Image Credit: Todd Duffey/PR Photos; Janet Mayer/PR Photos; John Shearer/WireImage.com; Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic.comThe big changes on American Idol in its 10th season just keep on coming. This week, about 60 auditioning contestants (whittled down from 325 who made it to the Hollywood week round) have been rehearsing at the Las Vegas Mirage hotel to perform Beatles songs on the stage that Cirque du Soleil performs its Beatles-themed show LOVE. EW has learned that music executive and Idol‘s new in-house mentor Jimmy Iovine — whose mega-label Universal Music Group will release the Idol winner’s first album — has been in Las Vegas mentoring the potential contestants for those performances, and has assembled an impressive roster of major music producers to help: Alex da Kid (who produced Eminem’s megahit “Love the Way You Lie” featuring Rihanna, and B.o.B’s “Airplanes” featuring Hayley Williams), Christopher “Tricky” Stewart (Justin Bieber’s “Baby” featuring Ludacris, Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies”, Rihanna’s “Umbrella”), Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins (Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” featuring Beyoncé, the Pussycat Doll’s “When I Grow Up”), Polow da Don (several Keri Hilson tracks, including “Turnin’ Me On” featuring Lil Wayne), and Jim Jonsin (Nelly’s “Just a Dream”, T.I.’s “Whatever You Like”). The contestants will only perform for Idol judges Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez, and Steven Tyler, and not a live audience.
An Idol insider explains to EW that this is part of the season-long effort to get audiences to know the kids better as people and artists, and to get them out of their comfort zones and more accustomed to what life as a major music star would be like — i.e. putting down the guitar, and getting used to the big stage.
“Been shootin’ for American Idol all day,” Alex da Kid tweeted yesterday. “There were some kool kids [sic].”