Randy Jackson spoke to the press today about his new role as American Idol mentor. The show veteran promises broader themes, creative arrangements and interesting song choices.
He also dished on what it was like working with alums Adam Lambert and Chris Daughtry during the all new Idol “boot camp,” portions of which will air during the semi-final round next week.
Randy is the same ole “dawg” lapsing into superlatives to pimp the new format and judges. He continually referred to season 13 as “refresh Idol 2.0.” Which is just so…Randy. Isn’t it? Check out highlights from the interview, below.
- Randy felt like he had said and done everything he could as a judge. It was time to step away. “I’m a big evolution guy,” he said. He’s excited to begin a new role as mentor, to be “hands on” with the kids and to impart “some of the wisdom” he’s gained over his 35 year career.
- The current judges are all “dear friends” of Randy’s. He thinks they are doing an amazing job. They have a natural chemistry that’s not forced.
- Randy promises to dissuade contestants from singing “done to death” songs. “You always want to try to come up [with something] a little unique and a little different,” There are exceptions. “Unless you’ve got a different twist on that song.” Also, he would raise a red flag about a song that had been really “did up” by a former successful contestant, to avoid the inevitable comparisons.
- Randy WILL encourage unexpected arrangements of songs. “I want more of that!” he said. “We just had an intense workshop with them. I talked about that. If you want to do “Hallelujah” do you have a different version of it? What [unique arrangements do] for the judges and the public–it lets you know the real range of their talent. If they can take something and move it around like that and make it really creative, you go ‘WOW I didn’t know your talent was that deep!’ “
- Randy noted that the talent pool is young this year. “It’s a very different pool. And what I’m so impressed about the show–people just continuously turn up for Idol. It’s just really talented kids. This season is different than any other season. We’ve got some really really unique kids.” At least he didn’t say it was THE BEST SEASON EVAH. Heh.
- Randy wanted to have Adam Lambert and Chris Daughtry as part of his workshop “I’ve been doing [Idol] since it started,” he said, “I have a wealth of knowledge, but they were actually in the trenches of people you’re actually judging, so they can tell it from a completely different side.” Randy continued, “The two of them are so different, but they are also equally really really talented. Both of their seasons I thought both of them would win (laughs). During the season, you just never know. And they both have had amazing careers. They were able to impart a lot of wisdom on what they go through.”
- Randy said they talked about EVERYTHING in the workshop. “We really wanted to break it down for the kids.” He continued, “We went through everything that we could. I think it really helped the kids a lot. Adam and Chris did a great job.”
- Adam and Chris have proven themselves as artists and “gone on to amass great careers that are still running strong, and they weren’t even the winners. I wanted the kids to see that, see their knowledge. See their sense of self. See what they thought when they were on the show auditioning. It’s just such an insight that none of the contestants had ever really had.”
- The Workshop is something Randy has wanted to do for a long time. “It was one of the things I talked about when I first decided to be a mentor. It’s something that’s been needed. I think it’s going to help the kids a lot.” Randy hopes to hold the workshop for many seasons to come.
- Randy swears he doesn’t’ miss being a judge. “When I walked away, I was really done with it. I’d done everything I thought I could do. I couldn’t even figure out another way to stay stuff.” He’s happy in his new role as a mentor because “It’s what I do anyway as a record producer, as a manager of artists…it’s what I do, I nurture talent.”
- Randy believes there are frontrunners, but he refused to name anyone. “The edge seems to be in the girls favor, but I think the boys could come up and surprise everyone.”
- Randy promises “twists and changes” in the theme weeks.“I don’t think the themes are as narrow as they used to be. I think you’ll like where we are going with the themes this season.”
- Randy counseled the new panel to call it as they see it. In particular, Randy thinks Harry Connick Jr. is hilarious and only “harsh” when he has to be. “If you walked into a typical audition today in a room and there weren’t cameras in there, you might not even comment! You might just go ‘NEXT’ (laughs).”
- On MK Nobilette coming out to the judges on camera last night. Randy said, “I’m really proud of her, and really happy for her. Who would have thought in 2014 you’d have to do that? I’m always surprised…we should have come a lot further a lot faster.” Randy added, “We’ve NEVER said that you can’t do this, you can’t do that. It’s never about who you are, or what you do…or where you’re from. It’s always really about the talent.”
- Randy has not heard the new album from American Idol winner, Candice Glover. He heard just a little bit of the single. “I wish her all the best,” he said, “She’s definitely one of the greatest singers that we’ve had on here. If the record is amazing, she’ll do well. The success for contestants after the show is all about great songs.”
- Randy’s approach will be “completely” different from former mentor, Jimmy Iovine’s. “I love Jimmy, and I think he was great,” Randy stressed. But he “really want to be more hands on and nurturing…to help them a little bit more.” He wants to dive deeper into the song choices and arrangements.
- He’d love to see Simon Cowell back on the panel, “He’s a dear friend for life. He’s one of the greatest to ever do it. Of course are you kidding? It would be amazing.” Randy warns to never count Simon Cowell out.
- On why Idol is special, “I think it’s the best show of it’s kind on TV. When you look at what the show set out to do–to find the next undiscovered superstar–we’ve produced a lot of talent. We’re the only show that can say we have successful contestants from this format. That’s the test of how well it’s done. I don’t even know if any of those other shows will be on 13 seasons.”