Steven Tyler is gone, and that’s far from a bad thing.
Jennifer Lopez is following. She was the best of the latest panel of judges, which is pretty pathetic, considering she was more cheerleader than judge. Replacing her should not be difficult.
And Randy Jackson should have been gone years ago. As the first judge to speak back in the Randy-Paula-Simon days, he was bearable. As a cleanup hitter, he’s a cliche-spouting failure.
Now, assessing the potential replacements:
Charlie Sheen: This had to be a joke on Nigel Lythgoe’s part, right? I mean, I know Charlie played a jingle composer on “Two and a Half Men,” but all indications are he knows a whole lot more about “goddesses” than music.
Miley Cyrus: I hope this is a joke in the Charlie Sheen vein, but fear it’s not. Idol has had a bizarre fascination with Miley over the years in spite of the fact that her vocal ability probably couldn’t have gotten her into the finals in most past seasons. And she was a gum-chewing joke as a mentor back in Season 9.
Mariah Carey: She makes sense if the goal is to replace Jennifer with someone similar, meaning a lovely diva whose career could use an Idol boost. The key question should be whether she’s willing to express an opinion because Idol needs opinionated judges not afraid to hurt a singer’s feelings more than it needs a lovely diva.
Fergie: More current than Mariah, she’d slip into the diva role quite comfortably, too. And with the Black Eyed Peas on hiatus, she might be available. The question, again, comes down to whether she can critique. Idol needs judges willing to judge, not another judge in name only, more interested in career advancement.
Katy Perry: She doesn’t need a career boost. Everything she sings turns to gold. That takes away a lot of the incentive to join the Idol circus. Besides, last I heard, she wanted “a (expletive) vacation.” Sorry, the Idol circus doesn’t qualify.
Will.i.am: He’s been a guest mentor so often the past two years, he almost seems like a member of the cast already. I can’t remember anything worthwhile he had to offer. I remember thinking, “Will.i.am? Again?” That’s probably not the reaction Nigel is hoping for when he reveals his new judge(s).
Adam Lambert: As I wrote yesterday, he’s intelligent, articulate, witty and he’s not afraid to express an opinion. All of which makes him an upgrade over Steven. But, let’s remember, he didn’t win the show despite far superior talent, so Idol couldn’t count on a big ratings boost just by adding him to its panel.
Nicki Minaj: She might draw younger fans in initially — something Idol desperately wants — but having just watched a couple of Nicki interviews (hey I’d only heard her talk in award show settings), I suspect this would quickly degenerate into a disastrous choice.
Jimmy Iovine: He would attract no new viewers. But he’d be a welcome addition if he could deliver those brutally honest Thursday night critiques from Season 11 immediately after a performance on Wednesday nights.
Put Jimmy with two opinionated big-name entertainers, and it might be a winning combination.
Avril Lavigne: I haven’t seen her name connected to Idol judge rumors, but she was rumored to be in the running for a spot on The X Factor before Simon settled on Britney Spears and Demi Lovato (still scratching my head over the latter choice). Avril guest judged during an audition show back in Season 9, showed up in a cute little devil costume and — much more importantly — showed no shyness about saying no to contestants looking for golden tickets.
Jewel: I haven’t seen her name among rumored Idol judges either, but I’m a big fan, so I’ll throw it out there. She, too, has guest judged on Idol. She also judged a talent-poor season of Nashville Star and showed no reluctance to criticize contestants on the little-watched Platinum Hit songwriting competition last summer. Best of all, she managed to critique without seeming the least bit mean.
Paula Abdul: Hey, she’s available, having gotten fired from her X Factor judging role after Season 1. And if Nigel wants a link to the past on the judging panel, I’d rather have Paula than Randy. She seemed considerably less wacky and more tuned in during X Factor than she was late in her run on Idol. But she hasn’t changed her cheerleader ways, so she only works if she’s flanked by two mean judges.
Aretha Franklin: This would be a major step in the wrong direction. With all due respect to her musical accomplishments, Aretha is 70; Idol needs to get younger, not older. If anything, it needs to stop having its cast sing so many Aretha Franklin songs.
So, there you have it, my assessment of contenders and should-be contenders for spots at the Idol judging table.
I’m sure we’ll hear lots more wild rumors before official word on new judges comes down from the show.