“American Idol” executive producer Nigel Lythgoe spoke with the press Wednesday (Jan. 9), where he talked about the upcoming 12th season of the hit music competition show — specifically some changes coming to Hollywood Week.
“In Hollywood Week, first time ever we split the weeks up and gave a week to the boys and a week to the girls, which really gave us an awful lot more focus on our talent this year,” says Lythgoe. “We’re going to continue to do that in the Vegas round right up until the Top 10.”
“Jimmy Iovine is coming back,” Lythgoe continues. “And I do want to go back to where we actually used record producers to help kids, I want to do that again this year. Try and give their journey the same journey they would have had had they not done this competition and gone into the music business.”
As for this year’s talent, Lythgoe says again that it’s a girl’s year to lose.
“There is more strength in the talent in the girls … [but] what they’ve always had to do is capture the vote. It isn’t always about the voice — it is about charisma, it is about personality, it is about attracting an audience … it’s really what grabs you,” says Lythgoe.
Lythgoe doesn’t really address the supposed feud between judges Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj, saying instead that all the judges disagree at some point.
“[Keith Urban] has had rows with Randy, Mariah and he had a big one with Nicki,” says Lythgoe. “Each judge is looking for something else this year … Nicki is looking for an aritst, Mariah is looking for the complete singer/songwriter, Randy is looking for someone who just sings on pitch and Keith is looking for an instrumentalist, a good singer and someone who can capture that magic charisma and connect with the public. They all have their own agendas.”
He adds that Randy is definitely the tough judge this season.
“When other people could their [opinions], Randy says it. ‘Give it up, you’re never gonna be a singer. Give it up.’ and you can see the other judges wince,” says Lythgoe. “Randy, in truth, is the tough one. Obviously they haven’t met my little friend Jimmy Iovine yet.”
And finally, Lythgoe says he’s been wanting for years to reveal the voting rankings on “Idol,” a change “The X Factor” instituted this past season.
“It’s something we’ve wanted to do for eight, nine years. We did it in England with ‘Pop Idol.’ I’ve always been stopped doing it in this country … all of a sudden they managed to do it on ‘The X Factor.’ I was like a little, you know, ‘Damn, now people think we’re going to be copying,'” says Lythgoe.
“I think it’s a good move,” he continues. “I don’t think it stops people voting, I think it makes people more passionate for their person … anything that draws interest, any way we can make it exciting. Now that ‘X Factor’s’ managed to do that, I will be fighting tooth and nail [to do it too].”
“American Idol” premieres Wednesday, Jan. 16 on FOX.