‘American Idol’ Announces Hollywood Week Format Change & 7 Returning Finalists

Lionel Richie, Katy Perry, and Luke Bryan

American Idol / YouTube Lionel Richie, Katy Perry, and Luke Bryan

Hollywood Week is fast approaching for “American Idol” season 21, and the singing competition show has announced some changes to the format, as well as a star-studded lineup of seven past finalists who will be making an appearance. The seven “Idol” alumni are coming back to serve as mentors for the season 21 contestants during the two Hollywood Week episodes, which are set to air on Sunday, April 2, and Monday, April 3, at 8 p.m. Eastern on ABC.

Billboard reported that the returning contestants are season one runner-up Justin Guarini, season two runner-up Clay Aiken, season six winner Jordin Sparks, season seven runner-up David Archuleta, season 11 winner Phillip Phillips, season 16 top-seven finisher Catie Turner, and the most recent “American Idol”, season 20 winner Noah Thompson.

Hollywood Week is Seeing a Format Change for Season 21

“American Idol” executive producer Megan Michaels Wolflick also told Billboard about some format changes to the Hollywood Week round, saying “In the past two years in the ABC era, we’ve done this genre challenge. We would say, ‘Okay, you’re rock. You’re pop. You’re soul/R&B,’ and it was becoming less relevant, because a lot of the finalists were telling us, ‘I’m pop-soul.’ ‘I’m country-rock.’ There was a blurred genre thing going on. So I thought we should explore something else.”

According to Michaels Wolflick, the contestants were all given one area of focus during their time in Hollywood: “confidence, songwriting or stage presence.” The producers then paired two of the returning stars as mentors for each of the three focus areas. “Clay Aiken and David Archuleta were total confidence,” Michaels Wolflick said, “Both of them came in second place, and it was funny because when we were first talking to them about it, they said, ‘I still don’t have all the confidence.’ I told them, ‘Yes, but you have more than you came with.’ For the songwriting category, we had Catie Turner and Phillip Phillips, who are both songwriters in their own right. Both of them in their respective seasons brought an artistry to the show that maybe we hadn’t seen. And for stage presence, we have Jordin Sparks and Justin Guarini, two people who commanded the stage in their own way and still do.”

Noah Thompson was not assigned to work with one group of the contestants but rather spoke with the entire group about his time on the show and what they can expect from the experience.

Michaels Wolflick said that having mentors during Hollywood Week was something the producers had been talking about doing for a while now, so they are excited to see this format change play out. “We usually have over 150 people come to Hollywood Week, so it’s hard to have one mentor talk to everyone individually… There’s no one better to mentor this week than people who have been there, and now that we can pull from 20 years of Idols, it was incredible. The people who came back this year were so excited to do it.”

This Marks Noah Thompson’s 2nd Appearance on Season 21

This Hollywood Week stint marks Thompson’s second appearance on “American Idol” season 21. The season 20 champion briefly popped up in the March 19 Audition Round episode, along with his runner-up and friend HunterGirl. The two have held multiple concerts together since their season came to a close, and the judges invited one of the season 21 hopefuls, Mariah Faith, to open for their concert one day after her successful audition.

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