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‘American Idol’ Season 11 Promo Debuts, Brings The Nice

Posted by Gil Kaufman On October - 24 - 2011

They’re not even on at the same time of year, but the arms race between “American Idol” and Simon Cowell’s “X Factor” continued on Sunday night when Fox (which airs both shows) unwrapped the first commercial for season 11 of “Idol.”

The show doesn’t return to air until January 22, but three months out producers seem to be sticking with the positive people vibe they explored last year with a revamped judging panel that included newbies Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez. For the first time since season seven, the entire panel has returned intact, with veteran old-schooler Randy Jackson getting some serious love as the first face you see in the new ad.

Strutting through a tree-lined park lane, Jackson is surrounded by budding singers, and, despite some ribbing from early “Factor” promos that dinged “Idol” for its shiny, happy attitude, all seems well in “Idol”-ville. The first glimpse of Lopez is of her designer shoes, as the camera pans out and we see more freshly-scrubbed faces singing and busting moves on an Pleasantburg, U.S.A. Hollywood set.

The poppy, acoustic soundtrack (sample lyric, “anything is possible”), soars into lite rock territory when Tyler spots a garage band (in a literal, cul-de-sac garage!) jamming out as he waves them to join his legion of primary color t-shirt-wearing minions. Check the promo out, after the jump!

Decked out in a skinny suit, host Ryan Seacrest has a smile so wide it inspires a Benetton ad-worth of wannabes to toss their aprons aside and quit their jobs for a chance at potential “Idol” fame (or infamy). The four flash mobs come together at the end, with Seacrest turning to the polite horde and asking them, “Are you ready?” as the words “the incredible journey begins” flash on the screen.

Are you excited for the next season of “Idol?”

Get your “Idol” fix on MTV News’ “American Idol” page, where you’ll find all the latest news, interviews and opinions.

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With ‘The X Factor’ Looming, Here’s A Breakdown Of All The Reality Singing Competitions

Posted by Jim Cantiello On September - 16 - 2011

After months of hype and headlines, Simon Cowell’s “X Factor” is finally debuting in America next week. The question is: Will anyone care?

In the past year, our DVRs have been filled to the max with reality singing competitions, from the revamped (J. Lo on a kinder, gentler “American Idol”) to the remixed (“The Voice” has swivel chairs, you guys) to the reviled (ugh, “Karaoke Battle USA”). These days, the casual TV viewer needs a doctorate in “Reality TV” to keep track of all the various karaoke contests.

So, as a public service to fellow confused and overwhelmed TV addicts, I’ve broken down all the shows that are sure to feature overwrought renditions of Alicia Keys’ songs and judges sipping from sponsored soda cups. (Example: “Idol” is Coke, “X Factor” is Pepsi. “The Sing Off” is…Coke 2?)

Practice your scales, warm up your pipes and dig in!

American Idol

“American Idol”
Season 11 premieres on Fox in January
Premise: Small town folks with big voices get plucked from obscurity
Weepy Judge: J Lo, although we’re not buying it
Hard Ass Judge: Randy, although we’re not buying it
Token Genre Judge: Rock legend Steven Tyler, although we’re not sure he knows that he’s on television half the time
Host’s Greatest Asset: Seacrest’s bank account.
Guest mentors: Ranging from the A-list (OH MY GAGA!) to the A-list…from the ’90s (Babyface!)
Prize: $1 million contract with Universal; destined to play state fairs for years to come
Do the Judges Mentor: Nope. Nor do they judge. Everyone’s brilliant and amazing!
Ratings: #1 show on TV, performance shows averaged almost 26 million viewers a week!
Age Range: 15-29
Recent Backstage Drama: Producers bickering in the press with Simon Cowell, J.Lo contract negotiations, PIA TOSCANO AND MARK BALLAS SPLIT OMG.
Biggest Star(s): The Holy Idol Trinity of Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood and Chris Daughtry.

X Factor

“The X Factor”
Two-night US premiere on Fox, September 21 and 22
Premise: Simon Cowell sets out to destroy “American Idol.” Also, a bunch of famous people take talent show contestants under their wing to guide them to superstardom with over-the-top musical performances and TONS of backstage drama
Hard Ass Judge: Simon Cowell, although we hear L.A. Reid isn’t exactly a teddy bear
Weepy Judge: Paula Abdul, America’s favorite zany aunt
Token Genre Judge: Nicole Scherzinger, representing all those major label artists who will never, ever, ever have a successful solo career despite getting a crapload of money thrown at their promo
Host’s Greatest Asset: Steve Jones kinda looks like Jon Hamm/Taylor Lautner/Rupert Everett’s secret lovechild, plus the added bonus of a Welsh accent!
Guest Mentors: Mariah Carey, Jennifer Hudson, Kelly Rowland and Usher are all rumored to be involved
Prize: $5 million contract with Sony Records … that will never ever ever be recouped
Do the Judges Mentor: Yep, that’s the whole point of the show
Ratings: TBD, but recently, pundits are predicting a less-than-brilliant debut. (Sad face.)
Age Range: 12-112
Recent backstage drama: Cheryl Cole out, Nicole Scherzinger IN. More is sure to roll out as the series begins. Simon loves leaking tidbits about the contestants to the press.
Biggest star: The British version’s third season unleashed Leona Lewis. But let’s be real. This show’s all about Simon Cowell.

