Harry Connick Jr American Idol 14 – Diamonds in the Rough Need Not Apply

Currently doing press for his new movie, Dolphin Tale 2, judge Harry Connick Jr. revealed to the QMI agency, that he and his fellow judges, Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban took a different strategy when choosing hopefuls this time around:

“I think Jen and Keith and I have raised the bar a little bit,” he says, noting that Kansas City has produced some of the best auditions so far.

“We all realize that the people you see on the day of the audition are not going to change that much. Even if you find this diamond in the rough, it’s not like they’re going to explode into this seasoned performer in six months.

As much as we thought that would happen last year, it didn’t happen. People who were timid, you think they’re going to start coming out of their shell, but it really doesn’t work like that…

“So we’re really looking for people who are fairly extraordinary on the first day, because what you see on that day is what you are going to see at the finale.”

The judges are admitting that production failed to put together a compelling cast last season. Indeed, many of the hopefuls were like deer in the headlights when they took the big Idol stage (Sam Woolf, I’m looking at you) and didn’t improve much as the season wore on. Ratings dropped at viewers checked out of a ho-hum season.

Looking Back At Harry Connick Jr.&#...
Looking Back At Harry Connick Jr.'s Opening In ON A CLEAR DAY

As much as some fans bitched and snarked, Idol ALWAYS benefited by casting so-called “ringers”–those contestants with experience under their belts. They often made for compelling TV, even if they didn’t ultimately take the crown.

A singer who has a measure of maturity and is comfortable and charismatic on stage in front of TV cameras and huge audiences is really a must. We’ll see if the casting improves for season 14. If it does, it may be too little too late for an aging franchise that has already lost it’s luster.

Via Gananoque Reporter

About mj santilli 33689 Articles
Founder and editor of mjsbigblog.com, 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!


  1. I’m glad they recognized what went wrong last season and tried to fix it. Hoping Season 14 is better than the last two.

  2. If you can’t beat The Voice, join them lol. I’m looking forward to this, so tired of the panicked deer in the headlights contestant

  3. I sense a thorough lack of ages 15-20 next season.
    Alright, I can live with that.

  4. “…admitting that production failed last season when putting together the cast.”

    Yes. We know.

    How long have we been saying that? It wasn’t just last season – that was just the most egregious example. The PTB has been screwing up the casting for a while, with all those inexperienced youngsters they cast.

    Refreshing that it only took them a few years to notice that “Even if you find this diamond in the rough, it’s not like they’re going to explode into this seasoned performer in six months.”

    Meanwhile, the audience got tired of waiting for the Producers to get a clue. So now they finally had an epiphany about what made some earlier casts work, what got (and Kept) the audience attention? It’s probably too late.

    No guarantee that they can do it right this season either – we’ll see if that’s just lip service. IMO.

  5. I agree that casting contestants with some experience is a must. But I have to say that last season even a few of the unpolished performers would have been more entertaining than MK and Ben. Cocky Spenser, hated by most and the African American girl (Brea?) with the big voice and the strange lipstick choices would have been worth a look on most weeks, lol.

  6. maybe it’s just me (and it often is)… but surely that’s just going from one extreme to the other… and is just as likely to create as many potential problems as it resolves…
    surely its about casting a mix of all things… including (but not limited to) singers from different genres, of different ages, with mixed levels of prior experience etc…
    otherwise as a television show, then it loses something… imo

  7. I just scrolled down to make the same comment. And why I actually watch the Voice and use AI as background noise while I do other things.

  8. Nothing is going to fix the show at this point, but casting people who actually have familiarity with both contemporary music and music history, who have performed on a variety of stages, and who can take criticism and work with it, will at least give the final proceedings some dignity.

  9. I hope this only applies to the music side. Viewers still like to see the transformation when the contestants get the Hollywood treatment and start looking more glam and polished in non-music aspects.

  10. I guess, but personally I feel like I’m wasting my time if I watched ‘The Voice’, because the winners never go anywhere. At least, with ‘Idol’ there is a chance that you are watching a star be born.

  11. Younger/less experienced finalists need a support structure (talented vocal coaches, articulate mentors, supportive older contestants) that the show has provided haphazardly, both in general, and certainly over the last several years. Without fixing that, mixing the cast won’t replace that missing feeling you describe. And I don’t see any indication that they are investing on the back end that way. (If they were, RJ would be announcing his “exciting new opportunities” already.)

  12. Is it just me or am i the only oner who enjoyed season 12? I mean yeah the “casting” was flawed but they pulled off a more entertaining season than season 13 has.

  13. I kinda enjoyed it, but only because of Candice. The rest of the season was awful IMO.

  14. S12 had one of the most consistently talented top 5 of all time, IMO, but there was literally so much noise to signal to get there, and so little appreciation for what the show had once it did, that I understand why people don’t remember it fondly.

  15. I agree that they should do this. And find more diversity cause last was completely too guitar centric and ended pulling off a winner who didn’t sell. At least the voice never shied away from the fact they displayed seasonal talent that ultimately made watching the voice fun.

  16. I definitely liked S12 more than S13. However, IMO S12 is still one of my least favorite seasons. The Top 5 were talented, but the season in general IMO wasn’t interesting (in performances or personalities) compared to most of the other seasons.

  17. I agree with you. Sometimes diamonds in the rough do blossom, we’ve seen it in the past… so I don’t know if it makes sense to narrow down on *only* those who are seasoned. I think a mix makes more sense. But I do agree that assuming all the people who are not just unseasoned but are literally scared of the stage will suddenly change is unrealistic. They shouldn’t stack a cast with people who have little stage presence thinking they can teach them all in a few weeks.

  18. I agree. They should look for seasoned performers who are on the verge of a breakthrough.

  19. If this means no15 & 16 year olds, I am all for it! On the other hand, would we have Kelly or Carrie if this was their criteria then?!

  20. Kelly would have qualified as “seasoned” since she was a former demo singer, and maybe Carrie… though she wasn’t the most dynamic performer, she did have some stage experience. But someone like Scotty McCreary might not have made it past gatekeepers since I think all he did was local high school talent show type stuff. He was quite confident on stage though.

