Depending on your perspective, it has either been a great week for American Idol or a terrible one with both Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez announcing they would not be returning for another season in just the last two days. According to TMZ, there have also been whispers that Randy Jackson was also considering turning in his Yo pin and saying enough is enough. Has much as I liked Lopez and Tyler as judges, I don’t really care that they’re leaving. Here’s why. I don’t watch American Idol for the judges. I watch American Idol for the talent. That doesn’t mean I’m not excited to see who fills the absent seats at the judge’s table though. Since I had so much fun dream casting the roles of Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey in the Fifty Shades of Grey movie, I decided to take a stab at Idol. I’m going into this assuming Randy Jackson will return but if that should change you could really replace him with anyone on this list. To be perfectly honest, I think Idol would be a much more entertaining show without Randy and his catchphrases but that’s a topic for another day. Let’s get to the list.
Who Should Replace Jennifer Lopez on American Idol?
Here’s what I loved about Jennifer. She genuinely seemed to care about the contestants but I found her a little irritating. It would be nice to see someone who was willing to be honest and unbiased, someone who could offer valuable advice to the contestants that they’ve actually put to use themselves to build a long lasting, accomplished career. I’m not sure Jennifer was always able to do that. My suggestions are a little more accomplished in various mediums. Although I think a man could fill Lopez’s spot, I’m going to stick with Idol’s tradition two guys, one girl format and suggest only women to take Lopez’s judge’s chair.
10: Whoopi Goldberg
I think Whoopi would be an ideal choice but for two problems – she doesn’t really have a background in music the way my other suggestions do and she may just be too busy to take on the a show like Idol. I think she would keep the show lively and entertaining while also having the common sense to offer contestants the advice they need to grow. I think in the end her lack of experience with music would be only a minor issue although her schedule could potentially pose much bigger problems.
Jewel is a tough lady with lots of music business experience but she’s also showed us (by way of her appearance as guest mentor on The Voice) that she has what it takes to deliver tough criticism to a contestant on this sort of show if that criticism is needed. I always found Jewel’s advice for The Voicehopefuls she worked with was insightful and was geared to help contestants improve instead of trying to tear them down. While I haven’t always been the biggest fan of Jewel’s music, I do think her drive and her willingness to do things on her own terms inspiring and I think that alone could make her opinion valuable to Idol hopefuls.
Smart, beautiful, charitable and talented, I think Shakira would almost make an obvious choice for the American Idol judge’s panel and am a little surprised her name hasn’t come up. My only reservation about suggesting Shakira is whether or not she’d be able to cope with the eliminations and tough cuts. She seems like a very soft hearted woman but I have a feeling she could do it if it meant helping someone’s Idol dream come true.
07: Linda Perry
I’m almost certain Linda Perry wouldn’t touch the Idol judge’s table with a ten foot pole but that’s a real shame. This woman is fierce in every sense of the word and she has the credibility the show may lose with Tyler’s departure. While it might be tempting to replace pop-diva Lopez with another pop-diva, I think either Linda Perry or someone like her would be the smart way to go. As an accomplished performer and songwriter, Linda Perry could help the contestants find their voices and guide them to a successful, long term career.
06: Stevie Nicks
I would love nothing more than to see Stevie behind that judges table. Who could really argue with anything the woman had to say. She is an absolute legend and the wisdom and insight she could offer up and comers would be invaluable. Need proof? Check out her mentoring session with the contestants. She was kind and caring but she was also willing to work with the contestants to help them improve. I think that’s extremely important and I’m not sure that’s something you’d get with two of the popular names being tossed around for Jennifer’s replacement – Miley Cyrus and Mariah Carey.
05: Queen Latifah
Out of all the people on this list, I think Queen Latifah is the woman I’d most like to see on American Idol. She has such an accomplished career and seems like such a caring woman. At the same time, I think she is tough enough to endure some of the more difficult things about being an Idol judge like eliminations. She has more than enough experience in the industry to draw on for lots of helpful advice to the contestants and most of all, I think she is someone contestants could look up to, respect and learn from.
I love the idea of Pink as a judge on American Idol. The only problem with Pink taking over for Jennifer would be getting Pink to agree to it. She’s a strong willed, confident woman who has made a name for herself in the music industry by doing things her own way. My biggest problem with Idol (other than Randy Jackson) is the fact that individuality is sometimes discouraged. I think Pink could speak up for those contestants who want to do things their own way. Plus, I think she’d bring some much needed credibility to the judge’s panel with Tyler gone.
03: Mary J. Blige
Honest, outspoken, accomplished and respected, Mary J. Blige has everything American Idol could possibly want in a judge. She’s completely fearless and I think she could have the strength and wisdom to give contestants honest, helpful feedback and that’s really what Idol needs. More to the point, Mary has been open to guest appearances on Idolbefore. Perhaps that means she would also be open to filling a vacant judge’s seat. Plus there would always be the chance of getting a Mary J. performance on the finale which in itself would be a good enough reason to sign her up.
02: Reba McEntire
Idol always has at least one, often more than one, contestant representing the country music genre by the time the live shows begin yet there has never really been a judge that specialized in country music. I think Reba would be a great option to fill that role. She was great as a guest mentor on The Voiceand offered sound advice to all the contestants she had the chance to work with. While some may think she’d be too soft hearted for the harsh reality of a show like Idol when it comes to cuts and eliminations, I think she’d be able to handle it better than many expect. I’m Team Reba on this one all the way.
