American Idol: How Disney is Choosing Music for the Contestants

AMERICAN IDOL - "115 (Top 10 - Disney Night)" - "American Idol" heads to the happiest place on earth, Disneyland Resort, then returns to the Idol stage with a sprinkle of magic to perform fan-favorite Disney songs, as the search for AmericaÕs next superstar continues on its new home on AmericaÕs network, The ABC Television Network, SUNDAY, APRIL 29 (8:00-10:01 p.m. EDT/5:00-7:01 p.m. PDT). (ABC/Eric McCandless) DONALD DUCK, LIONEL RICHIE, MINNIE MOUSE, KATY PERRY, MICKEY MOUSE, LUKE BRYAN, GOOFY, RYAN SEACREST

With the American Idol 2018 finale just around the corner, ABC executives explain to Variety how they plan to market their newly minted winner. Having Disney properties at their disposal, Idol will take promotion to places where the show’s former network FOX had no access.

“Something I was pretty emphatic about, that always felt like a miss for the show, was that we have to continue telling the story of the winner,” Disney Music Group president Ken Bunt told Variety. By tapping into built-in Disney assets, the label can tell that story in a variety of ways, he added. “More opportunities with ABC, when you think of the specials they have; what we could be doing with the parks; maybe a TV show on Freeform,” he said. “Previous ‘Idols’ never did that. We want to keep the talent from the show at top-of-mind for the rest of the year.”

To get an ideal of how the Idol plans to market the contestants, take a look at a one sheet Disney recently sent out to music publishers, songwriters and managers calling for “winners” songs–the original songs performed by the contestants on the finale.

Speaking of “winners” songs, Disney owned Hollywood Records will be the label to release music by American Idol contestants, including an album by the eventual winner. In contrast to the legendary battles former champs like Kelly Clarkson had with Sony, Bunt insists that the Disney way will be a “much more collaborative way of working.”

Blunt explained that each of the finalists was played four songs. “Songs that [DMG] writers had written on, ones we found on the outside and songs that were submitted, and we let them pick what works for them. It makes them feel authentic and empowers them.”

Reference songs for Caleb Lee Hutchinson included “5 More Minutes” by season 10 winner Scotty McCreery and The Voice coach Blake Shelton’s “I Lived It.” Singer/Songwriter types such as Rachel Platten and Sara Bareilles were suggested as templates for  for Maddie Poppe songs and Carrie Underwood and Miley Cyrus songs are suggested as examples for Gabby Barrett. Disney pitched songs for all of the Top 10, and there have been hints that contestants outside of the Top 3 will be performing their original songs on the finale.

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Founder and editor of, home of the awesomest fan community on the net. I love cheesy singing shows of all kinds, whether reality or scripted. I adore American Idol, but also love The Voice, Glee, X Factor and more!