'American Idol': Major music producers Alex da Kid, Tricky Stewart, Darkchild working with auditioning contestants in Las Vegas

American-Idol-producersImage Credit: Todd Duffey/PR Photos; Janet Mayer/PR Photos; John Shearer/WireImage.com; Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic.comThe big changes on American Idol in its 10th season just keep on coming. This week, about 60 auditioning contestants (whittled down from 325 who made it to the Hollywood week round) have been rehearsing at the Las Vegas Mirage hotel to perform Beatles songs on the stage that Cirque du Soleil performs its Beatles-themed show LOVE. EW has learned that music executive and Idol‘s new in-house mentor Jimmy Iovine — whose mega-label Universal Music Group will release the Idol winner’s first album — has been in Las Vegas mentoring the potential contestants for those performances, and has assembled an impressive roster of major music producers to help: Alex da Kid (who produced Eminem’s megahit “Love the Way You Lie” featuring Rihanna, and B.o.B’s “Airplanes” featuring Hayley Williams), Christopher “Tricky” Stewart (Justin Bieber’s “Baby” featuring Ludacris, Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies”, Rihanna’s “Umbrella”), Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins (Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” featuring Beyoncé, the Pussycat Doll’s “When I Grow Up”), Polow da Don (several Keri Hilson tracks, including “Turnin’ Me On” featuring Lil Wayne), and Jim Jonsin (Nelly’s “Just a Dream”, T.I.’s “Whatever You Like”). The contestants will only perform for Idol judges Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez, and Steven Tyler, and not a live audience.

An Idol insider explains to EW that this is part of the season-long effort to get audiences to know the kids better as people and artists, and to get them out of their comfort zones and more accustomed to what life as a major music star would be like — i.e. putting down the guitar, and getting used to the big stage.

“Been shootin’ for American Idol all day,” Alex da Kid tweeted yesterday. “There were some kool kids [sic].”

Comments (59 total) Add your comment
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  • Fog cue

    It’s Polow da Don stupid

    • Jase

      Indeed it is, although i don’t advocate the name calling. Everyone makes mistakes.

      • winter wonderland

        I’m sick of the beatles. They should of picked the new Aria hotel in Las Vegas because that one has the Elvis show and they could of been on that stage doing Elvis’s music instead. Elvis’s songs totally kicks the beatles butts.

      • Jersey Jeff

        I agree, the Beatles are so done, like you said they should do somethig new like Elvis.

    • Bob Frapples

      It’s called punctuation, stupid.

      • GS

        Bob Frapples I got what you said, don’t think Fog cue did.

    • B-

      Also, EW could have mentioned Polow produced Fergie’s “Glamorous” and “London Bridge” instead of that nobody they mentioned… He also did PCD’s “Buttons”, Chris Brown’s “Forever”, Usher’s “Love In This Club” and Aguilera’s “Not Myself Tonight”. Hardly a guy that just “did a few Keri FAILson tracks”.

      • BlackIrish4094

        Like any of those songs / artists are something to be excited about?

      • Sam

        Producing songs for most of pops biggest acts over the past decade is nothing to be excited about?

      • BlackIrish4094

        If you consider them big acts, I wouldn’t pay to here any of those talent challenged artists you mentioned.

    • Preston

      I love Polow da Don’s songs for artists. He makes quality stuff. I liked Forever that he did for Chris Brown as well as several numbers for Keri Hilson’s first album and Fergie’s Glamorous.

  • GSK

    Is this going to make AI better?

    • Karl

      Doubt it…

    • Katy Perry

      Possibly. One thing the past few seasons have shown is that the contestants need more guidance on their journey. It’s rare that a pop star will come out without any major label grooming and producer assistance. Hopefully the mentorship will help each artist realize their potential and avoid the kind of disastrous mistakes we saw several contestants make last season.

      • CouldItBe

        Looooove you Katy LOL!!!!! :)

      • Double Jeopardy

        You mean like the crowned winner selling only 39,000 copies the first week? I quality that as disastrous.

  • gigi

    I welcome the producers, but the article lost me when it mentioned that the contestants will sing Beatles. I love the Beatles, but hate when the Idol contestants ruin the classics. Please retire the Beatles from this competition.

  • funny

    i’m glad there’s a lot of changes, maybe it will make it fresher. i also like how all the producers they are working with are pop leaning R&B guys. they DEFINITELY want to get away from the whole quiet, reasonably cute guitar playing white dudes. the last two winners’ record sales have been embarassing.not saying this will work, but the winners are becoming WAY too predictable and safe. this should be fun.

