Nigel Lythgoe Announces Major Changes for American Idol

In an exclusive interview with TV Guide, Nigel Lythgoe revealed some major changes for Season 10 of American Idol:

  • There will be NO TOP 24.  That round is completely eliminated.  Nigel says, “I didn’t think [the top 24] were very good, I was bored with them by the time they got there”
  • It’s unclear what will replace the Top 24. Will the judges choose the Top 12? What will replace the episodes that cover the early voting rounds? Nobody is elaborating.
  • The contestants will be challenged with contests like making the best music video, working with a band and dancers for an awards show-style performance.  Sounds like there could be a new challenge every week.
  • As previously announced, theme weeks will focus on decades rather than a particular artist. Jimmy Iovine of Interscope Geffen A&M records will act as in-house mentor
  • Nigel says they are seeing an even wider range of talent than in previous seasons, including country, indie and jazz singers. (But, when has this not been true?)
  • Nigel notes they’ve been sending more contestants on through to Hollywood.
  • American Idol returns to FOX on January 12.

So what’s going on here? Dancers? Award type performances? Is Nigel a little nervous that the big production values of the upcoming Simon Cowell production, X Factor– slated to begin in fall 2011–will steal his thunder?

And exactly HOW will the Top 12 be chosen?  Hey Nigel! When you cut So You Think You Can Dance down from 20 to 10 contestants, that didn’t work out so well did it?  Hm.

Nigel is planning a stop at the View tomorrow, plus he’ll be conducting a press conference on Friday where I’m sure more will be revealed.

About mj santilli 33687 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!

104 Comments

  1. Okay Nigel, enough fecking tinkering with the show. Too many adjustments and it won’t be idol anymore. I don’t want a freaking variety show/pageant! Ugh! Not feeling quite so excited at the moment.

  2. This sure isn’t sounding good to me. So are they expanding the Hollywood round episodes? It seems to me they have to, in order to fulfill the number of weeks the show is supposed to run.

    So basically they are just making the judges choices the only choice there is, down to the top 12. Instead of letting fans vote.

    I’m also not liking the making of a video thing, nor the working with dancers. A little cross-over going on here, Nigel? I can guess where the dancers will be coming from, lol.

  3. I never thought I would say this, but..

    Team X Factor FTW!

    STFU Nigel. This isn’t even Idol anymore.

  4. I think it’s time to just let the Idol we knew go and look at this as a whole new show. All things come to an end, I’m glad for a lot of great artists and fun people it gave us. Obviously a big wait and see, but I don’t think this new incarnation is something I’ll enjoy as much. How many times did Kris talk about how music was the last thing they did, and how pressed they were for time, I can’t imagine how this new format will work out. These are new artists, let them get singing in front of a camera down and let them develop all that other stuff later. I have a feeling it’s going to be about drama and people flaking out, even less about the singing, which is what I thought we were supposed to be getting back to!

  5. If the “make a video” is the whole theme of an episode I won’t like it. If it is something they do where they work with professionals and then they show those clips as part of the intro packages, then I actually like that idea and I think it could serve the contestants well.

  6. You know, I know things are never all about Adam but I swear some of this is the Adam Lambert affect.

    But Ihave to admit, some of these changes make me really curioius about this coming season. No top 24??? I hope that doesn’t mean that the judges have more say in who gets through than the do now…I like tht make a video idea too.

  7. How many frakking ways is Nigel going to find for inserting his SYTYCD alums into American Idol? Hmm . . . video with BACKUP DANCERS! awards show type performance with BACKUP DANCERS!

    Why can’t Nigel just figure out a way to give his SYTYCD winners a REAL PRIZE and plum assignments that earn great pay instead of saddling AI with all of them. *grumpy*

  8. They need to worry most about casting. Screw the other crap. Give us great singers who will grow throughout the competition.

  9. Maybe some of this is coming from Universal Music Group. They’ve got alot of POP acts and they could be dictating some of these changes. Let’s face it, based on the HDD estimates of this year’s winner for his opening week, the old tried and true Idol way isn’t going to produce the numbers Universal is probably looking for.

  10. FINALLY the top 24 is gone. I was hoping they would cut it out and maybe expand the top 12 to top 15.

    I agree. The top 24 rounds just drag on and on. With contestants getting to sing in their own genre it just makes sense to cut the middle round. I also have no problem with the producers picking the top 12.

  11. I’m in mourning right now, Nigel is killing the show IMO, nothing that made it the most appealing and best rated show for 9 seasons seems to be left. The show is going to be all about hype, over produced numbers, manipulations and less about the talent. Based on the ad campaign, I though they actually wanted to differentiate themselves from the X factor, after reading this interview it looks like I was wrong.

  12. I’m not against these changes, or for them either, but this sort of cosmetic tinkering will not save the show. Casting, casting, casting. Oh, and clear some new songs.

  13. The way the article is worded is confusing, I can’t tell if they meant that the idols will face new challenges, which include 1) contests of making music videos 2) awards style performances with a band and dancers…or that idols will face new challenges, which include contests of making videos AND contests of awards style performances. I know I’m probably sounding confusing, but I took it as the second interpretation. That to me means that not every performance will be awards style with a band and dancers, but that one of the contests they would be doing is that, along with making videos and promoting themselves.

  14. For anyone thinking they are going to have to “switch” to X-Factor next year instead of Idol – please, watch an episode or two of the British (or worse still, the Australian) versions. X-Factor is truly horrendous and will have you quickly scampering back into Idol’s familiar arms.

  15. A top 12 is just a way to make it easier for the producers to have their way. What makes (made) AI exciting to me, is that it is a true competition, just like in sports the underdog could prevail. That’s how we got two of the best winners (Cook and Kelly) who based on way TPTB treated their auditions wouldn’t have won if it was a top 12.

    Admidetly, I will watch because I’m too invested in the show to not give it a shot but I’m way more pessimistic now than one hour ago.

  16. A top 12 is just a way to make it easier for the producers to have their way. What makes (made) AI exciting is that it was a true competition, just like in sports the underdog could prevail. That’s how we got two of the best winners (Cook and Kelly) who based on way TPTB treated their auditions wouldn’t have won if it was a top 12.

