Yep, we were all bamboozled by Fox and the American Idol powers-that-be. As evidence by the picture above, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler will be the new judges, with old reliable Randy Jackson rounding out the panel. I didn’t see Ryan Seacrest’s big, live stream announcement; I saw the J-Lo introduction footage on a local Fox newscast. The Aerosmith frontman was apparently introduced first, I guess because J-Lo is the bigger name…yeah, right! By the way, Aerosmith is now pretty much done unless they forge ahead with another singer, which never works. As for Lopez, I think she’ll be a good judge, although I think part of this process is to re-launch her fledgling career, and if her career doesn’t fly again, at least she’ll be seen by millions of viewers every week on one of the highest rated shows in the history of television. Steven Tyler as a judge is the question mark; I think he’ll be helpful, but how consistent will he be week to week?
As I got settled in to research more tonight, I discovered there are more changes ahead for Idol. Specifically, an “in-house” mentor for the entire season; and who would be so crazy to take on this task? None other than Interscope Geffen A&M Records chairman Jimmy Iovine which I think is a great choice, however, he won’t be alone. Other big producers will be helping contestants behind the scenes this time. Of course the string attached in this is Idol’s new partnership with music distributor and Interscope parent, Universal Music Group. Yeah, there’s always a tie-in. So, you’ll be seeing Iovine a lot, which I don’t mind, he’s one of the most successful A&R guys in the last 20 years, not to mention a former producer, a la Randy Jackson.
Another big change coming to Idol…no more artist-specific theme weeks. Executive producer Nigel Lythgoe, “The styles of music will be more about decades…” In other words, a rock guy won’t be thrown into country week. However, a lot of Idol alums end up on the country charts. Well, without any doubt, all these changes are fine and good, but what’s really missing is talent. Without the talent, Idol is toast! You can get all the big names in the music business in the world to help, but it won’t sell the winning Idol’s records. Hell, even a great producer can’t make that happen. We’ll see in early 2011.