American Idol 2013: Judges say show is suitable for younger competitors, as long as they are prepared to listen!

by Anna Howell

With the season premier only days away, this year’s American Idol judges, returning Randy Jackson, Keith Urban and feuding Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj insist that age doesn’t matter in the competition!

Fans of the hit US talent show, American Idol, are counting down the days till the new series hits US screens on the 16th of Jan, and so far this series is looking to be one of the most explosive the show has ever seen!

The headlines have so far been dominated by the fiery and continual feud between the shows two new alpha-female judges, Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj, who fell out rather spectacularly during the audition stages in October.

The row, during which Mariah compared Minaj to a three year old, and Minaj reportedly threatened to shoot Mariah, has continued for months, with many speculating that it is a publicity stunt, but now all four judges have come together at a Q&A session to insist that this series will be the best yet!

One of the first issues to be addressed was the age limit, or lack of it, for wannabe contestants.

American Idol has received some criticism for allowing children as young as 15 or 16 to be thrust into the limelight, especially after, a few days before the Q&A session, the 2006 runner-up, Katharine McPhee (who was 21 when she took part) had said that she had felt the experience to be both exhilarating and intimidating and that, looking back, she wasn’t prepared for the effects of the show.

However, Randy Jackson responded to her comments by saying that he believed the show is invaluable to young singers, as long as they were prepared take the competition seriously and listen to the advice the judges dish out:

“If you listen to us, for the people who really pay attention, we’re actually giving them a lot of amazing advice every week,” Jackson said.

“‘Change this.’ ‘Do that.’ ‘That song was too big.’ ‘That’s the wrong kind of song.’ ‘The key was too high.’ ‘What are you doing? Look at what you’re wearing — you don’t look comfortable.’ If they listen to what we’re saying and take it in, it can make all the difference. We’re really trying to help them.

“You wait for them to bloom. You believe in them early, but you’re also waiting for them to come to fruition at some point. It’s about who can grow through this.”

Mariah Carey went on to say that the pace of the show week to week, especially for the younger singers, is one of the things that she thrives on in the show:

“It’s tough when they don’t listen and come back and make the same mistake over and over, because you know they have the potential,” Carey said. “That’s where I get frustrated.”

Jackson went on to emphasise that it would be the contestants who didn’t take on board the judges advice that would leave the competition first:

“Look, it’s hard to listen when you’re 16 and you have tons of people at home and millions of people watching — cheering, booing, whatever. It’s hard, but that’s what it’s like.”

“A lot of the time,” Keith Urban added, “these young artists are surrounded by people or their family who tell them they’re thing most amazing thing. They’re not the most amazing thing. They’re OK. They’re not great. But they could be great, and hopefully we can help them a little bit to get where they’re trying to go.”

Meanwhile McPhee, who is currently one of the lead players in the Broadway ensemble drama Smash, has commented that, whilst she still considers the experience intimidating, she remains grateful for the opportunity American idol gave her:

“It really does feel like it happened to a different person. Sort of an out-of-body experience. It was several years ago now, but I’m always aware of what’s going on with the show, who the next judge is, that sort of thing. I’m grateful it did what it was supposed to do, which is get you that platform to get you to the next level.

“But it’s not something where I wake up every morning and go, ‘I was on American Idol!’ It was an amazing experience. It did what it was supposed to, and I’m grateful for that.”

She went on to issue some advice for younger contestants hoping to win a place on this year’s show:

“I would never say, ‘Don’t take it too seriously,’ ” she said. “It’s very serious. It’s something that could really change your life.

“For me, though, it’s such a different show today than when I was on it. They get so many more things than we did, just in terms of earpieces, rehearsal time, things that we didn’t have when we were there. It’s just a very different show.

“I really did not know myself when I was on the show, as a musician. It’s one thing if you can sing — that’s great. Good for you. But you need to know who you are as a musician.

“That was the big challenge for me, coming off the show. I wanted to be an actress. I thought I’d go on American Idol and get some good exposure. I had no idea I would do as well as I did. I made it to the very end — isn’t that crazy? I still can’t believe I actually did that.

“But with that came huge record contracts and all that stuff. I didn’t realize I was going to suddenly have to have an identity as a musician. I wasn’t ready for that. So my advice to anyone starting out on the show is to try and figure out who you are as a musician first.”

Watch Katharine’s American Idol finale performance in the clip below:

American Idol’s new season premieres Jan. 16 on Fox.