Bernie Grundman Mastering in Hollywood, Calif., reports it hosts weekly mastering sessions for the long-running Fox TV variety series, American Idol, in which Brian "Big Bass" Gardner masters a new album of songs by the show's contestants. On Friday, Jimmy Iovine, chairman of Interscope Geffen A&M Records, meets with competing contestants to go over the song possibilities, and each one picks a song. Over the weekend, they track with top producers, including Rodney Jerkins, Jim Johnson, Ron Fair, Tricky, Rock Mafia, Don Was, Toby Gad, Dallas Austin, Harvey Mason, Jr., and Ryan Tedder.
"The artists come in and record vocals for the full song version which will be on the week's download album," explains Chuck Reed, Interscope VP of Recording Operations and the show's music production supervisor. "We also record stems to incorporate with the live band, which is a shorter version for on air. The full album version is mixed and then mastered on Tuesday morning for download after each show."
As of January 2011, American Idol is said to be the most-watched TV series in the Nielsen ratings and the only program to have been Number One for six consecutive seasons.
"We master each week's album at Bernie Grundman's with Brian 'Big Bass' Gardner," says Reed, "because he is a great mastering engineer in every genre from hip-hop to jazz. He knows all the styles on 'Idol,' including pop, R&B, rock and country. In fact, this week we mastered Creedence Clearwater's 'Have You Ever Seen the Rain,' and Brian had mastered the original back in 1970."
In the current season, music producer Jimmy Iovine appears behind-the-scenes working with and lending his expertise to the contestants as they compete to become the next American Idol. New judges for 2011 are Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler, joined by returning judge Randy Jackson.