  21. I think they will be going for a country win this year since these contestants seem more stage ready. But well see if the show can hold interest. Hopefully Jlo’s antics will be curtailed.

  22. Season 12 judging panel was so bad as to be funny. Add that to the male contestants, which for the most part was at least throwaway, then it was rather entertaining. Far more than S13 where most of the contestants looked like escapees from the Walking Dead.

  23. As an Idol fan who’s watched all seasons, S12 was the 1st time at any point I stopped hearing judges comments. I don’t have a problem with the current judging panel. S13 just had uninteresting contestants.

  24. Probably won’t be a popular opinion, but a mix of seasoned versus “the diamond in the rough” contestants at least allows for a growth arc of some sort. We will never know if the unseasoned S13 contestants would have had a break through or a “moment” if they had gotten real mentoring from the beginning. Randy’s “you got to bring it” and “give it your best performance, dawg” comments were not constructive, just ridiculous. I saw growth after David Cook and Jason Mraz came in as mentors, but by that point it was a little late. I would still like to see a variety of contestants.

  25. HCJ didn’t use the term seasoned, he said he wanted singers who were ready. Last season they took a lot of people even though they knew they still had stuff to work on.

    Like CJ and his inability to stay in tune and Sam and his inability to emote. No more of that apparently.

  26. Me too. Not to mention “seasoned performer” doesn’t necessarily mean that they would be a more interesting or a more marketable performer. They may not even better a better artist than some “diamond in the raw”. A mixture of both would be the best option, IMO, as long as the producers and judges do a better job of picking the contestants who advance to the voting rounds

  27. I would put S12’s Top 5 in the middle of the pack in terms of the most consistently talented Top 5 on any season.

  28. That is your prerogative. IMO, the weakest link in S12 T5 stumbled less notably and often than the weakest links in most other seasons, including those seasons that I’d otherwise rank most favorably overall. Top 3 would be a different discussion.

  29. I would like to think that the judges & producers could figure out which young contestants are ready for the big stage & which one’s aren’t. But I’m not sure. Also, for every good young contestant (Ex. Allison, Scotty, etc.), there’s more young contestants that should have waited a few years (Ex. Sam Woolf).

  30. He was quite confident on stage though.

    “Seasoned” goes beyond actual show business experience, I think. Scotty had experiences that gave him the confidence to perform on stage and handle the pressures of Idol.

    High school and community theater can actually do that for a would be performer who is ready to learn.

    I think a performer CAN grow during the course of a season, but not by leaps and bounds. And certainly not if some emotional issues are holding a singer back.

  31. He did use the term “seasoned performer”. But still, I hope what you wrote is what they meant, because that type of stuff makes more sense to me than sort of assuming people can’t improve in a blanket kind of way. We have seen people improve, and some of them were not all that experienced when they started. But stuff like difficulty with pitch and under-emoting are things that are hard to change fast unless the person is a quick study, I agree with that.

  32. I watch these shows for pure entertainment. I enjoy the artists on the Voice. In all the seasons of AI there have only been 3 or 4 that are actually in my taste of music. I’m not watching these shows to see a “Star” made. I’m watching to find talent I enjoy. And although the contestants from the Voice “haven’t gone anywhere” I own several CD’s from various Voice contestants while I’ve picked up only a handful from people that have appeared on AI.

  33. Alright that makes sense, and I can get onboard with that explanation. I do think if the person is ready and willing to learn and picks up things fast then they possibly do well on Idol and shouldn’t be counted out even if they are a little rough. So perhaps maturity, sense of musicality and confidence should be where the line is drawn? I dunno.

  34. There are clear differences between a Jessica Sanchez and a Hollie Cavanaugh, if you ask me

  35. IMO, no amount of mentoring and/or quality of mentoring could have effected a satisfactory level of improvement in the performance skills of those contestants over the course of the show last year.

  36. I agree that a mix can be good because the more seasoned performers tend to lift the bar for the greener contestants and, if they see each other as more than just competitors, they can actually learn from each other.
    I also agree that from what we saw, Randy added absolutely nothing to the show as a mentor. Now, he may have done more off camera, but if they’re not going to show that to the viewers, why bother? After all, this *is* a TV show.

  37. I agree, however from my perspective Hollie was green but did improve, especially towards the end. But a season full of Hollies would have been bad news. You only need one or two of those IMO.

  38. It depends how you look at it. Hollie did improve throughout the season. There needs to be contestants who show improvement (especially ones with good potential) in a season. Jessica already came in with experience despite her young age. This could be a blessing & a curse. She’s talented, but some voters & Idol watchers like contestants who show improvement. Hollie was the dark hose or underdog & Jessica was the frontrunner.

  39. I remember several auditions where the judges actually said “we can work on that”. Except that the judges don’t really work with the contestants, so they couldn’t.

  40. But according the head of Fox, he blamed the ratings problem on the cast of the last 2 seasons. Whether that’s a fair statement, that’s how he sees it.

  41. Mmmm, Scotty got the jerk edit early, too, but it didn’t seem to effect him that much. I think if you are ready emotionally your life experiences don’t matter as much. Some people are just driven. They appreciate when people believe in their abilities but they don’t let that define them. I don’t think you need to be semi professional I think you just need to be driven and confident. You can’t make people confident. They just are, flaws and all. Heck Carrie hasn’t grown as a performer all that much from Idol, imho, but girl can sang and knows it.
    I agree with whomever said that this could backfire on the show. Idol’s pocket has always been about discovering unknown talent. Plus it used to be that finishing second or third could give your career a boost. Now?

  42. Mmmm, Scotty got the jerk edit early, too, but it didn’t seem to effect him that much.

    Because it was a set up for a redemption arc. But that’s fodder for another topic.

    I think if you are ready emotionally your life experiences don’t matter as much.

    Folks aren’t born ready. It is those life experiences that prepare us to be ready.

