Reality Rocks (New)

Guitars Are Welcome Again on ‘American Idol’

Lyndsey Parker
Reality Rocks

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Season 12 was a bizarrely guitar-phobic season on "American Idol." In a desperate and very transparent attempt to avoid crowning a sixth "WGWG" (white guy with guitar), the show's powers-that-be all but banned male six-string-slingers from the top 20; additionally, only one of the top five female finalists, Janelle Arthur, strummed guitar on the live shows.

The producers' rock-resistant plan worked like a charm, and the WGWGs' five-season winning streak was broken. But Season 12 was also the lowest-rated season in "Idol" history. While there were obviously other reasons for this decline, the fact that "Idol's" core fanbase didn't have a David Cook, a Phillip Phillips, or even a Crystal Bowersox to root for definitely played a major factor.

So now the producers are, probably wisely, making "Idol" a guitar-friendly zone again…so friendly that, in an "Idol" first, Season 13's hopefuls will actually be allowed to bring guitars into the audition room.

While there have been a few past exceptions when "Idol" singers have been shown on television auditioning with guitars in hand (most notably the aforementioned P-Squared), they've never been permitted to play at their very first tryouts — i.e., the initial cattle-call auditions that take place without cameras rolling or celebrity judges present. But that's all changed now.

"Now, for the first time in 'American Idol' history, you can audition with your guitar! So bring out your guitars and show us what you've got!" the show's website posted this week to promote the Season 13 open auditions, which kicked off July 10 in Salt Lake City. (The show even tried to trend a hashtag on Twitter, "#IdolGuitar." Lulz.)

"Idol's" website and Twitter stopped short of putting out an APB in search of The Next Kris Allen...but that of course was the implication.

However, in an effort to avoid a flashback to Season 9, when it seemed like every coffeehouse-style contestant on the show hid behind an acoustic instrument, the Season 13 auditioners will still have to try out a cappella at first — and only then, "at the discretion of the producers," will he or she (let's face it, probably a he) be allowed to pick up a guitar.

Don't worry, though: "Auditioners are not required to perform with a guitar at any time," the site's fine print assures. So the aspiring Candice Glovers, Jordin Sparkses, and Fantasias of the world can still apply.

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