Jennifer Lopez, Harry Connick Jr., and Keith Urban Brace for 'American Idol' Farewell as Auditions Begin

Michael Becker/FOX
Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick, Jr. on "American Idol XIV" on May 12, 2015. 

The judges began the search for the next 'American Idol' in Philadelphia

Even though American Idol’s 15th season is being billed as a fond farewell, Jennifer Lopez isn’t quite ready to say goodbye.

“I will just miss Idol if it doesn’t continue after this,” the Idol judge told Billboard. “I don’t know, there is a part of me that feels like there is another version of it that is going to happen.”

As the 46-year old singer surveyed the room of wide-eyed hopefuls at the Pennsylvania Convention Center on Sunday, Aug. 16, Lopez said the show is still a way for an aspiring musician to reach for the stars.

“It’s such an amazing brand and it has come to represent opportunity and dreams and the best part of people,” she explained.

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That said, all three judges-Lopez, Harry Connick Jr., and Keith Urban came to Philadelphia with a job to do: find the next American Idol.

The first audition city hit a few road bumps. Longtime host Ryan Seacrest missed the taping due to a scheduling conflict, but Season Two runner-up Clay Aiken came to the rescue and took over hosting duties for the Aug. 15 auditions. 

As for the task of finding a star?  The job is harder than it looks.

“Yesterday wasn’t good and it was our first day,” said Connick. “So far we are not as excited as we would have thought we have been.”

Still, he has hope.

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“It’s a long process and we have hundreds of people to see and we look forward to seeing some great talent,” he said.

Urban agreed with Connick’s assessment of the first crop of singers, and a small number were put through to Hollywood.

“They just weren’t very good. But we only need one,” he said. “We had a really good one yesterday, and sometimes day two is better. We do two days for every city so more often than not the second day is better.”

Connick also said that the panel is committed to finding someone who is special from the very first note.

“There is not a whole lot of change that happens from the day that they audition to later on in the competition. Sometimes you put a lot of faith in potential and that people will grow and change, but that really doesn’t happen as often as you think,” he said. “Every once in a while you find someone that really starts to blossom over the course of the competition, but basically what you see today is what you are going to see at the end, so that is what we are focused on -- just finding great talent off the bat.”

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When asked what he is most proud of in his three years as a judge, Urban said he “can’t single that out as a specific person or artist,” but he is happy that anyone who has competed on the show has “the continued opportunity that all these artists have to find an audience -- a huge audience” when it’s over.

What he will miss, he said, is the “camaraderie” with Lopez, Connick and Seacrest.

“I love being in this ensemble and they are just easy to work with and fun to be around,” he noted.

Connick said the feeling is mutual.

“I love Jen and Keith. I love Ryan,” he explained. “This is a good group of people, so I’ll miss that the most.”

When asked to give words of encouragement to a generation of kids who just missed the opportunity to compete on the farewell season because of the age requirements, Connick was hopeful.

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“Well who knows, man? It is a farewell season and you never know what is going to happen down the road,” he said. “American Idol is a huge institution and I don’t know what is going to happen in the future, so maybe one day you will get the chance.”

As for Lopez, she will not only miss the show as a judge, but as a viewer.

“I will miss being able to tune in and see it every year,” she said. “I have had a tremendous run and I am very excited about this season. We are going to raise the bar and hopefully create an amazing season for this farewell.”


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