“Karaoke Battle USA”
The Top 4 battle tonight night on ABC
Weepy Judge: Carnie Wilson
Hard Ass Judge: Joe Levy
Token Genre Judge: Brian “the Cowboy” Scott (that’s really his name, by the way)
Host’s Greatest Asset: Joey Fatone used to have Justin Timberlake on speed dial. That’s worth something, right?
Prize: Bragging rights as the King or Queen of Karaoke. No, really. They say that on the show. You win BRAGGING RIGHTS. (There’s also a vague mention of a Hollywood Records “recording” and a trip to Ireland to compete in the World Karaoke Championship.)
Ratings: LOL no.
Backstage drama: There is so little buzz around this show, it doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page.

“America’s Got Talent”
Season 6 wrapped up on NBC earlier this week
Premise: Ventriloquists versus vocalists versus hula hoopers
Hard Ass Judge: Piers Morgan
Weepy Judge: Sharon Osbourne
Token Genre Judge: Howie Mandel? (Hey, someone’s gotta rep for all the obsessive/compulsive stand-up comics from the 80’s.)
Host’s Greatest Asset: Nick Cannon is married to Mariah Carey
Prize: $1 million, plus a show as a headliner on the Las Vegas Strip
Ratings: A top 10 summer hit, #1 in its timeslot all season, ranging from 9.73 million to 15.28 million viewers.
Backstage drama: This week, lots of diehard fans were shocked that creative group iLuminate only placed third in the finale.
Age: All ages
Biggest star: She’s from the British series, but Susan Boyle broke the Internet and the album charts.

“The Sing Off”
Season 3 premieres on NBC September 19
Premise: No instruments allowed for these a cappella groups.
Hard Ass Judge: Ben Folds, who might just be the most honest and fair judge on reality TV
Token Genre Judge: Shawn Stockman, giving the show some R&B credibility
Weepy judge: TBD! Will new judge Sara Bareilles (replacing Nicole Scherzinger) need Kleenex? We’ll see!
Prize: $100,000 recording contract with Epic Records/Sony Music
Host’s Greatest Asset: Nick Lachey’s dimples!
Ratings: Last year’s December run ranged from 7.64 million to 9.51 million viewers
Biggest star: The self-titled major label debut from season 2 winners Committed peaked at #171 on the Billboard 200 chart
Age Limit: All ages, although college groups are often the most heavily-featured

The Voice

“The Voice”
Season 2 premieres after the 2012 Super Bowl on NBC
Premise: Industry experts cast the show blindly, based solely on a contestant’s voice and a fancy “No Whammy No Whammy Stop” button that twirls a futuristic barber chair. Then there were weird battle rounds in a boxing ring, and convoluted voting, and a kitchen sink.
Hard Ass Judge: Adam Levine is really competitive and really flirtatious
Weepy Judge: Christina Aguilera’s bionic shell cracked when results were announced
Token Genre Judge: Blake Shelton brings the Nashville crowd to primetime TV.
Bonus Crazy Judge: Cee Lo!
Do the Judges Mentor: Yep. “The Voice” cleverly copped a lot of “X Factor’s” shtick before it premiered.
Guest Mentors: Sia, Reba McIntire, Monica and Adam Blackstone gave the hopefuls advice
Host’s Greatest Asset: Carson Daly being on a hit show again means Jimmy Fallon is allowed to bust out his “Massive Tool” impression.
Prize: $100,000 and a recording contract with Universal Republic Records
Biggest success story: Although winner Javier Colon peaked at #17 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, Christina Aguilera and Adam Levine’s Maroon 5 rebounded from so-so releases with a #1 collabo, “Moves Like Jagger.”
Age Limit: None!
Ratings: Xtina and company slayed the competition, besting ABC’s juggernaut “Dancing With The Stars” and a Gaga-themed episode of “Glee.” It enjoyed roughly 10-12 million viewers week to week.

