American Idol returns in 2022 for its 20th season, and according to host Ryan Seacrest, it is very different from the show he helped start two decades ago.
When American Idol started, Ryan hosted a show that featured Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, and Randy Jackson and introduced the world to singers like Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood.
It was also on Fox until that network canceled the show in 2016.
In 2022, the show returns for its fifth season since ABC picked it up, and the judges now include Katy Perry, Luke Bryan, and Lionel Richie.
All that remains the same is Ryan Seacrest as the host.
Ryan Seacrest talks American Idol changes in 2022
In an interview with Parade, Ryan Seacrest talked about what has changed about American Idol over the last two decades.
“Looking back at some of the first seasons, the show looked and felt really different than it does now,” Seacrest said. “Sure, the concept—the foundation—is the same. But look at the evolution of the artists who are auditioning now, and at the style of the show, and it’s a real study of how one show can continue to evolve.”
When looking at the idea of the show trying to find new talent, Ryan said he is always worried they will run out of talent, but each season he is surprised at the new talented singers that try out.
He also said that, despite the major changes in the music industry over the years, American Idol can still find superstars like Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood.
“When you have an exceptional artist with great songs, that can equal superstardom. It’s got to be the right time as well,” Seacrest said.
“What’s fantastic about music now is that artists who could not have put out music or been exposed to fans can build their listener base and build their fan base from their own bedrooms. We didn’t have that when American Idol started.”
American Idol still bringing in young singers
Seacrest said this means things are very different from the past because many singers who come onto the show have already hit a certain level of maturity as a performer thanks to getting this head start.
It also means more contestants have written their own songs before coming on the show.
“As we see, more and more contestants are writing their own music, which is great. Now some are great, and some are not as good in terms of scoring, that’s a real skill,” Ryan said.
“But you’ve got to give credit to someone who’s in their teens and who feels they’ve got a strong point of view to put into lyrics to perform in front of people.”
Seacrest also said there is a new way to audition that has really helped them get some big singers thanks to eliminating the stress of showing up and knocking it out of the part on the first try.
“Now at least they can audition through Zoom technology and feel like they’ve got possibly a better edge once they get to us in person. That didn’t exist many years ago,” Ryan said.
“We had these massive, massive calls at stadiums around the country, then the judges came in. So I do think the exposure to different artists of all genres has gotten bigger because of the technology.”
American Idol Season 20 premieres on ABC on February 27, 2022.