  43. Unknown talent can also be experienced. They have had many idols with some experience, indie albums, stage, local festivals, bands etc. but they were all unknown to the general public.

  44. Of course we would…both had been “performing” for years and were seasoned veterans even though their geographical areas of performance were pretty limited. Neither of these girls (accents aside) were farm girl hicks who only sang in the shower. Kelly had been in LA auditioning for everything (and if that doesn’t grow you a set of balls, what does) and Carrie was well known as a performer at her college. And Kelly was 19 and Carrie 21, if I remember correctly…no baby booty them.

  45. “unknown” is a very broad word. Many Idolettes were very seasoned performers though swimming in a pretty small fishbowl.

  46. If Idol just allowed the singers to be themselves, instead of manipulating to try and create good ratings, things would be better. Maybe Sam Wolff is good looking, but he never was comfortable in the “heartthrob” role they created. What chance did he have to find comfort, when Idol made him more uncomfortable? Personally, I think the kid is an amazing talent and one day he will prove that. I think part of Idols charm is finding that unknown who surprises us with their talent, and not putting some semi-known commodity out there. The show has run its course. It happens to all shows. When they started tweaking a winner, is when it went down hill faster. Just let every one be. Let the judges give honest critiques and I think the show will do a bit better.

  47. no baby booty them, lol

    but yeah, you can be a seasoned performer even if all that seasoning comes from nothing more than playing gigs around your hometown or being in an acapella group in college, or being the lead in a bunch of community musical theatre shows, for example. It doesn’t have to mean already having been signed to a label or touring all over the country or something on a big scale :)

  48. I agree with most of your points. Experiences (not necessarily in the business) help them. However, some times “experience” only gets you so far. For example, before Idol Sam Woolf was performing at hometown gigs such as fairs, theaters, etc. It didn’t seem to help prepare him much for Idol.

  49. Jennifer Lopez said that after season 10 auditions, judges and Idol staff thought Scotty and Lauren Alaina were the two who stood out the most, and that after season 11 auditions, Phillip and Jessica were the most talked about among the judges and staff. So those four should have made it through easily under Harry’s new selection policy.

  50. Can anyone think of any ex-Idol who has had at least moderate success (even if only in 1st album era) coming off the show who wasn’t a seasoned performer to some extent? I don’t mean unknown, because obviously they were all that. But even the younger ones like Scotty and Lauren and Allison and Jordin and Archie and Jessica had had performing experience before coming on Idol, didn’t they? I can’t think of anyone who did well on the show who had never played gigs (even if just in church or in a hometown club) or performed in HS or college.

  51. I’m a big Idol fan, but you could make a case that Idol long ago did this. Sam wasn’t the 1st Idol contestant the show tried to make a heartthrob. They tried to do it with Scotty, Aaron Kelly, Constantine, David Archuleta, etc. over the years. Some of them were ok with it & others like Sam were awkward with the “heartthrob title.”

  52. Me thinks Constantine and Constantine alone tried to make himself a heartthrob, lol.

  53. In my post, I was originally going to write “some took the title too seriously (Constantine).

  54. Probably won’t be a popular opinion, but a mix of seasoned versus “the diamond in the rough” contestants at least allows for a growth arc of some sort.

    I see nothing to disagree with… you get your growth arcs and you get your early front-runners.

    TPTB are overcompensating for going way too far to one extreme last year. So they’ve alienated the viewers who actively preferred experienced contestants and the ones who just aren’t quite sure why the show wasn’t fun… and now that those are gone, they’re going to alienate the remainder who liked “diamonds in the rough.”

    ETA: I prefer experienced contestants, but I’m already alienated from TPTB’s many stages of making the show unbearable for active music fans.

  55. Of the Idol winners, would any have had trouble making it through Harry’s new selection policy?

    I remember Kris Allen seemed a bit “timid” during his audition. His audition was not even shown during the original audition shows, but a small part of it was shown later during the competition.

    Of all the Idol winners, Kris may have shown the most “growth” during the competition. In Harry’s words, he may not have been “fairly extraordinary on the first day,” but he gradually become so on his road to victory.

  56. Self-fulfilling prophecy? 20-20 hindsight? Inadvertent favoritism?

  57. Well he had to point the finger at somebody right? But it’s really up to them the producers and judges to pick the right talent and personality’s to make the show work. The judges were fine but that’s more on them.

  58. Kris improved as the season progressed, but I never saw him as a green and scared and inexperienced performer. I did see it in people like MK, Sam and some of the “baby” performers. The lack of confidence was uncomfortable.

  59. Jena Irene has good stage presence from her experience playing in local coffee houses and with her band. And she was what 17 on the show, and maybe 16 when she auditioned.

  60. I hope this means no more 15-17 year olds. The show has looked more like a high school talent show then a nationwide search for the next “superstar”.

  61. I agree. All of them which had any success at least performed professionally in fairs, church, or bars prior.

  62. Age is just a number, there have been many incredible younger contestants over the years.

  63. “I also agree that from what we saw, Randy added absolutely nothing to the show as a mentor. Now, he may have done more off camera, but if they’re not going to show that to the viewers, why bother?”

    I agree that I would think they would show Randy being as helpful as he should have been, instead of showing him saying a bunch of nothing. I’m pretty sure Adam and Daughtry WERE really helpful, but they continued to show much more of Randy during that week and not so much of Adam and Daughtry.

  64. I enjoyed Season 12 a lot. It may have been that we had an Idol devotee staying with us, but the Top Five girls were great — even Amber, who wasn’t quite as great as the production would have liked us to believe, but great nonetheless. Candice is a great singer — I think she’s going to be around for a long time. Even if she never tops the charts.

    I also liked Devin and Burnell very much. And I found the sagas of Zoanette and Lazaro highly entertaining.

    (And I liked Nikki Minaj. I think there should be a little WTF on the judge’s panel.)

  65. Kris may have been humble and “quiet”, but he was always a good singer. He didn’t really need much help in the singing and performance area.

