American Idol “song choice” involves a lot of work behind the scenes

Besides being accused of being “pitchy,” whatever the hell that means, the American Idol contestants most often find themselves being criticized for their song choice. So how exactly do they choose songs? MTV.com answers that question today, finding that song choice is “the one true strategic element in the ‘Idol’ race.”

In the final rounds, “the show’s producers actually do get them started by sharing several possibilities,” MTV.com says.

Once they’ve selected a song, it has to be cleared. Of the “five different rights in the copyright of a song,” the show “needs two of them to use it on the show: the performance right, which ASCAP and BMI handle, and the synchronization right.” The latter, according to an ASCAP VP, is what “you need to get when you sync a musical composition with any type of visual: motion picture, video, etc.”

The show’s producer, Nigel Lythgoe, walks us through an example: “If we wanted to, say, clear a song by the Eagles, we would have to ask the publisher, the person who holds the rights, the songwriter and each one of the Eagles. And if one of them says no, we can’t sing the song.”

While some readily give up the rights, others refuse. Lythgoe says, “A lot of people that have written the songs just say, ‘No, I don’t want you to sing my song.’ People just don’t want their songs sung by good singers.” Or, you know, by horrible hack singers who are will be accused of doing bad karaoke five seconds after finishing.

‘Idol’ Finalists Spill Song-Selection Secrets; Bo Bice Offers Advice [MTV]

The Quest ends its journey stronger than it began

Verlox from The Quest

A review of the finale of summer's best reality series, which wasn't always perfect but was thoroughly entertaining right down to the finish, which included phenomenal challenges and special effects. Will ABC give it a second season?

Plus: an interview with the actor who played Verlox and the ogre.


Shark Tank is getting a spin-off

Shark Tank

Companies that get deals on the show will be followed for this new spin-off.

Also: Before the show began, Shark Barbara Corcoran was cast and then replaced--but then she sent this amazing e-mail and won the job.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.