SAN DIEGO, July 13, 2012 – American Idol fans learned judge Steven Tyler was leaving the show on Thursday. The next morning, fellow Idol judge Jennifer Lopez announced on host Ryan Seacrest’s radio show in Los Angeles that she is following Tyler out the Idol door.
Both Tyler and Lopez are going back to their day jobs. Tyler is leaving after two seasons to once again be the front man for the rock band Aerosmith. Lopez is also leaving after two seasons and will go on tour with Enrique Iglesias this summer. The announcement was not a huge surprise, as Lopez hinted she’d leave in an interview on The Today Show earlier this week.
Super, rock on, good luck, don’t let the stage door hit your backsides on the way out. Now the big question for fans: who will replace them? It’s crucial to get this right for the future of American Idol. The show’s ratings, while still better than most shows on television, dropped last year after rising 5% in 2010 thanks largely to the novelty of Lopez and Tyler joining the show.
So it’s up to Fox, executive producer Nigel Lythgoe and producer Simon Cowell to juice interest by hiring some judges that will grab the audience’s attention. Here are some of the names being floated out there: Celine Dion, Cher, David Lee Roth, Gene Simmons, George Clinton, Lionel Ritchie, Lou Reed, Ozzy Osbourne, Tina Turner, Mick Jagger.
Oh. Em. Gee. Seriously? Does anyone under AARP age have a single song from any of these artists on their iPod that is less than 10 years old? Or any song other than “Crazy Train” or “Rock and Roll All Night”?
Other names on the wind include Jessica Simpson, Bret Michaels, Hillary Duff, Adele and Katy Perry. Adele and Katy are way too busy. The others? Sigh, so tired, not much to get excited about.
Nigel and Simon, let me help you out. American Idol desperately needs a reboot to refresh its ratings, and it needs younger viewers. Young enough not to be senior discount eligible. It’s smart to stick with two men and one woman on the panel. When two women are on the panel together, it becomes way too girl giggly or emotional. So let’s start with Tyler’s seat.
Three sure fire choices: Ron Paul, Justin Bieber, or Clay Aiken.
Sure, you’re thinking I picked these three in a shameless pimp for page views. But the same thing that made you click on and read this column will make you and others like you watch the show if one of my picks becomes an Idol judge.
Presidential candidate Ron Paul is perfectly qualified to be a judge on American Idol, and he’s just what the show needs.
First, he’s available. He’s not going to win the Republican presidential nomination no matter what happens at the convention in August. He’s not tied up touring, recording a new album, being a parent or holding public office.
Paul knows what it’s like firsthand to campaign for votes, just like the contestants on Idol. He can easily judge someone’s presence in front of a large audience. He’s been endorsed by the original American Idol herself, Kelly Clarkson. He’s all about success based on your own hard work and on the merits, not on a government handout. So far so good.
Without question Paul brings to the show an impressively loyal group of young supporters. Younger than Steven Tyler for sure. Is anyone under 30 listening to Aerosmith? Doubt it. But voters under 30 support Paul in a big way. More than a third of all the visitors to Paul’s website are age 18 to 34. His appearances on college campuses rival the enthusiasm of fans at Comic-Con. These are the kind of viewers the Fox network would do just about anything to draw. So, put Dr. Paul on the panel and you’re set.
But if having zero experience in the music industry is a drawback, fine, whatever. On to my next pick, Justin Bieber. Bieber rode a pop wave to stardom, via his first music videos posted on YouTube. He knows the show well. He performed on Idol in 2010 with Usher, and he raved to Katie Couric in an interview that his favorite ever Idol song was “Pants on the Ground.” He lives in Los Angeles, very convenient. We know he’ll get to the studio on time since he just got popped for speeding.
Bieber’s fans will watch him on any TV show doing anything, so once again we get those highly coveted young viewers. He’d be a fresh pick. But he would probably command a big price tag. Idol’s producers don’t want to be stuck with a ridiculously expensive judge.
Now we get to my third pick, and if you didn’t think I was serious about Ron Paul or Justin Bieber, let me assure you I’m absolutely serious this time. Clay Aiken would make a fantastic choice as an American Idol judge.
It’s way past time to get a former competitor on the show as a judge, who knows exactly what it’s like to go from zero to hero and endure all the stresses and strains of the competition, rolling with the format while still trying to stay true to yourself. Thanks to watching Aiken on The Celebrity Apprentice this season we know he’s smart, hard-working, and understands how reality TV works. He’s not afraid to stand his ground and call BS on people when they deserve it. How refreshing.
The show needs a judge who can offer a knowledgeable critique to the singers with some bite to it, someone the singers would respect. Aiken would command much respect from the competitors, because he’s been there, he’s talented, and he knows the business. He isn’t afraid to hurt someone’s feelings when honesty will do them more good, and he isn’t a burnout who loses focus and occupies his own orbit.
Finally, Aiken also has extremely loyal fans. The Claymates helped him raise a ton of dough on Apprentice. There are websites galore devoted to all things Aiken. They will watch, they will vote. Ratings gold. Aiken is also part of Idol’s roots and glory days. I say it’s a winner. You know I’m right. Claymates, get to work and get the campaign started!
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. Read more Media Migraine in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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