AMERICAN IDOL - Music industry legends and all-star judges Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie, along with Emmy(r) winning producer and host Ryan Seacrest were on hand when ABC's "American Idol" continued its search for the next singing sensation as auditions continued this week in Coeur d'Alene, ID. "American Idol" is returning to The ABC Television Network for the 2018-2019 season, after first making its return to airwaves as the No. 1 reality show launch for its inaugural season on the network during the 2017-2018 season. (ABC/Josh Vertucci) LIONEL RICHIE, RYAN SEACREST, KATY PERRY, LUKE BRYAN Josh Vertucci/ABC
Photo: Josh Vertucci/ABC
Photo: Josh Vertucci/ABC

American Idol notes: season 17 preview, Adam Lambert & the Oscars, Diana DeGarmo, Clay Aiken

Originally posted Wednesday, February 27, 2019 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

“American Idol” season 17 is coming back on Sunday, the second season on ABC.

The show offered up its slickest “American Idol” preview ever, featuring upcoming “Idol” contestants singing the upbeat “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen. The 90-second commercial aired in full form during the Oscar telecast, which featured Adam Lambert as lead singer of Queen and Jennifer Hudson.

All 11 are featured in the first episode Sunday. It is not the final 11 as some folks on social media thought.

There are in fact only 12 singers featured over two hours in the first episode, which I have already screened. I have not tracked it but that strikes me as the lowest ever. The pacing of the show was more deliberate, as if the producers wanted to give more time to each singer. This is in effect to make up for the fact the live shows are cut in half from what they were on Fox. 

“The Idol hopefuls are really the stars of a lot of our spots and we wanted to carry that same theme and make the contestants the stars," says Melissa King, vice president of creative marketing at ABC told Billboard magazine

Trish Kinane, an “Idol” executive producer, said in this day and age of social media, secrecy is tougher than it was in the early years.

"While we don't want to spoil things for viewers,” she said to Billboard, “we felt we could promote the people in episode one without giving too much away," she says.

Overall, after watching the first two hours, it’s fair to say it’s as predictable as a McDonald’s Big Mac. No surprises. 

There are a few good singers, a couple of joke singers. Most (unidentified) singers are montaged. There is one super hyperactive contestant who makes bird sounds, burps a lot and is borderline scary. The kid you see in the trailer above on the keyboard is my favorite so far. Only one of the singers featured is under the age of 18, which is surprising given the recent emphasis on very young ones. 

The judges get along famously - of course. Lionel Richie plays the patriarch and says nary a negative word. Katy Perry is doe-eyed and sweet. Luke Bryan is down-home goofy. 

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Speaking of Lambert, here’s his performance with Queen on Sunday opening the Oscars with the classic combo of “We Will Rock You”/”We are the Champions.” The film “Bohemian Rhapsody” ended up winning four Oscars. 

And Jennifer Hudson performed “I’ll Fight” from the documentary about Ruth Bader Ginsburg “RBG.” She hit some unusually off notes for her. Video of that performance has been scrubbed off YouTube. 

Hudson also spoke with Ryan Seacrest for the E! Red Carpet show:

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BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - NOVEMBER 06: Brian May of Queen and Adam Lambert perform onstage during the MTV Europe Music Awards 2011 live show at at the Odyssey Arena on November 6, 2011 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)
Photo: Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

More about Lambert: Lincoln Square Productions has acquired the U.S. television rights to a documentary on the iconic band and Lambert. “The Show Must Go On: The Queen + Adam Lambert Story” will air Monday, April 29 on ABC. 

According to a press release: “With rare concert footage and exclusive, revealing portraits of the band members off-stage, ‘The Show Must Go On’ chronicles Queen and Lambert’s incredible journey since they first shared the stage together on ‘American Idol’ in 2009. From his humble beginnings and meteoric rise on reality TV to now standing center stage as lead singer of Queen + Adam Lambert, the documentary features brand new interviews with Lambert, his parents Leila and Eber and Queen founding members Brian May and Roger Taylor, as well as “American Idol” judge Simon Cowell, Golden Globe and Oscar winner for Best Actor, “Bohemian Rhapsody’s” Rami Malek and Foo Fighters’ Taylor Hawkins.”

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And Lambert has released his newest single “Feel Something,” a sweet ballad. 

In a press release, this is how he described the song: 

"This was written about me climbing out of the low period, defying my disillusionment, owning my needs, and opening my heart. The life of a bachelor can be a laugh, with plenty of flings, but after a while it starts to feel empty. Between frustrations with my career and many lost connections, I felt numb—and though I wanted to fall in love, I knew I wasn’t ready.” 

Diana DeGarmo told Billboard she’s releasing her first album since 2004 called “Gemini.” She said it’s the first time she’s able to release music she wanted to create. With her first album, she felt like she was just a demo singer, which was created after she came in second on “Idol” in 2004. 

“My vision for Gemini is to finally do what makes me happy. I am a strong, Southern woman with a love for the dramatics, and an old soul,” she told Billboard. “I am standing tall with my country roots and shouting from the rooftops with my big-ass band. I want to transport you to a bygone era that may even be in our future. I have always been inspired by live performers and performing live has always been one of my strongest attributes, so I wanted to capture as much of that as I could. I’m tired of trying to blend into other people’s ideas of what “pop” or “country” is and just be me. I had no plan to write a radio single, a certain number of tracks or some other B.S. point made for people who only care about the business of music. Gemini is bigger than a song. Gemini is a show that you are all invited to visit with me. I wanted to create a world that has always been in my head so that’s exactly what I did.”

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Clay Aiken did “Drop the Mic” on TBS and TNT, where he gets to roast another celebrity via rap. He was up against “90210” and “Sharknado” star Ian Ziering. (Aiken did a cameo on one of the “Sharknado” films.)
Ziering went after Aiken’s looks, the fact he always came in second and his music career. 

Aiken mocked Ziering’s name, his “Sharknado” film and his rapping ability. And he called  Ziering the b-word! This time, he did NOT come in second! And can Aiken spit? Of course he can!

But it will never air because the episode also features (ulp!) Jussie Smollett. So they released it on social media instead. 



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About the Author

Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
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