Tuesday, January 4, 2011

American Idol Season 10 -- Are you in or are you out?

In just over two weeks, it all starts again.  Another season of American Idol, the cultural phenomenon that restarted the TV talent show genre, launched a few genuine stars and gave us endless shots of Simon Cowell in too tight T-shirts.  But what's old is new again as its 10th season promises significant changes.  From new judges to a new signing label, new mentor to a new musical director, the show will look and feel quite different, while being very familiar.

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:

or this:

or this:

or this:

How can I miss out on any of that?  Okay, I'm in.


  1. I will be watching no matter who the Judges are. I feel these contestants ARE the stars, or stars to be. I usually pick my few favorites and watch them grow, stay...or sadly leave. Although the last 2 years had me wondering just who was voting (or not voting)...I will do my duty and vote for those I want to see win. I watched this from day one, and will continue. Sometimes the bad auditions are a bit strange, but that is the way it goes. I would like to give someone else "their" dream if possible. I also will add, that I enjoy the "guest" singers that show up. I do hope that Idol will pass the test for those who think it will be boring. I for one..will concentrate more on the Contestants themselves..

  2. Karen Smith from HillsboroJanuary 4, 2011 at 3:23 PM

    I've been in all nine seasons. I always picked my favorites during the audition portions. Loved Kelly Clarkson, Kelly Pickler, Carrie, Daughtry, David Archuletta and Danny Gokey. I voted a few times. But I never voted for two hours straight on two phones or wrote a fan letter or joined a fan club until CASEY (let alone devote so much time to a blog like Shari, Glenda and Mickey have). I can't imagine anyone capturing my attention like him. But I'll be glued this year. Somebody's got some big ole' "boots" to fill.

  3. i can't wait for the show to start,i hope it can keep my interest.i don't think there will
    ever be anyone i'll cheer for like i cheered
    for casey james.final chapter for this wonderful story would be kelly join him in nashville.i love a good ending to a good love story.

  4. I think it's going to be an interesting year for AI at the least, so I'll probably be glued to the Tube to see the if there is chemistry between the judges and of course real talent among the contestants. Unless it is really disappointing I will see it through the season this year. First of all, I loved to hate Simon so that will be hard to replace with the new judges. Second, hopefully there will be someone half as charming and captivating as Casey though I doubt that is possible. In that respect AI has probably peaked (The Casey experience is too special to be replicated)...but the one thing that will stay the same is that I am totally in awe of the contestants courage to endure so much for a chance at their dream. Producers work those guys hard during their time on the show and the top contestants on the tour. In that respect they are all heros!!

  5. Kathy/Katherine?KraniaJanuary 4, 2011 at 8:06 PM

    You always crack me up! I just am so identifying with what you express! and ditto what Karen said, "I can't imagine anyone capturing my attention like him" What a crazy, awesome and amazing experience this has been, and I never even left the comfort of my home! But I have been on a virtual journey throughout the country, to Texas, New York, Los Angeles and Nashville. And I have met and had conversations with dozens of women whom I have never heard their voices. By the way, yes, I will watch AI 10. I don't think the young kids will be able to keep up with the pressures. I noticed the older, more seasoned contestants lasted longer and got in top 10. Even tho Aaron Kelly is young, he's been at music for years. I disliked most of the guest musicians last year. But this year I want to be there when Casey is sangin his single!!!

  6. I started watching Season 5 and swore several times I was done with it. I hated the increased focus on the phone-it-in, self-involved lazy judging panel and less focus on the contestants who I actually tune in to see. I hate the endless commercials, promos and efforts to extract money from my wallet.

    That said, when you find a singer/musician who touches your heart, it's worth the investment. Casey made up for a whole lot of the bad that was last season. I love being along to watch his success and knowing I got be a little part of it. That is really what it's all about.

    I will almost certainly tune in again for season 10... I'm actually look forward to a fresh judging panel of actual performers who have been there themselves.

  7. Last year was an absolute lowpoint for me, with Kara making it The Kara Show – a show which I have zero interest in watching. Actually less than zero, if that's possible. So anywhere the show goes now, it can only be an improvement as far as I'm concerned... Even if it becomes too much about Tyler and J-Lo (which I actually don't think it will), at least they're frickin stars and for a reason (charisma)! I'd rather watch that show than the Kara show.

    But I hope they'll steer the focus back to the contestants. Going back to three judges is a start, and what you're describing above about Jimmy Iovine (I LOOOOOOOVE patti Smith!) and the mentoring and whatnot does sound very promising.

    Yeah, I'll be watching. :p

  8. I will watch the new version of Idol just out of curiousity. If I like it, I will continue. I will watch the night Casey preforms his first single too.

    I don't expect anyone to gain my attention or loyality as Casey James did. He is my #1 AI contestant for life:)

  9. this website is slowly fading away,even when there's new stuff to report on about casey there might be 10 comments.i always look on here several times aday for new casey news and
    most of the time i add my comment.there's too
    much stuff on unknown artists.

  10. Anonymous,
    I started a new blog that is exclusively about Casey James and is updated often. It's at http://burnthismedia.wordpress.com. Go check it out! I will be blogging season 10 of American Idol here after it starts.