    Cook would definitely have made the top 12. He was featured a decent amount in Hollywood. The competition part would still be in, just at the top 12. The top 24 was always like an endless slog through the dead weight. It also guarantees that there won’t be a top 12 dominated by one style since the judges will be picking.

  17. Cook would definitely have made the top 12. He was featured a decent amount in Hollywood. The competition part would still be in, just at the top 12. The top 24 was always like and endless slog through the dead weight. It also guarantees that there won’t be a top 12 dominated by one style since the judges will be picking.

    You’re assuming they would pick “the best 12”, that’s not how they did with the top 24, so why would it change with the top 12? They will pick canon fodder to make the frontrunners look good. The frontrunners like Archuleta, Michael Johns and Carly would have been in, but the semi-contenders like Cook? Not sure at all.
    Also, I can’t get behind a format that would have eliminated Kelly Clarkson before she got the chance to perform.

    As far as diversity of contestants, yes IA the demographics of the show suck and it has severely hindered the past seasons but the way to answer this is to change the voting system, limit the number of votes, not by putting more power in the hand of producers/judges.

  18. Also, I can’t get behind a formula that would have eliminated Kelly Clarkson before she got the chance to perform.

    What 6 girls would have been put over Kelly season 1? I don’t think you can say with any certainty that Kelly would or would not have been included since there was very little hollywood rounds shown.

  19. This has train wreck and jumping the shark all over it. LOL, I can’t wait to watch Nigel try to manipulate the crowning of the “new” Beiber or Swift or is it Usher or M.Jackson. No matter, it’s not about singing or music in general anymore. I wonder if they’ll try the “live” autotuning that X-factor got busted for earlier this season.

    My fav, David Cook struggled last year in giving professionally polite responses to the dullness of S9. The man is going to have to call on all of his considerable PR skills to come up with something nice to say about this mess.

  20. That to me means that not every performance will be awards style with a band and dancers, but that one of the contests they would be doing is that, along with making videos and promoting themselves.

    That’s how I interpreted it. Maybe there will be a different challenge every week, to incorporate a particular element into their performance.

  21. What 6 girls would have been put over Kelly season 1? I don’t think you can say with any certainty that Kelly would or would not have been included since there was very little hollywood rounds shown.

    I have the original episodes. They had 30 contestants selected for the semifinals. The last elimination phase in Hollywood they cut from 45 to 30, they seperated in 3 groups, the 15 frontrunners they were sure were in (Tamyra, Justin, Nicky, RJ…), the eliminated people and a group of canon fodders who didn’t get any screen time before. Kelly was in the last group.

  22. I have the original episodes. They had 30 contestants selected for the semifinals. The last elimination phase in Hollywood they cut from 45 to 30, they seperated in 3 groups, the 15 frontrunners they were sure were in (Tamyra, Justin, Nicky, RJ…), the eliminated people and a group of canon fodders who didn’t get any screen time before. Kelly was in the last group.

    Well than how do you know Kelly didn’t fall outside of the top 24 favorite contestants, and wouldn’t have been chosen in the top 24 format ? That is why I think it is silly to say you won’t enjoy a format that Kelly wouldn’t have made it it, because who knows if that is true, or even if she would have been picked for a top 24 format.

  23. Erm, OK. I guess I’ll wait and see.

    But Nigel… yoooohooo… remember what happened when you felt the need to tinker like crazy with SYTYCD?

    Ah well. I’ll at least start out watching like I always do. It’s a habit, after all. And if they want to improve the sound/production values, that would be good.

  24. Just as I predicted, he is looking for the next Katy Perry or Usher!! Not to say a Indie artist or rocker won’t make it through, but they are definately gonna have to have lots of charisma and some ability to own the stage, dance around sans guitar or piano. I also want to say that change can be good, but Nigel is sending out a huge message to the other Idols..and it is a slam toward most of them. He needs to be respectfull of what has happened in the past and not “diss” the other 9 Idols or past contestants while doing it!

  25. Well than how do you know Kelly didn’t fall outside of the top 24 favorite contestants, and wouldn’t have been chosen in the top 24 format ? That is why I think it is silly to say you won’t enjoy a format that Kelly wouldn’t have made it it, because who knows if that is true, or even if she would have been picked for a top 24 format.

    You’re right, it’s not sure she would have made it in a top 24 either, altough her chances would have been better.
    Bottom line is, do you want to trust the judges/producers to make a decision as to who will be top 12 or the audience? That’s one of the primary differences between Idol and X factor, I’ve watched both and I give the edge to the idol format. I believe that with a revamped voting system we could still have a competition that will give a chance to underdogs like Kelly and Cook and also crown frontrunners who have deserved it Fantasia, Carrie, Ruben…

    Also, maybee I’m alone but I disagree that the semifinals are dull. Top 24 night is always the show I’m the most excited about, because it’s a make or break night for 24 different people who are each given a shot at blowing away the audience. A lot of the best performances over the 9 seasons have come during that time IMO (All By Myself, Whipping Post, Wanted Dead or Alive, Hello, etc.).

    To me it looks like Nigel is overeacting over season 9 just like he overeacted after season 6 of SYTYCD.

  26. Nigel says, “I didn’t think [the top 24] were very good, I was bored with them by the time they got there”

    I don’t understand why he always NEED to say negative things to previous idol formats.
    Just say that there will be changes, here they are…..

  27. I never thought I would say this, but..

    Team X Factor FTW!

    STFU Nigel. This isn’t even Idol anymore.

    *Rolls eyes* So basically, you hate idol, yet you are excited for X-Factor, which will be even worse than idol’s “Changes?” Yeah, think before you speak sweetie.

