American Idol 2023: Seven fan-favorite alums to mentor season 21 Hollywood Week
American Idol brought seven fan favorite alums on board last season to mentor during Hollywood Week. The twist worked out so well, that the show has enlisted seven more for 2023.
The season 21 mentors are: Justin Guarini (season 1 runner-up), Clay Aiken (season 2 runner-up), Jordin Sparks (season 6 winner), David Archuleta (season 7 runner-up), Phillip Phillips (season 11 winner), Catie Turner (season 16 finalist) and Noah Thompson (season 20 winner).
The Hollywood Week format is changing. Goodbye Genre Challenge
Additionally, the Hollywood week format is changing. For the past two seasons, Hollywood week kicked off with a Genre Challenge. But producers feel that splitting artists up into rigid categories is no longer relevant. “‘Okay, you’re rock. You’re pop. You’re soul/R&B’,” producer Megan Michaels Wolflick explained to Billboard. “A lot of the finalists were telling us, ‘I’m pop-soul.’ ‘I’m country-rock.’ There was a blurred genre thing going on. So I thought we should explore something else.”
Contestants will choose between 3 areas to work on. Two alums will be assigned to each category
Instead, the group of roughly 150 Hollywood round contestants will each choose one of three areas to work on: Confidence, Songwriting or Stage Presence. Two alums will be assigned to each category to assist the contestants.
“It was my challenge to pick two people who would be applicable for confidence. Clay Aiken and David Archuleta were total confidence. Both of them came in second place, and it was funny because when we were first talking to them about it, they said, ‘I still don’t have all the confidence.’ I told them, ‘Yes, but you have more than you came with.’”
“For the songwriting category,” Michaels Wolflick said, “We had Catie Turner and Phillip Phillips, who are both songwriters in their own right. Both of them in their respective seasons brought an artistry to the show that maybe we hadn’t seen.”
Lastly, “And for stage presence, we have Jordin Sparks and Justin Guarini, two people who commanded the stage in their own way and still do.”
The seventh mentor is last season’s winner, Noah Thompson. “He gave some motivational speeches and was able to talk about his experience from last year. I can’t tell you how many people auditioned this year inspired by him. His friend Arthur signed Noah up [to audition], so we had a lot of people secretly signing people up, which was really cool.”
More American Idol alums will be returning for season 21
According to Billboard, more American Idol alums will be returning during the season, including the winner of season 2. “Clay and Ruben [Studdard]’s finale was on May 21, 2003. They’re going to come back and perform on this year’s finale, 20 years to the day,” said Michaels Wolflick.
American Idol 2023 Hollywood Week begins Sunday April 2 at 8pm on NBC. American Idol auditions conclude on Sunday March 26 with the Auditions 5 episode.