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Interview with Randy Jackson of "American
FBC PUBLICITY: The American Idol XIII Conference Call
February 13, 2014/10:00 a.m. PST
Moderator Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for
standing by and welcome to The American Idol XIII interview
call with Randy Jackson. As a reminder this conference is
I would now like to turn the conference to Jennifer Reed for
opening remarks. Please go ahead.
Jennifer Hi, everyone. Thanks so much for joining us
today for the American Idol XIII conference call with our
in-house mentor, Randy Jackson. As a reminder, heís here to
talk about American Idol XIII and, as always, if we feel
anyone is harping on any one subject we do reserve the right
to jump in and move the call along.
So, with that being said, Lois, letís go ahead and take the
Moderator Thank you. The first question will come
from Jamie Ruby from Scifivision.com. Please go ahead.
Jamie Hi, Randy. Thanks so much for talking to us
Randy Hey, how are you?
Jamie Great. So, can you talk about what made you
decide that you wanted to be a mentor as opposed to judging?
Randy Honestly, after 12 seasons in, as a judge it
felt like Iíd said and done everything that I really ever
desired and needed to and wanted to do as a judge and I just
felt like it was just time to do something else. Iím a big
evolution guy. So, I felt like thereís no other way I could
say it and do it and whatever.
So, I said, you know what, I think itís time to kind of step
away and Iím really excited to step into the mentor role
because I get a chance to work more hands on with the kids
and help impart some of the wisdom that Iíve gained over my
35-year career to them, you know.
Jamie Right. I assume, though, youíve been watching
it so far. Do you, though, sometimes kind of want to tell
what you think to the people since youíre not up there
Randy No. Listen, I think the judges are doing an
amazing job. I think Harry, Keith and Jennifer are amazing.
Theyíve got such a natural, great chemistry and theyíre all
dear friends of mine for a long time. So, you know, I love
And I think theyíre doing an amazing job. Once I kind of
walked away from it I was kind of done with that, you know
what I mean?
Jamie Okay, great. Well, thank you so much.
Moderator Thank you. And weíll move to the line of
Michael Slezak from TVLine. Please go ahead.
Michael Hi, Randy. Just sort of a two-part question
for you. Youíve got, obviously, 12 years of experience on
the show so youíve seen in the live shows that contestants
tend to gravitate towards songs that have been done to
death, ďHallelujah,Ē those songs that get done over and
over. As a mentor, will you try and discourage them from
maybe making some of those done to death song choices?
Randy Yeah, I will because I think youíre absolutely
right and youíre very astute to pick that up because,
especially if contestants have really sung it on the show,
you canít help but get that comparison from the audience and
from people that are on the show and watch the show. So, you
always want to try and come off a little unique and a little
different, unless youíve got a really different twist on
Michael Right. And I guess as a follow up to that,
some of the most beloved contestants like Adam Lambert, Kris
Allen, David Cook even Candace last year gave us unexpected
arrangements of songs. And it seems like something weíve had
a little less of over the last few seasons. Do you feel like
you can help them get back to putting an interesting twist
Randy Yeah, Iíd love that and I want more of that. We
just had like an intense workshop with them and I talked
about that. Thatís what I mean, if you take a song; for
instance, if you want to do ďHallelujahĒ do you have a
different version of it? Can you do something else different
And I think also what it does for the judges and for the
public is let you know the real range of their talent. If
they can take something and move it around like that and
make it really creative, you go, wow, I didnít know your
talent was that deep. You know what Iím saying? So, I love
that, yes, of course, I will definitely try and help
Michael Cool. Thanks.
Moderator Thank you and our next question is from
Gina Scarpa from Thatsyourreality.com. Please go ahead.
Gina Hey, Randy.
Randy Hey, how are you?
Gina Iím good, thanks. So, you talked a little bit
about that great chemistry that the three judges have this
season and itís definitely a different vibe from the minute
the season started. Can you talk a little bit about what
youíve been feeling when you watch the episodes back on TV
Randy Oh yeah, listen, what you look for on the
judges panel always to me, itís what me, Simon and Paula and
Ryan kind of naturally had. We didnít even know we were
looking for it, but we kind of naturally had it, to be
honest with you.
