American Idol's new judge, Kara DioGuardi, loves everyone

by Kona Gallagher, posted Jan 13th 2009 10:14AM
american idol judges
The premiere of American Idol's new season is tonight; can you stand it? Last year brought us a format change with the addition of instruments; this year, we have a new judge. Controversy has been following Kara DioGuardi since she was named AI's fourth judge. Is she taking Paula's place? Are there catfights? Will she screw up the balance of the show?

To help drum up enthusiasm about the new season and ostensibly to answer some of these questions, FOX set up a conference call with Kara. Unsurprisingly, she stayed as far away from minefields as humanly possible, instead gushing about how wonderful everyone on the show is and how well they all get along, and blah blah blah, puppies and rainbows. Luckily, she also chatted about what she thinks of the newest crop of contestants as well as past Idols.

The guys have it.

Although she of course couldn't talk specifics, Kara was very confident that like last year, this year's idol will be a guy. She said that she could think of "at least five," but up to ten of the male contestants who were great, but only one or two girls came to mind when asked who could take the competition. She also went on to say that the men have a uniqueness that she hasn't seen from past contestants and that they have more of a "soulful" vibe than a pop feel. We all know that the public's voting is notoriously fickle, but could we possible end up with an all-male top 5?

She's not exactly over the moon about everyone who made it to Hollywood.

All of the judges have their roles: Simon is the mean one, Paula is the mother, and Randy is the dawg. So, what will her role be? Kara says that she's a mixture of all three. While she does believe in second chances, third chances are a bit too much to ask for. However, she said that they couldn't "say no to everybody," since they needed to make sure they have enough contestants. A lot of times, Randy and Paula would say yes to someone that she knew Simon would say no to, so it came down to her to decide whether the person just had a bad audition or if they really didn't have any talent.

Having worked in the studio with so many different artists, Kara feels that she knows what will work and what won't, and doesn't feel the need to sugarcoat it, saying, "if they don't' have any talent, you want to discourage them because you don't want them to waste their time. "

Though she can't speak about any current Idol contestants, she definitely has favorite former Idols.

Although she's worked with or written songs for several former idols, including Jordin Sparks and Carrie Underwood, her favorite by far is original Idol, Kelly Clarkson. She says that she has a "very special relationship with Kelly" that was forged in the studio while working on her album, "Breakaway," for which Kara co-wrote six songs. Kara was especially impressed with Kelly's ability to inject herself into any song.

As much as she loves Kelly Clarkson, one idol has heretofore eluded her. I got a chance to ask what former contestant she would like to work with but hasn't been able to, and she didn't hesitate before answering that Chris Daughtry is the one she would really love to co-write with him, and puts a plea out to the public, saying, "if he's out there and he wants to do a co-write, please call me."

All in all, I don't know how I feel about the new judge. She spent the majority of the call saying exactly what I'm sure FOX and/or AI producers told her to say. I can't count the number of times there was some variation of, "oh, he's a doll," or "she's great," or "everyone gets along so well!" Even if she wanted to speak specifically about contestants, how much does it really matter at this point? We're still weeks away from getting to the people whose names we actually have a chance of remembering six months from now.

Even though it wasn't the most informative interview, I am definitely of the opinion that Idol needs some changes. The formula has gotten stale, and as Fantasia's recent foreclosure drama attests, winning isn't exactly a guarantee that you'll reach super-stardom. I welcomed last season's addition of instruments, and I'm hopeful that the fourth judge will shake things up enough to keep me interested.

Do you think hiring Kara DioGuardi was a good idea?
Yes, it's the shot in the arm that this show needs.92 (38.7%)
No, they have a formula that has been working for years; why mess with it?60 (25.2%)
Eh. I don't think it'll make much of a difference either way.86 (36.1%)

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Wait. You wrote that the premiere is a few days away? Doesn't it start tonight?

January 13 2009 at 11:06 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to RadioScott's comment

Ah. I see you fixed that. The rest of the article is good, though. I hope she'll force the judges to step it up a bit. I swear Randy has about 3 comments that he uses over and over again. Whatever those judges are being paid, it's too much.

Oh, and how long will it be before Paula shows up under the influence?

January 13 2009 at 11:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Actually, isn't the premiere tonight?

January 13 2009 at 10:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to R-Bro's comment
Kona Gallagher

Yes it is. Sorry about the confusion, this was originally supposed to be posted earlier. I fixed it.

January 13 2009 at 11:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"She also went on to say that the men have a uniqueness that she hasn't seen from past contestants and that they have more of a "soulful" vibe than a poop feel"

Poop feel? My feelings exactly.

January 13 2009 at 10:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to cdawg's comment
Kona Gallagher

Hahaha. Oh man. That was totally Freudian. Thanks for catching that!

January 13 2009 at 10:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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