For over a decade, Randy Jackson has been a mainstay on American Idol’s judging panel, which has mainly consisted of a rotating collection of accomplished performers and songwriters. There has been the occasional non-musical informant, like Ellen DeGeneres in season nine, but for the most part performers comprise the panel. Jackson has always played the role of accomplished music executive on Idol. In addition to Simon Cowell, he has always been the most knowledgeable concerning the ins and outs of the business, showing a keen eye for which artists will sell records, and which ones will not. Jackson’s shoes are mighty big to fill, along with the judges from past seasons, but here are five names that should top American Idol’s judging panel wish list for season thirteen:
There are rumors that season thirteen will attempt to feature an alumni theme of sorts at the judging panel. Who better to show off American Idol success than Carrie Underwood, the highest earner out of all Idol winners? With six Grammy awards and over $45 million in career earnings under her belt, Underwood shows what talent can do when they seize the Idol opportunity. In addition, her willingness to speak about the daunting aspects of fame would make it easy for her to relate to aspiring contestants. “At the beginning of my career, I used to have panic attacks,” she told Marie Claire in May. “It made me really nervous. In public, I just get nervous.” While these sentiments would make it easy to relate to contestants, it may also be the factor that prevents her from tackling the highly-publicized judging aspect of music.
Underwood and Kelly Clarkson are the first names that come to mind when viewers think of successful American Idol winners. Although Underwood has earned $45 million compared to Clarkson’s estimated $24 million, Clarkson will always hold the distinction of being the first to win American Idol. Her outspoken demeanor and lengthy experience would make her an ideal judge for season 13, but a busy touring and recording schedule will likely derail any opportunities like that.
Season eight runner-up Adam Lambert may not have the monetary star power of Underwood or Clarkson, but Lambert is easily one of the biggest fan favorites. Fans were reminded of his engaging presence during the season 12 finale, when he joined finalist Angie Miller on stage for a performance of David Guetta and Sia’s “Titanium”. Since then, fans have been clamoring for Lambert to return… as a judge. The Hollywood Reporter asked Lambert if he would be interested, and his reply was: “I would love to… If they called me to judge, I’d say ‘Where do I sign?'”
Filling the executive role of Randy Jackson will be tough, but prestigiously successful producer publishing CEO L.A. Reid would likely be up to the task. Response for helping bring artists like Kanye West, Justin Bieber, Avril Lavigne, and former judge Mariah Carey to the spotlight, Reid has a similar resume to Jackson in discovering new talent and guiding them through the industry. He even looks relatively like Jackson, so the replacement would likely go seamlessly among fans. His recent departure from The X Factor fuels theories that Reid is joining American Idol even more.
In a People Magazine poll, Idol viewers were polled on which judges they would like to see for season 13. Season two runner-up Clay Aiken actually received the majority of the vote, with 62% opining they would love to see the charismatic singer again, yet in a judging position. Though Aiken may be deemed “too nice” to be a judge, there’s no doubting that his status as an Idol veteran will command respect among hopeful contestants, who hope to achieve super-stardom regardless of which judges the American Idol producers choose for season thirteen.