photo: FoxMany avid "American Idol" viewers like myself, disgruntled about the lack of honest, constructive criticism from judges Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez, and Randy Jackson, have been rallying for the show's straight-shooting in-house mentor, Universal Records honcho Jimmy Iovine, to take a permanent seat at the judging table in Season 12. But speaking Wednesday night to reporters after the Season 11 finale, Jimmy crushed fans' hopes by emphatically stating that he has no intentions of moving into a judging role. (Boo!)
"No, that's not really my thing," he said. "You can see by the little clip that they had, I am good not live! It's not what I do, and I like working with the kids; it goes back to when I was a record producer. I get to work on the music, and that's what I really want to do, and it's fun to do; you can feel them a lot better like that, and that's a great experience. Being a judge is probably not for me."
But just because Jimmy isn't an official "Idol" judge doesn't mean he holds back with his opinions, obviously. For instance, when asked about the judges' lackluster response to Jessica Sanchez's coronation song, "Change Nothing," which may have hurt her chances this week, Jimmy flat-out stated: "It did bomb....We didn't have enough time to tweak it to the place we wanted to get it, which was a little more soulful, so I guess it didn't work. I love the song, but live, it just didn't work as well as Phillip's song."
Jimmy insisted, however, that it was Jessica's decision to do "Change Nothing," not his or the "Idol" producers'. "She liked the song, and well, we had three or four different songs to choose from. We never force a kid to do anything, you know--we really don't. Why would I do that?" He also said he didn't think it was "Change Nothing" that caused Jessica to lose this week. "I don't think it came down to that one song. I think it came down to Philip having that country base, that 'young girl thing' going--and that means hitting the [phone] button a lot of times." (It should be noted that this season had a record number of votes--132 million--and that Ryan Seacrest's failure to mention the percentage difference between the two contestants indicated that Phillip probably won by a wide margin.)
Tough-talking Jimmy just may have met his match in "Idol" winner Phillip Phillips--the show's resident rebel, who spent much of this season chewing gum onstage, making bunny-ears behind Ryan Seacrest's head, defiantly straying off every song's melody, covering obscure Dave Matthews tunes, and refusing to heed the advice of "experts" like Tommy Hilfiger and Diddy. Phillip has already surprisingly gone on record that he doesn't want "Home," as popular as it has been, to be his official first single, and that he wants his future album to have a more jazz-rockish, less poppy feel. But Jimmy insisted that he doesn't mind Phillip's innate stubbornness, saying, "I've never met a musician who is not stubborn! It's a good thing. You got to have a bit of give-and-take in the studio....I don't make records with people where I just tell them what to do. Some artists are like that, but that's not what I do."
Jimmy said that he will be meeting with Phillip soon to figure out who will work on the "Idol" champ's full-length debut. "It will probably be just one producer," he revealed, which is different from the typical many-cooks-in-the-kitchen approach of most winners' albums. "He wants to do a singer-songwriter album, and usually working with one producer is best for something like that."
It'll definitely be interesting to see what comes from a pairing of such strong-minded musical men. But once Jimmy is done working with Phillip (and Jessica, presumably), I really hope he'll reconsider the idea of being an "Idol" judge--and maybe even filling in for J.Lo's possibly soon-to-be-vacant seat!
- Phillip Phillips's finale press conference
- Jessica Sanchez's finale press conference
- More on "American Idol"