'American Idol' judges promise 'natural, raw talent' for Season 13

american-idol-13-judges-q-and-a-ucla-fox.jpgEvery year the "American Idol" judges promise it's the best year yet -- seriously, you guys. But Keith Urban would still like to assure you that in Season 13, they've found the most talented singers in the country. For real this time.

"It sounds so simple, but I think the level of talent [is what will differentiate this season from any other] -- the level of just natural, raw talent," he tells Zap2it. "And to me, what I've always loved about 'Idol' is watching someone who comes from some town that we've never heard of or some small, little place, and they have this amazing gift but they don't have anything else yet. They have it, but they haven't got all the rest yet. And this journey allows them to get all of that, and we watch them blossom right before our eyes."

Urban and fellow judges Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr. joined host Ryan Seacrest for a Q&A live from UCLA's Royce Hall that was simulcast to "Idol" preview screenings across the country and live-streamed online. Zap2it was there, and can confirm that the judges have just as excellent chemistry in person as they do onscreen. They spent as much of the time ribbing each other as they did answering serious questions about the newly revamped show.

Here's one difference you'll definitely notice when you tune in to watch the new panel in action on Wednesday (Jan. 15) at 8 p.m. ET/PT on FOX: Harry Connick Jr. is hard to please.

"People come up to me all the time and they say, 'Are you okay? Are you angry?' I have like an intense face, all the time," Connick says of being perceived as harsh. 

But he says he's simply blunt because he wants the show to be the best it can be. "Let me just go out and say it: I think we have a pretty low standard right now. And yes, I am hard to impress, because I think we can do better. There's amazing talent out there; I'm sitting up here with some of them, but we can do better than what's out there. ... It's just a challenge to these young performers to work at your freaking craft. Work at it. Practice."
Photo/Video credit: FOX