You look for that natural chemistry because you canít really
force that because you know, you are individual judges, but
youíre as a team, as a panel so it has to work well that
way. I mean, theyíve done sensational. I love them all as
people and friends in the industry anyway, but I think
theyíve done an amazing job.
Gina Watching them choose the top 30 or 31, they said
they have to let some really amazing people go home and
weíre seeing that. What do you think of the level of talent
Randy I think the level of talent is amazing. I think
theyíre very young. Itís a very young pool for the most part
and I think itís a very different pool. And what Iím so
impressed about the show, that people just continuously turn
out for Idol, itís just really talented kids that this
season itís more different than I think any other season,
but some really, really unique kids I love. I love this
Moderator And our next question is from Michele
Angermiller from the Hollywood Reporter.
Michele Hi, Randy. It was so great seeing you on the
show last night. I missed you.
Randy Thank you. I made a little impromptu; I was
just saying hi to them. Actually Keith (and Harry) got up
and sang, because theyíre both so silly and funny guys. It
was funny. It was a good time.
Michele Yeah, it came across that way. We talked
about Adam Lambert as a mentor. I want to know what Adam and
Chris brought to the table in the workshop because we know
theyíre coming up and everybody is excited. And we want a
little sneak peak of what we can expect from those guys?
Randy Well, listen, I wanted to have them there
because Iíve been doing the show since it started so I have
a wealth of knowledge, but they were actually in the
trenches of people that we were actually judging so they
could tell it from a completely different side.
And the two of them are so different, but theyíre also
equally really, really talented and I think both of their
seasons, I thought both of them would win. During the season
you just never know and they both have had amazing careers
thus far, so I really wanted them there.
So, they were able to impart a lot of wisdom on what they go
through. We talk about everything in this workshop, because
I really wanted to break it down for the kids, like, when
the judges say this, are you really hearing what theyíre
saying? Are you retaining 20%, 30%, what are you listening
to? Because youíve got cameras in your face, youíve got 500
people in the audience. Youíve got all the chatter from
social media. Youíve got your friends and family and youíve
got millions of people watching on TV.
We really broke it down and went through everything that we
could and I think it really helped the kids a lot. And Adam
did a great job.
Michele What do you miss most about being behind the
Randy You know, honestly, to be honest with you, I
donít really miss it at all. When I walked away I was
really done with it. I had done everything I thought I could
do. I couldnít even figure out another way to say stuff, so
I was really happy that I was on for 12 seasons as a judge.
And Iím happiest now about this new role as a mentor because
thatís kind of what I do anyway as a record producer, as a
manager of artists and a talent manager. Itís what I do is
nurture talent, so itís what I do every day. So, this is the
most natural fit for me.
Michele You see any of these kids as being somebody
youíd want to work with?
Randy Yeah, you just never know. Youíve got to see how they
blossom. But I get a chance to work with them now in this
role and itís really amazing. There are some very uniquely,
great talented kids in this batch this year.
Michele Thank you, Randy.
Randy Youíre very welcome.
Moderator Our next question is from Caryn Robbins
Caryn Randy, how are you?
Randy Hey, how are you?
Caryn Iím good, thanks. Weíve already seen some
changes this season on Idol and I was wondering if you can
kind of give us some hints about other changes that are
coming up for the live shows that are new to the show?
Randy I think youíll see some twists and changes in
the theme weeks. I think youíll see a little bit more twists
and changes as we go along. I mean, itís Idol 2.0. I think
the show needed a refresh and I think itís gotten one and I
think the judgesí panel is one of those things thatís doing
I think me and the mentors, a very different thing. Itís
different for me and itís something that I welcome and love
actually. And I think it needed a little bit of a lift, you
know what I mean?
Caryn Yes, well, we certainly see that already. So,
Iím looking forward to the rest of the season.
Randy All right. Thank you very much.
Moderator Thank you. Our next question is from
Tiffany Lane from Synergistic Productions.
Tiffany Hi, Randy, how are you?
Randy Hey, howís it going?
Tiffany Good, thank you. I want to know, do you see
any frontrunners this season and what do you see as far as
strengths that we see this season vocally?
Randy As far as what?
Tiffany Like strengths vocally that we see this
Randy I think so far I think there are some
frontrunners there. I donít want to name anyone just yet,
but I think the edge seems to me to be in the girlsí favor,
but I think the boys could come up and surprise everyone.
