American Idol Band Might Be Off Camera

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Entertainment Weekly re-confirms the news broken by The Hollywood Reporter–that Ray Chew has been hired as the new American Idol bandleader.

However there’s a caveat that I personally find a little disturbing. Executive producer Ken Warwick tells EW:

a revamped set this season could relocate the Idol band off camera. “At the moment, the [upper] tier that was where the band was is now going to be audience,” says Warwick. “The plan is that the band will come out when required. There’s going to be a whole new kind of arena feel to the whole proceeding.”

EW notes the last time was off-camera was Season 3. Actually, Rickey Minor was brought on as band leader in Season 4 and persuaded the producers to use live music rather than the backing tracks used the first 3 seasons.

The last time the band was off camera was during the Season 8 Semi-finals. The band backed up the Top 36 from behind a scrim.

I’m wondering if there’s going to be a mixture of backing tracks and live music next year. Maybe UMG executive/Idol mentor, Jimmy Iovine and his army of producers will create tracks for the contestants? Hm.

I want to see the band. I want them front and center, where the contestants can perform and interact with them. The idea isn’t set in stone yet, so there’s still hope.

Oh and this whole new “arena feel” sounds like X-Factor to me…Plus, when the band is off camera? They don’t get paid as much.

 
  • heart2

    I agree..I want to see the band!

  • istersay

    ‘Arena feel’–it does sound like X Factor, I hope all these changes they have planned work out

  • tierbee

    Way to dampen my enthusiasm, Idol. Haha!

  • tierbee

    Of course part of the problem is that Ken Warwick is still there… I’d like HIM to go.

  • karenc

    Hmm, I’m wondering about the backing tracks. There was another article that said the band was doing arrangements already. This fits if the were doing backing tracks but woudn’t make sense if the contestant were picking their own songs and allowed to work with the band to create their own arrangement like they have the past few years.

    If that is what they’re doing I think it’s a step backwards. At least it doesn’t favor the type of contestant I like.

  • tripp_ncwy

    To get an ‘Arena feel’ would’t they have to move to a larger space? I thought the current stage only held a couple of hundred people.

  • Buffynut

    tripp_ncwy:
    12/31/2010 at 11:00 pm
    To get an ‘Arena feel’ would’t they have to move to a larger space? I thought the current stage only held a couple of hundred people.

    500. But it’s a soundstage so they can configure the audience any way they want.
    I like it when the band is on stage. I didn’t even like it when they moved them to above the stage.
    Yes, I agreee. Get rid of Ken Warwick!

  • girlygirl

    bad idea…worse idea if they’re doing this to add dancers. Let’s hope they don’t decide to get rid of the band altogether and go with backing tracks!

  • Ratna12

    I want to see the band. I want them front and center, where the contestants can perform and interact with them. The idea isn’t set in stone yet, so there’s still hope.

    Agree mj, and for me, the band really makes the performance “live” ,
    eventhough I know that the idols are not lip syncing.

  • Buffynut

    Just read your last sentence

    Plus, when the band is off camera? They don’t get paid as much.

    BINGO!

  • emmuzka

    Argh! The whole point of the show is that the music is performed live, and backing tracks damps it down. And when we are talking about television, with a live band they have to *show* a live band for people to keep in mind that it’s live!

    Instead of producing ready arrangements, they should invest in live sound mixing (Adam’s “Crying”, anyone?), because pulling the live band is a step to the wrong direction. For me, it gives a message “If we could get a way with it, we would tweak the singing, too.”

  • tripp_ncwy

    bad idea…worse idea if they’re doing this to add dancers. Let’s hope they don’t decide to get rid of the band altogether and go with backing tracks!

    How are they going to incorporate the music videos in the show?

  • http://www.twilightslo.com Mateja

    I really don’t care about the band – they can be off stage or they can just bring back backing tracks. I see no reason why should they be on stage – leave the stage to the contestants.

  • blkeener

    As a person who has attended a number of idol tapings & rehearsals, I don’t like this. First off, the band was “hidden” last year and at most times the stage felt naked. I want to see real artist, playing real music….and I want those playing to get credit. The band works hard and it really brings life to the stage.

    2nd, I don’t want to be at a taping sitting up top (can you say, boring….). I’m all about the action in the Pit [[p.s. I am ain't swaybots...you can't see in the pit when people sway, it sucks]]

    For those that don’t know, the semi-final rounds up to Top 3 are taped in the same soundroom/stage. Stage 36 to be exact. I’ve been to both a semi-final & Top 12 show….and it’s amazing how they can completely revamp the stage. The semi-final rounds hold about 75 people while Top 12 is about 400.

  • hujinsim

    ertytgjkjl

  • koshka

    Mateja:
    01/01/2011 at 4:09 am
    I really don’t care about the band – they can be off stage or they can just bring back backing tracks. I see no reason why should they be on stage – leave the stage to the contestants.

    I’m kinda with you on this. I don’t care if there is a band or not as long as the songs they are singing are updated. As a viewer I never much paid attention to where the band was unless they were some how interacting with the contestants.

