‘American Idol’ returns: Will the changes to the series bring it back to life?


“American Idol” is ready to return to Fox this week. Season 13 of the reality competition series will kick off on Wednesday night, and this season is trying to make fans forget about the mess last season was on the network.  What has Fox done to “American Idol” for this season and will those changes bring back the viewers?

Fans will see several changes, and the changes will be noticeable right away. While Keith Urban stuck around for another season as a judge, he will be joined by two new faces on the panel. Harry Connick Jr. is an entirely new addition to the “Idol” judging panel. He has appeared as a mentor during several seasons.  Connick spoke about his addition to the panel, and he said the following about his judging style, according to Tulsa World:

“Sometimes you do have to give bad news, and sometimes that’s the best thing these kids can hear is the truth. Sometimes the performances are great, and sometimes the performances are terrible, and I would want to be told or I would want my friends and children to be told absolute truth. I think you can be diplomatic about it, but you also have to be real.”

Connick sounds like he will take on the role that Simon Cowell filled on the series. He never held back with his comments either.  The last spot on the panel will be filled by returning judge Jennifer Lopez. She appeared on two previous seasons as a judge, and Fox brought her back once again. Randy Jackson will not be seen at the judging table, but he is working behind the scenes as a mentor. He will hold a two-day work shop for singers that advance in the competition, according to USA Today.

There are more changes coming to the series as well. The judging panel is not the only thing seeing major changes.  The format of the show is changing once again. Last season, the men and women contestants were seen separated during the early rounds of the competition. This dragged the competition on a bit, and fans were not happy with the format. Fox listed to the complaints, and they removed that format change for this season. Contestants will not be separated by sex this season.

There are more format changes as well. Following Hollywood Week, another change has been. The middle round will be shortened this season, and it will be called Rush Week instead. Fans will also see less bad auditions and more opinion from the judges following the auditions. The biggest change is in the works for the finale. After 12 seasons of the finale taking place in Los Angeles, season 13 might take their finale to New York City. That word is not official yet, but it has been teased as a possibility. This would definitely change the look of the finale.

Season 12 of this reality series had a focus on the judges. The cat fight between Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey took the focus off the singing and the singers long before the season premiered on Fox last January. This season has not had that stealing the focus. These three judges genuinely get along, according to reports released over the last few months. The judges are focused on picking the best singers possible. That is where the focus needs to be. The focus does not need to be on the judges and their antics each week.

“American Idol” has been losing viewers in recent seasons. Last season saw a 20% drop. “The Voice” is stealing away the young adult viewers. It is not the same series that fans saw Kelly Clarkson win during season one.  “American Idol” will have about a month before that NBC series returns with a new season. If “American Idol” wants to keep people tuning in and bring back the viewers they lost, these changes need to work. The series may be the only series to launch star careers so far, but people need to keep watching to keep the show alive.

What do you think? Will you be tuning in to watch “American Idol” on Wednesday night?

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