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Can the man who discovered Taylor Swift pick the next American Idol?
The Fox show is banking on just that, as Scott Borchetta, the president and CEO of Big Machine Label group, will assume the position of mentor for the forthcoming 14th season, a source tells The Hollywood Reporter. Fox confirmed the news on Wednesday in a statement.
“There’s only one reason I’m doing this: American Idol has proven again and again that it can launch superstars. I believe that working with these young artists the same way we work with new artists at the Big Machine Label Group will help the next American Idol be as prepared as possible to continue the tradition of creating new superstars,” said Borchetta. “The entire label group will be invested, and we look forward to bringing our energy, focus and know-how to help develop this young talent at the highest levels.”
Borchetta is due to take over for departed mentors Randy Jackson and Jimmy Iovine in a role that involves working with the talent as they prepare for each week’s live show and theme night.
His expertise will be a key factor, as the 52-year old executive is credited with signing Swift to his label at the tender age of 14. His Nashville-based label is home to Tim McGraw, Florida Georgia Line, Reba McEntire, The Band Perry and Brantley Gilbert.
“This season, Jennifer, Keith and Harry have found some truly talented singers, and the addition of Scott’s expertise in how to develop an artist gives our contestants a unique shot at success,” said Trish Kinane, president of entertainment, FremantleMedia North America and executive producer of American Idol. “It’s been terrific to see Scott’s enthusiasm as he watched each of the performances at Hollywood Week, and we can’t wait for America to see our hopefuls transform into superstars.”
Although Swift’s popularity grew organically, Borchetta is no stranger to signing talent from singing competitions. Danielle Bradbery, the winner of the fourth season of The Voice, is on the label. This summer, Rae Lynn Woodward, a contestant from season two of The Voice, released a single, “God Made Girls,” through Valory Music Group, a subsidiary of Big Machine.
He is, however, an odd choice, having rankled season one Idol star Kelly Clarkson after the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards. Taylor Swift — who had incidentally toured with Idol alum Kellie Pickler — did not have a good night vocally, and his response to the critics threw shade at Idol, which was in its 10th season.
Said Borchetta at the time: “This is not American Idol. This is not a competition of getting up and seeing who can sing the highest note. This is about a true artist and writer and communicator. It’s not about that technically perfect performance.”
Clarkson fired back with an angry open letter, calling the label head “captain obvious.”
“We not only hit the high notes, you forgot to mention we generally hit the ‘right’ notes as well,” she said. “Every artist has a bad performance or two and that is understandable, but throwing blame will not make the situation at hand any better.”
Borchetta will join judges Jennifer Lopez, Harry Connick Jr. and Keith Urban. American Idol returns on Jan. 7.
1 pm, Dec. 3 Updated with confirmation statement from Fox
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