Last year the powers that be at American Idol announced this January would mark the beginning of the show’s 15th and final season. Although the show still brought in a substantial number of viewers week after week, it was expensive to produce and far from the cultural phenomenon it once was. The people behind Idol pledged to make the last season of Idol a memorable one.
E! Online reported Friday that one of those memorable moments will be an audition by Kanye West. The judges didn’t know he was coming, but he showed up with a very pregnant Kim Kardashian and performed a song that had special meaning for one of the panelists, according to long time host Ryan Seacrest.
Seacrest joked that Kanye showed talent and could have a real career. He gave details about how the audition came to happen.
“We were in San Francisco, and they said, ‘We’ve got a contestant that’s just going to jump into the line.’ And up walked Kim and Kanye—Kim pregnant and Kanye enthusiastic and ready to go in there. He walks in there and does a lyric about J.Lo from one of his songs.”
Jennifer Lopez found the situation humorous and unexpected.
“Kanye just walked in the room, that’s all I can tell you! That’s all I know. For a minute, I was like, ‘Is that Kanye?’…Even though I’ve seen him a million times, in that setting I just didn’t expect it—but it was really funny.”
As reality show watchers are well aware, there’s a connection between American Idol and the Kardashian family. Seacrest has been the show’s host since its 2002 debut before he became the producer of Keeping Up With the Kardashians.
Keith Urban, who returns as a judge along with Lopez and Harry Connick Jr., told E! that West performed one of his own songs and, thankfully, remembered the lyrics.
It’s not the first time Idol has had unexpected people stand before them in the early round auditions. Adam Lambert appeared last year as a guest judge on the program, and performed his original audition song, the Queen classic “Bohemian Rhapsody,” for Connick and Lopez. Last year Lambert toured with Queen taking the place of deceased frontman Freddie Mercury.
Connick once auditioned for Urban during a break when Lopez left the judging table.
Bringing in major music stars to compete for that golden ticket to Hollywood may only be part of what’s in store for the new season. Seacrest told Access Hollywood that all of the show’s past judges are going to show up in some capacity — although it’s not yet confirmed what that capacity will be. Over the years, notables such as Ellen DeGeneres, Steven Tyler, Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj and Kara DioGuardi have been on the program.
For the show’s first eight seasons, Paula Abdul, Randy Jackson and Simon Cowell called the shots behind the judges’ table. Abdul left at the end of season 8, Cowell in 2010 and Jackson stayed with the show through the end of season 13, for many years as a judge and then as contestant mentor. Seacrest is the only talent to have stayed with the show for all 15 seasons.
The new season is expected to follow the classic American Idol format, with large-scale auditions in several American cities leading up to Hollywood Week and eventually live programs. The next and last season gets underway January 6, 2016 on Fox.
[Frazer Harrison/Getty Images Entertainment (left); Sergi Alexander/Getty Images Entertainment (right)]