As the rumor mill generates possible "American Idol" judges, some names seem more like ratings stunts than thoughtful selections. Will viewers watch Kanye West showboating every week? Will they take Nicki Minaj seriously, given her "Idol" lip-sync fail? The producers should evaluate the previous judges to discern what might work.
Simon CowellThe snarky patriarch of the panel, Simon Cowell, with his blunt, witty criticism made the show must-see television. As falling ratings have demonstrated, viewers don't want a panel of gushing sycophants. At least one person needs to tell it like it is, making the remarks viewers make from their couches.
Paula AbdulLike the unpredictable aunt who enlivens every family gathering, Paula Abdul was the sweet center of the original panel. Enthusiastic and gentle-hearted, her rambling comments were always entertaining. She could always be counted on to say something kind to singers who'd tanked, even if just complimenting their outfits. A "nice" judge would counteract a "tough" judge, but don't give us a panel full of nice.
Randy JacksonThe magnanimous older brother, Randy Jackson was king of the catch phrase, functioning as a color commentator. In the last couple years, he found himself in the uncomfortable position of being the only judge willing to criticize contestants. That was a poor fit for the likable bassist, who'd rather drop names than talk trash. Now that he's reportedly taking a new role on the show, the panel can use someone to add some flavor.
Kara DioGuardiAn annoying younger sister, Kara DioGuardi was added when rumors first circulated that Paula might leave. Perhaps the producers believed her music industry experience would bring valuable insight. Clearly, they didn't realize that her abrasive personality and relentless use of insider terms would alienate the audience. Unlike Randy, her name-dropping seemed less endearing and more self-aggrandizing. The panel could use someone with industry experience, but please make sure that person is also likable.
Ellen DeGeneresA friendly, outgoing cousin whose love for the show was legendary, Ellen DeGeneres seemed like a great choice. Unfortunately, she was better during the auditions than in the live shows, where she delivered great one-liners but seldom provided useful feedback. A quick-witted judge would be an asset to the program, but look for one with more music industry knowledge.
Jennifer LopezLike the glamorous stepmother who sweeps in and revamps the family, Jennifer Lopez strived to make us forget her predecessors. But while Paula's quirky niceness kept fans tuning in, J. Lo's predictable assessments turned boring. When during nearly every show, someone gave her "goosies," and two or three people earned standing ovations, such accolades became meaningless. While she was capable of helpful advice on vocals and performance, she rarely delivered them. Please don't give us another celebrity who's too concerned about image to provide meaningful feedback.
Steven TylerAn adventurous uncle who wanders in to strum his guitar and tell road stories, Steven Tyler seemed uncomfortable with real conversation. When he wasn't dropping a nonsensical bon mot -- or showing off his power vocals -- he too often uttered his favorite word: "Beautiful." No one was surprised when he opted once more for life on the road. A veteran rocker would be a valuable asset, but please find one with something to say.