'American Idol' Reveals Surprising Changes for Hollywood Week

Everything about Hollywood Week is being revamped this season.

American Idol Season 6 on ABC’s Hollywood Week begins airing on April 2 and it will feature several changes to the format from past years.

Before the Idol contestants get input on their performances from judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan, they will have the opportunity to hone their songs as they will be mentored by seven past American Idol finalists, including Justin Guarini (Season 1), Clay Aiken (Season 2), Jordin Sparks (Season 6), David Archuleta (Season 7), Phillip Phillips (Season 11), Catie Turner (Season 16) and Noah Thompson (Season 20).

The news was first reported by Billboard, from a conversation with American Idol executive producer and showrunner Megan Michaels Wolflick.

“Having a mentor in Hollywood Week is something we’ve always wanted to explore,” Wolflick told the music outlet. “We usually have over 150 people come to Hollywood Week, so it’s hard to have one mentor talk to everyone individually. I thought, ‘Who better to mentor on the Hollywood experience than people who have actually been through it.’ Jordin Sparks always speaks so well about this. She feels that Hollywood Week really was a perfect training ground for the music industry, all baked into that week. There’s no one better to mentor this week than people who have been there, and now that we can pull from 20 years of Idols, it was incredible. The people who came back this year were so excited to do it.”

Noah Thompson<p>ABC/Raymond Liu</p>
Noah Thompson

ABC/Raymond Liu

Related: Watch American Idol Judges Give Out the First Platinum Ticket to 'The Most Gifted Singer Yet'

But having former Idols as mentors isn’t the only changeup. In addition, Idol will be doing away with the genre challenge, meaning contestants won’t be divided up into a category like country, R&B or pop. Rather, they will have the opportunity to select an area where they feel they could best benefit from coaching.

“This year we gave all the contestants one of three areas that they wanted to work on: confidence, songwriting or stage presence,” Wolflick continued. “It was my challenge to pick two people who would be applicable for confidence. Clay Aiken and David Archuleta were total confidence. Both of them came in second place, and it was funny because when we were first talking to them about it, they said, ‘I still don’t have all the confidence.’ I told them, ‘Yes, but you have more than you came with.’ For the songwriting category, we had Catie Turner and Phillip Phillips, who are both songwriters in their own right. Both of them in their respective seasons brought an artistry to the show that maybe we hadn’t seen. And for stage presence, we have Jordin Sparks and Justin Guarini, two people who commanded the stage in their own way and still do.”

Justin Guarini<p>Christopher Willard/ABC via Getty Images</p>
Justin Guarini

Christopher Willard/ABC via Getty Images

Related: Watch American Idol Judges Give Out the Second Platinum Ticket to the 15-Year-Old Who Lionel Richie Says ‘Sings Like Streisand’

As for what last season’s winner, Noah Thompson, will be doing, Wolfick said, “He gave some motivational speeches and was able to talk about his experience from last year. I can’t tell you how many people auditioned this year inspired by him. His friend Arthur signed Noah up [to audition], so we had a lot of people secretly signing people up, which was really cool.”

And it turns out that Hollywood Week isn’t the only time there will be appearances by former Idols. Clay and Ruben Studdard will return to perform on this year’s finale, 20 years to the day after they performed in the finale for Season 2.

Next, See the 'Mighty Mouse' Who Aces One of the Final American Idol Auditions (Exclusive)