Fox has finally announced the kick-off date for the 13th season of American Idol. The show will return with a set of two-hour episodes; the first will air on Wednesday, January 15th, 2014 and the second will run on the following day.
The music competition will again find fresh faces at the judges' table: Season 13 will feature new recruit Harry Connick, Jr. along with Idol veteran Jennifer Lopez (who was featured on the show's 10th and 11th seasons). Country star Keith Urban will return; he joined the show last season along with Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj. Randy Jackson, who served as a judge for the series' first 12 seasons, will now use his talents as an in-house mentor, replacing Interscope Records founder Jimmy Iovine.
Idol producers have been scrambling for months to find replacement judges for Carey and Minaj. An initial replacement was Dr. Luke, producer for such artists as Katy Perry and Britney Spears, but that deal eventually collapsed after a contractual conflict between Fox, Sony Music and Universal Music. For awhile, rumors even circled that the show might be forced to delay its 13th season.
Though was fun fantasizing about an American Idol hosted by Lil Jon and Ozzy Osbourne, Connick Jr. and Lopez seem like logical choices for the judges' chairs. It should yield less fireworks than the often combative relationship between Carey and Minaj, anyway.