“Majors and Minors”
Premieres September 23 on the Hub TV Network
Premise: 12 young performers are mentored and encouraged by famous people!
Judges: the show is more about motivating than critiquing.
Hosts Greatest Asset: Joby Harte’s name is fun to say! Joby!
Guest Mentors: “Idol” alums Adam Lambert, Jennifer Hudson and Jordin Sparks, Brandy, “X Factor” winner Leona Lewis, Colbie Caillat, Avril Lavigne, Sean Kingston,, Ryan Tedder, Mike Posner, Claude Kelly
Prize: Recording deal with Boardwalk Records/RCA Records and a cross-country concert tour
Age: 10-16
Ratings: TBD, but the Hub is a blip on cable’s radar, so don’t expect massive things

“The Glee Project”
Season one wrapped up in August on Oxygen.
Premise: Ryan Murphy and his cronies set out to find new “Glee” cast members!
Hard Ass Judge: Ryan Murphy, a delectable villain who sniffed “You don’t inspire me” to trembling teenagers like he was a catty Slugworth. Werk, diva!
Weepy Judge: Choreographer Zack Woodley shed a few tears over contestants’ emotional auditions, but “The Glee Project” was refreshingly devoid of reality TV archetypes
Host’s Greatest Asset: There was no official host, but casting director and judge Robert Ulrich was a likeable softy
Guest Mentors: “Glee’s” second tier cast, like Max Adler, Dot Marie Jones, Darren Criss (twice!), Jenna Ushkowitz and Harry Shum. (In other words, Lea Michele’s agent likely laughed and gave a “talk to the hand” when Oxygen asked her to shoot a reality show.)
Prize: An 8-episode arc on “Glee’s” third season. And surprise! There were two winners! And the third and fourth placers scored mini arcs, too! And a fan favorite won $10,000 despite dropping out of the competition because he loved Jesus too much. Basically, everyone wins on “Glee”! (Except the viewer, who now will have approximately 50 new characters to meet at McKinley High.)
Do the Judges Mentor: Yep! They were all heavily involved in every challenge and gave each contestant lots of direction.
Ratings: Strong word of mouth and good reviews eventually helped the finale wrangle a respectable 1.2 million viewers, a 172 percent increase from the embarrassing debut.
Age range: Unclear, but they were casting high school student characters, so all the hopefuls were in their late teens/early twenties
Recent backstage drama: Who’s Ryan Murphy allegedly feuding with this week?
Biggest star: Will Gleeks embrace Damian and Samuel when their characters debut this season? (My guess: yes.)

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Kelly Clarkson’s Musical Robbery And Our Thoughts On The Loot

Posted by MTV News On August - 22 - 2011

Kelly Clarkson

By James Dinh

Kelly Clarkson has been robbed — musically, that is. Back in March, the original “American Idol” announced the delay of her fifth studio album, which we now know as Stronger, and ever since, fans have been patiently awaiting new material, official word and the smallest of tid bits on the pop star’s looming musical comeback. Yet, they sure must have felt overwhelmed when a string of new Clarkson tracks hit the blogosphere earlier this summer.

While it may have appeased her hungry (and possibly starving) fans’ appetites, Ms. Independent obviously wasn’t too happy. “Oh my God, have you ever been robbed? I have. I’ve been physically robbed a couple of times, but this is much worse,” she recently told Entertainment Weekly. “There are songs out there that are from eight or 10 years ago … People are always asking me to write for other artists. They’re awesome songs, [but] they’re just not songs I would normally sing.”

Even though some of the tunes were intended for others, Clarkson had an issue with the public perception that some of leaked material might be the direction for her own album, saying, “I think what made me mad was that: 1) People stole from me, and 2): Everybody had no idea what my next album was going to sound like. That really caused a lot of confusion.”

Fans of the songstress should have no fear though, as the singer admits that a couple of the tracks that surfaced online will indeed appear on Stronger, dropping October 25. With exactly two weeks left until the LP’s lead single, “Mr. Know It All,” hits radio airwaves, the MTV Newsroom has decided to a look at some of our favorite leaked songs from the big-voiced singer (with hope that they make the final cut).

“Let Me Down”
With hits like “Since U Been Gone” and “Never Again,” it’s clear that nobody makes a better angsty pop-rock love song than Kelly Clarkson. “Let Me Down” is no exception. On this tune, which leaked in early July, the songstress passionately sings out her frustration about a lover, who, well, lets her down. “I pretend that things aren’t so bad / That what you say will actually happen / I’ve been dying to open my eyes / See you try instead of always leaving me out to dry,” she sings.

“Breaking Your Own Heart”
Collaborations with Reba McEntire and Jason Aldean have clearly had an influence on our Kelly, as noted on the country-tinged “Breaking Your Own Heart,” and frankly, we like it. Without stressing her soaring pipes (for most of the song), the songstress offers her affection and support to a lover, who is closing himself off from her.