  66. I’d approve of fewer teens, but it’s Idol. TCO at the start of the season will be “only 17!” but presented as seasoned and wise beyond his/her years, possibly through excelling on older songs (see, e.g., Jordin Sparks, David Archuleta, Scotty McCreery).

  67. I agree Adam and Daughtry would be helpful, but I’ve always wondered how much time they are actually given with the contestants.

  68. We know that Daughtry and Adam were both present for the two-day Boot Camp. I think there was a quote about them spending two”full” days. So, let’s adhere to union standards and say that was eight hours from each one. 2 (days) * 8 (hours) * 60 (minutes) = 960 minutes. Divide that by the 30(?) contestants at the Boot Camp and you get 32 minutes apiece.

  69. I’m pretty sure Adam and Daughtry WERE really helpful, but they continued to show much more of Randy during that week and not so much of Adam and Daughtry.

    The mentoring should have been about the contestants, not whether Adam and Daughtry were given enough camera time.

  70. Jena, Allison, Scotty, Jordin, Jessica, and David were some of the best contestants of their respective seasons and they were 15-17. There have been just as many “old” contestants who have crashed and burned or couldn’t take the pressure. Jordin and Scotty beat out a bunch of 20 somethings, so they must have done something right.

  71. I’m just saying Randy got all the air time saying a bunch of useless gibberish.

  72. Why not just blatant favoritism…and what’s wrong with that? I have, often, picked my “favorites” long before the live voting starts and have never, ever changed my mind. Why should the judges be any different…if they see “talent” and charisma and chutzpah and eye candy and vocal qualities right off the bat why shouldn’t they push that performer. The winner has rarely been about the “best” talent and maybe Idol would have been more successful if the judges had grown some balls and let the voters know who the most marketable was early on.

  73. More TV time for Randy will be good for his own business.. Just ask the coaches/judges from “The Voice”..

  74. I think that if you have confidence in your ability you make the most of the hand dealt you. As has been pointed out through the thread some much younger, presumably less experienced, singers have beaten and gone onto better careers than their older more experienced counterparts. Some older singers have gone onto better careers than their younger ones. Maybe a few few high school shows is enough to prepare some people and some people can’t grow after many gigs and are looking too much toward the judges and idol for their “big break”. It really is a mindset and a work ethic that is innate. And sometimes it is luck of the draw. *shrug* I think that the judges have a hard job in the 60 seconds they have to interview these kids. What if Lazaro had turned out to be the next Susan Boyle? :O LOL

  75. I think that Kris was consistent from beginning to end. I didn’t see “growth” or “upping his game”. I think that at his audition the judges and producers simply underestimated his appeal. The same with Adam. Danny and Matt were being pushed heavily and Matt even got the save..There is something to be said for recognizing your target audience…

  76. “we can work on that”…This all reminds me of choosing a future spouse… ” .. There are some things on which we can work and some we just cannot…

  77. Ace Young anyone? I still remember those puppy dog eyes while singing father figure….

  78. We would also would have David Cook, Adam and Daughtry who were all older and had been kicking around trying to make it for awhile. Adam had lots of stage experience and David & Chris had been playing the local bar scene. Personally I would rather see more contestants on the older end of the spectrum.

  79. Wasn’t that part of Randy “the barnacle” was supposed to do?

  80. he was quiet but that’s not the same thing as timid. Kris knew what he was doing on stage from Day 1. He was fairly “seasoned” — played a lot of gigs around Little Rock area and had already recorded an album prior to trying out for Idol.

  81. They’ve done it pretty much every year. Sometimes with more than one guy in the same season.. While Sam was clearly uncomfortable with the “heartthrob” role, he was also just awkward/uncomfortable on stage, full stop (IMO, anyway)

  82. Also Justin, Ruben, Clay, Constantine, Bo, Fantasia, Taylor, Katherine, Daughtry, the Davids, Adam, Allison, Danny, Crystal and that’s about when I quit watching. A lot of these people had local and regional experience and were just looking for that break that would elevate their careers.

  83. I don’t think playing to a few people in bars and recording an album in one day in a studio counts as “seasoned”. I do think Kris knew a lot about music and knew what worked for him, but on Idol his confidence and stage presence grew tremendously. His “growth arc” helped him win Idol. I think even Simon said on a talk show that Kris was someone that surprised him during the season.

  84. Worst thing they ever did was lower the age limit. Raise the bottom and top ends – the tots can try out for AGT.

  85. I agree, I think that’s what been going on for the past three years or so and it has failed miserably.

  86. Yes. You can’t solve the magical equation of finding the best contestants with experience, stage presence, marketability, likability/interest, talent, artistry, and a voice by limiting the mix. S13 was frustrating because every contestant was sorely lacking in at least one or more of these crucial areas. The new solution solves some problems and create others.

  87. True, but if Idol gets a younger winner they need to be prepared to develop them as an artist, because likely they won’t have the stage experience that some of the contestants in their twentys have had. I don’t see Idol wanting to take the time to develop a younger artist instead we have had a lot seasoned and twenty something winners and runners up that might not play well to a younger audience but the Idol audience loves them because Idol watchers skew older. The past few years Idol has tried to find younger contestants and by doing that they have turned off a lot of older viewers and haven’t been able to replace them with young viewers.

  88. Right now, I don’t think Idol & the label cares whether they have a younger or older winner. They only signed the winner (which they were obligated to do) the last 2 seasons. So they’ve passed on young & old contestants. If Idol or the label actually cares about the next winner, IMO the first thing they would like is for them to be marketable.

  89. Just because someone is older doesn’t mean they are seasoned or have more experience. Just like it doesn’t mean that because someone is younger they require more development.

  90. But it happens that many of the winners and runners up were in their twenties, not teenagers, when they were on Idol and many of the most successful Idols came before they lowered the age. Just by nature of being a few years older you have more life experience to draw on

  91. The last 4 Idol winners were Scotty (17), Phillip (21), Candice (23), Caleb (23).

  92. Scotty is still one of my favorites. In fact, I already bought tickets for his concert in October. I’ll be seeing Scotty, Eric Paslay and Danielle Bradbery.

