At least 13 of the people who will be part of American Idol‘s top 50, which was revealed online in December, have professional experience in the music industry. While their presence on the show would seem like the producers cast a bunch of ringers to make sure they don’t have another flop of a season, executive producer Ken Warwick told MTV News that they actually don’t care.
“If they walk through that door and they sing well, then they will go through to the next round. End of story,” he said. Warwick also revealed that producers don’t even check the backgrounds of auditioning contestants. “The truth of the matter is, there are too many people who come on to audition for us to go into all their backgrounds. We judge it purely on, when they walk through the door, if they have a record company attached to them already, then we’re not interested. If they have a management contract, they’ve got to lose it. it. … We take them on the merits of ‘Can they sing or not?’ … There are kids who are sufficiently good out there, that maybe should be stars, and the fact that they’ve been a backing singer to someone else in the past — if they were within the age limit and they meet all the criteria that we set — then who are we to say, ‘No, you can’t have another go [at it]’? That’s ridiculous,” he said.
He added that it’s up to viewers to vote those people out if we don’t like them. “[And] don’t forget, when we get to the final 24, it’s America that makes up their mind. So if America, having found out a little bit more about the contestants — which, hopefully they will have done by then — if they decide, ‘Oh, this person’s been around the block three or four times, I don’t like them as much,’ then that poor person will have to suffer the consequences. It has nothing to do with us,” he said.
Vote for the Worst revealed the backgrounds of 13 of those top 50, and MTV News runs down some of those contestants and their experience: “Carly Hennessy, an Irish singer who was signed to MCA Records and released a solo record, Ultimate High, which sold just slightly more than 300 copies, despite a multimillion-dollar push by her label, according to The Wall Street Journal. Or Kristy Lee Cook, a country artist once signed to Arista Nashville and managed by Marty Rendleman, who previously helmed LeAnn Rimes’ career. The list goes on and on and includes contestants who worked as a songwriter for Sony and Universal artists (Shaun Barrowes), sang with Patti LaBelle (Joanne Borgella), were nominated for a Grammy (Jermaine Paul), and even dated Britney Spears (Robbie Carrico).”