Idol Chit-Chat
This is your place to discuss all things "American Idol." The performances, the judges, the past contestants — it’s all right here.

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Bonus Non-Idol Review: Phil Collins

Because of the connections I make in covering Idol-related projects, I occasionally have the opportunity to review non-Idol related projects. Here is one of those…

I admit it. I have missed Phil Collins. So it’s great to have him back with a new album, “Going Back.”

And the fact that it’s a cover album of Motown classics? Well that’s just a great bonus…

Collins recreates the sound of the original songs with the help of three members of the legendary Funk Brothers (the in-house Motown band) in addition to some of his longtime musical collaborators. And the result is pretty amazing as you almost feel like you’re back at the Motown studio.

You can tell by the way Collins attacks these songs just how much they mean to him. You can’t help but tap your toes as he works his way through “Girl (Why You Wanna Make Me Blue),” “(Love Is Like a) Heatwave,” “Uptight (Everything’s Alright),” and “Standing in the Shadows of Love.” Collins also takes on smooth ballads like “Some of Your Lovin’” and “Blame It On the Sun.” Of course, the standout for me is The Temptations’ classic, “Papa Was a Rolling Stone,” which Collins gives his own solo spin.

Collins shows a lot of respect to the original artists by not trying to do anything too crazy with these classics. Instead he just embraces them and gives them all he has.

The biggest problem with the CD is that it’s just too long. Yes, these songs are short, but after the first 14 songs, you’ve pretty much got the point. 18 is just too many. And he saved some of the most well-known classics like “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” for the deluxe version of the CD, which actually features 25 songs.

If you’re a Phil Collins fan, this is a must-have. If you’re a Motown fan, you’ll enjoy this one too. You may just stop it before it reaches the end…

“Going Back” hits stores tomorrow…

Photo Credit: Atlantic Records

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Changes Explained A Little More...

Here is the link to my column in today's "Herald-Dispatch" that explains the basic changes to the "Idol" format a little clearer...

You can read it here...

The Triumphant Return of Nigel

Over the years, I have had my problems with “Idol” executive producer Nigel Lythgoe. I haven’t always liked his style. And I have still not forgiven him for his blatant sabotage of Syesha Mercado in order to get a David vs. David finale in Season 7.

But I must admit that there was something about his presence at the press conference yesterday that I actually enjoyed. He was downright blunt about the problems of the show—even with the producer of the two previous seasons setting right next to him. He took shots at Miley Cyrus as a mentor, at past Idol winners (saying that after Kelly and Carrie you run out of Idols), and he took shots at contestants last season who just stood and played the guitar.

He pulled no punches yesterday. And honestly, he doesn’t need to. He has been brought in as the show’s savior and he knows it. He probably was pushed out of the show and now they’ve come crawling back.

I have to admit. I’m a little jealous about that…

I’m sure at some point he’ll do something to tick me off. But at this point, I’m on Team Nigel.

And if he actually gives the show the renaissance he’s promising, I might even forgive him for that Syesha mess…maybe…

Photo Credit: Frank Micelotta/FOX

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

In Tomorrow's H-D...

Just a reminder that you can get my thoughts on the “Idol” changes in Thursday’s “Herald-Dispatch” as my “Stay Tuned” column makes room for “Idol”…

And I’ll have much more to say here in the next few days, so Stay Tuned…

Highlights From Today's Press Conference

All the Internet sites I have read today about the big announcement is about Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler. But to me that’s not the real story. We already knew about them. What we didn’t know was about the other changes…

And we didn’t find those out at the presentation, or in the press release. Those revealed themselves in the press conference that finally started at around 2 p.m. today.