  93. Well, by that criteria, Sam had been performing too in his hometown area. So what exactly does Harry mean by seasoned performers?

  94. And with the possible exception of McCreery (who still had to radically rework his plan to combine schooling and touring for the second era), they either had major marketing issues by the second album or couldn’t even make a landing with the first. I maintain that every single one of those contestants would have done better in the industry if they’d been 18 when they auditioned.

  95. But the judges have done that. Jlo said Joshua was the best singer she had ever heard (standing ovation almost every week). And they were all over Jessica as the next big thing. Not only did P2 get the win, he out performed them with his career also. There was no one who came from behind to steal the best from the season tag from him. So the market will decide who is marketable and not the judges.

  96. Funny, but it can work either way. Kelly Clarkson’s audition showed incredible presence. Carrie Underwood, otoh, barely managed to pull it off on stage even at the end, but look at her now. I don’t think experience is necessary but you have to have that spark and a great voice. They need to audition to see if they can project on a huge stage…so maybe it’s time to get rid of the little hotel room setting.

  97. Nope. I think that Idol finally realized that with an audience demographic with a median age of over 50 years old, it’s completely unrealistic to expect the next Bieber or Britney winning. Ever. I mean, they have AARP as a tour sponsor this year. lol

  98. “So we’re really looking for people who are fairly extraordinary on the first day, because what you see on that day is what you are going to see at the finale.”

    SO much yes to this.What Idol needs right now is not a growth story, but a breakthrough artist who brings excitement to the show. Just like Adam Lambert was.

  99. Thank goodness! Idol – Please, please, please get people who at the very least can sing on key! CJ was a nice guy, but a real low point as far as a contestant who just had so much trouble singing on key!

  100. I disagree….Carrie was a front runner from the moment she opened her mouth to sing in her audition. And her “clucking” was priceless…she knew exactly what she was doing playing the down home Okie girl.

  101. I personally feel different, and thought it was one of the best things.

  102. There’s a bunch of older contestants who weren’t able to get their foot in the industry either. Some make it, others don’t.

  103. I can always count on you fuzz to say it before I can. :) I swear that is my default response anytime I see or hear Randy’s name.

  104. Look at Season 12. Nobody was under 18 and the boys all crashed and burned.

  105. This judging panel was touting their choices for S13 until they could no longer convince themselves let alone viewers. So what makes this year any different. Because they are picking singers with experience like the Voice will work if the contestants relate to the viewers.

  106. ““We all realize that the people you see on the day of the audition are not going to change that much.”

    There’s usually not enough time or proper advice/mentoring for a huge amount of change to happen. Also, a lot of people who seem great on their auditions crash and burn quickly in Hollywood because it turns out that they have been practicing a couple of audition songs forever (so they are pretty polished), but when confronted by having to sing other covers, their repertoire of songs they know is basically non-existent.

  107. I think it’s a crap shoot. Carrie was a bit wooden as a performer, but has a great voice. By wooden, I would suggest you google “Hello Young Lovers.”

    On the other hand, I have seen growth on the show. Take Haley. I liked her from the beginning. I think I was the only one on this blog at the time. However, if you look at “Blue” compared to “House of the Rising Sun” or “I Who Have Nothing” you can see that she benefited from the guest mentors.

    Jason Castro had little experience. I can’t say he grew. He pretty much fell apart. But, he was charming and compelling and obviously has a career.

    I don’t think there’s a formula. That could be their problem.

  108. No matter how seasoned any of the contestants were, they wouldn’t be on Idol if they were playing for bigger audiences. I can’t think of anyone who could play in more than a “bar” with a couple dozen people prior to Idol.

  109. IMO, I thought it was Adam and Danny who were pushed to go into the finals, not Matt.

  110. Absolutely true, but that’s just more of a reason not to handicap the contestants out of the gate. Contestants who aren’t legal adults on the show have to do more work during the competition (school + all else), have to have more parties involved in the contracts, and have to focus on audiences with a much better threaded needle to go from “teen act” to “adult pop artist.” (Sparks, IMO, had this problem as much as anyone and spent years in the development wasteland because she hadn’t been established as a more mature R&B/pop artist from the start.)

    I’m not saying that everyone has to be older than 20, but I don’t see why 18+ is such a limiting standard. It levels the playing field in so many ways.

  111. As long as they don’t go younger. Among XF’s faults was the horrior of watching 13 y.o.s getting crushed live and on air.

  112. They need to simply stop worrying about finding the next superstar and pick a cast that’s entertaining. If they have found some stars out there, start pimping these people in their promos and use the great auditions to lure their audience back to the fold. It’s not going to do them a bit of good to pick a good cast if they don’t have a audience that wants to watch.

  113. Look’s like they’ve been informed of Caleb’s debut album sales. Hope this will be the most serious Idol season ever.

  114. I reckon they should bring back genre-themed weeks again. What made Kelly and Carrie very successful Idol winners was their versatility. They were able to tackle rock, blues and pop music.

  115. “As much as some fans bitched and snarked, Idol ALWAYS benefited by casting so-called “ringers”–those contestants with experience under their belts. They often made for compelling TV, even if they didn’t ultimately take the crown.” – I am looking at you, Chris, Adam, David. It is harsh, yet I totally agree with Harry here.

    But I just need one or two of these: can I have a rough diamond, too?

  116. If they actually follow through on casting more seasoned performers, I think this is a step in the right direction. To me this has been a big part of the problem the past few years. If a contestant is not a seasoned performer, they will not have the experience to really emerge as a star on the show. I agree with the statement that six months is too fast for someone to emerge into a seasoned performer. And if they don’t already have this, they will have song choice or performance issues that I’ve seen the past few years. I think they don’t know enough about who they are as artists, and that hurts them on the show.

    I also think that the lack of experience hurts them post idol, because the ones that have had even moderate success were experienced before they were on the show.