Thereís some really very talented unique boys, too.
I think as far as song-wise, itís going to be interesting to
see what happens because I think weíve put a little bit of a
twist on the themes. I donít think the themes are as narrow
as they used to be. I think youíll like where weíre going
with the themes this season.
Tiffany And as far as Harry, you spoke a little bit
about the judges already, but what do you think about his
style? Some people have called harsh. Do you think he
deserves to be given that name? What do you think about him
being so blunt all the time and kind of really giving what
his thoughts are?
Randy No, I love it. I said to them, all of them,
before they started the season, you know, as a judge you
always have to call it as you see it. And people, a lot of
critics and stuff will always criticize judges, I donít know
if theyíre hard enough or are they too hard or this or that
or whatever, but you have to call it as you see it. I think
heís doing an amazing job. I think heís hilarious. Heís
funny. I think heís being harsh when he has to be.
And itís not really just being harsh, itís like, what people
fail to realize is you walk into a typical audition today in
a room and there werenít cameras in there, you might not
even comment. You might just go, next. So, I think youíve
got to call it as you see it always and I think theyíre all
doing it. I think theyíre doing an amazing job. I mean, Iím
loving what theyíre doing.
Tiffany Thank you.
Moderator Our next question is from Andrea Dresdale
from ABC News Radio.
Andrea Hey, Randy. I think that definitely one of the
changes we saw this year was on last nightís show we had our
first openly gay on camera contestant. Is that something
that you welcome, a change that youíre glad to see on the
Randy Iím really proud of her and Iím really happy
for her and I think, who would have thought in 2014 youíd
have to do that. Iím just always surprised. But we should
have come a lot further a lot faster, but it is what it is.
But I think, yeah, weíve never said you canít do this, you
canít do that. Itís never about who you are or what you do
or what you choose and where youíre from. Itís always really
about the talent.
So, sheís a natural, so I mean Iím really happy for her that
sheís able to say that. You know what I mean?
Andrea Yes, and hereís my follow-up. The day that we
see you return to the show is also the day that last yearís
champ is finally releasing her debut album. Have you heard
Candaceís album and what do you think about her prospects
for future success?
Randy I havenít heard the album, but I just heard a
little bit of a single that sounded good to me the other
day. I didnít hear the whole thing. I heard about a minute
of it. I wish her all the best and I wish her all the
biggest things. Sheís definitely one of the greater singers
that weíve had on here and I hope the record is amazing. If
the record is amazing sheíll do well, but the success of
contestants after the show is all about great songs.
Andrea Okay, thanks. She told me that you were her
favorite judge, by the way.
Randy Well, we love her. Her talent is just, wow.
Sheís a wowser.
Andrea Thanks a lot.
Moderator And our next question is from Hannah
Satherstrom from CTV.CA.
Hannah Hi, Randy. Thank you for being here.
Hannah I was just wondering. You were talking about
how you have this wealth of knowledge from being a judge for
so long on American Idol. I was wondering what else can you
offer as a mentor that youíve taken from being a judge?
Randy Well, I think everything from being a judge, I
mean, youíve seen when the kids crumble, youíve seen when,
for instance, when youíre judging people itís a very
interesting thing. Youíre talking to them and youíre
wondering who gets the information that youíre actually
giving them in your minute critique because if you really
would pull back and listen to, not every time, but most of
the time when a lot of the judges speak theyíre really
trying to give the kid some insight on what to do and where
The song is too big for you, itís the wrong song for you,
itís the wrong key, stop singing so many runs, youíve got to
work on your vibrato; I mean, youíre really giving them
coaching advice, but I wonder how much they actually retain
of that because you canít tell. Theyíve got so much going on
in their minds and in their hearts and in their heads as
theyíre on that stage that maybe they only retain 10% of
So, itís also what is really working, what has worked for
past contestants, what songs. I mean, thereís just so much.
Thereís movement help, there are clothing choices,
performance help, where does the star meter come for you,
you know, the arrangement, is it unique enough? Is it too
unique? Is it way too musical?
I mean there are so many things that go into the dynamics on
the show that itís from being a judge for 12 years on the
show and also having a 35-year career working with the
Arethas, the Eltons, the Springsteens, the *NSync, Destinyís
Child, Madonna, Mariah; thatís what Iíve done.
