American Idol has announced that it will, ahem, announce its new panel of judges for its upcoming tenth season next Wednesday, September 22nd, at the show’s Los Angeles auditions. At least three quarters of the judging panel will be replaced, after original judge Simon Cowell retired at the end of last season in favor of pursuing an American version of X-Factor, while Ellen DeGeneres quit after one season and Kara DioGuardi is also not returning. Randy Jackson, the only original judge remaining, is expected to return unless there’s unforeseen news. The only thing we know for sure is that host Ryan Seacrest will remain part of the show; according to Idol, Seacrest is the one who will be announcing the new judges.
Jennifer Lopez and Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler had been widely rumored to be the frontrunners to take over for Cowell and DeGeneres, but it’s not clear whether this would mean a reversion to the show’s original three-judge format or whether an additional name might surface. Among those who have publicly expressed an interest in becoming a judge are Bret Michaels of Poison and Perez Hilton. It’s also been long rumored that Seacrest could become a judge himself. Others have suggested that former judge Paula Abdul should return to the show.
Here’s your last chance to look like a genius or look foolish in public: post your best guesses below as to what the new American Idol judging panel will look like after next week’s announcement.
For those of you who missed the Kara DioGuardi and Jason Reeves “Terrified” duet last night on the George Lopez show because you were too busy trying to find TBS on your remote control, there’s good news – video of the performance has predictably surfaced on YouTube. (Disclaimer: we didn’t put it there. Fair warning: hurry, before someone gets it yanked.)
The song was co-written by DioGuardi and Reeves in what turned out to be the first song the two of them ever co-wrote together; earlier this year, Reeves and Katharine McPhee recorded a version for the latter’s Unbroken album. Beatweek recently interviewed Jason Reeves about the origins of Terrified, along with his career as a solo singer-songwriter including his forthcoming major label album.
For a guy who’s co-written some of the biggest hit pop songs on the radio, Jason Reeves is surprisingly soft spoken. But in addition to having helped pen hits for artists like Colbie Caillat, Katharine McPhee, and Lenka, he also has a solo career of his own which has managed to remain just under the radar despite his increasingly high profile collaborations with others. In our interview, Jason discusses the origin of the song “Terrified” which he just performed on television last night with Kara DioGuardi, and fills us in on his upcoming new album – and reveals its name…
Your debut album from 2007 is called The Magnificent Adventures Of Heartache (And Other Frightening Tales) – that’s about seventeen syllables. What possessed you to go with an album title that was that long?
I’m not sure. I guess I was sick of how ADD everyone is getting and how short our attention spans are becoming as a people, as a civilization. I wanted the record to sound like a fairy tale and have a fairy tale title, and I kind of just didn’t care that people would actually have to take an extra five seconds to read it or something. Maybe that was mostly the reasons.
It’s been such a gradual buildup for you in terms of people finding your music. Are you surprised that some people are still just now discovering your earliest work here in 2010?
I guess a little bit, but not really. And I hope that people keep discovering the older music as the years go on. I don’t expect everybody by any means to know all my songs or anything, so the more people find it, the better, I guess.
Your name has come up in association with so many high profile artists that I’ve interviewed over the past couple years. Before I found out who you were, I was kind of expecting you as some kind of entrenched Hollywood power broker in a back room somewhere. But you haven’t even been in Hollywood for very long, have you?
No, I moved out there maybe five years ago or a little bit less than that. It’s just been crazy what’s happened since then. I mean it’s opened so many different hallways that have led to so many places I never imagined, in a really short time. So it’s really good that I went there.
You’ve written so many songs for yourself and for so many other artists, I’m sure you’ve gotten a sense for what turns out well and what ends up in the garbage can. What songwriting approaches end up working out the best for you?
I guess when what you’re writing about is being inspired at that moment, when the inspiration is instant, it’s gonna probably be more pure and the writing is gonna most likely be more honest. I just feel like if you let the song come out on its own and not try to force it, that’s when they’re gonna be the best.
You’re from Iowa City, which is a big city. When people in California hear you’re from Iowa, do they think that you’re from a farm?
Yeah, it’s really strange how not only California but a lot of places that I’ve been to, people don’t really know much about America, especially places that are far away from where they’re from. A lot of people don’t even know the difference between Idaho and Iowa and Ohio and all that. You know, it’s just funny to me because we learned geography really well when I was in elementary school, and it seems like people really don’t know what’s going on in our country.
