American Idol: 14 Dream Candidates to Replace Steven, J.Lo and Randy as Judges
Her stint as a Season 7 Idol mentor resulted in an epic night of music. Plus, she’s got humor, heart, credibility, and a penchant for being opinionated — qualities that might make her strangely similar to the badly missed original panelist Simon Cowell.
He did very brief time as an advisor to Paula Abdul on Season 1 of the U.S. version of The X Factor and as a guest judge on Project Runway (proving he’s not above a reality show gig). He’s produced some of the most cutting edge music of the last decade for acts as diverse as Beyoncé, Jay-Z, and Justin Timberlake (so he’s got credibility). His work as frontman for N.E.R.D. means he’ll be comfortable in front of a live audience. And hey, if he name-drops as aggressively as Randy Jackson, at least the references will be recent and relevant.
The woman has opinions on everything from global politics to the humble hydrangea, so one would surmise she’d have plenty to say to the next generation of Carrie Underwoods and Danny Gokeys. And in addition to a four-decade career, let’s not forget she successfully launched and ran the Maverick imprint that was home to Alanis Morissette, Michelle Branch and Me’shell Ndegeocello.
He’s rumored to be on Idol producers’ short list for the gig, and I can’t really think of a good reason the show wouldn’t benefit from signing its home-grown talent to the panel. In fact, I wrote a loooong blog item on the subject that you can check out by clicking here.
Another diva reportedly on Idol producers’ radar, she certainly has a stronger voice than — mild understatement in 5, 4, 3, 2… — predecessor J.Lo; she made a very strong showing as an Idol mentor back in Season 7; and she’s not afraid to throw a little bit of public shade. Who’s ready for The Emancipation of the Idol Judges’ Panel?
One-time head of major labels like Universal, Motown, and Elektra has a long history of discovering and fostering pop-R&B superstars. And while she’s not a known TV quantity, her presence on the panel could give it a needed sense of authority, and perhaps put a stake in the heart of the notion that female judges are only good for cheerleading for contestants and wearing pretty, shiny dresses.
The soulful singer-songwriter has a magnificent voice and proved an astute, thoughtful judge on ABC’s summer singing competition Duets. If Fox brass didn’t mind the idea of poaching a solid talent from a less-successful rival, Legend might turn out to be a legendary addition to the Idol family.
Similar to Legend, Folds proved a geeky good judge — honest without seeming petulant, technical without seeming boring — on NBC’s now cancelled The Sing-Off. And while he certainly doesn’t have Blake Shelton or Adam Levine-level name recognition, he certainly couldn’t be any less of a draw than a certain Dawg-pound member, could he?
She proved to be a sweet yet refreshingly honest presence when she served as a guest judge during the Season 9 auditions. And given the show’s penchant for unearthing more and more country sensations in recent seasons, it’s probably time the judges’ panel got itself someone who’s well-versed in the genre.
This Grammy-winning diva hasn’t been a mainstream chart presence in recent years, but the edgy dance-pop records she’s released in the last decade more than prove her musical relevance. Plus, her regular blog entries on Season 8 proved she was more invested in and perceptive about the competition than most of the famous folks who get paid to judge these types of programs.
The Queen of Soul recently made public her desire to join the panel — and considering she’s got one of the greatest voices in human history, who’s gonna argue with her? Bonus ability to put a younger talent in check — see, VH1’s Divas Live in 1998 — adds to the perception that she might be kind of amazing at the job.
Former 4 Non Blondes frontwoman reinvented herself as a powerhouse songwriter/producer for everyone from Pink to Christina Aguilera to James Blunt and Adam Lambert. In other words, not only can she identify raw talent, but she knows how to mold it to its finest form. Plus, the woman is not known for mincing her words.
The producer more commonly known as Dr. Luke has penned and/or produced such massive hits as “Girlfriend,” “I Kissed a Girl,” “Since U Been Gone,” “Right Round,” “Tik Tok,” “Keep Holding On,” “We R Who We R,” “Teenage Dream,” “Circus,” “Party in the U.S.A.,” “Dynamite,” and “Domino.” If he’s got halfway decent live TV skills, he might bring an interesting commercial perspective — and a strong affinity for female artists — to a show that could use another major pop success from its roster of alumni.
Another home-grown Idol talent, she’s a world-class vocalist, and she’s awfully candid and funny on a little Internet show called Idology, don’tcha think?
Which three people would make up your dream Idol judges’ panel? Sound off below!