The biggest change—and the real story in my opinion—is the addition of an in-house mentor. His name is Jimmy Iovine. Here’s his bio from the official FOX press release:

“Jimmy Iovine, acclaimed music executive and record producer, is chairman of Interscope Geffen A&M Records, a unit of Universal Music Group, the global music leader. Interscope, the company Iovine founded with partner Ted Field in 1990 is celebrating its 20th anniversary with its continued commitment to its diverse and gifted artists, including Eminem, Lady Gaga, Dr. Dre, U2, Sheryl Crow, The Black Eyed Peas, Mary J. Blige, Nelly Furtado and No Doubt. Iovine also heads up Beats by Dr. Dre, the enormously successful high-performance headphone and sound transmission company he co-founded with legendary artist and fellow producer Dr. Dre in January 2008. Iovine began his career in the mid-1970s first as a recording engineer (John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen) and then as a producer (U2, Dire Straits, Stevie Nicks, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Patti Smith). He co-produced the hit Eminem movie “8 Mile” and Jim Sheridan’s “Get Rich or Die Tryin’” starring 50 Cent, and he executive-produced the critically acclaimed LeBron James documentary “More Than A Game.” Iovine co-produced two consecutive Super Bowl Halftime Shows; one in 2002 featuring U2, and the other in 2003 featuring Shania Twain, No Doubt and Sting.”

Remember that Interscope Geffen A&M Records is the new label home for the “Idol” winner…

Iovine joined the judges, Ryan Seacrest, executive producers Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick and Mike Darnell, president of alternative entertainment for FOX, for today’s press conference. Here’s a sample of some of the things that came out of it…

On who will replace Simon as the bad guy:
Randy Jackson: “There’s not going to be a villain.”
Nigel: “It’s about playing yourself.”
Mike: “It’s a whole new time.”
JLo: “I believe in tough love, but I could never be cruel to another artist.”
Nigel: “Jimmy will bring a lot of toughness.”

On the “Idol” experience:
Steven Tyler: “It’s gonna be hard, but it’s also going to be fun. You spot it, you got it.”

On the reports of her diva demands:
JLo: “I’m used to it. I was calming down the FOX people. The truth eventually shows itself.”
Nigel: “There was so much rubbish out there.”
Mike: “There were no diva demands [from any of them]. They were typical deals.”

On changes to the format:
Nigel: “Having Universal there is fabulous. We’re going to look at the uniqueness of the artist. There will be a whole new set of rules. We’re not just copying tracks.”
Jimmy: “We’re going to bring the artists along and give them more input. We’re looking for originals. We have producers that will work with them each week.” He names Timbaland and Polo, who were at the press conference. “Someone has to work with them every week. We’re going to bring originality to that cover song. We’re going to show the audience that progress.”
Nigel: “We’re no longer protecting a brand. We’re being given the opportunity of recreating the magic we started with.” Nigel also mentioned making changes to the middle rounds that have always made him uncomfortable, but he didn’t mention specifics, or what he meant by middle rounds.
Jimmy: “Every week the best producers in the business will be bringing them along like they would any other artist. You’re really going to enjoy it.”
Nigel: After complaining about the number of contestants last season that just stood and played guitar, Nigel said with this season’s contestants, “We will want them to move.”
Ken: “They will need to present themselves. It’ll be a big step up musically.”

On whether there will be guest judges:
Nigel: “We’ll be sticking with three judges. We’re always open if there’s someone else who wants to jump in.” Nigel used the example of Elton John wanting to do the show as something they wouldn’t turn down. He also said they were not planning to use mentors since they had Jimmy. And then, he took a shot at Miley Cyrus, making a comment about her being a mentor.

On the judges’ chemistry:
Randy: “It’s a natural fit. We’ve known each other for a while. I think you’re gonna love this.”
Ryan: “There’s massive heart and soul inside Steven Tyler.”
Randy: “We’ve got a bond already, just naturally.”

On whether ratings will fall without Simon:
Nigel: “We can’t replace Simon…I don’t want the judges to worry about ratings. I want the focus to go back on the kids.”

On what his bandmates think:
Steven: “I’ve been married to them for 40 years. It’s five guys, so that’s worse than women. At first they were jealous…Things go up and down. In a band you live on the tail of a comet…They’ve been judging me every day. And sometimes it hurt.”

