'Canadian Idol' raising the bar

Judges Farley Flex (left), Sass Jordan, Jake Gold and Zack Werner prepare for the fifth season of...

Judges Farley Flex (left), Sass Jordan, Jake Gold and Zack Werner prepare for the fifth season of Canadian Idol, debuting tonight on CTV. Flex says this year's Top 22 is the strongest lineup of talent the judges have seen in any season of Idol yet.

-- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 1:05 AM ET

Get out the ear plugs, make some popcorn and find that comfy spot on the sofa.

Canada's search for its next singing Idol is kicking off tonight -- and this time they're bringing their instruments.

Judge Farley Flex says Canadian Idol is the first of the world's countless Idol shows to encourage musical accompaniment.

"We are absolutely the first, but I think others will follow. I personally think it is going to have an impact on the perspective people have on the winner, if the winner happens to be someone who does play (an instrument)."

After four seasons of Canadian Idol, Flex says producers of the show decided to allow instruments in order to keep things fresh and hopefully give Idol more credibility within the music industry.

It is their hope, if a musician wins Idol this year, people within the music business and the Canadian public will accept the new Idol champion as a bona fide artist. (Apologies to Ryan Malcolm, Kalan Porter, Melissa O'Neil and Eva Avila.)

"Throughout the course of the show, I think you'll get a better picture of who the artist truly is, as opposed to just the kid who won Canadian Idol," he says, adding the format change also gives viewers a reason to tune in for a fifth season.

"There is always that challenge, when you are part of a franchise and you constantly have to raise your game, to make things unique. I think this has definitely done that."

The change resulted in a whole new crop of talent which, for the first time, saw more guys than girls land the coveted "Gold Ticket" to the Top 200 round.

Farley believes many guys, who want to make a name for themselves as musicians, finally felt they could shine in the Idol spotlight.

And because of that, Flex says the show has landed the strongest Top 22 of any season.

"It's phenomenal, yeah straight up, I am really pleased.

"This year we are giving people a lot more to think about and I think that's where the credibility and the positive benefit will come from. What the public is going to see is a whole lot of people who have the potential to be superstars."

Canadian Idol kicks off tonight on CTV with a 90-minute episode featuring auditions in Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary, Winnipeg, St. John's and Halifax.

Next Tuesday, the Idol crew (judges Flex, Sass Jordan, Zack Werner, Jake Gold, host Ben Mulroney and roving reporter Dave Kerr) continues its search in Saskatoon, Montreal, Vancouver and London before the Gold Ticket Round airs June 18.

This season, starting June 19, the performance episodes will air on Mondays and Tuesdays with the results disclosed Wednesdays. Then, beginning July 23, the show will settle into its regular timeslots on Monday and Tuesday nights.


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