american idol season 13 judges tca panel 'American Idol' Season 13: More current hits, new theme weeksThere are plenty of format changes — or tweaks, rather — in store for Season 13 of “American Idol,” but there’s something else that’s getting an overhaul: The music. According to the show’s new producers, the list of “Idol” songs and themes will be expanded dramatically in the upcoming season.

“We have a new approach for the music themes this year to get the kids to sing songs they really relate to,” new executive producer Per Blankens tells TV reporters at the 2014 Television Critics Association winter press tour. “The song list is still there, but we’re going to work differently with the themes.”

But there’s good news about the song list, too — it’s much longer. “We have expanded the song list; there are many more contemporary songs,” says executive producer Trish Kinane. And as for the themes, “We want to find out more about the kids and kind of mold the themes into songs that reveal something about them rather than tying them in to Burt Bachrach or the Bee Gees,” she says. “It’s very much more a choice in what they can pick.”

Kinane tells Zap2it after the panel that she and Blankens, who oversaw the very successful Swedish version of “Idol,” are trying to do is personalize the themes to the contestants, “getting it back to something that reflects what the kids are and how they’re growing. There’s this kid that shows up at an audition in Detroit and then suddenly ends up at the Nokia Theatre, so what is it they’re developing in themselves through that process?”

An example of a new “Idol” theme would be “This is Me” rather than the tired standby of Birth Year songs or Motown Week or something like that.

“Per knows and loves the ‘American Idol’ format,” explains Kinane. “He did that for a long time in Sweden, and [the judges] know and love the format and our producers do as well, so I think we’ve got a sense of ‘Yes we can refresh this, yes it needs some new energy,’ but we’re not going to throw the baby out with the bathwater and go to the extreme because that isn’t the show. This show works, and when it’s done at its best with really great judges and really great talent, it works.”

“American Idol” Season 13 premieres Wednesday, Jan. 15 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on FOX.

Posted by:Jean Bentley