On why they wanted to be a part of “Idol”:
Jimmy: “It’s an extraordinary platform for music. I was always jealous [of Sony, the show’s former label]. This is an evolution. We’re gonna bring our best game. It will be something you’ve never seen musically. I can guarantee that.”
JLo: “It felt right.”
Steven: “I think I can add to [the show].”

On the performances:
Nigel: “You’re no longer going to get the country singer to sing rock…It will be more decades than individual artists. They’re going to be singing the genre Jimmy thinks [will be successful for them].”
Randy: “It’s a new beginning.”

On whether things are a little more serious this year:
Nigel: He commented that when you name Idols you say Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood and then “you run out of Idols.” “We have to go back to creating an American Idol…It’s still going to be fun.”
Jimmy: “We’re trying to make the music better. Every week, they need to progress. They have to be coached.”
Nigel: “We’re still going to get their backstories. The audience still has to like them as people.”

Photos Credit: (L-R) Seacrest, Jackson, Iovine, Lopez, Lythgoe, Warwick & Darnell--Frank Micelotta/FOX; Jackson, Tyler & Lopez--Frank Micelotta/FOX

BIG Changes are Coming!

The "Idol" press conference just wrapped up, wnd there were some pretty significant changes brought out involving Jimmy Iovine and his role as a mentor...

Here's a hint: No more artist theme nights. Seriously...

I'm on deadline for the print edtition right now, but keep checking back for more updates later in the day...

Getting Season 10 Off to a Rough Start

Let’s face it. The 10th season of “Idol” has already gotten off to a disastrous start…

As I reported yesterday, the big announcement of the new judges was going to air live via Ustream at 1 p.m. ET. But 1:05 came, and still nothing. And then, there was video, but no audio whatsoever. It was a total failure. And thanks to our new social media age, people were able to complain about that failure instantly.

Finally, 13 minutes into the announcement, we were able to get some scratchy audio. I’m sure the announcement as a whole will be posted on the “Ameican Idol” website, but that is not the point. We were all promised a live announcement and we didn’t get it. In my opinion, it was a disaster and a terrible way to start off the season.

By the way, we are still waiting on the press conference to begin streaming. I have no idea whether it will work or not…

Some Insight Into J-Lo's Deal

So some of you may be asking, why would Jennifer Lopez join “American Idol”? A FOX press release that popped up in my Inbox at the same time as the “Idol” announcement may shed some light…

According to the release, JLo has “entered a new deal with both Twentieth Century Fox Films and Fox Broadcasting Company, creating a ‘first-look’ film agreement for her company Nuyorican Productions.”

Interesting, no?

Stay Tuned. I’ll have MUCH more throughout the afternoon…

The Official Announcement Is Made

Here, hot off the press from FOX, is the official press release on the new "Idol" judges--Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez--and the return of Randy Jackson. PLUS, there's a pretty interesting detail about the addition of Jimmy Iovine as an "in-house mentor."

Season 10 is already off to a VERY rough start, and I'll have more on that following the official press conference. For now, here's that press release...

Golden Globe-nominated actress, platinum-selling recording artist, movie producer and entrepreneur Jennifer Lopez and multiple Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter, and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Steven Tyler, the frontman of Aerosmith – the best-selling American rock band of all time – have joined AMERICAN IDOL as judges. Lopez and Tyler will join returning IDOL judge Randy Jackson for the 10th anniversary season, which premieres January 2011 on FOX.

In addition, Jimmy Iovine, chairman of Interscope Geffen A&M Records, co-founder of Beats Audio and one of the world’s most successful and prolific music producers, will join AMERICAN IDOL as an in-house mentor. Throughout the season, IDOL will go behind-the-scenes to feature Iovine working with and lending his expertise to the contestants as they compete to become the next American Idol. As part of Universal Music Group’s long-term alliance with AMERICAN IDOL, Interscope Geffen A&M will market, promote and distribute albums globally from AMERICAN IDOL finalists and winning contestants across a broad array of retail and new media platforms.

