'American Idol' scoop: Ray Chew likely the new bandleader, but will we see much of the band?

Ray-Chew-IdolImage Credit: Paul Morigi/WireImage.comSeasoned television music director Ray Chew (SOS Saving Ourselves — Help for Haiti; the 2008 Democratic National Convention) will likely become the new bandleader for season 10 of American Idol, EW has confirmed, replacing Rickey Minor, who left Idol at the end of season 9 to be the new bandleader on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. (The Hollywood Reporter first reported Chew landing the Idol gig.)

Chew actually joined the Idol team this month during the new Las Vegas audition round, although at press time it was unclear whether his deal had been finalized for the bandleader gig for the rest of the season. Whether audiences will get to see much of Chew and the Idol band this season, however, remains very much an open question. Idol exec producer Ken Warwick tells EW exclusively that a revamped set this season could relocate the Idol band off camera. “At the moment, the [upper] tier that was where the band was is now going to be audience,” says Warwick. “The plan is that the band will come out when required. There’s going to be a whole new kind of arena feel to the whole proceeding.” As with much of Idol, these changes could still be revised several times over, but the move would be in keeping with the newfound emphasis on the contestants as vocal performers (e.g. the consistent drumbeat that they will no longer be able to “hide behind their guitars”). The last time the band remained mostly behind the scenes on Idol was back in season 3, when the show featured vocal powerhouses Fantasia Barrino, Jennifer Hudson, and La Toya London.

Comments (30 total) Add your comment
  • bamabunny

    So Adam…will you be replacing Slezak as our official Idol recapper and commentator?

    • AcaseofGeo

      This guy will be playing to a TV audience of about 14 million. That’s my estimate for this season. And that’s being gracious. A lot of people are gonna bail on this show. No Simon, No semi-finals, and 2 otherwise talented performers in Aerosmith guy and J-LO (who’s movie “The Wedding Planner” is ONE OF THE WORST MOVIES EVER – she falls in LOVE with a CREEP who DUMPS his fiance ON THEIR WEDDING DAY and we’re SUPPOSED to ROOT for that???????????……..oops, off topic). Anyway, Aerosmith guy and JLO are OUT OF THEIR LEAGUE here. At least we still have Randy “It was a’ight dawg” Jackson, but I won’t be watching.

      • Tarc

        judging from your (in)ability to comprehend the basics of a romcom, I’m not sure your estimate means anything. Ok, correction: I am sure it means nothing.

  • Eleanor

    I love you Adam, and I totally love the Idol reporting that you do, but please, don’t take away my Slezak forever, that would just be cruel.

    • orville

      Slezak actually left Entertainment Weekly alltogether. He works with Ausiello now.

      • amanda

        what? WHAT?????

      • Steve

        I saw no announcement on a Slezak depature on ew.com, but a web search says he’s moving to something called “tvline.com”. Just WHAT is going on at EW??? They lose Josh Wolk, they eliminate Dalton’s “Survivor Talk” videos, and now they lose Slezak? His Idolatry videos were the BEST thing this website had going! I couldn’t care less about the departure of Simon Cowell or any other Idol judge, but losing Slezak is devastating!

      • PM

        I liked Sleazak, but maybe he was not impressed with Idol last season, maybe not even most of that top 10 and doesn’t want to do Idolatry. He was so fun to watch on the clips and got along with the contestants. Or when Simon Cowell left the show, that was it! He just doesn’t like the new panel of judges, just doesn’t want NONE of it!

  • LOL

    American Idol is yesterday’s news.

  • Lil

    With winners that can’t sell and don’t capture the imagination of the public the brand is dead. Stick a fork in it. Put it out of our misery. Nobody even talks about the last 3 winners. It is all about Carrie and Daughtry and Adam. Maybe Kelly will come back big but who knows.

    • AcaseofGeo

      Even Daughtry had a huge plunge in sales and radio. Only Carrie and Kelly remain mega-successful. Fantasia has some R&B support, but not great sales. No one from last year registers; only Adamn Lambert from the last 2 years seems to have recording legs.

    • prd9601

      Adam? ROFL!!