    It doesn’t necessarily mean casting older contestants, because they have had some younger contestants that have been more experienced than some older contestants.

  117. Kris had more experience than some more recent contestants. And even though they didn’t show him much during auditions, I remember Kara saying he gave an excellent performance during Hollywood week, and she was very impressed by him. So they might have been impressed from him from the auditions because they do see more than we see.

  118. I think playing in bars to a handful of people can be very good experience. A lot of times you are playing for 4-5 hours, with only short break(s). You have to learn pretty quick what songs work and what don’t, and you also often have to have a big repertoire of cover songs. You also have to learn how to be heard over people laughing, talking really loud, etc. Not to mention having to deal with people who might be more than a little drunk and yelling out all sorts of comments.

  119. Last season just had a lot of greenhorns (from Sam Woolf to MK to Malaya). It was really a season filled with too much inexperience and it was too much of a gamble. Also, contestants now seem to be complacent and just wish to join the tour. The show needs contestants who are hungry to win.

  120. They may have, but they did not shove it down our throats like they did with this Sam I do not recall Aaron Kelly, the heartthrob, although it would not be on my mind if it were true. I wonder what happened to him. I thought he was very talented.

  121. There is a balance to be struck. It is also a huge problem when they look for contestants to start off looking like a complete package that they could already market. That almost always mean they are a carbon copy of someone we do not need a new version of. The person does not need to come in looking like a star or playing to the camera or dancing all over the stage. They do need to be good singers who are ready to learn more and they need to be comfortable on stage even if nervous.

  122. I always thought they were looking for someone “fairly extraordinary” the first day. Does this mean the extraordinary were turned away/

  123. The Idol process is tough and those who are not experienced enough don’t cope well and don’t make very interesting contestants. It’s nice to have some growth during the show, but it doesn’t happen without solid foundations, both in terms of vocal training and stage experience.

    Also, the qualities required to make a good Idol contestant are not necessarily the same as those required to become a successful recording artist. It’s good vocals, versatility, and wholesome charisma vs distinctive and appealing vocal tone, song writing ability and attractiveness.

    The producers must look for good TV contestants the audience can get behind and feel excited about. How long since fan wars on a large scale? If some marketable artists emerge, good. If not then at least the TV show will have decent ratings.

  124. But the music industry does not skew 15-16. Music producers are constantly chasing after the next Michael Jackson. If they need to have the age limit so low just in case, they could at least only let thru someone so young if they are truly ready.

  125. It seems to me that Harry was majorly alluding to Sam….altho a lot of the cast was very green.Poor Sam, it’s like it’s his fault last season had dismal ratings….because he did not break through.I think he just really wanted people to hear his own music.

  126. What Idol needs to make sure of is that they stay away from passive, self-deprecating, shy, soft voiced, easily flustered, “chorus” type singers no matter how good their talent. People can have these characteristics off stage but on stage they need to turn into pompous, arrogant, loud, boisterous, ego-centric, blow the rafters off the house, “look at me” folks who compel an audience to get out of their seats. Great skills and musical knowledge is a bonus but they have to move the viewer to reach into their pockets and be willing to give up a couple of hundred bucks to see them “live”. If people are just satisfied with shelling out 10 bucks for an album or a buck 29 for a single then the Idolette is doomed.

    Over the last few years…and yes, I’ll blame the piano and the guitar…stage presence has taken a back seat (with the exception of Scotty and Lauren and a few others like Haley and Casey Abrams and Durbin (back when he was a rocker)) to the coffee shop crowd. Even season 12 landed us with girls who made watching paint dry much more exciting. I want an entertainer to win Idol, not the most technically proficient stand in one spot clutch the mic for dear life and strum a few bars “I write songs this is just how I get them sung” winner.

    If Idol can’t get me to stop recording their show to watch when I have nothing better to do than the show is doomed. If I get excited each week to see what the kids are going to do to get my heart racing than the show will succeed. And I know I am not alone.

  127. What Idol needs to make sure of is that they stay away from passive, self-deprecating, shy, soft voiced, easily flustered, “chorus” type singers no matter how good their talent. People can have these characteristics off stage but on stage they need to turn into pompous, arrogant, loud, boisterous, ego-centric, blow the rafters off the house, “look at me” folks who compel an audience to get out of their seats. Great skills and musical knowledge is a bonus but they have to move the viewer to reach into their pockets and be willing to give up a couple of hundred bucks to see them “live”. If people are just satisfied with shelling out 10 bucks for an album or a buck 29 for a single then the Idolette is doomed.

    Over the last few years…and yes, I’ll blame the piano and the guitar…stage presence has taken a back seat (with the exception of Scotty and Lauren and a few others like Haley and Casey Abrams and Durbin (back when he was a rocker)) to the coffee shop crowd. Even season 12 landed us with girls who made watching paint dry much more exciting. I want an entertainer to win Idol, not the most technically proficient stand in one spot clutch the mic for dear life and strum a few bars “I write songs this is just how I get them sung” winner.

    If Idol can’t get me to stop recording their show to watch when I have nothing better to do than the show is doomed. If I get excited each week to see what the kids are going to do to get my heart racing than the show will succeed. And I know I am not alone.

  128. Gee I, at least, remember Sam’s name. Now the names of every other finalist totally escapes me. And that goes back through seasons 12, 11 and 9 too.

  129. I felt the last two years they were focused more on random people with interesting stories or “different” looks, etc., rather than on the best singers/entertainers. That’s what I found so frustrating. Especially seeing good singers passed up for people like, for example, Zoanette.

  130. Both Jason and Brooke fell apart towards the end of season 7, but I must say, they both did it in entertaining ways! ;-) The pressures of the show weren’t exactly right for them but there was no denying their talent and — most importantly — unique qualities. Lately, the contestants have tended to blend together, whether it’s age, inexperience, an emphasis on one type of contestant over the range of others, whatever it is, Idol needs variety.

