Scott Borchetta says he spends much of his time during each live American Idol broadcast giving feedback and advice to singers who’ve performed, as well as those still waiting. He’s constantly in motion, and with one year of being a mentor behind him, he knows what he’s looking for.

The Season 15 mentor and President of Big Machine Label Group told Taste of Country he’d only return in 2016 if he knew producers were as committed to finding a great artist as they were 14 seasons ago. There’s a lot of potential for distraction, but with a shortened season Borchetta insists the finalists need to be even more focused.

“The best ones always get it,” he explains. “The ones who really want this, who are open to suggestions and creative ideas. And then the real job for them is to take everything we’ve been working on with them, process it, and then have their own take on everything they’ve learned.”

It’s too early to call any of the remaining finalists a favorite, but prior to Thursday night’s live show (8PM ET, Fox), Borchetta admits artists like Mackenzie Bourg may have an advantage, as he’s got songwriting and television experience. With just six weeks to crown a winner, that could prove paramount.

Manny Torres and Avalon Young are two others he mentioned as artists who’ve improved tremendously since Hollywood Week. There’s less room to fail. The Season 15 American Idol winner will be crowned on April 7, and there is no Judge's Save this season. Borchetta welcomes the challenge of whipping this crew into shape, admitting that he’s better at seeing who an artist truly wants to be than he was a year ago.

“Some of the ones last year who maybe fooled me early on, like ‘Maybe she’ll get better,’” he says, mentioning nobody by name, “if they haven’t completely got it by now they’re wasting everybody’s time.”

“The best ones literally get better every couple of days.”

Taste of Country will talk to Borchetta each week, prior to the Thursday night episode of American Idol. Check back Thursday mornings for insight and a preview of what to expect!

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