    • 2 out of 3

      Wait a minute- last 3 or last 2? I thought David Cook was doing well. Didn’t he sell more than Adam Lambert?

      • Rae

        But nobody talks about Cook. Doesn’t matter what he sold. The media and industry couldn’t care less about him.

      • Rae

        David Cook sold more albums than Adam in the US but Adam has outsold him with albums and singles internationally and yes they all add up.

    • PM

      I think people are focused on the continuing artists and not anybody new from Idol. They are really supporting Kelly, Carrie, Fantasia, Adam and Daughtry’s current recording careers. Daughtry has led to a lot of copycat sounding bands sounding like them, even running to producer Howard Benson to produce their own albums. A few of them, I go–that sounds like a Daughtry copycat with the rhythm sections and chords. And bands are getting Chris to write their songs, like Lifehouse, so Chris is the go to guy now!

  • jason

    idol thought the last 3 winners were aht america wanted. WRONG!! not saying they are not great performers, but look at the charts the last few years. semi-cute guitar-playing singer-songwriters are outsville. i’m not defending bubble gum pop like bieber or kesha, but that’s what’s selling, and i guarantee you that’s what they’re gonna go for this year. why do you think they lowered the age to 15?? AT THE VERY LEAST it will be different, people will tune it at first for that much. we shall see

    • Andie

      Because nobody wanted David Cook? Yeah I don’t think so.

  • Kitty

    Introverted good-boy, clean cut, singer songwriters that try to pass themselves off as rockers are killing the credibility of American Idol and dragging everyone else down. No Jaggar, Tyler or Prince in the bunch. We hear more about Kris Allen’s dog than we hear about him. And for Cook, we keep hearing how he went platinum in three months on his last album, good luck repeating that. And Lee, what can I say other than he seems like a nice guy. Please give us a winner with some life and personality.

    • Yeah, no

      Jagger, Tyler and Prince? What about Petty, Grohl, and Springsteen? Bon Jovi? There are nice guys in rock who are still doing their thing. This argument is lame. Rock music has gotten squeezed out of top 40 radio, and it ain’t about edge. It’s because top 40 radio is obsessed with 4 on the floor processed beats and cheesy dance songs.

  • Wendy

    I just wish Kris would get another hit record so his fans can brag about that instead of his dog, yet again. Never seen fans talk about a dog more than they do about the artist. Hope David Cook shows the last few winners how it is done.

    • PM

      I think that Kris Allen needs to record his next album because listeners are very fickle these days. He might have been recording his album for a year now.

  • Blaine

    I don’t think it matters about the band on stage or off. American Idol voters like the clean-cut type, David C, David A, K Allen, L. DeWyze. They will not vote in winners that are bad-boys like Adam. The bad-boys make good tv but are hard to control and would not represent Disney well. There has not been a female winner in so long it is hard to tell what the voters would want in a female winner.

  • brett

    and daughtry is doing fine,saw them in concert in a packed house

  • Debbie

    @Blaine sorry that there are 51 other states out there that are sick of CA trying to tell us what to like that is why it is called AMERICAN IDOL NOT THE CA IDOL.unlike the rest of the Crap that comes out of Hollywood a least we get to vote on this one if lame-bert wasn’t from CA nobody in the media would even remember his name.WE WANT KRIS ALLEN NOT Lam-bert .THANK GOD AMERICA GETS TO VOTE AND NOT JUST CA WE WOULD HAVE A BUNCH OF FREAKS FOR AMERICAN IDOL.I LOVE ALL THE WINNERS.

    • Tino

      Ugh. Middle America – so afraid of anything that doesn’t conform.

  • T2

    I hope the new guy does well. I’m just SO sick of hearing “Ricky Minor and the band!” that I’d welcome anyone else to the job.

    • T2

      pardon me, it’s “Rickey”. What is he, 8 years old?

  • PM

    I think they’re trying not to have too much equipment on the stage with the live band. The other set was more of Rickey Minor’s idea. I think they’re trying to go back to the first few seasons where there was a spare stage for the singers to move across and have more space to perform. And leave the band off camera or behind the curtain or wall behind the stage. It’s gonna feel kind of cramped for the band if they’re going to perform the cover songs in that setting!

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