  28. Hmmmm. It’s all in the execution. Top 24 went on too long, but it needs fan input before the finals. Maybe top 15 semis, and the finals are the top 10. 12 never made sense to me. The award show/ dancer stuff sounds stupid. Even real singers look stupid in real awards shows. The wannabe factor puts it into lame overload

    What they need:
    – better singers
    – better songs
    – longer songs

    Then, explore some things to see their limits, possibly
    – no band week (a cappella or self-accompanied
    – originals week

  29. Oh, and I hope that it doesn’t mean another top 36 format like in Season 8…that was a bad format. It caused more males to get through purely because the voters swing towards the males. Here’s an idea that I have of what may happen:
    I remember Nigel mentioning something about having a Hollywood week episode where we get to meet the top 50 or whatever. Maybe the 6 boys and 6 girls who get the most votes out of that episode advance to the top 12? hmm. Or…
    Maybe its a top 15 instead and one is eliminated each “semi finals week” until the top 12? But then that would create an uneven number of boys and girls in the semi finals…

  30. Nigel says, “I didn’t think [the top 24] were very good, I was bored with them by the time they got there”

    There goes Nigel with his trash talking again. *Le Sigh* The plans get more and more fanciful, and less and less about the music and the contestants. Interesting to see what ‘really’ happens, when it actually does. Otherwise, I am already bored with him and his chatter about changes before they even get here.

  31. Ugg. I’m pretty sure people don’t want MORE changes on top of the changes they already announced. They want to be assured that even with the new judges and new mentor, the old show that they loved will be restored back to it’s former glory with better casting, singers who can SING live and connect with a tv audience. The brilliant FOX campaign playing on the nostalgia is so at odds with Nigel’s plans. Come back to the AI you always loved, remember when you used to enjoy AI….only to turn it on and not recognize it? Dumb move, Nigel, it seems to me. At this rate the X Factor may win the nostalgia battle because Simon at least is familiar.

    I don’t think the top 24 was necessarily boring. A lot of times in the past lasting fanbases were born during the pre-top 12 performances. Jason Castro, Brooke White and Cook come to my mind because I remember season 7 most vividly. Melinda Doolittle’s My Funny Valentine and Blake doing Keane too, if I recall. I think the old boy’s worried that too many of the interesting people who could have developed into contenders will be voted out early like last season. Losing Alex Lambert and Lilly Scott and the chick with the curly hair who played the piano hurt the show last season. Nigel’s not taking any chances getting stuck with the wrong cast when they get to the top 12, I think. Not sure if this is a good or bad idea. Last season was such an anomaly.

    Working with a band and dancers for an awards show-style performance.

    Can you say awk. ward? Because the X-factor’s cheesy ass production values aren’t annoying enough? I couldn’t stand to watch the videos MJ posted here. Ew, not a fan of this idea.

  32. It’s about time some real changes were made. The show was getting boring.

  33. I’ll take something that actually tries to entertain, than what we got last year with backstory central. I watch the UK X-Factor, and I can say the show does entertain. Last year Idol, there seem to be a distinct lack of entrainment value, especially as the show progressed.

  34. FINALLY the top 24 is gone. I was hoping they would cut it out and maybe expand the top 12 to top 15.

    This. I am glad the top 24 is gone. It was slow and plodding and just took way too long. The awards show type performances with the dancers sounds interesting. That’s something that could almost make me tune in.

  35. The awards show type performances with the dancers sounds interesting. That’s something that could almost make me tune in.

    Heh. I tried to picture some notable “moment” performances on AI with backup dancers and I just started giggling.

    *Imagine, David Archuleta
    *Hemorrhage (In My Hands), Daughtry
    *In a Dream, Bo Bice
    *Summertime, Fantasia
    *Hello, David Cook

    (Yes, you can in fact picture some of these performance with backup dancers in the background, but it’d be CHEESY AS HELL or just SERIOUSLY WTF!)

    The only “moment” performances I could imagine with backup dancers were Jennifer Hudson’s Circle of Life (because we’ve seen the Broadway musical) and Adam’s Mad World (because that whole tableau that was created onstage was theatrical enough to have a SYTYCD couple performing a Mia Michaels choreo).

  36. Top 24 is memorable if they have exceptional performers. Hello from David Cook, Hemorrage by Daughtry, were all during the semifinals. Even Allison Iraheta did well.

    If the judges pick the top 24, we won’t get a chance to see the contestants grown during the earlier rounds before getting in the top 12, which is why I prefer that to when they did the group rounds.

    I also think if they make dancing a criteria, it really changes the type of performer they are going after. I think just about all of Season 7’s top 12, and some of season 8 and 9 would not have made it were. It puts rock and country artists at a disadvantage, and they wouldn’t need dance skills anyway if they were doing that type of music. It definately favors a pop/r&B artist.

    And again I agree, I don’t like the way he puts down previous years. Just say we’re doing something different this year would be sufficient.

  37. I really think the changes will be nothing but counterproductive. If anything, by eliminating the Hollywood rounds and going straight to a top…however many, they’ll probably only allow 1 of the (dare I mention it) WGWG type through. They honestly will almost have to let at least one of them go on, otherwise they’ll probably lose a good chunk of their viewing audience because some people will say “there’s no one I really like on there.” Now, maybe they’ll honestly be really good (there could be a DC or maybe a Michael Grimm type). Maybe they’ll be a total joke. But the thing that it seems you can count on, that person will get votes – and they won’t be fighting for them through the Hollywood rounds or the first part of the top 12 or anything…they’ll probably get a free pass through to about the top 4-5 or so just because they’re the favorite demographic and Nigel & Co. can’t change that.

    I just think giving the voters less input, by making their input later in the process, will only ensure that the voters flock towards someone that they really really don’t want winning. Plus, those extra couple voting rounds give people even more time to become more invested in someone by voting for them.

    And the backup dancers/music video stuff…just no. Maybe the rare performance might work with backup dancers but I don’t see any reason to get into that idea. It just totally doesn’t fit with the history of the show, and as people have said, how exactly will this be coming back to something familiar and whatever other bullshit when they’ve changed nearly every aspect of the show? The only big things I can think of that have remained the same are Ryan, Randy, people singing (I think they’re still going to have that), and unlimited voting. The sets will probably all change, the band is different (if there is one at all), the judging panel is almost all new, the minimum age has been lowered, instruments are going to be limited – anyone who has watched the show since the beginning is going to wonder just what the hell happened to it. Bring people in to shake their booty and start making music videos as part of the competition…heck, let’s just return to theme weeks and have an opera week and a rap week back to back, and then have all 3 judges tell all of them they just didn’t own the songs. Epic fail, Idol. Haven’t even seen any of it yet, probably won’t, and I already call it – epic fail.

