Summer’s here and the time is right for speculation about the American Idol judges’ table. The show has had a rare two straight years of stability in that department, but with Jennifer Lopez still officially reluctant to come back, the rumor mill is churning away. A new and surprising name entered the mix in recent days.
According to a report from E! Online, the brass has an eye on Idol alumnus Adam Lambert as a potential new judge. Lambert, the runner-up on Season 8 in 2009, is fronting Queen on some summer gigs, and has been promoting his second CD.
The unnamed source claims that Lambert has been under consideration for over a month: “He knows what it’s like to be on the receiving end of the judges’ comments, he has a human touch, and they know they can’t go wrong if they bring him on. He would be able to bring a unique perspective to the show. People love him.”
The source adds that none of the three judges are guaranteed to be back for next year, not even the last original member of the panel, Randy Jackson, but that Lopez is sure to have a spot if she and Idol can come to contract terms – terms that no doubt got a lot more pricey after The X Factor doled out a reported $15 million for Britney Spears.
So there are two questions here: first, is this a good idea; and second, would Lambert ever agree? There was a feeling among many fans last season that the Lopez-Jackson-Steven Tyler panel had worn out its welcome – that while the judges have done an excellent job choosing the finalists, they have been pretty useless otherwise, either unwilling or unable to give constructive advice. Lambert could be expected to bring empathy as a former contestant, but he’s also proven to be unafraid to court controversy in his public statements. Traditionally, working artists who serve as music show judges have been reluctant to go negative, fearing that the public would hold it against them, but saying provocative things is already part of the Lambert brand, so he might be the exception.
But would he actually come on board as a judge? There’s a significant time commitment – Idol is pretty much a fulltime job from February through May, and intermittently through the fall. That could complicate plans to tour to support the CD, which has not gotten a strong reception on the radio. But Lopez and Adam Levine of The Voice are two major recent examples of artists who revived their sales dramatically after agreeing to become a TV judge. Appearing twice a week on a major primetime hit is a huge promotional opportunity, as it turns out.
Our verdict: This probably won’t happen, but maybe it should.