New judges bring much-needed street cred to Idol

Randy Jackson, Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez are judges on the 10th season of American Idol

Randy Jackson, Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez serve as judges for the 10th season of American Idol

During the past couple of years, many fans jumped off the American Idol train, partly because the show started to feel so formulaic and the judges seemed as uninterested as the audience. After all, the judge’s shtick got predictable to put it mildly.

There was Randy Jackson, who spent the majority of his music career as a session musician with Journey. The paparazzi certainly weren’t following him around until he became an Idol judge.  Then there was Paula Abdul, who hasn’t had a hit single in over a decade and, although a great dancer, was never known for having an amazing singing voice. Abdul worked out well in the early days because we just weren’t sure which medication would kick in and when.  Lastly, we had Simon Cowell, English music executive who provided the stern, British-Nanny-like judging that made the show so famous.  It was a chemistry that worked, but got weaker with every year.  Audiences waited for the guest judges to save the day, and give us a little extra.  Well, a little extra was all we got.  The last ditch effort of adding Kara DioGuardi or Ellen DeGeneres was less stimulating than a dental office waiting room.

Original American Idol judges Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell

Thankfully, the powers that be decided the show needed a major overhaul. This year, they added judges who had actually accomplished something within the music industry.

Jennifer Lopez might not be known for having the best voice, but her multiplatinum status means she knows what it takes to be successful. Jenny from the Block fills Abdul’s shoes, not wanting to hurt anyone’s feelings, but adds credibility because she is still relevant in the industry.

The addition of a legitimate rock star, Steven Tyler, was the best improvement by far.  The first episode alone showed that he will give us what the show has been lacking: street cred.  He is a bona fide, sell out shows, prance around in spandex pants rock star, who sings along, provides back ground table beats for the contestants, and seems truly into the auditions. His antics and insights will keep us entertained.

Jackson’s re-appearance is very much like letting the assistant coach become the interim, it’s just for consistency.

The first two-hour show was watchable and entertaining enough to sway me back on board this Idol train. This time, it may just have enough steam to leave the station.

Pat Sue Gentry

Pat Sue is a contributing writer for, bringing her unique style to film reviews and pop culture commentary. In addition to blogging, she is also Trashwire's primary photojournalist.

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