“There was a time, when I was so broken hearted…” Now, imagine hearing that line come out of a 17 year old who is tonally handicapped.
For Steven Tyler, one of the new judges on American Idol, he has to do just that.
Now that long-time American Idol icon Simon Cowell has left the series to bring The X-Factor to America, Steven Tyler has been tasked with not only having to judge potential contestants (many of which chose to perform songs that Tyler himself made legendary), but also providing a breath of fresh air to the almost decade-old series.
In preparation for last night’s American Idol premiere, Steven Tyler sat down to talk with the press about his experiences on the show and what fans can expect to see in season ten of the series.
Certain press people have attempted to make Steven Tyler out to be Paula Abdul incarnate. However, one can’t deny, upon hearing Tyler talk about the series, that not only is he completely lucid and sincere in his thoughts and logic but he also views American Idol as much more than just a “silly singing competition.”
In the 30 minute chat, Tyler talked about the difficulties that he found judging contestants, what he’s looking for in a potential “American Idol,” the future of Aerosmith, bringing a rock element to the mainly pop-focused series and how watching Jennifer Lopez’s The Back-Up Plan helped him in his decision to join American Idol.
On his process for judging singers on American Idol and what he’s looking for in each audition:
I don’t take whatever happened to me this morning or last night or with the band or with exes, I don’t take that into judging kids, like some other people might have. I kind of take what I’ve grown up with, which is being a very harsh judge of myself—my own vocals, my own band—and kind of laid that across the talent that comes across my view.
I’m taking what they give me, cutting it up in three different pieces: One is can they sing? Are they in pitch? Two, do they have character? Three, do they have a star quality about them? Kind of folding that all into one. But that would be my expertise and J. Lo’s got her own singing style. But don’t forget I’m a drummer. I’ve got the pitch from my father, Juilliard, my own. I’ve got the drumming sensibility and there’s a tonality and harmonic stuff, and I think I’m going to take it up a notch.
On any regrets he has judging singers and what he found most difficult in being a judge:
I made some harsh comments the first week, and they snapped back and said, “What do you mean?” But I only did two of those. There were only two of those because I didn’t want that to happen again. I couldn’t say that you were no good without substantiating why, and a couple times when I said, “You know you just don’t have it,” they did ask me why, and I couldn’t tell them why.
I just heard—It’s like I’m looking for that certain something. Well I heard that certain something in a negative way. I didn’t see the star. I didn’t see this and I didn’t have the balls to tell them that. I hadn’t ever really watched the show, and I wasn’t really versed in that type of judging. I’ve got three daughters, so it’s hard for me. Those two times after that, I was ready to go and I jumped back in with both feet.
The part that’s a little difficult is judging young kids… It took me a couple of minutes to get into the role of that, but I’ve grown accustomed to it and it’s fun, and I get to sit next to J. Lo and Randy taking the “you know what out” of everybody, and it’s been good.
On whether there will be more rock singers on American Idol now that he is a judge and whether he feels like he brings a “rock” element to the series:
That would be my judgment call on what rock is, and I haven’t heard a lot of it, but what I have heard has come out through the worm hole. Remember, it’s got to go through two other judges and for every week that I’ve run along someone that I thought was great, the next week after they were given the wrong song in the wrong key, so we had to drop them. That’s the beauty of this show, which I didn’t know before, and it’s also the heartbreak.
There’s one kid there that’s got a rock element about him. He’s totally off the wall, and I don’t know which rock star ever wasn’t, but I’ve got hopes that he makes it through. His voice is ridiculous, it’s so crazy and great. I hope he can stretch out and use the voice that I heard.
But will I bring a rock element? Yes, [with] my personality, but I’m also very—I’ve got a good ear for all music and that’s why I thought I would take this. It’s not just a one phase type judging. I’m good for all different music and listening to voicing, and the spirit of, and the imperfections of someone’s voice because not all great singers make great rock stars. It’s some of those voices that aren’t the best that make the best rock stars [is what] I mean to say. So it’s been fun. I don’t take this too seriously and I take it seriously, so it’s been a real hoot for me.
Whether or not he will be returning for another season of American Idol:
I think if anyone’s got anything bad to say about me this season, it will get better the next season, and I take that back.
I have more than a one year contract, but as you know things are what they are, but I have more than a one year contract. I’ll give you that one. Can I elaborate? No, I can’t.
On whether Jennifer Lopez’s involvement impacted his decision on becoming a judge and what he thought after watching The Back-up Plan:
It did at first. At first, I was told she wasn’t, she was out, and I was a little bummed, but I met Randy first before, and Randy was the shit. I loved Randy. I thought he and I got on within the first five minutes. It was like we were separated at birth, and we had so many similarities, and the music curriculum and program. Whatever he’s been through I’ve been through, and we mentioned names and we knew everybody and it was like how we hadn’t met before was beyond me.
But no and then when I—and yes on the way from England to America, I saw J. Lo’s movie The Back-Up Plan and I fell in love with her. I’m watching going, “Oh my God, it’s Jennifer Lopez,” and I went, “Alright I’ll watch the movie.” I watched her and I fell in love with her because the way she played that to a guy that was just falling in love with her, the way she played her part I could so relate to and I thought anybody that could be this open and honest even acting… All I can tell you is when I met her she was exactly all that and I was grateful that she got the part.
On what it’s like to judge someone singing an Aerosmith song:
They must have sung, in the 7 weeks, they probably got 15/16 “Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” and a song by Pink—they sang that song as well. It was hard for me because it always seemed to me when they said they were going to sing it I knew that someone at home would—“If you sing this song Tyler will be enamored.” When I didn’t like it, I felt a little ill at ease to tell them, “You know what? You didn’t really sing it good,” but after the third or fourth, like I said I got into it.
It will be easier for me to judge live on TV because I’ve been through this mine field of teenage entitlement with all the songs they brought, but specifically for the Aerosmith songs, wow. I wish they would have sung like a little something else but “Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” is definitely a hard one especially when they have no accompaniment. They would stand in front of me all by themselves and sing it, but if any of them sing it now – remember we’re down to 20 great people – so if they did it, would be nothing but good.
What the future holds for Aerosmith:
I know Joe’s got the licks and I got a bunch of songs that I’ve written for solo and/or Aerosmith. Next Saturday, we start. The guys are coming out to L.A., where I will be flying out of New York tomorrow and be back in L.A., watch the premier Wednesday night. I get Thursday off, and Friday I’m writing with Marti Frederiksen, and Saturday we’re into a writing program with the band. We’re already booked for a tour in November/December that’s going to be in South America and Japan… what you hear in the press about Aerosmith getting in the way of American Idol it just isn’t so.
(Note: Steven Tyler revealed in an earlier interview with Howard Stern that Joe Perry isn’t confirmed to appear in Aerosmith’s upcoming writing session. In fact, Tyler admitted that he now only communicates with Perry via text messaging. The final message from Tyler was telling Perry that he better show up on Saturday – Tyler’s actual message had more curse words.)
American Idol airs Wednesday & Thursday @8pm, on Fox
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Source: Howard Stern