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'American Idol' Recruits Bieber, Rihanna Hitmakers as Mentors

Talent behind 'Baby,' Eminem's 'Love the Way You Lie,' Lady Gaga's 'Telephone' working with show

December 14, 2010 1:54 PM ET
Jeff Kravitz/AMA2010/WireImage
American Idol is continuing its efforts to revive its sagging ratings for its 10th season: Along with new judges Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler, the show will be bringing in some hitmakers to mentor the contestants.

Approximately 60 auditioning contestants recently traveled to Las Vegas to rehearse Beatles songs. Joining them there are Universal Music honcho Jimmy Iovine, who is helping to mentor this year's cast — and he's brought in chart-dominating writer/producers Tricky Stewart (Justin Bieber's "Baby," Rihanna's "Umbrella"), Alex da Kid (Eminem and Rihanna's "Love the Way You Lie," B.o.B and Hayley Williams' "Airplanes"), Rodney Jerkins (Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Lady Gaga and Beyoncé's "Telephone"), Polow da Don (Keri Hilson, Trey Songz) and Jim Jonsin (T.I., Nelly).

Photos: The American Idol Rollercoaster: Checking In On The Show's Biggest Winners And Losers

This group has more contemporary credits than many other mentors the show has featured in the past, but the shift is in line with Idol's recent move to have contestants diversify their skills by seeing who can make the best music video, who can best promote themselves, and who does the best job at working with dancers and a band for an awards-show-type performance.

'American Idol': Major music producers Alex da Kid, Tricky Stewart, Darkchild working with auditioning contestants in Las Vegas [Entertainment Weekly]

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Song Stories

“American Girl”

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | 1976

It turns out that a single with "American" in its title--recorded on the Fourth of July during the nation's Bicentennial, no less--can actually sell better in Britain. Coupled with the Heartbreakers' flair for Byrds jangle and Animals hooks, though, is Tom Petty's native-Florida drawl that keeps this classic grounded at home. Petty dispelled rumors that the song was about a suicidal student, explaining that the inspiration came from when he was 25 and used to salute the highway traffic outside his apartment window. "It sounded like the ocean to me," he recalled. "That was my ocean. My Malibu. Where I heard the waves crash, but it was just the cars going by."

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