  38. What they need:
    – better singers
    – better songs
    – longer songs

    Then, explore some things to see their limits, possibly
    – no band week (a cappella or self-accompanied
    – originals week

    Yes, I agree 100 percent! Nigel is going nuts with all the changes and all idol really needs is BETTER singers and songs. Go back to what made idol special. We enjoyed following the journey of our favorites and seeing a nobody become a somebody.

    Eliminating the top 24 would suck. Stop putting through so many fodders and put through some really talented people that deserve to be there. Nigel has way too much power again. I hope he doesn’t forget why idol was so successful to begin with. I hope he remembers why we watch. I understand all the changes but too many changes too soon seem really desperate. I hope this isn’t the beginning of the end for idol. I hope Nigel knows what he is doing? This is so sad.

  39. The more Nigel says about the new changes, the more I will miss the old Idol. This is a new show. How many 15 – 16 year-olds would know how to do these things unless they are in the business. He didn’t say it would be six girls and six guys. Obviously, the judges/management will have more control.

    I just don’t like the idea of an in-house mentor. If TPTB decide they want a certain type of singer, what will stop Jimmy from giving better advice to that person. What if he doesn’t click with a contestant. He will have a lot of power in determining which direction the contestant will be heading.

    There will be more scripted moments and manipulation. I just don’t know if this is going to work for me.

  40. I was all for the big changes until this whole no top 24 thing… I actually really like the semifinals, it’s when the real show starts for me. Oh well, as long as the bad audition episodes don’t drag on and on. I’m still trying to keep an open mind.

  41. So, Nigel is saying he doesn’t want people to hide behind a guitar. But he wants them to be able to dance. Most artists these days who dance as well as sing are less known for their vocal ability than the singer songwriter types.

    If he gets people that sing as well as dance, and then gets some that can dance but dont have good vocals, is he going to say that they are hiding behind their dancing?

  42. It’s pretty simple. They want to find someone that can sell a ton of records and make big money for the label. They don’t care about singer/songwriter, true artists, likeable, great back story, etc.

    It’s a business. AI has gone to far with the sentimental schmaltzy feel good stuff. It’s time to think about the bottom line. Show me the money.

    Yes S9 has him going nuts. At this point, you ended up with the winner and runner up that have questionable viability in bringing in the real prize which is money to the label. Any corporation in the world would be in a panic with these results.

    IMO, the changes are to get the AI viewers out of their Disneyland point of view and remind them that these people have to be commercially viable. I think Nigel is hoping that if he can make them jump a few more hoops, the audience will be able to differenciate nice person from commercially viable persona.

  43. I’m really hating these changes. The entire concept of the show is being changed.

    For those who are saying the voting system needs to be ‘fixed’, how many have lauded how ‘Dancing With the Stars’ does their voting, yet we have Bristol Palin in the finals? Voting blocs will rule whether it is 1 vote per person or unlimited per person.

  44. Just reading this for the first time. My initial gut reaction is… LOL “Ken someone is jacking up your show!” Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. ;)

  45. I think I’m getting excited again about watching Idol and with Steven Tyler in the mix it should be entertaining. Idol needs a drastic change and if that means losing some fans and bringing in the younger audience back they’ll risk it. I almost think that is what they are betting on. Idol will always focus on the vocals but you can get that and find someone who can work the stage. You should feel like you are watching them at their concert.

  46. eadon:
    11/18/2010 at 5:14 am
    It’s pretty simple. They want to find someone that can sell a ton of records and make big money for the label. They don’t care about singer/songwriter, true artists, likeable, great back story, etc.

    It’s a business. AI has gone to far with the sentimental schmaltzy feel good stuff. It’s time to think about the bottom line. Show me the money.

    Yes S9 has him going nuts. At this point, you ended up with the winner and runner up that have questionable viability in bringing in the real prize which is money to the label. Any corporation in the world would be in a panic with these results.

    IMO, the changes are to get the AI viewers out of their Disneyland point of view and remind them that these people have to be commercially viable. I think Nigel is hoping that if he can make them jump a few more hoops, the audience will be able to differenciate nice person from commercially viable persona.

    YES! all of THIS ^^^^ and hence the reason why Sony passed on renewing their contract.

  47. That’s how I interpreted it. Maybe there will be a different challenge every week, to incorporate a particular element into their performance.

    This sounds fun to me!

  48. But I would say David Cook and Adam Lambert are commercially viable. They have done nearly as well as other new artists have the past few years. Sold out headlining tours and platinum singles sounds viable to me. Having the #13 album at the Billboard year end countdown when other new artists were only slightly higher sounds sucessful to me.

    I think SOny passed because they wanted to focus on develping who they had, because why wouldn’t they keep the contract if they knew the show was going to change.

  49. That’s how I interpreted it. Maybe there will be a different challenge every week, to incorporate a particular element into their performance.

    Yes. That’s how I saw it too. I don’t think they have to do a video and an award style performance each week. Just that either might be the weekly challenge. That would spice things up a bit.

    And I don’t get why an award style performance has to be full of back-up singers and high-wire acts. Sure, those are fun, but every music award show I see feature artists how don’t get all blinged out and dance-happy. It will be a measure of the artist’s understanding of themselves on how they decide to work the award show. People who try too hard to be what they are not will fail. Those that understand what they are doing will do great. If you are singing a quiet song that doesn’t need a chorus line and Nigel makes you have dancers, have two dancers and sing off to the side. Imagine some of the moments from SYTYCD with a singer there singing. It could be magic.

    I’m trying to think of some other “challenges”. We’ve had some before. Sing with a band could be one.

    And again I agree, I don’t like the way he puts down previous years. Just say we’re doing something different this year would be sufficient.

    At least he puts down the show format rather than the contestants themselves (which is what Simon always did). With a final 24, they did have to put in some more obvious fodder and that could drag. Nigel’s not the first to comment on that.

    As previously announced, theme weeks will focus on decades rather than a particular artist.

    Okay, this makes me laugh out loud. Each week will feature a decade? If there are 11 rounds (ending in two finalists)? I can’t wait to see what kid manages to get “In the Good Old Summer Time” and who gets stuck with “The Bird on Nellie’s Hat” when they sing the songs from 1900-1909.

