It's been a pantheon of hit making gold in the mentors' chairs on American Idol this season, with everyone from will.i.am to Rodney Jerkins giving the finalists their two cents.
Among the esteemed group has been Jim Jonsin, the hit maestro behind such smashes as Usher's "There Goes My Baby," "Just A Dream" by Nelly, Beyonce's "Sweet Dreams" and the chart topping Lil' Wayne anthem "Lollipop."
So what is Jonsin really thinking? Usmagazine.com just caught up with him to ask for his extended take on each of the finalists, including recently ousted Pia Toscano and Paul McDonald.
UsMagazine.com: What was it like working with the Idol finalists on the show?
Jim Jonsin: It's really great actually. The experience is good because they're young, but they've got talent. Each of them are completely different. You have Jacob Lusk, who sounds one way and Lauren Alaina and Paul McDonald, and they all sound so different and it's all working. It's not all the same old thing on the radio. I'm amped about working with these artists who are becoming real figures in music. They're super famous right now. It's crazy how the show works.
Us: You mentioned before that you really liked Pia and that you look forward to working with her in the future even though she got eliminated. What was it that you liked about her so much?
JJ: She's very strong, and vocally she reminded me a little bit of Celine Dion, Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston. And that's good because we need one of those singers right now that is doing that type of pop music. So I just wanted to be a part of that.
Us: Do you know why Jennifer Lopez doesn't like her?
JJ: I don't know. Maybe something happened behind the scenes that I don't know about, but I don't know why J. Lo wouldn't like her. Maybe it's something personal, but I don't really get to know Pia like that. I didn't get to work with her.
Us: How did you feel about Paul getting voted off last week?
JJ: I'll be honest with you, I thought Paul was unique. Paul has a great sound, and he's going to do very well in his career. I kind of figured that they would vote him off because it's like this whole singing, belting thing where you've got to be belting out these strong vocals and he wasn't the one doing that. I don't know if he was even really trying to do that. I think it was more of a 'Hey check me out. This is me, Paul McDonald, and this is what I sound like.' He's building his own career which I thought was really cool and it's great that people know him.
Us: It seems like you have to switch your production style for Idol as far as condensing the format of the song.
JJ: We do a full version of the song, but you know they're covers so we're basically taking a great song and covering it in our own way. Some of them we might change and some of them we might leave alone.
Us: You worked with Haley Reinhart this week on her rendition of Adele's "Rolling in the Deep." How was that?
JJ: We kept it very much like the original, and she sounded a lot like Adele on the song. But the short versions are a pain in the ass because sometimes you've got to cut up this song that needs certain parts to be special and you've got to find away to make it still feel special for the performance.
Us: Now you touched on Paul, can you tell me little bit about the other finalists?
JJ: If you take somebody like Haley, I think she's got something unique. She's different. She's trying to do some jazz/pop kind of fusion; at least that's what I'm getting from her. You've got some
talented artists out now that are kind of changing the game like Adele and I think she's going to fit right in with what she's trying to do. Then you've got Lauren who's that pop/country act. She can be
that Kelly Clarkson meets Carrie Underwood. Jacob is a very strong singer. I haven't heard a singer with a voice like his in a long time and I think he's got so much soul; he's going to bring a lot of soul back into R&B. He wants to do some pop and R&B so he's kind of all over the place, but he loves a lot of music. So, I'm not going to be surprised if he dabbles in a little bit of rock as well.
Us: And what about Scotty McCreery?
JJ: Scotty has got his own lane. His situation seems to be the most simple and easy. Just sing the song that they're doing and that guy is going to sound as country as you can get. All he needs to do is just get himself a ticket to Nashville and it's on. And you've got James Durbin, who has his own lane. He's kind of like 80s rock. He's trying to bring back that Guns N' Roses and Bon Jovi sound. He's got a tough job ahead of him because he's going to have to change mainstream radio, but I think he's got a lot of willpower and strength and I think he can make a lot of damage. I think Casey Abrams is influencing musicians and artists around the world with his ability to play instruments and his interest in music alone. The guy, he's going to do a lot for music. You've got Stefano Langone as well and he's kind of in that Justin Timberlake/Usher lane. He's going to have some stiff competition out there, but he's a strong singer and I think he'll do well. They're all good kids, man.
Us: Besides Idol, I know you have a lot of other projects that you're working on for a lot of mainstream artists, one of them being Beyonce. Can you tell me about some of the stuff that you're cooking up for her next album?
JJ: We worked on some ideas but we haven't gotten a chance to get in with her and I'm really dying to do that. I think in the coming months we may be able to get in there soon, but Idol has had me tied up and I think she's been really busy as well. I'm also really excited to get in with Usher again the second week of June. Same with Justin Bieber — working with him for a week or so. We're working with that Yelawolf project. I'm also supposed to get in with him and Eminem. I'm super stoked about that.
Us: Yeah, with him recently going to Shady and everything that should be a good move for him.
JJ: Yeah, huge. That guy's super talented. Then we're working on B.O.B's project. And we just signed a new artist out of Spain named Leroy and he's really super talented. I can't wait for the world to see this guy!
Us: I know you had some issues with Lil' Wayne and Tha Carter III. Has Young Money or Cash Money reached out to tap you on for Tha Carter IV?
JJ: Yeah. Actually we just straightened out our situation, everything is cool and I believe I have Lil' Wayne's next single.
Us: Was that hard for you? You might not have had a direct problem with Wayne, but was it difficult to work with him again?
JJ: There were a couple of thing that went on that caused all that mess, and there were some lawsuits and things that were holding up some of their money. It was just kind of bad timing. They wanted to make sure everything was straight before they started cutting checks.
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