You and Kara DioGuardi are performing “Terrified” on Lopez Tonight. I know you guys co-wrote that song together, but what gave the two of you the idea to go ahead and perform it together on TV?
I guess they asked us to. I’m not sure if you can just make that sort of stuff happen without somebody being interested in it. I guess the main reason was because after we had first written that song we put a video up on YouTube of us playing it. First of all, Kat McPhee recorded it for her new record, her and I did a duet of it on there, and then after that, Didi Benami, the girl that was just on American Idol, sang that song on the show. It’s just been getting a crazy amount of views and it’s kind of become its own little thing.
When you guys were writing that song, did you have any sense at that time that it would end up being such a popular song? Do you ever have those gut feelings when you’re writing them?
Well it’s strange, cause it was the first song that Kara and I ever wrote together, and that can be a really hard thing to do, and it could be really awkward. You could write a pretty bad song the first time you write with someone, just simply because you’re not familiar with them or how they write, and it was just really cool because that one came out really fast for us and we kind of realized that there was something special about it right away, so it was exciting.
I see on Facebook you’ve got about ten thousand fans, and yet every single time somebody writes to you on your wall, you take the time to write back to them. That’s got to be time consuming. Why is that so important to you?
I just don’t want to take for granted that anybody would want to write me in the first place, and a lot of the things people write on there are incredibly meaningful, touching things, and it’s really hard to just ignore that without saying at least “thank you.” As often as I can get on there, I try to go and respond to everybody if I can. I mean it’s not really that hard of a thing to do, I just don’t think most people take the time.
A few months ago you released Patience For The Waiting, an acoustic EP. Are those new songs, or are those older songs that just hadn’t seen the light of day?
Most of them are new songs. Maybe one or two of them I’ve been working on for a little while, but none of them had ever been recorded before. Even if only that small of a batch of songs, I wanted to get out some new music for the people who have been waiting, and that’s kind of where the title came from too. Let alone the fact that I wanted to put out new stuff just simply for myself, cause I don’t like waiting so long between releasing stuff. It’s just the way it’s got to be.
What are your thoughts on your full length album that’s eventually going to come out?
I actually just finished recording it, and we’re getting a good chunk through mixing it right now, so I’m just very excited about it. It was a long time in the making, and like you said, it’s been about three years since the last full record came out, and that’s just way too long for me. Basically I’m just sitting there impatiently as anybody can me, waiting for the day they tell me it’ll be out.
Will there be songs on the new album that are from Patience For The Waiting?
No, it’s gonna be all different songs. I actually have two almost full records that I finished, and half of it’s gonna be the first record that we put out, and I still have a whole nothing thing of these other songs. I write way too many tunes to keep up with myself, I guess.
You do so much co-writing with other people for their albums. Did you do any co-writing for your own album?
Almost every song I wrote, I co-wrote on the new record. Over time I’ve grown to love co-writing songs more than writing by myself, and I just don’t feel like you can get the same thing out of yourself over and over again that you can when you put a couple different people with all their different experiences and all their imagination in the same room. It’s kind of intimate, so it’s far more exciting for me.
Can you reveal your co-writers?
One of the main ones is named Makana Rowan, he’s from Hawaii, which explains the name. Then Jordan Lawhead was another one of them, and a girl named Danelle Leverett, who’s actually a country artist from Nashville who is in a group called the JaneDear girls. Those three people and I pretty much wrote the whole record together, not necessarily everybody on every song.
And the name of the album?
It’s called The Lovesick.
You may have heard American Idol judge Kara DioGuardi and singer-songwriter Jason Reeves perform their co-written duet “Terrified” before on YouTube, and you may have heard Jason doing the song with Katharine McPhee on her latest album – but now you get to hear Kara and Jason performing the song together on national television, thanks to an appearance tonight on Lopez Tonight on TBS at 11pm.
In a recent interview with Beatweek, Jason Reeves explained that this was the very first song that the two of them had ever co-written together, leaving him surprised at how quickly it came together and how well it turned out. The duo also teamed with Colbie Caillat to collectively co-write her latest single “I Never Told You” among other tracks on the album.
You can read the full interview in Beatweek Magazine’s 4.20 issue, due out tomorrow – which you’ll be able to check out in full, for free, at Beatweek.com.
