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.