  50. I was excited for this year – now not so much. I can handle just about anything EXCEPT X-Factor-type productions – I just threw up in my mouth a little thinking about it.

  51. I think they ought to put in some challenges that harken back to ones from the past. For example:

    * The Syesha Mercado Challenge: Contestants pick from a bowl filled with obscure songs from animated films.
    * The Allison Iraheta Challenge: Contestants must perform a song while the judges try to distract them by drawing mustaches on each other, wrestling with each other, or playing paddle-ball.
    * The Jason Castro Challenge: Contestants perform their songs AFTER receiving their critiques from the judges.
    * The Danny Gokey Challenge: Contestants vie to produce a backstory video for themselves. Extra points for incorporating tragic life events.
    * The Jasmine Trias Challenge: Contestants try to bolster home-town pride by picking songs written about or for their particular state.
    * The Taylor Hicks Challenge: Contestants must create a catch-phrase to describe themselves, and then embody that phrase in their performance.
    * The Kevin Corvais Challenge: Contestants must choose and perform an age-inappropriate song.
    * The David Hernandez Challenge: During the week, the producers will leak something potentially embarrassing to the press about each contestant. The challenge will be to see who can best overcome the scandal.
    * The Kris Allen Challenge: Contestants have to perform duets together in a sudden death tournament. The loudest one from each match advances to the next round.
    * The Adam Lambert Challenge: Contestants try to perform their songs while the back-up singers scream in their ear monitors.

  52. I like the new changes. Nigel had to do something because change was needed. I do think that some of the past idols would not win now with these new changes. I still am not sure that idol will survive in the ratings.

  53. I hate to see them give up the top 24, unless they replace it with something that lets us get to know the contestants. In season 8, we got to the top 13 without having much of a clue about anyone,except a couple of standouts.

  54. Personally I don’t have much issue with a total show revamp. Hope fully the first priority will be finding a great singer with growth potential who can ultimately become a true American music Idol and sale records. to me that is what the show has been about. People want the winner to be commercially successful. It validates the win. Though fan bases say on boards things like, commercial success doesn’t really matter as long as my Fave is doing his thing and earning money doing what they love and staying true to themselves, etc that isn’t really what the show wants to be or should be IMO. I want someone who can come off idol and potentially compete with the big boys. It takes a lot to be a commercial music star. A voice that people enjoy(and yes though Kesha is big and not the best singer, her party girl semi rap is her thing. They never do hip hop etc on idol) good singers who are potentially big top 40 sellers will help Bring in new viewers. That is what will keep the show around. Maybe a few mistakes will be made but I know I will be tuning in to at least check out the talent. Maybe they will find someone who inspires me to call in and vote this year.

  55. Kirsten :
    Nigel did put down contestants when he said they were hiding behind their guitars the past few years. Simon at least recognized that some performances can be terrific with instruments.

  56. It’s a business. AI has gone to far with the sentimental schmaltzy feel good stuff. It’s time to think about the bottom line. Show me the money.

    Yup, because that schmaltzy stuff worked out so badly for SuBo. ;)Believe me they need both schmaltz and talent to make this show work.

    The dancing, video stuff sounds like crap. But I guess they have to prevent another WGWG win at all costs.

  57. They want to be assured that even with the new judges and new mentor, the old show that they loved will be restored back to it’s former glory with better casting, singers who can SING live and connect with a tv audience. The brilliant FOX campaign playing on the nostalgia is so at odds with Nigel’s plans. Come back to the AI you always loved, remember when you used to enjoy AI….only to turn it on and not recognize it?

    It would have been enough of a change, if they had gone back to concentrating on finding the best singer they could find. That doesn’t seem to have been the focus for a while now. Why should an aspiring singer know how to best promote themselves via a video at this point in their development? Absolutely ludicrous!

    I really loved the idea of the decades as themes and allowing each contestant to sing in their style. The rest of this doesn’t sound promising at all.

  58. LMAO Montavilla!!

    I want to know a little more about how this is going to be structured... I don't want TPTB picking the top 10,12 whatever. But other than that I think a “awards show performance’ week could be a lot of fun. I’m not sure how th video thing will work, but that souns interesting too.

    It’s a business. AI has gone to far with the sentimental schmaltzy feel good stuff. It’s time to think about the bottom line. Show me the money.

    The TV show is very profitable. They need to make that entertaining so people will watch. They need to crown a winner lots of people feel good about. If they do that, that person will be a star for a year, and everyone will make money. Long term career viability is in Universal’s best interest, and the winner’s. But not AI’s IMO.

  59. there was already too little time for music. Seems there will be even less with this contest thing..

  60. Here’s what I noticed every show that has come after American Idol that just did a Top 10, Top 12 there’s a pattern.

    The One had just a Top 11
    Status:Cancelled
    Gospel Music Channel Gospel Dream just had a top 10
    Status:Cancelled
    P.Diddy’s Starmaker had Just a Top 14
    Status:Cancelled
    TBN had a version of Idol called Gifted where they had only a top 8
    Status:Cancelled

    I’m just saying here.

  61. With a few small changes, the format has been the same for 9 years and based on the ratings and winner’s album sales over the past few years, the show just doesn’t reflect today’s music market.

    Yep. The disconnect: compare performances of season 9 contestants and season 9 guest performers. I think it was pretty clear from the beginning that season 9 won’t produce anyone that could after the show be in the same league as guest performers. Well, I think some TOP 24 contestants that didn’t make it to TOP 12 had some potential.

    I was actually very surprised that TPTB didn’t make some big changes before season 9…

  62. jpfan:
    11/18/2010 at 8:43 am
    It’s a business. AI has gone to far with the sentimental schmaltzy feel good stuff. It’s time to think about the bottom line. Show me the money.

    Yup, because that schmaltzy stuff worked out so badly for SuBo.

    What worked for SuBo was a surprising VOICE as well as an interesting story. Shmaltz doesn’t make 3 million people watch your audition video. Same with Jackie Evancho. A VOICE that made people pay attention.