“For nine years I’ve enjoyed watching artists compete to get a meaningful chance to achieve their dreams,” said Lopez. “I know from my own experience how hard it is to succeed, and I’m looking forward to discovering and nurturing that spirit in the many AMERICAN IDOL contestants I look forward to meeting this year.”

“I’ve been on tour for most of my life in a band with four guys who judge me every day. Sometimes it hurt, but it only made me stronger,” said Tyler. “I want to give everybody a little love before I decide who goes home heartbroken. If you don’t like what I say, don’t get mad, get better. I’m ready to bring some rock to this ‘roller’ coaster and show these kids if they have the dream, the talent and the drive, they will be the next American Idol.”

“I can’t believe it’s been 10 years of the greatest show in the world,” said Jackson. “I am looking forward to this next season; we are going to knock it out of the park. Season 10 is going to be hot!”

“We are all thrilled to have Interscope Geffen A&M now be the distributor for AMERICAN IDOL’s music,” said Iovine. “I’m looking forward to working as a mentor on the show, where I’ll work with the talent to help them develop and grow week to week. This will also give the audience a deeper look into the artists’ abilities and give viewers more insight when making their choices.”

“Our 10th season begins with a completely invigorated panel of judges with Jennifer and Steven joining Randy. This is combined with the world’s most successful and brilliant music executive, Jimmy Iovine, becoming the contestants’ special mentor,” explains series creator and executive producer Simon Fuller. “AMERICAN IDOL in 2011 promises plenty of surprises and positive changes, and we look forward to continuing to innovate and lead the way for others to follow.”

“It’s exciting to have such a diverse cast of industry professionals, each with distinctive passions for music, lead the charge in discovering the next American Idol,” said executive producer Cecile Frot-Coutaz. “From dancing sensation to pop, film and fashion superstar, Jennifer has experienced a career that exemplifies the American dream, and Steven is a rock icon whose performances, accomplished songwriting and personal style are as relevant today as ever. Together they join Randy Jackson, whose beloved IDOL persona has been synonymous with the show since day one, alongside our in-house mentor, Jimmy Iovine, who as chairman of Interscope Geffen A&M Records will share with our contestants his expertise in shaping the careers of some of the most successful recording artists of all time.”

“Jennifer and Steven have made the journey from aspiring unknowns to global superstars, which makes both of them uniquely qualified to help discover the next American Idol,” said Peter Rice, Chairman of Entertainment, Fox Networks Group. “From Jennifer’s early career in dance to selling over 55 million records worldwide – along with television, films, fashion projects and a range of business enterprises – she is a self-made superstar who will bring an incredible range of experience to benefit the aspiring talent who could only dream of following in her footsteps. Additionally, Steven has earned his status as a rock legend and an American icon, both while fronting for the best-selling American rock band of all time and through his incredible personal journey over the last four decades. With Jimmy behind the scenes and Jennifer, Steven and Randy at the table, these young contestants are going to benefit from experiences beyond their wildest dreams.”

“Jennifer was a terrific mentor on IDOL – one of the best we’ve ever had – and we’ve always dreamed that she would take a seat at the judges’ table,” said Mike Darnell, President of Alternative Entertainment, Fox Broadcasting Company. “America is going to love her on this show because she’s impossibly glamorous, yet totally relatable, and she understands what these contestants will be going through as they pursue their dreams. Steven Tyler is, hands down, one of the most successful rock artists in history, and he is the epitome of what rock-and-roll is all about: bold, outrageous, creative and passionate. With an unprecedented career and innate knowledge of the music industry, Steven will definitely add a unique edge to the new judges’ panel next to Randy, who understands every aspect of developing talent and performing.” He added, “Jimmy Iovine is the most impressive mentor we could have ever wished for on the series. In his role at Interscope Geffen A&M, Jimmy would be developing these young artists anyway, so now we’ll get an even deeper look at how someone is transformed into a star.”

