As we inch towards next week's premiere of American Idol, this season's wild card, fourth judge Kara DioGuardi, held a phone conference to give some hints about the new season's contestants, discuss her role on the show and talk about how she fits in with her fellow judges, specifically Simon Cowell. DioGuardi was pretty tight-lipped about contestants, but as the show heads to Hollywood Week, she admits, "The males were the strongest." "In the competition, there were five to 10 men who I think were great," DioGuardi said, "but there were one or two females that I'm excited about as well." Why is she so high on the guys? "There's a uniqueness to some of the male contestants, in terms of their voices and their song selection and what the sound of the records would be."
As for what she brings to the judging table, DioGuardi said that her experience as a songwriter and producer, as well as her work with artists like Christina Aguilera, Pink and Celine Dion, make her a unique voice. Plus, she has a "very close relationship" with first Idol Kelly Clarkson, for whom she co-wrote six songs for her breakout Breakaway, so DioGuardi knows what it takes to be an American Idol.
Still, she won't be a harsh critic in the vein of Simon Cowell, as she believes in "second chances." With this year's new format of four judges, a two-to-two tie will result in Cowell ultimately becoming the decision maker in some cases. While Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson were noted as the lenient pair on Idol, DioGuardi and her higher expectations were expected to give Cowell a greater hand in who decides who makes it to Hollywood. "A few times, it came down to [Abdul and Jackson] would say 'yes,' and I knew Simon would say 'no.' So I had to make the critical decision there of whether I'm going to give them another shot or not," DioGuardi says. "And that was tough." Still, DioGuardi pledges that this year's panel will have more "girl power."
It also took Kara some time to settle into her judging spot because, "I would talk over people a lot, because I didn't know when to talk." Still, DioGuardi felt like she "hit the lotto" when she was asked to be a judge this season. Even with her Idol obligations, DioGuardi promises to be busy as a Seacrest these next few months, as she's still writing and producing whenever she gets a chance. In fact, DioGuardi said she hadn't slept in 48 hours because she just got back from Hawaii, where she was helping Colbie Caillat work on her second album. And the tip for getting on DioGuardi's good side: "I love when people play instruments. It adds another component to their artistry."
• "American Idol" Adds Songwriter As Fourth Judge
• "American Idol" Announces 2009 Schedule, Brings Back Wild Card Round
• Paula Abdul Criticizes "American Idol" Producers For Allowing Stalker To Audition
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