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New American Idol Judges

New American Idol judges Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez are trying to inject some new life into the perennial top rated show following the departure of Simon Cowell at the close of last season. With Tyler and Lopez on board, the judges' panel now includes three bona fide musicians, apparently in the hopes of giving Idol some new credibility. The main task for both of these stars used to the spotlight is to keep the musical audition reality show at the top of the Neilson ratings for another season. Last season it was apparent that Idol had lost some steam with viewers. Though it was still the top program overall, it lost out on certain nights to competing programs, and ratings from previous years were down across the board.

Idol Contestants and TV Ratings

Part of the blame could be pinned on a lackluster group of entrants into the perennial nationwide singing contest. Many entrants in the top twelve in the last few seasons never would have made it that far in previous years, according to many fans and critics who pay close attention to American Idol. It is hard to maintain the kind of momentum that was created when the reality contest first came out and some of the dramatic duels between undiscovered artists with small-town stories such as working at Home Depot stores emerged. As the time has passed, quality of competition has been lackluster at best, sometimes resulting in inferior talents actually winning the whole thing.

New Idol Format Emphasizes Singers

Going back to the three judge panel is theoretically designed to show off the singers more and give the panelists a smaller part of the overall spotlight. It is true that for season 10 the singers will have more time on screen and on stage because the change will shorten the response time needed between performances. But with strong personalities like Lopez and especially Tyler, long time front man of Aerosmith, this strategy seems sketchy at best. Certainly Tyler will make enough money on the show to pay for his bills from the auto insurance companies.

Of course, the unspoken reason for trying to deemphasize the judges is to minimize the impact of the loss of Simon Cowell, who jumped ship to start a new U.S. version of a British show called The X Factor. Love him or hate him, Cowell's responses to the singers' performances steered the course of the show and often significantly impacted results.

Idol at a Crossroads

Season 10 is very important to the program. Without the personality of Simon Cowell dominating the judges' table, it remains to be seen what exactly viewers will tune in to see. One thing that is clear is that the level of talent needs to come up for Idol to remain a ratings bonanza, even with a rocker like Steven Tyler occupying the right hand seat. As the opening of the season approaches, there has been widespread speculation in all directions about the show's fate. On one end are those who predict that this will be the last season for Idol and that Cowell knew what was coming and timed his exit perfectly. And then there are others who believe things will go on exactly as they always have and that Idol will really be about the singers again.

American Idol has been a ratings juggernaut ever since the first season crowned Kelly Clarkson the winner of the musical talent contest. As this newest installment of the series arrives, many interested parties may tune in just to see what happens next. New American Idol judges will make things interesting, that much is certain.

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