01: Kelly Clarkson
Assuming Duets isn’t picked up for another season, I think Kelly Clarkson is a pretty obvious choice to fill Jennifer’s judge’s chair. She knows this competition better than anyone and she could offer advice to the contestants no one else could. I haven’t really enjoyed Duets as much as I thought I would but that has more to do with the host and the format of the show than with any of the judges. Kelly has proved she can be honest with a contestant without being cruel and I think that’s important on Idol. I think Kelly is the ideal choice assuming she would agree to do it.
Who Should Replace Steven Tyler on American Idol?
Filling Steven Tyler’s spot on American Idolis going to be tough. He was fun and entertaining but he also seemed to take his role as judge seriously. While Jennifer seemed more invested in certain contestants, Steven seemed a bit more objective. I don’t think he was always as honest with the contestants as he should’ve been and I think honesty is one of the things that should be taken into account when selecting his replacement. With that said, I have some suggestions.
10: Simon Cowell
I know it’ll never happen, but a girl can dream. Simon Cowell is the one thing that has really been missing from Idol over the last few seasons. The show needs him, or at least needs someone with his honesty and quick wit. I know he has The X Factorbut despite having incredibly talented contestants, I found the show lacking and by the end, I was really only still tuning in out of loyalty. There is something special about the Idol formula no other show has been able to replicate and I think that formula would benefit from a blast from the past.
09: Adam Lambert
I would’ve put Adam higher on this list because I think he’d be a great addition to the show but I would honestly like to see him too busy with his own music career to take on the job. Even so, should he have the time, it would be great to see Adam at the judge’s table. Like Clarkson, I think he could offer contestants advice on handling the competition first hand. Adam is among my all time favorite Idol contestants and I think he’d do a great job.
08: Matt Bomer
I have to be honest this one. I’m a bit biased. If I could cast Matt Bomer in everything, I would. Not kidding. I love this man like I love kittens. Beautiful and talented? Yes please! In all seriousness though, I think Matt would be great on American Idol. He’s smart, witty and he can even sing. I loved his guest spot on Glee. While he is fairly busy with other commitments, it would be great if he could find room in his schedule to take on this job. While I said in the intro I don’t watch Idol for the judges, if Matt was one of those judges I may have to change my position.
07: Jon Bon Jovi
Who better to replace Steven Tyler than Jon Bon Jovi? Jon and Steven have both seen their fair share of success and failure and I think that gives them a unique perspective on the music industry. I also think Jon is tough enough to handle the eliminations and cuts but compassionate enough to really connect with the contestants and try to understand what they’re going through. My only question is whether or not he would be able to give out honest opinions – something the show definitely needs. It’s been two seasons at least of contestants being treated with kid gloves and those gloves need to come off.
06: Lionel Richie
As a guest mentor on The Voice, Lionel Richie was compassionate but honest, offering contestants advice designed to help them turn in their best possible performance. Aside from all of that, Lionel is an absolute legend. He’s a smart man with an ear for talent and I think he’d be able to listen objectively to the contestants instead of picking a favorite and rooting for them as some judges (Randy Jackson) have been accused of doing in the past.
Having already served as a guest mentor on the last two seasons of Idol, I think Will.I.Am would be a natural choice for Steven Tyler’s replacement. He’d bring something completely different to the judge’s table and I think the show really needs that. Steven Tyler is a lot of fun. He’s entertaining to watch and listen to but at the same time, he seemed to take his job as a judge seriously and I think Will.I.Am would do the same although I also think he’d be perhaps a bit more honest with the contestants than Steven was.
If Eminem could manage to tone down his tongue a little bit for primetime television, I think he’d make the perfect judge. He knows the music industry but he also knows what it’s like to struggle and fight to chase a dream. He knows what it’s like to have someone more experienced and more accomplished take you under their wing and help mold you into something special. It would be a controversial choice and would almost certainly draw in viewers but if he took his job seriously, I think he could be the best thing to happen to Idol since Kelly Clarkson in season one.
03: Elton John
I’m almost certain Elton John wouldn’t even consider joining Idol as a judge but sometimes people can surprise you so I’m putting him on the list anyway. When we talked about Jon Bon Jovi, I said the gloves need to come off and I’m positive Mr. John would have no reservations about giving the contestants a little tough love when necessary. Beyond that, Elton is one of the most respected men in music. The contestants would listen to what he had to say and I think that’s incredibly important. It’s hard for someone struggling to make it into the music business to take the advice of someone who is only just starting out. Elton has the accomplishments under his belt to prove he knows what he’s talking about.
02: Robin Thicke
I had a few problems with Duets. Robin Thicke was not one of them. As a judge (or Superstar), Robin proved he can be honest with contestants and offer feedback to help them improve while also being entertaining and fun to watch. I think John Legend would also be a suitable replacement for Steven Tyler because his notes to contestants were always so insightful but he lacked a little of the spark that made Robin so much fun. If Duetsdoesn’t stick around for another season, Idol absolutely needs to snap Robin up before someone else does. Ideally, we’d see Kelly Clarkson take over for Jennifer and Robin take over for Steven. Not terribly likely but it would be awesome if it did.
01: Jimmy Iovine
This past season, my favorite part of American Idol’s results shows has been hearing Jimmy Iovine’s always honest opinions about the previous night’s performance. As I’ve stated several times already, American Idol needs a Simon and I think Jimmy could fill that role. While that would leave Jimmy’s results show segment empty, I have a suggestion for someone who could take over that role as well – Mr. Nigel Lythgow. I think it would be great to see him on Idol more often and I think he could take over for Jimmy beautifully. As for the mentoring sessions Jimmy usually does with the contestants each week, why not continue with special guest mentors? Jimmy would be perfect as a judge, would keep things entertaining and would give the contestants the honest feedback they need to grow.