By Zach Johnson
The search for the next American Idol is underway!
Nestled inside the Rosy Theatre at the Hollywood Roosevelt on Wednesday, the hit show’s in-house mentor, Bobby Bones, hosted a special Q&A with returning judges Luke Bryan, Katy Perry, and Lionel Richie ahead of the season three premiere on ABC. The two-hour episode, airing Sunday, February 16, at 8|7c, will chronicle their nation-wide search for music’s next superstar. “It’s going to be more streamlined and more succinct,” said Perry. “It’s not a karaoke show by any means; it’s literally a fast-track mentorship program… I think true artists and true stars will be coming out of Idol again.”
The premiere episode will see auditions happening in Savannah, Georgia; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles, California; and Sunriver, Oregon. This time around, Richie said he’s not afraid to give the contestants some tough love. “You have to think of this as a rite of passage… People have to fall in love with you. You cannot claim this title unless you understand the steps you have to go through to get here, to earn it!” the judge said. “You have to pass the attitude test as well as the aptitude test.”
Added Bryan, “If you’re in the business, you have to be all the way in.”
“It’s very important that you understand you’re going to hear ‘no’ more than you’re going to hear ‘yes,’” Richie continued. “You have to earn the ‘yes.’ Even if you think you have a hit record, you still have to sell it to the public—and they may tell you, ‘We don’t like it.’ Now, how do you recover from that?” Perry echoed her fellow judges’ sentiments, saying, “It’s just preparation for reality. You grow wings or you fall. We’re setting them up for a huge glide after American Idol, and it’s truly up to them.” To be a superstar, Richie said, contestants need substance and style. “Some people will say, ‘Why did you send that lady home? She was a fabulous singer.’ And I will say, ‘Yeah, but she had nothing that was identifiable,’” he said. “Katy sounds like Katy. I know what Luke sounds like on the radio. If you have that identifiable sound, you, my friend, can have a career.”
Season three of American Idol will also feature more live episodes than ever before. “That was the feedback from the fans,” Bryan explained. “People were enjoying what was happening on the live shows, so we said, ‘Let’s give the people what they want!’”
Without spoiling anything, Perry also revealed a structural element of the long-running show has been updated. “It was like the biggest curveball for these kids. It was fun to see how they handled it,” the singer said, “because this industry is all about curveballs!”