  63. aneygotagun:
    11/18/2010 at 12:35 am

    For anyone thinking they are going to have to “switch” to X-Factor next year instead of Idol – please, watch an episode or two of the British (or worse still, the Australian) versions. X-Factor is truly horrendous and will have you quickly scampering back into Idol’s familiar arms.

    Well I can’t speak for the UK version but I’ve watched the whole season of the Aussie version & I have to disagree. It has been very entertaining. Sometimes the judges get the song choice wrong for their contestant & sometimes they go over board with production but as the weeks have progessed the performances have improved.
    I don’t think idol should be trying to mimic X factor though -all it needed was a few tweeks but Nigel has come in with a landslide.I agree with a lot of comments saying that this won’t help get the focus back on the singing.

  64. My big concern is that contestants have already mentioned how little time they have to work on their music during the finals. Now you’re tacking on more responsibilities so something else other than the music needs to be cut back.

    Also as far as getting down to the top 12, now it’s really going to be about casting, casting, casting. I don’t know if I trust them to get the right top 12.

    One thing that’s been tripping them up is that some of the people they like might sound great a cappella or acoustic but they struggle in front of a full band. You need to cast people who can handle all of those setting and mix it up.

  65. Yaddabing:
    I think the show has evolved and the next step was tohave original music. The changes they are doing are reversing this.

  66. Oh mein gott. This is going to be just f*#king fantastic. I’m pretty sure I can go the rest of my life without ever watching an AI contestant in an “awards-style” performance with cheezy dancers and all that shit. Luckily for me, I have Netflix.

  67. Yaddabing:
    I think the show has evolved and the next step was to have original music. The changes they are doing are reversing this.

    Idol is a singing competition, not songwriting competition. Not all contestants can or want to write music, so the show should not force them.

  68. and the next step was tohave original music.

    Trainwreck. Can you imagine the horrible crap we’d have to listen to if this was allowed?

  69. Also, maybee I’m alone but I disagree that the semifinals are dull. Top 24 night is always the show I’m the most excited about, because it’s a make or break night for 24 different people who are each given a shot at blowing away the audience. A lot of the best performances over the 9 seasons have come during that time IMO (All By Myself, Whipping Post, Wanted Dead or Alive, Hello, etc.).

    ITA. Instead of loving these singers because of back story, they gained a ton of support because of an exceptional performance.

    If Nigel wants to make changes, change the damn voting rules. That’s done more to kill the show than anything else has. Ten calls per line, no online voting. It’s got to be a small enough number that anyone older than a tween will bother to do it. And there are plenty of non-tweens who watch this show.

  70. Someone who is about to become a recording artist on a major label should at least be able to work with cowriters though even if they aren’t songwriters themselves
    It would still allow them to have thier own vision and still result in original music.

  71. Well, I for one don’t see 9, often horrendous, seasons of American Idol through rose colored glasses. The show has made enough mistakes over 10 years to fill more than several “what not to do again” memos.

    And so what it Nigel blasts contestants, runners-up and winners of AI from past seasons. It’s not like some of these people didn’t or haven’t achieved the success that an opportunity like AI could have set up for them. And geez, the voting public hasn’t been the best at picking some credible talent to showcase…I can remember dozens of top 12vers who were indescribably hideous and many were left hanging on for weeks and weeks while some very good singers were given the boot way to early.

    It’s like a good drama show on TV…many viewers cry a river when a character is eliminated saying nothing will compare with the original, and then low and behold the show gets some fresh energy and continues for many more seasons. (Law and Order was on for 19 years and not a single actor from the first show was on the last) so why should AI have to stick to all the old stuff just to cajole a few “traditionalist” fans.

    I’ll reserve my judgment of all the new stuff on AI until the season enfolds and I get to see it in context. And I applaud Nigel for at least getting AI out into the blogosphere again. After last year and the miserable show and lackluster performances and marginal contestants and really bad singing and a really underperforming tour it is nice to see someone, at least, trying to get some interest going for the new year.

  72. I don’t get the music video thing? Are they choosing the Top 12 from the music videos. This is looking more like the X factor, I think they are desperate.

  73. So instead of hiding behind guitars, S10ers get to hide behind big stage productions and dancers. Whatever, Nigel, but hiding is hiding.

  74. karenc:
    11/18/2010 at 8:35 am
    Kirsten :
    Nigel did put down contestants when he said they were hiding behind their guitars the past few years. Simon at least recognized that some performances can be terrific with instruments.

    “People sort of lost a little bit behind instruments. I see no reason why we won’t use guitars and pianos at least once or twice across the season, but I don’t just want them everyday behind the bloody guitar.”

    This is what was actually said to People Mag. Now he may have said something at another date.. but I never heard him say “the last few years”. He’s always seemed to intimate that the issue was last year.

  75. TreeFrog:
    11/18/2010 at 10:34 am
    So instead of hiding behind guitars, S10ers get to hide behind big stage productions and dancers. Whatever, Nigel, but hiding is hiding.

    Do we know if this is a single challenge or an ongoing expectation through the season yet? There is a big difference.

  76. Excited about no top 24-still pissed off about decade weeks

    This is actually a really fine line, jmo-If Nigel makes this work, AI could be AMAZING again—but, if he screw it up, well, RIP AI…

  77. Smart move! I like this, and yes it sounds like an X-factor clone, but the American audience will get to see this before X-factor…good.

  78. No where did Nigel say the contestants have to dance.

    I also think his main goal is not to find Universal a viable artist, but to make the show exciting again. The format has gotten a bit stale. I can’t fault Nigel for trying something different. Come week three if these challenges aren’t working out they can just stop them. I don’t see the problem with just trying. Also, it might help fill out the episodes. so much of idol is pointless filler.

  79. Do we know if this is a single challenge or an ongoing expectation through the season yet? There is a big difference.

    We don’t yet, the wording was ambiguous, but I think it is the first one.

  80. wjmtv, right on!

    Seriously, I think what I want out of the show is to just let the contestants be themselves. As the seasons have progressed, the show just seemed to get more controlled and contrived and less and less interesting to watch. So I guess it’s Netflix for me, too. Better yet, I think I’ll just start using my new Nook a lot more!

  81. Lol @ Nigel being desperate to fend off the war drums of X-Factor.

    Simon doesn’t play nice, if Nigel falls, Simon will definitely swoop in an destroy Idol.

