‘Idol’ judges Jackson, Lopez, Tyler ready to go Vegas

If America ever tires of “American Idol,” Las Vegas has inspired a new twist.

“We thought of a new show where if they sing really good, they’ve got to swim toward the judges,” Steven Tyler said during a day of taping in the “Le Reve” theater at Wynn Las Vegas.

It’s the name that’s still in debate. “Swim for Your Life” was jokingly floated before it seemed to shift to Jennifer Lopez’s “Sing or Swim.”

The season premiere of “Idol” aired Wednesday, but host Ryan Seacrest and judges Tyler, Lopez and Randy Jackson were a couple of weeks ahead in their TV future. A promotional news conference Wednesday afternoon came as the Fox talent show taped at Wynn, using props and special effects from the aquatic “Le Reve” show.

“It’s also a good hair test. There’s a lot of humidity in that arena,” Seacrest said of the Las Vegas-based filming set to air early next month.

The judges used their Las Vegas stay to whittle the contestants from 42 to 24. As some contestants spontaneously harmonized “Rockin’ Robin” in the hallway, the panel served up the usual talk of how tough its choices will be.

“That under-20 crowd is stronger than ever,” Jackson said.

Lopez said the voices were uniformly strong, but “they also have the whole package. They’re like little pop stars in a box.”

“They have more of an idea of what direction they want to go,” Seacrest agreed.

Tyler said it was the judges’ task to look beyond technical skill to find the soulful qualities. “Adele is a good example of singing from the heart. It doesn’t really matter if it’s on key, it’s from the heart, it’s from the spirit. That’s why that sold.”

The “Idol” judges also met the Las Vegas media in December 2010, when the show’s future was considerably more unsettled after the departure of Simon Cowell to do “X Factor.”

But Jackson said Wednesday he knew from the first dinner at Seacrest’s house that the new panel would click. “You look for that harmony for a team, for a cast. And we had that instantly.” The chemistry “tremendously helped the show and helped us.”

And, Seacrest chimed in, “At the end (of the dinner) they all offered to split the takeout, and I knew that this was a match made in heaven.”

Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at or 702-383-0288.

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