When the country's longest-running singing competition returns on Jan. 7, American Idol will be more exciting than ever. We'll all be wondering just when Hollywood week starts on Idol, but in the meantime, the stunning Jennifer Lopez, Australian heartthrob Keith Urban, and comical but blunt singer Harry Connick Jr. return as judges for Idol Season 14 where they are determined to find Kelly Clarkson-worthy performers. Harry told USA Today that this year would be different as they search for talented kids who are more ready for the competition, so you know we're in for some dramatic performances going into 2015. In fact, so many things have changed this season that Idol's ratings might finally reach its previous heights. But if there's one thing that absolutely must stay the same, its Hollywood Week.
Since there are generally three weeks of initial auditions, with two episodes per week, it's likely that Hollywood Week will return Jan. 28 with what is bound to be the most intense Hollywood Week yet. Idol needs to step up its game if it wants to gain back the viewers that can make or break the winner's career. But Hollywood Week is by far the most intense and highly anticipated round of any reality-competition series and if it keeps up these five traditions, it might just lead to more successful ratings in 2015.
Hollywood or Home
Last season, more than 200 talented hopefuls got that golden ticket that at the time meant everything in the world. But the judges finally realized that 212 singers can't possibly live up to Hollywood Week standards. Some contestants flew to California and were made to sing on the spot, only to find out they didn't make cut. Weeding out the weaker performers early on left Hollywood Week only with the best of the best, which made things a lot more interesting for the rest of us.
30 Seconds of A Capella
There is no better way to truly hear a person's voice than when that voice is totally naked. Harry said it himself: to be an entertainer you have to be able to impress someone on the spot. This round is imperative to Hollywood Week because if you can't live up to the pressure of 30 seconds of a capella, how will you make it through the mother of all TV competitions?
I literally know people who only watch Idol up until groups. Group rounds might just be the most nerve-wracking and intense 24 hours that I've ever witnessed on reality television, so I can't even imagine what the contestants must have felt. These are real people working together with other people who are all fighting for the same prize. Talk about pressure. Talk about viewers!
Use of an Instrument
It's no secret that American Idol is the one competition that really looks for the whole package. This isn't The Voice — your look, your moves, and your performance matter from day one. But you never know who's going to impress everyone, sometimes the total package looks like a nerdy guy with a guitar and a big voice. Back in the day, Idol contestants weren't allowed the use of an instrument and that may have hindered artists who could have gone really far otherwise. Instruments are a secret weapon that need to be pulled out immediately.
The Elevator of Death
And then there's the dreaded elevator that brings the contestants up to the long hallway where they will discover their fate. Only 12 girls and 12 guys can make it to the Top 24 and it's plenty exciting just to sit back and guess who will advance to the live shows. But it's even better to watch them sweat on the way to the hot seat and then leave again either in cheers or in tears.