  131. Lol.
    Who exactly would ….”be willing to give up a couple of hundred bucks to see them “live”… for Caleb?

    Honestly, I think this show has just run it’s course. They should have ended it after S11 when P2 got lucky with how “Home” exploded and launched his career.
    At least they would have gone out with a bang instead of limping off the air.

  132. Complicating things for season 7, were all of the illnesses that hit that cast that year, starting with the top 24. Flu, strep, bronchitis… some illnesses required hospital trips & I.V. treatments…. didn’t help matters. No one during season 7 was allowed to miss any Ford shoots or media promos like was allowed with some in later seasons.

  133. Entertainer, stage presence, confidence, no instrument, not a tween. Yup, that’s Caleb Johnson.

  134. I had to seriously think, and at my age that may prove difficult, to even think who Caleb is/was. And no, being a pseudo front man who mimics isn’t compelling enough to get me to my feet…I can see much better ones at my local casino on Friday and Saturday nights, who are, to a person, way better looking and in much better performance shape than this Caleb ever was.

  135. I wouldn’t describe this Caleb as an entertainer nor does he have stage presence. Jumping up and down, singing loud with no feeling is not either of these things.

  136. I’ve been thinking the same thing. Start doing the auditions in front of an audience instead of just the judges like they do on so many other shows. That way, the judges can gage stage presence and audience reaction as well as just the vocals.

  137. Personally I agree with you Tess, but the fact is in my other Idol groups there was an abundance of 40+ women that saw Caleb as a great entertainer and continued watching just to see him each week. Were they buying his music, no; going to see him on the tour no. But, for them at least Caleb was the reason they continued on with S13.

  138. I read a lot of comments reviewing Carrie as “wooden” in her performances, She definitely grew in this regard during the show, and is absolutely incredible now. Her voice has always been amazing, but her performance skills needed work (even if she was faking the nerves as you seem to suggest), I wasn’t bashing her in any way, rather, trying to show that singers can change if they have the goods to begin with. But she is an exception (and exceptional) and I don’t think AI can afford to hope for the best any longer with their contestants. Too many competitive shows and too many dreary seasons later, they need to find contestants that will grab the audience right away now.

  139. I was just at Live On The Green in Nashville, which is a weekly outdoor concert sponsored by the local indie radio station over the course of 5 weeks in August and September. Thousands of people come to this show every week. Of all the acts I saw (I didn’t go to all the shows, so I didn’t see all the acts), the two that got the biggest crowd response were Capital Cities and Ingrid Michaelson. Capital Cities was bouncing all over the stage during their set. But Ingrid Michaelson basically just stood behind the microphone, played her guitar and sang. They aren’t anything alike as artists, either in term of style of music or in how they present themselves on stage. But they were both hugely popular with the crowds at LOTG.

    So my point is, performers do not have to be bigger than life on stage or have any one kind of attitude in order to be compelling to audiences. Bob Dylan just stands there and sings.Beyonce dances all over the stage. Etc etc. Saying that the pianos and guitars are to blame makes no sense to me. No one ever claimed that Elton John or Billy Joel or Alicia Keyes (to name just a few piano playing artists) lack stage presence. There are a ton of guitar players with stage presence, from people who just stand there and play to ones who are jumping off speakers, smashing guitars on the floor, etc. IMO, It isn’t the instrument that is to blame if someone lacks stage presence or star power.

    There is no reason to eliminate any particular type of performer or personality. IMO, what Idol should do is find a mixture of types of performers, rather than too many of the same type. It’s when everyone starts to blend together that I start to have a problem, because then I can’t remember who did what. People need to be able to stand out, whether they are setting the stage literally on fire or if they are just standing in one place and singing.

  140. I’ll remember Sam because he sounded good singing. Not all of them did. There was a time when singers didn’t have to perform calisthenics when they sang. Audience demand for the visual seems to have eclipsed the aural. If somebody fakes emotion and bounces around enough, being a truly good singer isn’t all that important anymore. Maybe I’m too old fashioned, but that just doesn’t compute with me. You can’t see somebody through stereo speakers, and that’s where the rubber meets the road, IMO.

  141. Never seen this season. This guy, however, reminds me of Taylor Hicks. He was having fun up there.

  142. I hope they don’t overdo it in the other direction. There is no problem with putting people through to Hollywood to see what will happen. They just have to cut them there and not let them into the voting rounds if they are not entertaining enough.

  143. What you are describing about Ingrid M is her quiet confidence which she exuded and which the crowd bought. You are right, let us not blame the instruments but the people who stand behind them. Or, we can go further and blame the idol bureaucracy. The fact is that many contestants over the years have a desire to be singers and they sing well enough, but they are not convicted enough about what they are singing to compel an audience to take notice. They LA know that quiet confidence, that charisma, that believability. And, if they lack these traits then they need something to compensate – sex appeal.

    We also should consider that some hopefuls may have all the desirable qualities to make them pop stars, but prove to be unstable, somewhere along the line, outside the limits of our gaze. The judges who may have been swayed to consider them will have to make a judgement call. We’ll never know.

    On another note, last season many of us on this blog welcomed “quirky”. That was the buzzword used to describe many of the contestants. The season was highly anticipated by some of us, respite from balladeers provided. But, alas, quirky singers turned out to be boring performers. What will the next season of Idol bring us?

  144. Look at George Strait, he pretty much just stands with his guitar, but his concerts are huge and he continues to be a superstar today.

  145. How were they supposed to know Season 12 wouldn’t have had any breakout stars? It wouldn’t have made sense to end it after Season 11 since the ratings were still decent and they just created another success. Maybe they thought they could do it again with the S12 winner(who they didn’t know yet). It wouldn’t have made sense at the time to end it after S11.

  146. There are a “handful” of big name stars/singers who didn’t need bells and whistles but they are few and far between. To compare any Idolette with these few is absolutely absurd. Name me one Idol who commands a stage like Bob Dylan and I’ll eat my keyboard.

  147. Of course not. It’s a looking back in hindsight type of thing. Ending it then would have at least avoided the embarrassment of what the show has now become.

