On Tuesday, Simon Cowell announced that this would be his final season on American Idol since he plans to launch the US version of his hit Brit show, The X Factor, next season. Ever since the announcement of his imminent departure, there has been endless speculation about who could fill his mighty big loafers. I just read a ridiculous post on Perez Hilton about someone suggesting that perhaps Ryan Seacrest should graduate from hosting duties and take over Simon’s seat at the judges table. Personally, I think that it’s a fool’s errand to try to find a suitable replacement for Simon – Simon Cowell is arguably the most integral part of the success of America Idol. How could anyone ever replace him? Furthermore, anyone who is truly worthy to take over would be ill-advised to do so, especially when American Idol will no doubt lose a large chunk of its core audience to Simon’s The X Factor.
Still, I have a great suggestion for who should take over Simon’s spot. I’ll give you a hint - the very first winner of American Idol!!! Kelly Clarkson would be perfect because there’s something poetic about the winner of American Idol Season 1 going full circle and becoming a judge and mentor to the contestants of American Idol Season 10. To use two of the most overused words by the judges of American Idol, Kelly would be 'relevant' and 'contemporary', which puts her in a position to be able to give contestants the kind of advice and constructive criticism that none of the other judges can because none of them have ever been on the other side of the audition room….I mean, I love Ellen as much as the next gay but c’mon! Kelly has firsthand experience in cultivating a voice and an image that is marketable in a highly competitive industry and in dealing with pressure from your own label and the scrutiny of the media and fans. More importantly, Kelly would make a spunky judge. Although she won Idol with her sweet as apple pie image, Ms Clarkson has proven herself to be an outspoken artist who will call out the very people who work with her, if she feels like they are not looking out for her best interest….just ask Clive Davis or Ryan Tedder.
Of course, the question is, why would Kelly Clarkson want to take up a judge’s seat when her recording career is still going strong? After all, by the time American Idol began in 2002, Paula Abdul’s recording career had already dried up for over a decade (God bless her heart…I’m Forever Your Girl, Paula!). Kelly’s recording career may have peaked a few years ago (when she won her Grammys in 2006) but the girl still has some mileage left in her. Well, to answer this question, all you have to do is look at Cheryl Cole’s career trajectory. The judge of The X Factor in the UK started her judging duties in 2008 and since then, she has launched a very successful solo career, thanks largely to the platform that her television work created for her music career. I think that Kelly would be wise to follow suit and throw her hat into what will surely become an overcrowded ring!