From left, Host Ryan Seacrest, Judges Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez, and Harry Connick Jr., and executive producers Trish Kinane and Per Blankens are seen during the panel of "American Idol" at the FOX Winter 2014 TCA, on Monday, Jan. 13, 2014, at the Langham Hotel in Pasadena, Calif.Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
By LYNN ELBER
AP Television Writer
PASADENA, Calif. — The producers of "American Idol" said Monday that the show's new season will include changes to freshen it, including expanded song choices for contestants.
After tending toward a fair amount of golden oldies, the show's song list will add more current tunes that the young contestants can relate to, executive producer Per Blankens said.
Former judge Randy Jackson's new role will include leading a workshop that helps contestants deal with vocal and other challenges, executive producer Trish Kinane said.
The talent contest also will introduce a "rush week" that precedes the Hollywood week auditions.
But Kinane told the Television Critics Association that the series is still essentially "American Idol."
Fox's program enters its 13th season Wednesday with declining ratings and competition in the talent genre from NBC's "The Voice."
It's the first season for the judging panel of Keith Urban, Harry Connick Jr. and Jennifer Lopez, who told the critics' group they have fun working together and want to emphasize the contestants, not themselves.
Urban ducked a question about his experience last season working with judges Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj, who became known for their on-air sniping.
Host Ryan Seacrest helped, joining Urban in pretending the question was about their relationship.
"Ryan and I worked it out," Urban said.
"We're fine," Seacrest added.