'Idol' producers hoping to include sixth season songwriting contest
By Christopher Rocchio, 01/08/2007
From Kelly Clarkson singing "A Moment Like This" as the season-one winner of American Idol to Taylor Hicks asking "Do I Make You Proud" at the end of season five, the stamp of professional producers and songwriters commissioned to write original tunes for each of the competition's two finalists could be a thing of the past for the reality series' sixth season.
That's because the finalists of the sixth installment of American Idol, set to premiere on Fox on Tuesday, January 16 at 8PM ET/PT, could end up belting out a tune written by the winner of a national songwriting competition scheduled by the show's producers. The competition, first reported by The Los Angeles Times back in August but still not yet finalized, is slated to be open to both signed or unsigned songwriters and will pick the original song that will be heard by millions of Americans as they watch the sixth season's finalists perform when the series ends in May, according to Entertainment Weekly.
Last August, Simon Fuller, American Idol's creator, told The Times that he was ecstatic over the possibilities of the intriguing twist, but also acknowledged it would solve a problem that has plagued the competition since its 2002 debut. He said that due to the uncertainty over who will be the series' finalists, less-than-perfect song matches are frequently created during the finales.
Therefore, rather than having commissioned songwriters and producers pen a song for Idol's sixth season finalists, the new public songwriting contest may instead be utilized. Fuller said this will broaden the choices for possible finale songs and also bring a whole new competition for Idol fanatics to follow.
"The short list of songs will be [chosen by] the three judges and the producers," executive producer Ken Warwick told Entertainment Weekly in a cover story published in the magazine's January 12 issue.
However although the judges would be involved in selecting the finalist songs, executive producer Nygil Lythgoe believe that just like American Idol's eventual winner, the judges should have nothing to do with the final song selection decision.
"I would love to do two or three shows with past Idol contestants singing the songs, and then have America judge the songs," Lythgoe told Entertainment Weekly. "But that is not confirmed with Fox yet."
But one of Idol's judges is apparently not too thrilled about the idea of not having input in the song-selection process. "People always ask, 'Why did you pick that song?'" Idol judge Paula Abdul told Entertainment Weekly. "It's weird. We have everything to do with the rest of the season and nothing to do with the final song."
Lythgoe said if the judges don't like not being included, it's too bad because it's not their job.
"They're on hand to judge singing," he told Entertainment Weekly. "It's unfair to knock the final song. [Idol judge] Randy [Jackson] does it more than anyone else, probably because he only says five words over and over all season. We send him a dictionary every Christmas, but he doesn't read it."
Jackson said he would have no problems with not being involved in the song-selection process.
"Finding a hit song at any time is one of the hardest things in the world," he told Entertainment Weekly. "I wouldn't want to be the guy looking through them all."
The third Idol judge, Simon Cowell, personally commissioned Clarkson's "A Moment Like This" during the first season's finale, but has since been kicked-off the song-selection committee. "It's no skin off my nose," Cowell told Entertainment Weekly. "But if I hate [the song] I'm going to say it."
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