    I often wonder what I would do as a contestant. 

    After all these years, I would research the show and the common theme weeks.  I’d familiarize myself with those themes so I wouldn’t be caught off guard.  Especially if I was a younger contestant.  They should know by now golden oldies rule the day.  I’m amazed that some don’t try to familiarize themselves with the classics.  Maybe if they did, they could start thinking of ways they can re-work them to suit their style.

    I would study the typical moves the producers make and work out potential solutions, reactions ahead of time. And mentally prepare myself. I mean, after all these years, Nigel and companies play book hasn’t changed all that much.  Most should see it coming.

    I’d stay away from Twitter, Facebook and message boards.  Or, I’d get a family member to be my gatekeeper there and just allow them to filter through the supportive, positive and constructive comments.

    I dunno.  I know one can easily get swept up in it all but, as I’ve said before, there are examples of Idols who came to the show well prepared and it paid off for them.

  • Incipit

    I see that no one will keep these children after the show in the flask, if they can’t withstand the pressure, stress, and that no one will do the thinking for them and feed them with a spoon, possible this kids must choose other games. This is not a very good business and no one will tell you constantly that you are princess, and if they will, you must check your personal account, baby.

    That ought to be true, Anny_nanny, but the last two years, instead of picking people for the cast who could withstand the stress, or knew about music, and how to survive in the music marketplace,  - the show picked a lot of children, and, in the person of Iovine and the mentors and arrangers, were doing their thinking for many of them, and feeding some of them songs with a spoon, and telling them constantly how wonderful they were – (Standing ovations devalued to mean nothing), or conversely, judges telling some people who did sing well, and did know how to deal without interference that there was something wrong with their performance.

    It all left me with the feeling that this show was in an alternate universe somewhere – where none of the rules applied any longer, and i could not hear what they heard, or vice versa.

    It remains to be seen what this new panel of judges will do or say, besides whatever Nigel wants them to…or what this cast will look like…but there have been no stand outs in the auditions I have seen…and that’s Deja Vu.

    …the way it is quoted it almost sounds like Nigel is bragging about trying to trip up the contestants and giggling about how he hazed them… 

    And Tom22- That’s exactly what is happening. No ‘almost’ about it. Nigel thinks that is good fun (Or Good TV). IMO. Of Course.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/5HGXDY5SA4QJRME7OQJXRJYE4M James M.

    Sometimes personality and charisma were the determining factor when whittling down the girls, says Nigel, “It was tougher with the girls, who are all very strong voices,” he said. “With the boys, there were real standouts.”

    Sad but true. I almost never see stronger personality or charisma in the girls as a whole than I do with the guys. Since S7, it seems like only S9 holds that honor, and that’s because the guys were mostly dull. It was especially noticeable in S7 and S10.

    It also seems to be a determining factor in the past two winners. Now, I really loved Scotty’s voice and his singing, but his personality certainly helped. Phillip wouldn’t have even contended if it were just a singing competition.

  • LeahKittyS

    I love your optimism. I can’t tell you how much it’s lacking on so many Idol message boards.

  • MyDailyComment

    I think that they are saying that you need personality clashes and drama or the whole  show would just be people with good voices singing.

  • Incipit

    I think that they are saying that you need personality clashes and drama or the whole  show would just be people with good voices singing.

    *snerk* Oh, how terrible that would be, like Season 7 – where all the nasty snide comments and mean little digs and cruel toying w/the contestants, and airheaded mistakes and outright mendacity had to come from the judges, because the contestants just wouldn’t step up to the plate and create that “Good TV” for the audience…they were too busy singing for the audience…fancy that.  Thank God for the judges, somebody had to do it. 

    (Maybe)