There’s only so much you can catch when you watch American Idol on the small screen. For the complete picture, Billboard has you covered…
MEN ARE FROM (BRUNO) MARS: The finalists take their seats in the on-camera V.I.P. Lounge before Idol goes live to the East Coast at 5pm. But they’re not all sitting down. As warm-up MC Cory Almeida kept the studio audience entertained by playing Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’ No. 1 hit “Uptown Funk,” 15-year-old Daniel Seavey was on his feet, smoothly saluting Mars’ footwork in the song’s video. Without the pressure of the cameras rolling, Seavey really broke loose and showed a more confident side than he has in any of his on-air performances.
GONNA MAKE THIS PLACE THEIR HOME: There were four Idol alums in the house on Wednesday night. Kelly Clarkson was present as mentor and performer and Ruben Studdard was the surprise guest who delivered the results to Ryan Seacrest. After his on-stage bit, Studdard sat in the audience, along with his invited guest, season 4’s Vonzell Solomon. Sitting right in front of Studdard and Solomon was season 12 champ Candice Glover.
After the two-hour live broadcast, Billboard asked Studdard what it was like to come back to Idol where one of the contestants (Seavey) was four years old during season 2. “I felt really old. Honestly,” said the second American Idol. “It was good to celebrate Kelly and all of her accomplishments. It was great to come back where everything started for me. I’ve been singing my whole life but this is where people figured out I had real talent.”
Studdard revealed that he is working on a new album, though the details remain confidential at this point. “I don’t think anybody’s going to expect the kind of music I’m putting out. It’s going to be a pleasant surprise. I’ve been in the studio since February and will be recording through the summer in Los Angeles, Atlanta and New York. Usually when I do an album I record a hundred songs. This time I’m just recording the ones I think are hits. I’ve only recorded seven songs so far and all of them are smashes.”
Billboard also talked to Solomon about her return. “I had so many emotions driving onto the lot, and seeing so many familiar faces,” she said. “It’s really like a family.” What went through her mind while watching the season 14 contestants perform? “I get nervous for them. I know what they’re thinking and feeling. I can’t believe that 10 years ago that was me on that stage.” Asked to name her favorites among the current crop, the purple-haired alum said, “Rayvon [Owen] is my favorite but everyone did a great job. Joey [Cook], who also has purple hair, said, ‘You’re my sister, I love your hair.’ She did a tremendous job. Those two are my favorites.”
Glover also has her favorites and named them for Billboard: “I really love Clark [Beckham]. He’s so soulful and I connect with him. I melt every time I hear him. I love Rayvon and Tyanna [Jones] and Jax and I really love Joey, too.” Like Studdard and Solomon, Glover was happy to come home to Idol. “It’s amazing to come back here because I get to see all the people I used to work with and everybody remembers you. They had your back while you were here so it feels good.”
I CAN’T BELIEVE IT’S NOT J.LO: A gentleman in the audience was waving a bright yellow sign that insisted he was J.Lo. Warm-up maestro Almeida got to the bottom of that by asking him for an explanation. Turns out his name is John London. Can’t argue with that!
NOW WE’RE COOKING WITH GAS: Fox TV chef Gordon Ramsey was also in the Idol audience with his children. On a commercial break, the Ramsey clan went up on stage to the judges’ table so the kids could chat with Harry Connick, Jr., Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban.
AT LAST: At the top of the show, Connick mentioned that he was looking forward to meeting Clarkson; he not only met her on air, she spent some time on a commercial break at the judges’ table. Photos were taken of Clarkson with all three judges.
LIVING IN THE PAST: During commercial breaks, audience members are allowed to take out their phones and take pictures, including selfies, and send messages on social media. On one of those breaks, Almeida reminded the youngsters in the audience that when Clarkson competed on Idol, there were no iPhones and no tweets. Truly, a simpler time.