  • TwigLA

    When the band came from behind the scenes it was a huge improvement in the quality of the show. Ditto the switch from backing tracks to live band. Both those factors changed it from karaoke into something more substantial.

    Certainly there have been problems with the live band and backup singers. There have been instances of the band changing tempo, being too loud or too soft, and more than one time when a backup singer completely messed up the contestant’s performance. Some of these can be attributed to the sound mix in the studio and the need for different mixes for the judges and studio audience and broadcast.

    I agree with getting rid of Ken Warwick. Dump Ryan and the swaybots too!

  • http://www.twilightslo.com Mateja

    I’m kinda with you on this. I don’t care if there is a band or not as long as the songs they are singing are updated. As a viewer I never much paid attention to where the band was unless they were some how interacting with the contestants.

    Umm yeah, updated songs. That’s what I want. More current songs and more current sound. I wouldn’t mind if they completely dropped the band and brought those high profile producers to help make good backing tracks.

    I really don’t care about the band. I certainly don’t miss it on the X Factor.

  • chessguy99

    After reading so many complaints the past couple seasons on how the show should be about the contestants; I’m surprised to read the number distraught about the band not being visible. I’d rather have the focus back on the singing.

  • fuzzywuzzy

    I’m wondering if there’s going to be a mixture of backing tracks and live music next year. Maybe UMG executive/Idol mentor, Jimmy Iovine and his army of producers will create tracks for the contestants? Hm.

    I have a feeling that there’s going to be more “influence” (=molding?) from Iovine and other mentors on the contestants before they appear on the live show, and perhaps backing tracks will be part of that (along with bigger staging of performances, like the X-factor?).

    Umm yeah, updated songs. That’s what I want. More current songs and more current sound. I wouldn’t mind if they completely dropped the band and brought those high profile producers to help make good backing tracks.

    If they allowed the contestants to sing more current songs (regardless of the genre), then there might not be such a disconnect between what some Idols do on the show vs. the music that they release post-AI. Better for the Idols in transitioning to the non-AI public (and potentially more $$ for 19/UMG?).

  • koshka

    Umm yeah, updated songs. That’s what I want. More current songs and more current sound.

    Right. Aside from auto tuned vocals.. there is much music that is ‘manufactured’ in the studio. That is one flavor of music. A live band has a hard time replicating current pop music without backtracking. I’d like to see live band or backtracking optional. There would be something odd about putting a country singer with a guitar with backtracking.. just like it is a little odd to put a pop flavored singer on stage with a band “trying” to replicate studio manufactured sounds.

    Band or backtracking.. the bigger issue is the song lists.

  • koshka

    xIf they allowed the contestants to sing more current songs (regardless of the genre), then there might not be such a disconnect between what some Idols do on the show vs. the music that they release post-AI. Better for the Idols in transitioning to the non-AI public (and potentially more $$ for 19/UMG?).

    Another way to look at it would be.. if they were allowed more current songs, viewers might see how the contestant fit in the current music landscape. They might sale more if they fit better with music that is released today rather than music that was released 40 years ago. I think it could be argued either way.

  • Hazehel

    EW notes the last time was off-camera was Season 3. Actually, Rickey Minor was brought on as band leader in Season 4 and persuaded the producers to use live music rather than the backing tracks used the first 3 seasons.

    Well, they did use live band on occasions in Season 1-3.

    Kelly Clarkson – Stuff Like That There
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ccvE0M4MCo

    Fantasia – Crazy Little Thing Called Love
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bCtqxmL5yYA

  • Incipit

    Never liked the band in the rafters – such a disconnect, but If they don’t show the band, they can pay them less -I suppose one wouldn’t think that’s a consideration – seems penny wise and pound foolish. If they are paying less, how do they attract the superior players? But I don’t look for logic there….or the songs performed would have a closer connection to this century.

    What I never appreciated was when the camera focused on the band ‘instead’ of the contestant, when a wide shot would show them, and a tight shot seemed to have ulterior possibilities. With TPTB, there’s always the tinge of agenda.

    Also. Nuke the Mosh Pit and the waving arms from hell.

    IMO. Of Course.

  • Valentin432

    To me, there’s no right or wrong in this matter.
    Some performances might be improved with the band on stage, some others won’t.
    Ideally, that’s an element that will be adapted to every performance.

    BTW, there’s occasionally musician on stage on the X factor and the show uses string sections and choirs a lot more than on idol too (to make it look bigger).

  • Allison

    I really don’t care about the band – they can be off stage or they can just bring back backing tracks. I see no reason why should they be on stage – leave the stage to the contestants.

    I pretty much concur. The band on stage is a distraction at times. I know I enjoyed the unvarnished vocals of the first 3 seasons a lot. Would a live band on every show have made them sound better? I don’t know, but as the band gained prominence on Idol we got less and less of the strong-voiced singers and more quirky types being put through.

    Certainly there have been problems with the live band and backup singers.