“What Doesn’t Kill You”
Like Beyoncé, Kelly likes to incorporate mathematics into her songs. Reportedly produced by hitmaker Toby Gad (Fergie’s “Big Girls Don’t Dry,” Demi Lovato’s “Skyscraper”), the “Idol” alum takes reign of a bad romance by confronting a distrustful boyfriend. “You can stop wasting my time / Without you I’m just fine / Why did it take me so long to figure it out / Dumb plus dumb equals you, equals you,” she sings.

“Dark Side”
On “Dark Side,” Kelly ventures away from her sometimes predictable scorned woman stomping grounds and closer toward her vulnerable side as she questions whether her lover will stick around even through the bad times.

Are you excited for Kelly’s new album? Let us know in the comments.

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Does ‘American Idol’ ‘Mask’ The Sexuality Of Its Contestants? (Poll)

Posted by John Mitchell On August - 16 - 2011

Adam Levine

So you thought there wouldn’t be any mudslinging between “American Idol” and “The Voice” and the two singing competitions would co-exist in a weird sort of harmony? Well, you were mistaken.

“The Voice” judge Adam Levine has hit out at “Idol” in an interview with Out magazine, implying Fox’s hit singing competition keeps its gay contestants in the closet.

“What’s always pissed me off about ‘Idol’ is wanting to mask that, for that to go unspoken,” Levine told Out. “C’mon. You can’t be publicly gay? At this point? On a singing competition? Give me a break. You can’t hide basic components of these people’s lives. The fact that ‘The Voice’ didn’t have any qualms about being completely open about it is a great thing.”

Levine does make a valid point. There were several openly gay contestants on “The Voice” this season and that fact was often celebrated and certainly not covered up. And yes, the two most prominent gay contestants to find fame on “Idol” – Clay Aiken and Adam Lambert – waited, for one reason or another, until after their tenure on the show to publicly declare their sexuality. But was that because they were forced to keep it under wraps by “Idol” producers?

(Levine also should be a little more careful when casting stones. After all, two of his three fellow “Voice” judges, Cee Lo Green and Blake Shelton, found themselves at the center of homophobia accusations in recent months. Just saying.)

So what do you think, dear readers? Does “American Idol” “mask” the sexuality of its contestants? Vote in our poll, after the jump.

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Why Was JLo ‘American Idol’ Announcement So Low-Key?

Posted by Gil Kaufman On August - 11 - 2011

Jennifer Lopez

The last time “American Idol” had news about Jennifer Lopez, they announced it with glitter and much fanfare on the “Idol” Hollywood stage. When the singer/actress joined the cast of the show last year there was much pomp and circumstance.

But on Wednesday when “Idol” executive producer Nigel Lythgoe confirmed that JLo would be back for another season alongside fellow newbie Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler and old dawg Randy Jackson, there was no confetti.

In fact, there wasn’t much fanfare at all. No press release from Lopez or the “Idol” camp, no media splash about her contract and, oddly, a “no comment” from a Fox spokesperson when MTV News asked for confirmation of the re-hire.

What gives?

“I was quite surprised that it wasn’t such a big deal,” said “Naughty But Nice” columnist Rob Shuter, who did publicity for Lopez earlier in the decade. “The last time they did it with a glitter explosion with Steven and Randy on the ‘Idol’ set, but they didn’t do that this time, which leads me to think that the rumors that the cast is still not happy about it [her reported salary].”

Considering that Tyler was the break-out star last season, Shuter suspects that the hard rock icon is angry that he signed a multi-year contract for what is said to be considerably less than Lopez’s reported $20 million per year. “Her signing for one year was genius,” he said. “He’s probably pissed that he’s sitting next to someone who is doing the same job as him, and not as well and he’s doing it for half the money.”

Shuter suspects that it’s that bitterness that may explain why there was no fanfare this time. We already knew Randy and Steven were coming back, so perhaps to appease the egos of the other two, there was no press conference to announce the JLo news because there was no way to do it without bruising egos. “If they did a press conference with all the judges and they’re there just to announce the Jennifer news they wouldn’t like it and if she did a solo conference what does that say about the other judges?” Shuter said.

That might also explain why the announcement was made on friendly turf – host Ryan Seacrest’s radio show – and downplayed a bit. Also, at a time when people are suffering financially, the stock market is tanking and so many are out of work, Shuter said there might have been something unseemly about making a big deal about Lopez’s lavish salary for a gig that basically involves two days of work a week. “There’s something grotesque about that,” he said. “It’s not something you cheer from the rooftops these days.”

A spokesperson for “Idol” had no further comment on the announcement and Lopez’s spokesperson did not return calls for confirmation.

Summer Splitsville: Fans React To Lopez’s Split From Marc Anthony

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