Even if you haven’t heard his name, you’ve almost certainly heard some of the songs he’s co-written for a litany of notable artists over the past three years, which includes the majority of Colbie Caillat’s catalog, songs from Katharine McPhee’s latest album, and songs for other artists ranging from Lenka to Demi Lovato. But don’t overlook the fact that Jason Reeves, the twenty-five year old Iowan turned Californian, has a solo career as a singer-songwriter in his own right which will culminate in his major label album debut later this year.
But his upcoming television appearance on the George Lopez show this Monday night will instead feature a performance of Terrified, a song he co-wrote with American Idol judge Kara DioGuardi, which turned into a duet between Reeves and Katharine McPhee on her album Unbroken – and then became a part of Idol once one of the contestants got ahold of it.
Speaking with Beatweek today by phone during a tour stop, Jason Reeves explained the etymology of the song: “Kat McPhee recorded it for her new record, and her and I did a duet of it on there, and then after that Didi Benami, the girl that was just on American Idol, sang that song on the show, and it’s just been getting a crazy amount of views, and it’s just kind of become its own little thing.”
He further explains that it was the first song that he and DioGuardi had ever written together: “You could write a pretty bad song on the first time you write with someone, just simply because you’re not familiar with them or how they write, and it was just really cool because that one came out really fast for us, and we kind of realized that there was something special about it right away.” The pair also teamed with Colbie Caillat to co-write her current single I Never Told You; Caillat and Reeves co-wrote her earlier hits Bubbly and Realize.
Beatweek’s full interview with Jason Reeves, in which he reveals key details of his upcoming solo album (including its title and his collaborators), will be published on Beatweek.com on Monday and in Beatweek Magazine on Tuesday. Jason’s duet of “Terrified” with Kara DioGuardi will be performed on Lopez Tonight on TBS, this Monday night at 11pm (yes, the much-discussed TBS time slot which Conan O’Brien will be claiming in November).
She’s got a brand new album full of potential hit songs and four years of post-American Idol experiences to talk about – and yet like a moth to the flame, I’m driven to begin my conversation with Katharine McPhee with the obvious question: when did you become a blonde?
As it turns out, the topic is more relevant to her new album Unbroken than one might expect…
I had been thinking about doing something like this for quite awhile. I don’t know if I had the actual vision for it, but I wanted to know what it would be like to have blonde hair. Not so much what it would be like, but what I would look like with blonde hair. And then working on the record, it was a really long process. I spent almost a year and a half working on it, and I feel like, as cliché as it may sound, the music sort of inspired me, I guess, to do something different and just go, why not make a change, and have no apology for it.
But it’s more than just a reinvention of your looks. You’ve changed labels, your music is in a different direction. Are all these changes tied to together?
Yeah, I think that they are. I mean there’s just been a lot of changes in my life. I’m with Universal now, and it’s definitely a new sound. I think it’s a sound that I feel like I got to spend time and really figure out what sound Katharine McPhee is, and what I feel comfortable doing as an artist. So just like that whole process of taking time to really figure out things musically was important for me, and it just sort of trickled down to everything else like changing my hair. And I didn’t even tell the people at my record company that I was doing it. They were definitely shocked, needless to say. Definitely shocked and worried that I was going off the deep end and turning into a crazy person. But they saw the album cover photos and realized that it was still somewhat dignified and classy, always trying to stay with that. It’s been full circle for a lot of things.
What went wrong with your previous label where you guys parted ways after just one record?
It’s not really like some dramatic story or whatever. I just think that the way that our deals are formulated, and it’s very complicated to say in a few sentences, but the way that our deals are formulated is complicated and there’s a lot of money that is spent and it’s sort of hard for both parties to see an upside in things a lot of times. I think also, too, just with the sound and everything, and the vision, for the label it didn’t really match mine. It just made sense to move on somewhere else, a place like Verve where they develop artists and they’re not concerned about one record, they’re concerned about the next five records and they’re really interested in developing their artists and things like that.
The CEO of Verve said that he thinks you’re one of the most gifted vocalists of your generation. We all tend to say positive things about the people we’re partnered with, but that’s really high praise from your new label boss. That’s got to feel good, right?
It does, yeah, especially with the history that Verve has and being a part of something like Verve Forecast, which is like a little bit of a newer and fresher face of Verve, it’s exciting. There’s just a lot of excitement there at that record company, and yeah, to have people excited about me, who are working for you and you’re working with them, it’s definitely a good feeling to have.
Unbroken is being released on January 5th, which is an unusual release date. Did that surprise you when they said that that’s the date they were going with?
