Part of the formula will stay the same -- we'll see the good and bad auditions, learn various heart-tugging personal backstories and watch as the field is winnowed to a lucky few who will vie for our votes. There appears to be more involvement by the record label during the show than in previous years. According to an article by Shirley Halperin in today's Hollywood Reporter:
Producer-songwriters handpicked by Universal Music Group’s Interscope Geffen A&M Records Jimmy Iovine will mentor the contestants… will help them with song selection, then arrange and produce the musical accompaniment — a prerecorded track augmented by a live band — specifically for each contestant. And for the first time ever, the contest won’t be limited solely to cover songs.
Anyone familiar with the genius that is Jimmy Iovine cannot help but hold on to some hope that this could be a great year for the AI franchise. He produced Patti Smith's Easter which had one of my favorite songs of hers of all time, Because the Night. He's worked with John Lennon and U2 and Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen. In a recent interview, offering his advice to those trying to enter the music industry, he said they have to work on their craft and be multi-talented and he stressed the importance of being able to write your own songs and have a unique sound. He cares about music and talent -- that is a good thing.
Having said all that, I'm still a tad hesitant to jumping into the AI pool this year. If you're reading this, you likely know that last year I started this blog to support AI contestant Casey James. I had never done anything like that before and don't ever intend to do that again. Unlike many of Casey's fans, who were also on Team Danny or Team Bucky or some other AI contestant in the past -- this was my first (and only, I swear!) venture into the world of AI fandom.
Having become so (some might say) obsessed with one AI contestant has been time-consuming and exhausting. It caused me to be an interactive, proactive viewer of the show and follower of the contestant. Can I go back to passively watching the show? Can I find other contestants to root for, whose performances I look forward to and whose success on the show I care about? And can I do this with the show looking so different?
While I was never a fan of Kara Dioguardi and did not share Simon Cowell's questionable taste in music, the prospect of watching Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez offering their insight into this new talent pool is a little scary. I can't help but wonder if the extent of Tyler's criticism will be open your mouth wider or get more scarves. What will J.Lo suggest -- be hotter, wear more revealing clothes?
Still, I suppose I won't be able to stop myself and I will tune in. Because, for all the fancy wrapping, this is at its heart a show about making dreams come true. Even with all the craziness of the past -- Paula's loopiness or Simon's prickliness or Ryan Seacrest's cheesiness -- it is about giving singers a shot. And somewhere out there, in the already spoiled list of who made the top 40, is someone who's been singing along to the radio their whole life, or writing songs since they were ten, or practicing their instrument when others were out playing. Someone who loves music, lives for it, and is looking for that one shot to pluck themselves out of obscurity and show the world what they can do. Someone who will give us a moment like this:
How can I miss out on any of that? Okay, I'm in.