  82. Wow….Kara would have LOVED these changes. With this challenge stuff, she would be free to say things like “complete package”, “star”, and “commercial” until she was blue in the face.

    I don’t like these changes. Seems like they’re trying to weed out the contestants who aren’t already camera ready and media savvy.

  83. Trainwreck. Can you imagine the horrible crap we’d have to listen to if this was allowed?

    Rockstar did it and it was hella entertaining. The problem with that show was that the prize was stupid (who can get excited about a young singer fronting a band of old dudes) but the actual show was awesome. Speaking of, has any announcement been made as to who is replacing Ricky Minor and crew? One change they could make for the positive is finding a younger group of talented musicians and bring the band out of the shadows to interact with the singers more.

  84. I think Nigel is hoping that if he can make them jump a few more hoops, the audience will be able to differenciate nice person from commercially viable persona.

    This is BULL. Every single one of the Top 10 could be “commercially viable” if that’s what producers wanted. They decide who makes it through to the judges, who makes it through to Hollywood, who makes it to the voting rounds.

  85. Well, since it is the producers/judges that will be picking out the TOP 12, I am sure they will ditch the Judge’s Save.

    Don’t be surprised to see Hip Hop music and dance moves. If anyone does rap an entire song – well, that’s different.

    Let’s see, Nigel will want performances with dancing. Maybe in the Group Performances? There goes live singing which I had hoped would return.

  86. Speaking of, has any announcement been made as to who is replacing Ricky Minor and crew?

    Yes. Jimmy Iovine will be “musical director” as it were.

  87. Jimmy Iovine will be “musical director” as it were.

    Druzilla, Iovine is a producer and In-House Mentor – the voice of Universal, which has “always been very, very jealous of this show, watching Sony Music have that platform” – according to this article from September 9th. There still hasn’t been any announcement about a live band and Band Leader to replace Ricky Minor and crew…AFAIK. All I’ve seen Nigel say in print is “We’re not just going to just copy the (song) tracks that have been there before.” This pre-supposes an arranger to write new ones – and a band to play them, maybe even new song choices, but no one says anything.

    So how much does no Top 24 reduce the number of available songs from each contestant, I wonder? It’s been falling steadily since Season7 – which topped out at 20. Although if the public isn’t invited in to the process until Top 12, when “…we actually present to America who we think the best singers are…” – will those 12 contestants be left scrambling to build a voting fanbase after they have been “coached and brought forward”? And would they even care so much? Would we? After all the Tour is practically pre-cast already by TPTB.

    Eh, it’s all too ambiguous. I’ll wait and see what sticks to the wall.

  88. The last thing Idol needs to do is try to emulate The X-Factor. They just need to return to the formula that worked well before 2008. Get rid of the guitars and make it an actual singing competition once again.

  89. I don’t like these changes. Seems like they’re trying to weed out the contestants who aren’t already camera ready and media savvy.

    I personally think they’re trying to get a head start on molding their little fledgling pop star so they’ll be ready as soon as they win to take off. But that’s just my take on it ;) and we’ll see what actually happens. Just give me a good cast of contestants and quit meddling and trying to tell me who to vote for… that would be a start.

  90. Paranoia setting in, Nigel? :) Wooohah, excited about all these changes. It’s like watching a whole year of X-factor, AI being the preliminary rounds and the X-Factor USA, the main show.

    If Nigel will start having backup dancers on AI, it looks like I’ll be expecting a helicopter landing on stage, ala-Miss Saigon on X-Factor very soon. :wink:

  91. Here is something interesting I found from this site a few months back, Nigel is quoted of saying this for his “tweaking” of idol:

    UPDATE: See the VIDEO of Nigel’s post SYTYCD press conference, after the jump!

    * A new round after Hollywood week but before America votes in which the remaining contestants are put through further mentoring and training to prepare them to perform.“Say we end up with 50 kids,” says Lythgoe. “I don’t want to give them to America. I think it’s really tough to say to America, ‘Here’s 50 people, who do you like? Vote!’ You’re voting on the song, or what they’re wearing, or because they’ve got a handsome or pretty face. You’re not voting on their talent, because you don’t know it! And why should you? I would love to whittle that down more…to take them through [a refining] process. You don’t want to expose a lack of talent; you want to celebrate the best talent that you’ve got.”

    From this article/blog here:
    http://mjsbigblog.com/nigel-lythgoe-paula-abdul-not-returning-to-idol-endorses-return-of-randy-jackson.htm

    I think this is what we will have instead of the top 24 rounds. What do you guys think?

  92. “Say we end up with 50 kids,” says Lythgoe.

    But they don’t – so why exaggerate? They end up with 24.* After quite a few auditions, according to the contestants, and plenty of time to assess the quality and history of those 24 on the part of TPTB. They have time to figure out an angle, a PR Story for each one, to decide who they think is fodder, or mid level, and who they want to promote with video clips, before they pick the Top 24. They always have.

    *Except for the abysmal decision to have a Top 36 – where we saw nobody very much, and which contradicted the “expose the best talent you’ve got “meme Nigel is touting now.

    No, we’re not voting on their talent if we haven’t even seen it displayed more than once. The concept of picking ALL the contestants for their talent, 24 out of the thousands who audition – why is that so hard? They all ought to be the “best Talent you’ve got”. There ought to be no ‘lack of talent’ to display – what are they doing there if talent is lacking? WTF did the Producers chose them for, in that case? (Rhetorical questions to which the answers are obvious)

    Nigel’s justifications make no sense – they are not logical – and as a smokescreen for a greater degree of control over the process, not even very effective. Picking a totally talented cast was always up to the Producers, and they always added fodder for the public to vote for instead. Their choice. And we (generic) know it.

    Try entertaining the audience without insulting them so overtly? Novel idea.

    He has no believability, no cred.

    IMO. Of Course.

  93. AI had it’s moment, but I think it’s pretty much run its course. As Nigel said, Simon Cowell was the star so if any remaining singing talent shows are to succeed at all even for a bit longer, my bet is with Cowell and his show. AI started getting infuriatig when season after season the wrong person would win, in particular when Adam Lambert was robbed by the mediocre Kris Allen. That’s what killed AI for me personally. And yes they do need to get rid of the guitars, we’ve had more than enough WGWG winners, we all know that! That being said, the real deal now is Glee. I would bet Simon Cowell views Glee as bigger competition for marketing his show than AI.