  148. Does this mean last year they intentionally put contestants with underwhelming auditions through because they thought they would improve? That’s disconcerting.

  149. That’s what it sounds like, Matthew Richards, when you read between the lines.

    “We all realize that the people you see on the day of the audition are not going to change that much… it’s not like they’re going to explode into this seasoned performer in six months. “As much as we thought that would happen last year, it didn’t happen.”

    They sound almighty clueless when they admit that – like they JUST realized it takes more than 6 months – or as if they thought Jackson could Mentor up some Miracles – and we all knew that was not even remotely possible.

    Have to wonder, Do TPTB pay the panel enough to take the heat for these inane Producer’s choices? The new High Muckety Muck left the Idol decisions to his minion while he concentrated on his new cutting edge show Utopia (OOPS) – and all these two facts tell me is that neither show had anyone who knew how to pick a viable cast. The New PTB comes across like a crowd of gormless wonders, all of them. IMO.

  150. My friend Miriam says that when she was in the big stadium audition with the executive producers she sounded “too polished” so they had her meet with someone from Sony instead (she eventually turned the deal down). Knowing that and hearing Harry’s quote it sounds like production is making some questionable decisions.

  151. Yes. ‘Questionable’ is kind – considering the roster of contestants the Producers have been choosing.

    There was a story before Season 12 about some currently successful artists that the Idol producers had turned away at their auditions – people like Cobie Caillat, even when she auditioned with her song “Bubbly” and Hilary Scott – 2x – who went on to be Lady Antebellum, and 7 time Grammy Winners. These, at a time when Idol just couldn’t seem to find Female contestants that could catch on with the public.

    Naya Rivera and Amber Riley, both from Glee now, were two artists the Idol producers passed on as well.

    There were more names in the article – but these are the ones who stuck in my memory…and I don’t know, but I think it may have been a blast for Hilary Scott to come on Idol with her group to sing at the Season 13 Finale, all things considered.

    She turned out to be a lucky one NOT to compete or win Idol. because I don’t think she would have been Lady Antebellum after the Label A&R dudes got finished, with their bright ideas. Gormless wonders indeed.


  152. Agree, but please w/the “Durbin (when he was a rocker) comment”. One of his most downloaded songs from the show was “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” which was a compelling ballad sung stunningly acoustic at the intro, people loved it & other downloaded ballad tunes from the show I won’t name. Fans daily tell him that they A L S O like his other styles of music/present album included… & again yes, I very much like when he performs as “that rocker” too.

    That season (or pick your own favorite/s) was an ex. of many mixed Flavors holding their audience every week. Producers/judges pretty much know what’s cooking/or not during a season & their layout for the tour reveals the real story of how they feel/know they did putting a show together.

  153. ….appreciating the humor/fact: “….I can see much better ones at my local casino (for free, discounting how much I feed the penny slots)”

  154. Bingo! I feel sad that there won’t be “diamonds in the rough,” because those have been some of my favorites over the years. And “seasoned” doesn’t necessarily translate. Look at Jess Meuse. But reasonably comfortable on stage from the get-go should be a requirement, as once you are on Idol, things move fast, There’s no time to baby someone with severe stage fright.

  155. To me, the whole POINT of Idol is to watch the contestants improve and blossom. I’m not sure I’d be interested in watching a stable trajectory, no matter how ready they are to “break out.” I hope Amy Beth is right, and it’s more about general readiness, and that peeps with big issues like pitch and inability to emote are filtered out.

  156. I sure hope you are right about Candice, Montavilla. She has killer vocals with exquisite musical phrasing, and she seems very down-to-earth and likeable. She’s the only contestant (other than Danny) that I ever wanted to meet, and I wish I’d stayed after the AI tour to do that, but I wasn’t familiar with the venue, and I still had a ways to drive to get home. I just wish Candice was touring — even in small venues — to build her base. I know it’s expensive, though.

    Yeah, I like the top 5 girls from AI12, too, and overall, like AI12 (flaws and all) better than AI13.

    (P.S.) On tour, Curtis surprised me. He did good with his song and was well-received at the venue where I attended.

  157. Sorry to reply to my own reply, but I think it is telling that I can still name the AI12 contestants, but have more difficulty doing that with the AI13 contestants.

  158. There is a huge difference IMO from live concerts to a tv show and what is entertaining to the respective audiences.

  159. Yeah, well that was the story for many years, when Idol was pretending their contestants were fresh off the farm, or wherever, and tried to slide the evidence of their past work under the rug, and never mentioned their experience, etc – so Idol could take all the credit. …the scat didn’t hit the fan until TPTB actually started taking that fiction seriously…and casting people who had no musical, professional, or life experience…and the ‘reality’ didn’t work out very well.

    Now that they are finally able to smell the coffee – or so they say – it’s probably too late, anyhow.


  160. I can go all the way back to Season 1 and name the TOP 10. However, it’s more difficult with Seasons 12 & 13. Why? I hope the producers find uniqueness and great talent for Season 14. Otherwise, there may be no Season 15.

  161. This makes me think of Adam Lambert. I know this is a closed thread, but I think if Adam was a contestant for Season 14, he would win. Things have changed a bit in what society accepts (in the last 6 years).

  162. I was surprised how likeable Chikezie was on tour. He was the perfect person to open up the show.

  163. James was my favorite that season, and “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” was my favorite performance from the whole season. His life story influenced me just a bit. I looked forward to see what he would perform.

  164. I just read your post, Bizmu. I wrote the same thing about an hour ago. Mix-up the cast with different ages, different genres, and different experience. We know the contestants aren’t fresh off the farm, so bring in the best the producers have seen. I don’t want to see my favorite show get cancelled.

  165. I attended the concert with Carrie, Leann, and Miranda (Nov. after Season 4 ended). She was indeed wooden, but her voice was beautiful.

  166. Grateful to have been introduced to James on the show (the story I’ve always admitted was not an influence for me). Talent/voice/look/sense of humor, etc. evident by fans comments for him. Do admire him for his strengths also.

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