Jan 15, 2011

'American Idol' Season 10 Power Players

Via Billboard:

The season premiere of "American Idol" is just days away, and unless you've been living under a rock since last summer, you know that TV's most-watched show has undergone a serious makeover for its 10th season. New judges Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez have joined Randy Jackson on the panel, while record label bigwig Jimmy Iovine has signed on as in-house mentor and Nigel Lythgoe returns as executive producer. How will each of these power players impact "Idol" in 2010? Keep reading for the breakdown.

Jennifer Lopez

Background: Since breaking onto the music scene in 1999 with her debut album, "On The 6," Jennifer Lopez has sold 12 million albums and 3.6 million tracks, according to Nielsen SoundScan, cementing her status as a bonafide pop star of the aughts. Her success is of the triple-thread kind, too. Lopez got her start as a dancer (a Fly Girl, to be precise) on "In Living Color," embarked on a serious film career with a role in the biopic "Selena," went on to produce movies and launched her own fashion lines.
What she'll bring to "Idol": Lopez knows the grind that an aspiring star must undertake to win the worship of millions, and she'll surely impart that wisdom upon the "Idol" hopefuls of season 10. As a guest mentor during season 6, she was both honest and supportive, and if any of the judges can show the finalists how to bust a move while hitting their high notes, it's Lopez.

Steven Tyler

Background: Forty years of superstardom don't lie -- as the frontman for iconic band Aerosmith, Steven Tyler has been rocking since the '70s and amassing a collection of hits that few modern-day artists can match. Since 1991 alone (when SoundScan began tracking album sales), Tyler and his bandmates have sold 30 million albums and 8 million tracks.

What he'll bring to "Idol": Many were surprised to see a veteran rocker like Tyler join "American Idol," but his experience can only benefit the show's contestants -- especially those who prefer to sing Beatles and Janis Joplin tunes over Stevie Wonder and Mariah Carey. Expect him to spot the most rock-friendly contestants early and champion them all season long, not to mention encourage the kind of conflict resolution skills that being in a band for four decades requires.

Randy Jackson

Background: A producer, musician, manager and A&R exec, Jackson has worn just about every hat the music industry has to offer. He's performed with everyone from Carlos Santana to Aretha Franklin, but he's perhaps best-known for working closely with Mariah Carey as a musical director for much of her career. Jackson is also the only original "Idol" judge remaining, after Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell's departures in 2009 and 2010.

What he'll bring to "Idol": The only familiar face on the panel should help everyone feel like they're in familiar territory, from contestants who have studied past "Idol" seasons religiously to the fans watching at home. And of course, "Idol" just wouldn't be the same without those "yo's" and "dawg's."

Ryan Seacrest

Background: Ryan Seacrest has developed into quite the media personality titan since "Idol" premiered in 2001. The 36-year-old also hosts E! News on TV and his own syndicated radio program, "On Air with Ryan Seacrest," that's heard throughout the country. Seacrest has also executive-produced reality shows including "Momma's Boys" and "Denise Richards: It's Complicated."

What he'll bring to "Idol": Like Jackson, Seacrest is a familiar face, but he's also the ringmaster of the show and the one who can turn even the most awkward of moments into a laugh. He'll stand by contestants who look deflated after a judge's critique, and if things ever get out of hand at the judges' table just a few feet away, count on him to put everyone back in order.

Jimmy Iovine

Background: As the chairman of Interscope/Geffen/A&M Records, Iovine's music industry resume is as formidable as they come. He began as a recording engineer in the late '70s and went on to become a seminal figure in hip-hop history, guiding the careers of Dr. Dre, Eminem, 50 Cent and countless others. As "Idol's" new in-house mentor, Iovine has recruited top producers like Timbaland, Rodney Jerkins and Alex Da Kid to show this year's contestants what being a recording artist is really all about.

What he'll bring to "Idol": Iovine has a master plan to make sure that every "Idol" finalist this year goes through a virtual music industry boot camp. That means working with the aforementioned A-list collaborators to craft original music while the season is still in progress, and possibly even tackle their own music video. Even those performers who won't end up winning "Idol" will be walking away with invaluable experience, thanks to Iovine.

Nigel Lythgoe

Background: Lythgoe is part of the original braintrust that launched "American Idol" in 2002 and helped turn it into the pop culture juggernaut it would become. After departing the show in 2008 to focus his efforts on his other hit competition show, "So You Think You Can Dance," Lythgoe returns to "Idol" as a producer for its 10th season.

What he'll bring to "Idol": It's in no small part because of Lythgoe that "American Idol" has undergone so many changes in this off-season, from upgrading to A-list judges to bringing in Jimmy Iovine as an in-house mentor. On Lythgoe's watch, "Idol" churned out one breakthrough artist after another, and one can bet that he's intent on having even bigger success with this second act.

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