    • BlackIrish4094

      Because today’s pop and R & B are so unpredictable? That’s just a taste thing, I’d rather see white guys / girls with guitars than more pop bullsh!t.

    • Dipu

      Hi John I like the blog. I found the Hitler / Mussolini parallel to the death inotaeigstivn of Quaddafi pretty amusing. On the Gen Xer point above I heard another perspective. There is a book called The Age Curve which lays out the demographic changes in this country over the last century. Ken Gronbach (I think) is the author and a demographer we had him speak at a group I work with. He considers demographers more accurate than economists because economists make predictions based on assumptions and demographers count heads.One of the points of the book is that there are 12% fewer gen x’ers (born 1965-1985) than there were boomers (born 1945-1965). There were so many boomers they couldn’t get jobs and they started businesses. Recruiting was intense and competitive (I can relate, born in ’59). Some of the lazy rap given to gen xer’s is not totally fair they came into a market with more jobs (thanks to the boomers, and a couple of bubbles) and there were fewer of them. If you consider some % of any population unemployable (or at least well below average) then when Xers came into the job market, this end of the population found work, often repeatedly. Might be worth a read. He also has some interesting perspectives on the long term effect of population management in China. MP

  • Dee Jones

    This show`s good days are gone. They need to pack it up and call it a day! These changes won`t do much to help this show. And is it worth winning this show anymore, Lee Dwyze`s album is not doing good at all from what I heard.

    • AK

      It’s turning into “The X Factor.” But they’re already bringing over “The X Factor” for next fall. So what’s the point?

    • wazza22nowwa14

      Of course Lee DeWyze’s album is not doing good. He blows!

      • JM

        Lee has an album out?

      • Double Jeopardy

        Has anybody heard “Sweet Serendipity” because it is one of the worst original songs by a AI winner. No wonder his album was a BIG fail.

  • New Year

    The contestants better try real hard to show the world that they are ready to break out of the shell.

  • Cat

    Now if they could only get rid of the lame theme weeks…

  • B-

    I wonder how many kids sang Jennifer Lopez songs in an attempt to get through?

    • Jersey Jeff


    • Saad

      I hope Naima never scrubs anohetr toilet. She was my favorite before she was eliminated. Very hard to dance and sing the way she tried JLo probably lip syncs when she’s dancing on stage (definitely on videos). Old movie trick so that the face doesn’t get all distorted Haley’s been criticized for making faces while she sings. Real and True.

    • Rana

      Just a quick comment to say thnaks for the info on this site, I find it hard to lose weight as I cant seem to motivate myself but some of the tips you have posted on here I have found very helpful. I have bookmarked your site so I can keep up to date with whats going on, on your blog. Any personal tips from you would go down very well

  • Who?

    Darkchild? That’s racist.

    • DogBoy


  • DogBoy

    Oh joy– more over-produced featherweight dance pop and wannabe streetwise poser crap. can’t wait.

  • TV_Pete

    These all seem to be very R&B/pop.

    A significant number of the most successful Idol contestants tend towards either Rock or Country.

    Have they considered getting some of the more successful Rock or Country producers? (Well, Steven Tyler and Randy Jackson may be able to handle the advice on 80’s and 90’s Rock)

  • Templar

    It doesn’t matter who they bring on board in any capacity. If they don’t limit the text voting, all we’ll see for a winner is a semi-cute, semi-talented straight guy.

  • JRWolfe

    color me confused. Why did Jimmy Iovine bring in 5 producers best known for making autotune cr-p muzak in to supervise covers of Beatles songs ?

    • Preston

      I don’t think those producers are going to use those familiar Autotune sounds that are so common in their major hits for artists. I will predict that they’ll perform with all live instruments in the studio and ditch the Autotune for these AI finalists. They want to show the singers’ raw voices over their productions and music and hear more originality from them.

    • mscisluv

      While I don’t think that these producers only produce crap, I do find it strange to bring in some of the best R&B/pop producers and have the contestants limited to Beatles songs. It’s great music, but a strange combination.

  • BlackIrish4094

    Idol’s gonna suck this year and the whole “put down the guitar” thing is stupid. John Mayer (among many others) does quite well for himself performing with a guitar in his hand. Ugh, as if the lousy new judges weren’t enough and Cirque de Soleil is sh1t, that’s supposed to prepare them for being a real artist? Whatever…

    • Preston

      But the last few winners have performed behind a guitar. They’re not into just standing up there and performing behind a microphone all by their lonesome.

  • neetsie

    Great. More autotune crap…

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