Photo Credit: Michael Becker/FOX

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

You Can See the Big Announcement Live

The “American Idol Season 10 Team Reveal and Press Conference” will be available via Ustream webcast tomorrow (Wednesday, September 22nd) at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) on

You can also watch it at and

I’ll have my thoughts on the announcement right here later tomorrow afternoon and in Thursday’s “Herald-Dispatch”…

Report: Randy Jackson Is In

Less than 24 hours before the announcement about who will sit at the judges’ table for season ten,’s “The Scoop” is reporting that the show has finally made a deal with Randy Jackson to return.

According to their source, the holdup was over salary, since it’s rumored that Jennifer Lopez has signed a $12 million deal.

FOX did not confirm the report, saying official announcements won’t be made until tomorrow…

Monday, September 20, 2010

What's Going to Happen on Wednesday?

The world of “Idol” is about to change completely.

It changed a little last season with the absence of Paula Abdul and the addition of Ellen DeGeneres. But this will be the big one as Simon’s gone and we get two—maybe three—new judges. Those judges will be introduced at a press conference Wednesday. But I think we’re in store for more changes than just judges…

Returning executive producer Nigel Lythgoe has made it clear in a number of interviews that he wants to return the focus to the contestants. And he’s expressed concern over singers being eliminated because of song choice.

So here’s my theory on what I think will happen—whether it’s announced Wednesday or later…

I think the judges will become more like mentors, a la Simon Cowell’s “The X Factor.” Think of it as “Idol” beating Simon to the punch. I think the judges will have a say in song choice and maybe even arrangements—especially now that Rickey Minor is gone as well.

But that’s totally my theory. I have nothing to back it up, other than my gut. And my belief that the show didn’t bring Nigel back for nothing. They must have liked some of the ideas he was sharing in the press. And on the heels of the show’s worst season ever, I believe they’ll let him implement those ideas.

What do you think? Are you expecting big changes to be announced? Or do you think the show will remain the same? Post your comments below.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Big Announcement Hits Next Week

So much for taking their time…

One day after Michael Slezak reported that “Idol” is in no hurry to name its new judges, Slezak is reporting that the big announcement will be made next week.

According to Slezak, Ryan Seacrest will make the announcement Wednesday at a press conference at The Forum in Los Angeles. He’ll be joined by the new judges and “Idol” producers.
The Forum? Wow. Nothing like a high profile to steal back the spotlight…

The press conference is at 3 p.m. ET. I’ll share my comments later that night.

I’m wondering if we might hear some changes to the “Idol” formula at this press conference as well. Maybe a more mentor-like relationship with the judges, perhaps?

Stay Tuned…

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Big Announcement: Is FOX In No Hurry?

As we all await the announcement of the season 10 judging panel, my idol, Michael Slezak of, reported something very interesting today. The show is not in a big hurry to name the panel…

We all presumed that the show would want to hurry up and name the judges so they could get in front of the cameras before the end of September, as usual. But Slezak reports that’s not the case. His source tells him, “The urgency is not there. It only exists in the press. People need to just chill.”

Slezak’s source said that in seasons past, the callback rounds featuring the judges were filmed by the end of September to accommodate Simon Cowell’s schedule. Now that’s not necessary, so the callbacks could possibly start as late as October or November.

“Idol” has already added an audition date for September 27th in Los Angeles, and the show announced today that it is now accepting auditions via MySpace. Through October 6th, singers between the ages of 15 and 28 can submit their videos to

I wondered if maybe FOX would make the announcement this week to steal some thunder from Simon Cowell’s “America’s Got Talent,” but apparently that’s not going to happen. So, I guess I’ll just chill…

Monday, September 13, 2010

Bo Bice: "Never give up"

As you’ve no doubt already heard, Bo Bice will be a part of Ashland’s Poage Landing Days Saturday, September 18th. Bo is scheduled to take the Main Stage at 8:30 p.m.

In Tuesday’s “Herald-Dispatch,” you can read some of my interview with Bo. But because there’s SO much going on this weekend, some pretty good stuff ended up on the cutting room floor, including Bo’s advice for musicians starting out in the business and his answer to the question I ask all “Idol” finalists…

First of all, I should say that Bo is a lot of fun to talk to. He’s the kind of guy you could see yourself just sitting around and shooting the breeze with until the wee hours of the morning. He’s never forgotten where he came from and he’s truly grateful for all of the opportunities that have come his way.

