Disclosure: American Idol and FremantleMedia invited me and several other social media savvy women to Los Angeles to screen the first episode of Season 13 and get a behind-the-scenes look at Hollywood Week. All travel and accommodations were provided. No other compensation was received. Any post I share – including this one – is voluntary, and all opinions expressed are honest and my own.
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Raise your hand if you used to watch American Idol.
Keep your hand up if you stopped watching for any of the following reasons:
- too much negativity (judges fighting, the parade of bad auditions and related mockery, etc)
- didn’t feel as family-friendly anymore
- focus wasn’t on talent, just drama or commercialism
- Simon (and any subsequent voice of reason) left the show
When I asked my Facebook community to tell me why they stopped watching American Idol, these were their prominent complaints. Did yours make the list?
After talking with top executives at FremantleMedia, producers at American Idol, and after seeing for myself the first episode of Season 13 and a day of taping at Idol’s “Hollywood Week,” I’m so excited for this season and can say with all confidence: if you were ever a fan of American Idol, THIS is the season to come back and watch. Why? Let me tell you…
Four Reasons To Watch American Idol (Again)
1. The Judges
The American Idol Season 13 judges panel includes: Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez, and Harry Connick, Jr.
The chemistry between these three is fantastic! That’s not to say that they always agree or won’t defend their own position on a contestant or what should be done, but there is an underlying respect between all three judges, and a seeming unity behind their purpose on the show: to find the next great American talent. They’re here to work, not to promote themselves or fluff up their own egos.
Keith and Jennifer have been judges before, but what Harry brings to the panel may be what people have been missing since Simon left: a straight-forward, no-nonsense honesty. Don’t let his Southern charm fool you – Harry Connick, Jr. cuts right to the quick with these contestants (earning him the nickname “Hatchet Harry” from Lopez). But he is critical without being cruel, and you get the real sense that even as he’s telling these kids what a mistake they’ve made, he cares about them, too. Another bonus: he’s funny! I don’t remember ever laughing so much during an episode of American Idol. It felt good.
2. The Auditions
Gone is the parade of embarrassing, wacky, borderline disturbed auditions they used to trot out during the early weeks of the show. American Idol has taken a sharp course-correction in this regard, and has left the mockery behind. What emerges instead is a steady focus on talent, and on the stories behind the kids who come to audition for American Idol.
I know many people who prefer to watch American Idol once it gets to the Top 20 or Top 10. I am encouraging *everyone* to watch Season 13 from the premiere (JANUARY 15, 2014!) – you get much more invested in these contestants, and root for your favorites from the start. And without all the silly filler to distract you, that’s much easier to do.
3. The Music
There have been many American Idol spoilers circling the internet about the updated music catalog for Season 13. While I didn’t get any official word on that from the producers, I can tell you from watching the first episode and the performances at Hollywood Week – the music this season is fresh and current. No more listening to 35 renditions of Unchained Melody by the Righteous Brothers or any of the Whitney-Mariah-Celine diva hits.
I happily “discovered” several songs during my Idol trip that I wanted to come home and immediately download. What’s funny is that in almost every case, they were songs my teenage daughters knew and already owned. I really appreciate the fresh take on the music for Season 13, and think it will lead many viewers to learn about and appreciate music they haven’t heard before.
4. The Feel-Good
The first 2-hour episode of American Idol Season 13 succeeds in having a complex balance of humor, sincerity, talent, and entertainment. It just felt good to watch. Those good feelings continued as we were able to watch live during the “Group Day” of Idol’s Hollywood Week. It was all very entertaining. Nothing forced or staged.
Based on the formula I have seen for American Idol’s new approach for Season 13, this will be a show I can – and will – watch with my kids. It’s the good, quality, entertaining, family-friendly show many parents want and wait for.
The following American Idol Season 13 teaser features the words hope, dreams, strength, joy, happiness, passion, love, excitement, and triumph. Those are all the things I felt watching the Season 13 premiere and Hollywood Week, and what I continue to look for as we tune in to American Idol Season 13 – premiering January 15, 2014.