OFFSTAGE: New American Idol Ain’t What It Used to Be

(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that’s happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)

American Idol premieres next week with Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez now sitting in judgment of all the contestants who appear before them. But those two additions are not the only changes you’ll see this season. Billboard magazine reports the set is new and improved, the eliminations will happen faster, you’ll be able to vote online, contestants can now audition with original songs (as opposed to the cover songs they had to use in years past), theme-week rules will be more flexible, and the finalists will be releasing singles while the season is still on the air. Those all seem like changes for the better. But there’s one revision I can’t seem to make any sense of. Instead of living in shared apartments, the contestants are now going to be staying together at an Idol mansion? That sounds like a reality-show nightmare waiting to happen.

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.