American Idol concluding its chart-topping run

Hollywood, Calif. (KTVU) -- American Idol begins its final season Wednesday night.

After launching the careers of so many chart topping singers over 14 years, the judges say Idol has returned to its roots as a pure singing competition.

Judge Harry Connick Jr. revealed some of the judges' strategy when it comes to choosing contestants this time around.

"I think the last couple of years, we put a lot of faith in some of these young performers to improve greatly over the course of the season," said Connick. "That doesn't happen as much as you'd like to see. So we're trying to pick people who are a little more ready to go right out of the gate."

There were a few surprises along the way.

In San Francisco, award-winning entertainer, Kanye West decided to pop in for a surprise audition.

Needless to say, he received a ticket to Hollywood -- not that he needs one!

The final season of American Idol premieres at 8 p.m. Wednesday, with a special two hour episode.

You can catch it all right here on KTVU, Fox 2.