  94. they do need to get rid of the guitars, we’ve had more than enough WGWG winners, we all know that!

    Well, TPTB know that’s what ‘they’ want – so they try to make it sound like ‘more than enough’ – even though only one third of the winners have played guitars. That must be the quota, one third. Easy to sell – because they have been back to back – as soon as instruments were allowed.

    That seems to indicate, that given a choice, enough of the Idol audience prefers the guitar players, and perhaps ‘they’ are thinking two thirds of the winners being more traditional singers of some sort was more than enough! ‘They’ don’t seem to have a quota.

    Nigel and the rest of TPTB don’t want the audience to prefer guitar players, so they will add a few handicaps…and good luck with closing that barn door. I doubt they’ll take them right out – because the audience has shown a preference….what will they do – get a different audience, or change the show, and try to sell the spin on it to a different demographic majority?

    Fine line they are skating – but they are still the Number One show – so they’ll see what sticks.

    As for Simon being the star – that’s always been part of the problem – the judges as the stars instead of the contestants….just because they are a constant. Well, now they are not. Not for the last two seasons, and the one coming up, anyway. That ‘constant’ started to crumble when Paula was not rehired.

    We’ll see what happens if they really put the focus back on the contestants – or just talk the game.

    JMO.

  95. jpfan:
    11/18/2010 at 9:56 am

    and the next step was tohave original music.

    Trainwreck. Can you imagine the horrible crap we’d have to listen to if this was allowed?

    Yes! Can’t wait. Those are the best episodes. They could at least make it an option, so those wishing to push their own creations can do so.

    This sounds very America’s Next Top Model to me. A “teach” each week, and then the real photo/song. As has been said, I just worry there is less time screen time to actually get to know the contestants musical ability/personality.

  96. Incipit:

    Nigel and the rest of TPTB don’t want the audience to prefer guitar players, so they will add a few handicaps…and good luck with closing that barn door. I doubt they’ll take them right out – because the audience has shown a preference….what will they do – get a different audience, or change the show, and try to sell the spin on it to a different demographic majority?

    I think that is possibly what’s going on. I think the audience has changed the past few years too. I know a lot of people who never watched the show before they started allowing instruments. And I do think there is a lot of people that prefer this kind of singer. In part, I think this is the reason we have had a similar type of winner the past few years because it attracts the audience that likes this type, and it is a very popular type.

    My crazy theory is that by some of the interviews he is doing, Nigel is trying to make fans of guitar players not watch, and therefore not vote. But then they better hope that there are fans of the type they are trying to have.

    I know of some other tv programming who tried to cater to a younger demographic, and ended up not getting the audience, and in the meantime, lost the older demographic that was their core audience.

  97. Idol has a big problem, compared to lots of other reality shows: it needs a significant number of truly talented, truly interesting people with a sort of talent that’s not all that common. Plus, many of the people with that talent, aren’t interested in reality shows. Plus, they limit themselves to a very narrow spectrum of the talent (not all musicians, just singers) and a very narrow age range. Compare that to other reality shows:

    DWTS: very broad and lose definition of “star”, and the show actually benefits from finding people with no dancing talent. Brilliant concept and never ending pool of contestants.

    AGT: very broad and lose definition of talent, no age limitation. I think there will be a limited interest in the freak show aspect, but their sights are low, so, as long as there is interest, they’ve got all the relevant “talent” they need.

    Biggest Loser: unfortunately for society, but fortunately for the show, there are plenty of people needing to lose big. I have no idea how that show does in the ratings, but as long as people care about the concept, they’ll have the contestant pool they need.

    With Idol, I don’t think the concept is stale, it’s just waaayyyy harder for them to find the talent they need. And that’s what’s needed more than any redefining or refreshing: they just need really talented contestants, and they don’t grow on trees.

  98. Why is everybody acting like its the end and it will be canceled and it will be a horendous season? Its only the beginning IMO. And its about the contestants, not the judges.

  99. Oooh… NOT AT ALL digging the idea of music videos, award show style productions, etc. Too much distraction and silly nonsense from what I want to see and hear — the contestants singing. We already have to endure the weekly Ford car commercials and the group singing/dancing performance. That’s enough cheese. Changes like that will push me away from AI, not pull me in.

  100. Lizland:

    This sounds very America’s Next Top Model to me. A “teach” each week, and then the real photo/song. As has been said, I just worry there is less time screen time to actually get to know the contestants musical ability/personality.

    Oh God. Does this mean that there’s going to be Nigel-Mail?

    Nigel and the rest of TPTB don’t want the audience to prefer guitar players, so they will add a few handicaps…and good luck with closing that barn door. I doubt they’ll take them right out – because the audience has shown a preference….what will they do – get a different audience, or change the show, and try to sell the spin on it to a different demographic majority?

    Thing is, if they didn’t want guitar players, why select so many of them during Season 9? All top four contestants played guitars at least part of the time. Of the top twelve, at least seven were capable of playing guitars. Of the top 24, I think there were at least ten guitar players and one piano player.

    What puzzled me no end during Season 9 was that, if TPTB had been so set on Adam being the Chosen One, why didn’t they try to replicate his type in the next series? You would have thought gay theater boys would be crawling out of the woodwork. But the only Season 9 contestant who even came close was Siobhan and instead, the field was heavily weighted towards the singer-musician.

  101. Thing is, if they didn’t want guitar players, why select so many of them during Season 9?

    Exactly, Montavilla. Nothing exposes the hypocrisy of Nigel’s WGWG meme, and how it’s all the viewer’s and voter’s fault better than that question.

    the field was heavily weighted towards the singer-musician.

    Nigel wasn’t there for Seasons 8 and 9 – TPTB picked a guitar heavy line up in Season9, looking for a specific type of winner, without paying attention to variety, stagecraft, or quality of vocals – it didn’t work, spectacularly. And that simply can’t be their fault – so they needed Nigel to spin a scapegoat. Which is the guitars, and the audience.

    IMO.

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