It may have been a long and winding road, but the Beatles' famed songbook has finally made its way to American Idol.

Sony/ATV Music Publishing, which controls the Beatles' John Lennon and Paul McCartney composed hits, has granted Idol permission to let contestants perform tunes from the songbook.

"Incredible news.  It's something that we've waited for seven seasons now," executive producer Nigel Lythgoe told host Ryan Seacrest during Wednesday morning's broadcast of his KIIS-FM radio show.

Now that the Idol finally has use of the entire songbook -- which includes 180 tunes -- Lythgoe knows just when to use them.

"When the Top 12 sing for the first time this season, it will be the music of Lennon and McCartney," he told Seacrest.  "We've given them a list because it's all of the early songs -- from 'I Want to Hold Your Hand' to 'Got to Get You Into My Life.'  These fantastic songs.  It's one of the few areas that everybody knows."

Idol's ability to secure the songbook's usage apparently happened fairly quickly.  During a December conference call with reporters, Lythgoe said Idol still didn't have the rights to the songbook.

"If that Lennon/McCartney songbook were open to us, I would love that," gushed Lythgoe.  "At the same time, I would really like it when we have got our best singers.  I would hate to ruin Beatles material.  I really would."

During his conversation with Seacrest, Lythgoe attempted to spin Idol's oft-mentioned seventh-season talent level as the reason why Sony/ATV finally made the songbook available.

"I think it was the talent this year.  They see that it's real talent, and hear it," he said.  "Everyone's so good this season, that they're saying, 'Yeah, go ahead.  Sing the songs.'"

Idol 7's Top 12 finalists will perform tunes from the Beatles' songbook during the Tuesday, March 11 episode broadcast -- but it won't be the first time music from the "Fab Four" has appeared on the show.

While the music of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" was used during Idol 6's finale, producers received "special permission to do that" because it was the album's 40th anniversary, according to Lythgoe.
About The Author: Christopher Rocchio
Christopher Rocchio is an entertainment reporter for Reality TV World and has covered the reality TV genre for several years.