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Ryan Seacrest on Hosting the All New Edition of ‘American Idol’

The host looks back on his stint with the singing reality show and reveals the cards that both judges and contestants hold as they go in for the current cycle

Rolling Stone India
Rolling Stone India May 01, 2019

Long-time host and Emmy-winning producer Ryan Seacrest's 17 season stint on 'American Idol' is one that viewers will be hard-pressed to forget. Photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

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While long-time host and Emmy-winning producer Ryan Seacrest had gone MIA for one episode during the current edition of American Idol, his long season stint is one that viewers will be hard-pressed to forget. Seacrest’s presence is as intrinsic to the show as the American dream itself and has been a staple on television screens across the U.S. since the singing reality show first aired in 2002.

His years on American Idol mingled with his experience as a radio personality (On Air With Ryan Seacrest) and television producer (ABC network’s Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution comes under his credit as does E! Network’s series Keeping Up With The Kardashians) have given him a singular insight into what Americans and people all over the globe are looking for when they tune into the show. “I think America wants someone they can root for. They want someone they can relate to. They want a voice that surprises them. They want twists and turns. They want the rollercoaster that goes upside down at the amusement park,” says Seacrest. He emphasizes the experience of getting to know that person, specifically the experience of it, which is hard to happen upon by just going out on a limb to find the one. “It really comes to you and when it’s there, it hits you in the face and, you know, that’s special,” he reveals.

The platform which formed the catapult for the giant careers of Grammy award-winning musicians such as Kelly Clarkson (Season 1), Jennifer Hudson (Season 3 finalist) and Carrie Underwood (Season 2) returned in 2017 following a revival on the heels of what was meant to be its 15th and final season. Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan helmed the reins as the triumvirate of judges and as they navigate their second innings in the new edition of American Idol, Seacrest compares the cards that both judges and contestants hold, “Well, with the first (16th) season, you know, they had seen the show before, but they hadn’t been behind the desk before and the contestants hadn’t seen these artists’ styles behind the desk. I think what was interesting was to see how the contestants got to see what kind of a judge they were and take note of that so that when they come and audition this year, they kind of know what they want to play for with Katy and with Luke and with Lionel so that they’re on their best side.”

Host Ryan Seacrest with Judges (from left) Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan. Seacrest likens the contestants’ study and preparation for ‘American Idol’ to that of a sporting event. Photo: Zee Cafe India

He still manages to manifest twinkle-eyed hope as he dwells on the showcase of undiscovered talent that debuts with the new season. “Every year when we launch, I’m equally as excited as the first time. It is so much fun to capture the enthusiasm and the talent from all over the nation to put them out there and see what they can do,” he says.

Seacrest likens the contestants’ study and preparation for the show to that of a sporting event. Given the legacy of what American Idol has created in the world of music, there’s no doubt about why hundreds of thousands of people audition for every cycle. It’s not all fun and games for the budding artists – they’ve studied how the judges react to certain styles of performances and they are in it to win it. “I was surprised to see in some cities, you’d see one or two and you think, ‘Well, that’s probably all we’re going to get out of today.’ And then three more would come later in the day and that’s what we’re in store for this year,” observes the host about the surprising caliber that auditioning contestants present with, noting that they hold something special in their voices, which permeates through the developing polish of their confidence and talent.

Seacrest says, “I still get a little tingly in the nose and sometimes even a little tear in the eye because you meet a contestant from anywhere in the nation. You see them nervous and anxious before they audition. Then they make it through. They make it to Hollywood. They make it onto the show. Week after week after week. And one of them is standing there under the confetti before they are announced the winner. That is what excites me every year.”

American Idol airs every weekend, in India, on Zee Cafe at 9 pm.

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