I was definitely part of it, it wasn’t like just decided “this is how it’s going to be.” And that’s what I really appreciate about being with this company, they really involve their artists. It was just sort of a timing thing, that we wanted a little bit more time to set up things properly and things like that. And I had a few things to work out on the record, so it worked out fine. I actually almost in a way was relieved, like oh good, I’ve got some more time before I have to take the big plunge on the whirlwind tour.
Unbroken is the name of a ballad near the end of the album, but why did you also choose that as the title of the album?
I chose it for the title of the record because I just felt like with everything that I’ve been through, coming off of that Idol show, and being in this business for only three years but in Hollywood terms that could be like a lifetime, you know? A lot of stupid things happen to people in this business in such a short amount of time, and I just felt like I still had somewhat of my life together and that I was still whole and not broken down from the hard challenges in this business. But also, I was looking for a meaningful word or phrase for my album. I loved the word “unbroken” and I actually looked it up in the dictionary, and one of the many definitions was “untamed and wild.” I was like wow, that’s a cool way to sort of explain my journey through this. It was really untamed, no one tried to control me or tell me this is how it should be. I was really fortunate, my A&R on this record, when I said “I’m really not into this song,” he was like “okay” which is such an unusual experience for an artist to have. So I felt kind of wild in the sense of just being free, and free to explore.
The first single, Had It All, these are not happy lyrics, it’s not a happy story, and yet you sound almost happy singing them.
When I’m asked, “Tell us what your first single it about,” I’m like well lyrically it’s quite depressing, it’s about a girl who realizes she’s looked for something else that she thought would be better and realizes like “wow, I had it all and I’ve kind of messed up,” but I think the reason why I was drawn to the song is because the overall vibe of the song is kind of of empowering. Like you know what, I’ve messed up, and I’ve lost everything, but I’m still going to be able to carry on. I feel like even in non-relationship things in life you can relate to that, whether it be your job or your record company or your this or your that, you can relate to the idea of like wow, things didn’t go my way, I didn’t make the best decisions, but I’m still going to be able to carry on.
You co-wrote Had It All with a few different co-writers, one of them being Kara DioGuardi. She didn’t become a part of American Idol until a few years after your season. How did you end up getting connected with Kara?
I met Kara working on my first record and I was like a fish out of water. I had no idea what I was doing, I was really nervous being in studio, and she sort of became like my older-sister mentor through that process. I felt really safe when she was around me because we were just really close like sisters, and so we developed this friendship. And she sang at my wedding, and I was at her engagement party. And then in the next few weeks after her engagement party I found out she was going to be a judge on the show, and I just remember calling her going “Are you crazy? I cannot believe this.” Of course I was never a judge on the show, but it’s almost like we reversed roles, you know? She was excited and I thought it was hysterical because I could just see her on the show. Kara’s cool. I’ve been happy for her.
Of all the Idol contestants from California, I think you’ve done just about the best, you almost won the whole thing. But every winner has come from places like Texas, Alabama, North Carolina, Arkansas. Do you have any sense of why the winners usually come from places like that aren’t near Hollywood, despite the show’s seeming connotations with Hollywood?
It’s just kind of like why LA can’t have a football team. That’s the way I think of it. It’s because everyone comes here to California, I can only really relate to LA because that’s where I’m born and raised, but everyone comes here to create something for themselves. So it’s very difficult for let alone a team, the Lakers are an exception, to get a really supportive following. Here in California, especially in Southern California, we have a lot of fairweather fans and people are always shocked when they’re like, “You’re born and raised here? Oh my gosh, I’m meeting an original.” It’s always shocking to people. I feel like some other parts of the country there’s more of a camaraderie, and there’s more of an ownership, of the people that comes from their town. Because Hollywood seems like such a far distant land to them, and when you’re here, everyone’s rooting for their hometown team. So that’s why I think it‘s always a bit harder for someone, especially from LA, to get some traction. But somebody was voting for me because I made it all the way to the end, so I’m not making any complaints by any means.
Do you have any favorite iPhone apps to share?
It’s more of like an obsessive thing. I started doing it with my friends when I was shooting this movie in Hawaii. I forget what the app is called, it’s like the “calorie watching app.” It’s really quite fascinating to me. You enter all the food you’ve eaten and you’re like, what, I ate all that food today? I ate that many calories?
Learn more at KatharineMcPhee.com