Nigel Lythgoe: “You haven’t really seen how strong the talent is yet”

THR’s Shirley Halperin caught a few minutes with American Idol Executive Producer, Nigel Lythgoe for a brief progress report on the new season.

Nigel continues to downplay Simon Cowell’s contributions to Idol’s success, “The amount of people who have told me to give it up now that Simon’s gone — ‘That’s it, it’s all over!’ It’s never been about Simon [Cowell]. The show is in seventy-odd other countries where it’s been hugely successful without Simon in it.”

“But Idol has gone dark over the years. When we started being mercilessly cruel and saying things like, ‘Give up, don’t ever sing.’ Even the banter between Ryan Seacrest and Cowell got quite dark, and I think people just went with it. We just needed to bring back the fun to it, and that’s what’s happened now — it’s fun again.”

It’s fun again, thanks to Steven Tyler.  Give that guy what he wants!

The passive-aggressive Simon bashing continues.  So does dumping on Season 9, but at least Nigel had nothing to do with last season, unlike Ken Warwick who trashes the season despite being the guy in charge.

“The talent is so much stronger this year, you haven’t really seen it yet, and I think Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez are both stars in their own right, ” says Nigel, “You forget that we’ve had this trainwreck that was following Simon, and then Simon disassociated himself from the show over the last few years, turned his back on the strange people they brought in to judge. ”

But, Nigel says, “At the end of the day it comes down to talent.” BINGO!

On the role oUMG executive, Jimmy Iovine will play on the Idol team,   it sounds like it’s still being sorted out.

“All we know is that we’ve got someone with golden ears who’s going to turn these people into superstars, ” says Nigel, “As you know, after the series is finished, we hand them over.”

“I still say Ruben Studdard should be a big star, like a Luther Vandross crossover artist. They tried to turn him into an urban star, which he isn’t, ” Nigel believes. (And I agree…)

” So it’s really after the show I’d like to see him [Jimmy Iovine] do his work, but he’s got some fabulous producers — Ron Fair, Rodney Jerkins, Tricky — that hopefully will assist these kids in choosing the right song and give it some modern arrangement. I always worry about being called a karaoke show. The accusations are always going to be there, but I figure, if we’re working with the best people in the music business now, some of those criticisms will go away.”

So, that’s a huge change–top producers helping the kids choose songs and craft performances.  Will it work? I have some doubts.  I like the idea of the kids making their own way through the competition. It separates the real artists from the clueless.  Talent that seems molded and mass produced will seem…karaoke.  Don’t take away Idol’s charm, Nigel!

Nigel compliments Glee, “I think the show is really good… and the subjects they’re dealing with are really important — like drugs, sexuality, masturbation.”

Yes. Masturbation. One of the important issues of our time. Oh Nigel.

” I’d like see a bit more edge to the music, ” says Nigel, “but [the success of the songs] just shows that you can sing melodies again.” Because Idol is so edgy? Whatevs!

Oh, and this “I don’t feel it’s stealing the show’s thunder because we’ve never really released Idol’s [sales] on records. But of all the downloads, we’ve covered the charts from No. 1 down to 10 nearly every week. ”

Dang Nigel. Release those numbers! They need to be free! heh.

“You haven’t really seen how strong the talent is yet, ” Nigel says. “We can afford to lose 10 great ones this year because they’re that good!”  Always the promoter, that Nigel…

About mj santilli 34696 Articles
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!