The real stars of "American Idol" are the contestants, but the judges play a big role in every show as well. Not only do they offer entertaining banter between performances, their critiques and comments regarding each song sung quite likely influence the voting. What "American Idol" fan hasn't upped their voting after hearing a judge say to their favorite, "IF you are still here next week . . . "?
There have been seven judges which have graced the panel for at least one full season of "American Idol." What makes one judge better than the next? A good "American Idol" judge needs to be enjoyable to watch and have an ear for talent. They must master the ability to be honest when faced with the subject of their review standing right in front of them. A top notch "American Idol" judge offers criticism that is constructive and even gushes a bit when appropriate. On a scale of 1 to 10, here is how the "American Idol" judges rate:
Ellen Degeneres : 4 - Ellen is a gifted comedian with a wonderful spirit and was entertaining to have to on the show. Her biggest downfall was being too nice. Ellen never wanted to hurt any of the contestants' feelings and it unfortunately often seemed she was offering the same generic comments week after week.
Kara DioGuardi: 6 - Kara's biggest challenge when she began was that despite her experience in the music industry, she was virtually unknown to viewers. This may have been okay if the show was just beginning, but since the existing judges had already become stars, Kara didn't really stand out. Kara offered solid reviews of performances, but she didn't really shine or bring any new sparkle to the judges' panel.
Steven Tyler: 8 - Stephen knows music and isn't shy about speaking his mind. Because he is such a respected and well known musician, he has added credibility with the contestants and viewers. Stephen brings a wonderful flair to the show with his uncensored attitude a genuine character.
Jennifer Lopez: 7 - Jennifer hates to criticize the contestants and at times may be too kind, but she does appear to growingly recognize it is part of her job. Her negative comments seem to hurt her as much as they do the performer receiving them. She does a nice job offering constructive advice and she genuinely attempts to assist contestants in improving for their next time on stage. Jennifer is also just fun to have on board - her style changes from week to week and she is definitely the fashion diva of "American Idol."
Randy Jackson: 8 - Dawg, how could anyone not love Randy? He is the pillar that has held the judges panel steady season after season. He may not be zany or light up the room, but Randy you can always count on Randy for a solid, well thought out critique. Idol wouldn't be Idol without Randy on the judges' panel.
Paula Abdul: 7 - Paula gets high marks for entertainment value as you never knew what unusual comments might come from her. However she was sometimes more engaged in banter with Simon that she was with giving her thoughts on the performances. Paula did often offer good advice and was fun to have on "American Idol," but the show has managed fine without her.
Simon Cowell : 9 - Simon was the toughest judge on "American Idol." He was never anything but brutally honest and even after receiving positive comments from other judges, contestants would still hold their breath waiting to hear what Simon had to say. If Simon said you were good, you were great.