American Idol 4: "The Toughest Yet"by Sting7 -- 01/07/2005
Once all the confetti had fallen, the balloons popped, and the pieces of Fantasia’s broken shoe collected and archived, did you find yourself saying, "That’s it? I need more Idol!" Well, your prayers have been answered. Fox is about to launch into the longest season of American Idol programming ever.
American Idol, the show that the major networks are still trying to emulate (or at least defeat), is coming back for season four. Gone are the days of wide-eyed, innocent young people who just like to sing a little. Now that there have been three hugely successful Idols, the name of the game is very clear to those who are auditioning. And the judges have noticed. "The kids have come prepared! They’ve studied the kind of songs we’re going to ask them to sing: Burt Bacharach, Dionne Warwick, the Motown classics," said Paula Abdul.
As mentioned here in our own "What Every Idol Contestant Should Know," song choice is crucial. When I get emails asking for advice, I always suggest singing something somewhat unique. There are millions of songs out there. No reason for every eighth auditioner to be singing "Fallin’." The auditioners are listening to that too.
"What is clearly evident is that the boys have stepped up their game," Simon Cowell said of the audition process. That has always been a bone of contention with Simon. Remember the verbal thrashing the boys got in the Hollywood round of season two (which ironically produced the only male-male finale in Idol history)? Apparently, it was the girls who needed coaxing this time.
"I know I say this every year, but seriously, there is more pure talent this year than any season we’ve had before. There is more talent than the three previous season combined!" Randy Jackson enthused, "Last year’s Top 12 wouldn’t even make the Top 32!" Now that’s some strong talk!
I’ve also heard that many familiar faces of auditions past have crept up again. Keep an eye open for Donnie Williams, whose drunk-driving arrest got him bounced from the Top 32… and replaced by George Huff.
There are changes in store for the new contestants, as well as us viewers. Instead of opening voting to a pool of 32 finalists and letting viewers vote on four groups of eight, the Hollywood round will cull the singers down to 24, evenly divided into 12 men and 12 women. Starting on Monday, February 21, Idol will move to three weeks of three live shows on Mondays and Tuesday at 8:00 p.m. ET and Wednesdays at 9:00 p.m. On the Monday and Tuesday shows, the men and then the women will perform, by gender, and the American people will vote. On Wednesdays, two men and two women will be eliminated.
This guarantees equal numbers of men and women in the Top 12, and seems to suggest the end of the Wildcard round, the round that brought us favorites like Clay Aiken, Trenyce, and Jennifer Hudson. "This year’s competition will be the toughest competition yet!" said Simon about the changes and the current talent pool.
"We were very careful about instituting changes, because you don’t want to fix what isn’t broken, and American Idol is not broken! However, the changes, I think, will make for our most exciting season so far," said Simon Lithgoe, executive producer. Maybe so, but it does open the door for criticism. In essence, American Idol could be rejecting those who should rightfully advance because they are in the stronger gender. It will be controversial. You heard it here first.
Also, there will be guest judges, but only in the audition rounds. It was decided that the celebrity judges are welcome, but do not add enough insight to justify their presence in the crucial top 12 rounds. This year’s judges include LL Cool J, Mark McGrath, and Gene Simmons.
The fourth season of American Idol kicks off January 18. Of course, RealityNewsOnline and Foxes On Idol will continue to provide you with the best Idol coverage on the Web!
Sting7 has been a respected published writer for 16 years, as a music editor, entertainment critic, columnist, and interviewer. He also has a curious love for pro-wrestling! You can email Stinger at email@example.com.
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