Hannah Great, awesome. Also, in other terms, what
challenges might you face?
Randy From the mentor role?
Hannah What challenges would you face just from the
other side, like moving from the judge to the mentor, how do
you think that might be a bit more of a challenge for you?
Randy I donít know if itís so much of a challenge for
me because itís kind of what Iíve been doing all my life
with my own career and my own self as a musician and also I
manage quite a few people and Iím a record producer, so when
you take on those roles, those are mentoring roles and those
are development roles that youíre trying to help become the
best of who they can become.
So, what I hope is that a lot of contestants try and take a
lot of it to heart and I hope that it helps them. The sad
part is that when you try and give someone that advice and
it doesnít always work the first or the second time or
whatever. So, I just hope it helps them, you know what I
Hannah Yeah, definitely. Thank you very much.
Randy Youíre very welcome.
Moderator Our next question is from Jeff Dodge from
Jeff My first question is youíve been talking about
the workshop that you did and working with Chris and Adam.
Now, how does this come about for you to do a workshop for
the contestants? Because I donít believe this has been done
before on Idol.
Randy No, itís the first time weíve ever done it and
hopefully itíll continue for a long time. Itís something
Iíve wanted to do. I saw a lot of things being a judge over
the years on this show when it started. I thought of a lot
of ideas and a lot of things that I would possibly do
different and also that I think would help enhance the show
and now that weíre in the refresh, the Idol 2.0 mode, itís
something that I wanted to employ, itís one of the things
that I talked about when I first decided to be a mentor.
So, I think it was something thatís long been kind of needed
and I think itís going to help the kids a lot and I hope
they think itís helped them a lot because it was definitely
great for all of us and I wanted to have Adam and Chris come
in because theyíre really two different guys, but theyíre
each equally successful and they werenít the winners their
So, theyíve gone on to amass great careers that are still
running strong and they werenít even the winners, so I
wanted the kids to see that, see their knowledge, see their
sense of self where they are now, where theyíve grown, what
they thought when they were on the show, auditioning. Itís
such an insight that I think none of the contestants have
ever really had. So, Iím really happy about the workshop.
Jeff Yeah. In the past few years Jimmy Iovine has
been the mentor on the show. Is your approach to being the
mentor going to be different to the way he was a mentor?
Randy Yeah, completely so. I love Jimmy and I think
he was great and great on with us, but I think itís just a
different kind of thing. I really want to be a little bit
more hands on and nurturing and try to really help them a
little bit more rather than just, you know, the song coach;
weíll get into that in the arrangement. And I think weíve
got a different judging panel. Itís just a different set up
this year. I think the whole thing is just a lot fresher,
Jeff Okay, great. Thank you.
Randy All right, thank you.
Moderator And our next question is from Stephen Leng
from Star Magazine UK.
Stephen Hi, Randy, how are you?
Randy Hey, very good. Howís it going?
Stephen Great. I just wanted to know, obviously,
recently Simon Cowellís U.S. X Factor got cancelled. Would
you ever welcome him back on the American Idol panel? Would
you like to see that?
Randy Oh, of course. He helped to born what this show
really is. He helped to born what all these shows really
are, so he is my dear friend for life. Heís one of the
greatest to ever do it. So, of course, I mean, are you
kidding? It would be amazing.
Stephen What do you think about his show being
cancelled? Were you sad to have a bit less competition?
Randy I think, listen, I mean Iím sure itís something
he thought about, or whatever, wanted. I think heís such an
amazing talented guy and he helped to born what that is. Iím
sure heís plotting his U.S. return in a different, new way.
Heís a real creator. Never count him out.
Moderator Our next question is from Juliana Rasul
from The New Paper.
Juliana Hi, Randy, how are you doing?
Randy Hey, whatís going down?
Juliana Iím good. I wanted to know a little bit
about, this sounds like a follow-up from the last question,
how do you feel about Idol outlasting other shows like The X
Factor, which was just cancelled? What do you think is the
special ingredient in the show?