Currently, he’s promoting his new album, “3.” Bo describes it as a “concept album without a concept.” Bo reminisced back to the days of records when you didn’t skip songs, you just played the albums through. “When you put the needle on the record, you let the side run, flipped it over and then let the other side run. Nowadays, you have iPods and you can shuffle play. ‘3’ is back to one of those albums you let play from the beginning. It tells a story, almost a little like a journey.”

“3” has different types of music, including rock, country, southern rock, southern gospel and pop. Bo said he thinks it’s easier in the iPod age to put together an album like “3” because people are used to shuffling all types of music. “No one’s asking, ‘What’s this guy trying to be?’ It’s really cool.”

Speaking of iPods, Bo shared with me some of the stuff on his right now. “I’ve got ‘Ave Maria,’ Beethoven, the Wiggles, the Backyardigans, to Johnny Cash to Trent Reznor, Stone Temple Pilots, to Carrie Underwood.”

Since Bo’s been through a lot already in his career, I asked him what advice he would have for someone just starting out. His first reaction was to laugh and say, “You wouldn’t want to take my advice, Angela. People don’t want my advice.” But then he proceeded to give me some pretty good stuff.

“Practice, practice, practice, never give up. Never set a time limit on what you want to achieve. Never give up. You have to believe in what you’re doing and work hard every single day. Sometimes people won’t hear what they want to hear and then they’ll close their ears. But instead of being a drama queen, you need to appreciate it. It’s all about constructive criticism, whether it’s a club owner or Simon Cowell. It’s hard to do, but it’s easier now that I’m a bit older.”

Then, I asked him the question I ask all “Idol” finalists I’m lucky enough to interview: What is the #1 question people still ask you about the show. And, no surprise, he told me it’s “Is Simon really a jerk?” But then he told me the other two most popular things people say to him about “Idol”: “I love that a cappella song you did [“In a Dream”] and did you and Carrie Underwood ever date?” Bo just laughs that last one off. “I love Carrie,” he told me. “She’s like a sister to me.”

Finally, I gave Bo one last chance to put a good plug in for the concert, and he told me “If you want to have a good time and share the love of music,” his concert was the place to be. “We’re kid friendly. They’ll have as much of a good time as the parents and grandparents.”

The Main Stage will be located near 1509 Winchester Avenue in downtown Ashland. There is no admission fee for the concerts. Chelsea Field takes the stage at 6 p.m., followed by Earl Thomas Conley at 7 p.m. Mark Wills will follow Bo at 10 p.m.

Photo Credit: Saguaro Records

Friday, September 3, 2010

Breaking News: Kara's Out!

This just in from FOX…

Kara DioGuardi is “stepping down” from “American Idol”…

Here’s her quote from the official press release:

“I felt like I won the lottery when I joined AMERICAN IDOL two years ago, but I feel like now is the best time to leave IDOL,” said DioGuardi. “I am very proud to have been associated with AMERICAN IDOL – it has truly been an amazing experience. I am grateful to FOX, FremantleMedia and 19 Entertainment, as well as the cast, crew and contestants, for all they have given to me. I look forward to my next challenge, and want to thank everyone who has supported me. All the best to everyone on Season 10!”

“Idol” guru Simon Fuller offered this: “Kara is one of the world’s best songwriters,” stated IDOL creator and executive producer Simon Fuller. “She has been passionate and committed to IDOL over the last two seasons. I will miss having her on the show, but I look forward to working with her in music for many years to come.”

Obviously, I’m pretty happy that Kara is gone—no matter what the reason. But I applaud the show for letting Kara leave gracefully.

This announcement means that we should know the new judges very, very soon. is reporting that Jennifer Lopez is a lock except for the signature…

What do you guys think? Are you sad to see Kara go?