Nigel Lythgoe Previews the Upcoming Season of American Idol

Producer, Nigel Lythgoe,  spoke to reporters yesterday via  a phone conference call.   The main topic of discussion was  the  upcoming season of American Idol. Season 7   premiers with a 2-hour show on FOX, Tuesday, January 15.

What Nigel Said…

YAY:   More kids, less mentors. The contestants can play instruments, at least in the early rounds.   There might be a Beatles night.  No fake eliminations during Idol Gives Back.

NEIGH: No plans to cut  out bad  singers during the audition phase to make room for  more footage of potential contestants.  There are SEVERAL teenagers  who  could potentially make it to the semis.  Nigel is talking like he already knows who the Top 12 will be.    Can we vote first?  

Nigel also talked a bit during the conference about  The Next Great American Band.

Here are some choice quotes  from the press conference:

After the Jump!

“What I want to do is ensure the talent is strong, because that is what will make people come back, and I think that’s what we forgot at the end of last season…It’s not about the judges and its not about the mentors, it’s about the program as a whole, and first and foremost, it’s about the kids.”

Have we been saying this or what?   I said something really similar back in November…

“I think we got carried away with the mentors last season for sure…We will spend more time talking to the kids about their lives [and] what they want from this competition.”

Ya think? More emphasis on the contestants, YES.

“I think we are all paid to say that [Simon said that this year’s Top 12 will be the strongest ever] every year. I would say we have got some excellent individuals. Last year, I said I thought it would be our strongest Top 12, and I still stand by that, even though a lot of people dissed us last year with our final group. But as a group, they were the strongest one, I think, of other years, where we have had bad people in it, and you kept your fingers crossed that they are going to be voted out, or you are embarrassed by them. I wasn’t embarrassed by anyone last year, even young Sanjaya, I thought, came through with all the hits he was taking. I thought as a group, the Melinda’s, the Blake’s, Chris’s, they were all pretty strong.”

I’m so glad he’s owning up to the fact that they all talk this crap at the beginning of every season–including Season 6.   And I’m also happy that he’s not dumping on last year’s contestants.   I  suppose he’s leaving that job to Simon…

“This year, I think there will be standout individuals right from the beginning. This year, it won’t be like seeing somebody grow like Jordin did last year. I watched her go up the ladder of voting. This year, I think, you are going to go, ‘Wow! He is great.’ They are going to be standout very, very quickly.”

o rly?

“That’s what ‘American Idol’ is in the first stages…It’s Cirque du Lack-of-Talent, if you want to call it that. It’s all the ones that we can smile at and laugh at and say ‘Thank God it wasn’t us.'”

Ugh.   That’s Nigel explaining why they certainly won’t be cutting back on the bad singers during the audition episodes.    At the very least, I hope they don’t pick on people who don’t know better.

[Will they consider showing every semi-final contestant’s audition tape?] “Not necessarily. I say that because all I am interested in at the end of the day is turning out a good show. If they are as boring as hell in front of the camera, I am not going to show them, so they should be grateful that they are not seen, to be frank with you. Once they do something interesting or good, we will show that. That’s our job.”

Aaaand….that’s more on why Nigel won’t be featuring more potential contestants during the audition phase. Sigh.

[Contestants were allowed to play instruments during the audition rounds]   “We did that on the Hollywood week. For some it worked out brilliantly. Three that I am positive are going to be in our Top 12 — as much as you can be — were terrific. A couple of others really crashed and burned very quickly. It is difficult to play the drums and sing in tune. Even  Karen Carpenter  wasn’t that good at doing that.”

 The producers still haven’t decided whether the contestants will be able to play instruments during the competition.   My cynical opinion is that  the decision  will depend on  whether the contestant(s) they’d like to advance are musicians or not…In any case, I like the idea of contestants  being allowed to play  instruments.

This program will be around as long as people want it around…If we lost 50% of our audience tomorrow, we’d still be the biggest show on television … [but] I’ve never believed that the television audience is the same as the record-buying audience. If that were true, then, my God, they’d be selling 60 million albums as opposed to 2 million albums. It doesn’t always translate … [but] I don’t necessarily look on that as a reflection of, ‘Oh, people aren’t going to watch the show next year because Jordin Sparks’ record opened softly.'”

True enough.

More  to look for in Season 7:

  • The show has already signed 2 celebrity guests. However, Nigel has promised not to go overboard with the mentors this year.
  • Nigel says the standouts will include three “brilliant 16-17 year olds” OMG they’re only 17!!!
  • On Idol Gives Back, there will be no fake eliminations.   In fact, there will be NO eliminations.   The IGB special will air Wednesday, April 9.   The elimination show will stand separate, scheduled on Thursday night of that week.   Wasn’t I just sayin?
  • The Philadelphia auditions will probably be first, or one of the first to air.   Nigel feels that San Diego had the best talent.
  • Nigel wants to do a Beatles night.   Paul McCartney will not be  appearing on the show.  
  • Even if the writers strike continues through the winter, Nigel has no plans to expand Idol to additional nights.

Nigel talks a bit about The Next Great American Band:

  • Nigel thinks the show’s  low ratings are a  combination of people having a hard time connecting with a band, plus the terrible time slot.   Err, I say it’s  the crappy time slot, plus poor promotion.
  • Says Nigel, “If you’ve really got any common sense, instead of watching [bands] on television on Friday night, you’re actually out enjoying yourself watching bands.”
  • He loves Denver and the Mile High Orchestra–as a corporate act.   He  really likes   Sixwire, but believes their time has come and gone.  He thinks The Clark Brothers will be a great opening act, will record well, and  can look forward to  a long career.
About mj santilli 34266 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!