    Yes – the backup singers often took over and masked the contestant’s performance. Getting rid of them would be a great thing.

  • Grammie Kari

    Some performances might be improved with the band on stage, some others won’t. Ideally, that’s an element that will be adapted to every performance.

    I was thinking the same thing. Sometimes I liked the interaction between certain contestants and the band. Or a few members on stage with the contestant, but not taking away from the performance. I am looking forward to the a cappella sessions, too.

    I often felt the backup singers didn’t have enough practice with each contestant. At times, they worked. I have no problem with songs from the 20th Century, but that’s JMO.

  • bananafish

    With the band hidden, the whole performance comes across as very karaoke. Singing with a live band seen on stage makes the artist seem a lot more credible. This whole creating an “arena feel” sounds like it will come across very fake, – like the swaybots in the “mosh-pit”. It all seems contrived and doesn’t fool anyone watching.

  • Andy11

    It looks like the producers’ attitude is going to be more “this is the type of artist
    you are going to be” rather than having on people who already have developed their own identity. This is the way generic corporate music works these days and Idol wants to get “relevant” with that again. Too bad IMO.

  • karenc

    I liked the live band, but I do think the backup singers sometimes took away from the performances.

    Andy11 It seems like that to me too. Not just from this but from the other things I’ve heard. I just prefer when the contestants have the freedom they have had the past few years.

  • http://myspace.com/girlgeek mj

    Well, they did use live band on occasions in Season 1-3.

    Yes, occasionally. The Motown band played Season 3, I remember, but even with a live band, they still used backing tracks.

  • ross

    I really don’t care about the band – they can be off stage or they can just bring back backing tracks. I see no reason why should they be on stage – leave the stage to the contestants.

    I’m surprised when I read that people don’t mind backing tracks. To me, a singer, singing live, should be accompanied live. I’m sure you’re aware that a good accompanist or bandleader follows the singer. The arrangement is worked out in advance, of course, but the singer sets the mood and the tempo when performing, and the accompanist or band must follow. A singer shouldn’t have to follow the band – or a pre-recorded backing track. This is indeed no different from karaoke. I know that these days in performance some backing tracks are used in order to recreate the sound of the performer’s recordings. This is understandable, but for the most part I think singing to a track is to be avoided if possible. And if you ask any singer what they prefer, I’m sure the answer would be that they prefer live accompaniment to singing to a track.

  • karenc

    Ross: I don’t like backing tracks either. And especially in a live show, I think it’s actually harder for the singer if there’s any problems with the vocals, because they could really get lost if they are using a track. If they are playing with a band live, the band can help adjust.

    The other thing I don’t like about backing tracks is that the contestants might not have much of a say in the arrangement. I think that I even remember hearing once that in the earlier seasons, that they would just get the track that they would be singing with. I like that in recent years, the contestants could work out their own arrangements with the band.

    And, just because of the type of music I like, I prefer the live band.

    That being said, maybe it isn’t that they are going to do backing tracks, because they probably wouldn’t even need a bandleader.

  • Grammie Kari

    So many new changes. Hopefully, Idol will discard those that don’t wotk!

    … like the swaybots in the “mosh-pit”. It all seems contrived and doesn’t fool anyone watching.

    They need that “mosh-pit” area to be low so they don’t interfer with us seeing the contestants. This may excite or please the singers, but it should be less obvious.

  • TLKC

    emmuzka:
    01/01/2011 at 12:02 am
    For me, it gives a message “If we could get a way with it, we would tweak the singing, too.”

    That’s my worry. Also, are the contestants going to play their instruments along with the backing tracks? Did I miss an announcement? Are the contestants still allowed to play their instruments?

  • MaryS-NJ

    chessguy99:
    01/01/2011 at 8:36 am
    After reading so many complaints the past couple seasons on how the show should be about the contestants; I’m surprised to read the number distraught about the band not being visible. I’d rather have the focus back on the singing.

    Speaking only for myself here, but when I said I want the show to be “about the performers”, I meant instead of being more “about the celebrity judges”. The last season especially but also season 8 the judges blathered on and on and on ad nauseum and went over time with their cutsie games and goofing off, stupid pranks that whether because they didn’t care or because they intended to, distracted from the performance they were supposed to be judging. It just went to show how the judges were phoning in the actual judging and essentially picking up a HUGE paycheck to goof-off and inflate their own egos and even Ryan seemed exasperated by it.

    As for the band, any solo performer will play in front of a band, whether it’s small, acoustic or big and electro-pop. How many singers just stand on the stage with a mic and sing with the instrumentalists and background singers behind a curtain or hidden off to the side, (unless there are dancers instead)? It doesn’t seem natural to separate the musicians from the vocal performers if this is supposed to be a show about more than just who has the “best” (which is highly debatable) voice.

  • http://mjsbigblog.com/luvadamlamberts-american-idol-tour-2009-washington-dc-re-cap.htm luvadamlambert

    thats a bad.bad.BAD idea imho