Randy I think the real thing about Idol, I say this
all the time, I think itís the best show of its kind on TV
and Iím sure some critics, probably a lot of critics, hate
when I say that sometimes. But the truth really is that it
is. So, when you look at what the show set out to do, to
find the next undiscovered star, superstar and weíve
produced a lot of talent.
Weíre the only show that can say we have successful
contestants from this format. So, no other show on TV thatís
a singing competition can really, really say that. So,
thatís the test of how well itís done. And I think the idea
of finding the best undiscovered talent that really needs a
shot is what this show has really done and it continues to
do it successfully.
So, Iím really happy about that and thatís made it stand
apart and going into its 13th season. I donít even know if
any of those other shows will be on 13 seasons.
Juliana I also wanted to ask about the fact that
weíve already seen on other seasons that people come in and
do very indie stuff or very out there stuff. And weíve seen
that on this season as well on Hollywood Week. But do you
actually really feel that they can go really far and win, is
one thing and, secondly, they can actually be mainstream
Randy You mean indie artists?
Juliana Yeah, like the kids who come in and say, like
Bon Iver or anything like that?
Randy Right. I think all of that is welcome. Idol was
never about choice, itís never about who you are, itís never
about indie, itís never about gender, itís never about
color, anything. What it really is about is just great
talent. If youíre great, you will go through and you will
And remember, the public will decide, as they decide anyway
for anyone that releases any record, anything, theyíll start
to vote and decide what your fate is. I mean I love Bon Iver.
Of course, I love all sorts of music and I think the indie
music genre is one of the best and biggest and brightest
spots of our whole thing right now. Itís produced a lot of
amazing talent right now.
Juliana Thank you so much.
Randy Youíre very welcome.
Moderator And our next question is from the line of
Ali Rosenbloom from US Weekly.
Alli Hi, Randy.
Randy Hey, you are you doing?
Alli Iím good, thank you. So, youíre a mentor to the
contestants this year, but I want to know what advice you
gave to this yearís panel, and how youíve been a mentor to
them, especially to Harry and Keith?
Randy You know, I just mentor them all, you know, a
call it as you really see it when youíre judging and
whatever that is because, you know, theyíre all
professionals, theyíre all extremely talented people and
Iíve known all of them a long time and theyíre all dear
friends of mine.
Harryís my home boy from Louisiana. Heís funny, heís
charismatic, heís silly, but heís very musically savvy and
knowledgeable. Jennifer is the same way and the same goes
for Keith. The thing that Iím really happiest about with
them is theyíve got a great natural chemistry, which is what
it takes for every judging panel, not a forced chemistry,
but a natural chemistry.
You want people to really get on. They can have different
views and different opinions, which they do and they can
disagree, which they do. But at least theyíre all for the
greater good, you know what Iím saying, the whole, the
greater good of the whole thing. So, I love them. Thatís the
only really tidbit that I gave them and theyíve found some
amazingly talented kids this year. Theyíre very unique, very
different. I think the show is off to a good clip, man. I
love the refresh Idol 2.0.
Alli Thank you.
Randy Youíre very welcome.
Jennifer Lois, weíre going to go ahead and take our
last question now.
Moderator Thank you. And that last question will come
from Kate Noble from new! magazine.
Kate Hi, Randy. How are you?
Randy Okay, howís it going?
Kate Not too bad, thank you. I just wanted to know
would you ever consider coming over the U.K. and sitting on
one of our television show panels?
Randy You know, I love it over there. I love the
music, I love the people. Of course, I would, I would
consider that. It might have to be with Cowell, though.
Kate My second follow-up question I was going to say
do you think heís going to make a good dad?
Randy Iím still getting over the shock that heís
going to be a dad. Listen, I think itís really going to help
him grow and Iíve just been saying to him, Dude, let it
happen, let it wash over you, come on! I think heís actually
going to be a good dad. I think surprisingly Ė and Iím
surprising myself as I say this Ė I think heís going to be a
Kate Fantastic. Thank you so much for your time.
Randy Youíre very welcome.
Jennifer I want to thank everybody. Thank you, Randy,
for joining us for the call today. As a reminder, American
Idol XIII airs tonight at 8:00 p.m. on Fox and all artwork
can be found at foxflash.com. At this time Iím going to turn
the call back over to our Moderator, who will give replay
instructions and then you can disconnect. Thank you.
Randy Thanks, guys.
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