Mariah Carey Joins American Idol, But Who Will Bring The Viewers Back?

Back in May when rumours started swirling about changes to the American Idol judging panel we made some suggestions for getting ‘AI’ back on top as the preeminent singing/talent reality shows.  You can check out those suggestions here , but basically we were calling for a shakeup on the judging panel and the introduction of some judges with street cred, personality and maybe a little chutzpah along the lines of original judge Simon Cowell or America’s Got Talent (AGT) rookie Howard Stern.

Mariah Carey – YOUR new American Idol judge

Well, Monday the first shoe dropped with confirmation that songstress Mariah Carey will be joining the AI judging panel.  While Carey certainly provides Idol an equal, if not greater, level of star power to the departed Jennifer Lopez, I’m not certain she adds much else to the show. Find out why after the jump!
There’s no doubt that Carey is diva.  In fact the internet is full of stories about her diva-ness, even stories about her lackluster appearance as a mentor on previous Idol seasons where she arrived late and appeared uninterested.  If Glitter was any indication, Carey won’t even be able to act interested or engaged for an entire season of Idol.

One positive that may come of Carey’s arrival on the panel is hopefully contestants will stop trying to perform her songs in auditions.  There’s no denying that Carey has an amazing vocal ability that is close to impossible to emulate.  You can almost hear Randy Jackson telling contestants you don’t do Mariah or Whitney…they are untouchable.  And you especially don’t do Mariah when she’s sitting right there.

On that note, it sounds like AI is saying Jackson will be back, leaving one spot open on the panel.  Recent speculation has been around Idol alumni Adam Lambert taking the third seat at the table but I see him as a last minute option.  With only two records under his belt, Lambert is a little light on credibility and career longevity.  Plus, he didn’t win the crown.

Going back to my original list of potential Idol judge candidates, I still think you need someone people will tune in to see every week because, like Cowell or Stern, you want to see what they’re going to say.  It’s clear the Idol talent isn’t what it used to be and the winners/finalists fade away weeks, if not days, after the show finale.  What keeps people tuned in are the judges.  AGT figured that out this year and all the promos feature Stern and the growing feud between him and fellow judge Howie Mandel (there actually isn’t a feud but NBC certainly played it up for a few weeks).

Charlie Sheen – smokin!

I still like Charlie Sheen as the wild, controversial judge who will speak his mind, make no sense and probably drink and smoke at the desk.  If Sheen is too wild for AI to tame, then perhaps someone else to consider is none other than Sean Combs, better known as P Diddy.  He’s a big name and has a history of being a star maker.   He’s been fairly under the radar lately but I think people still respect him as a producer with an eye for talent and he has a big, larger than life persona which is severely lacking on Idol since the departure of Cowell.

I think it’s smart that Idol didn’t go out announce both new judges at the same time.  Let the Carey announcement percolate for a while and then go after the final piece of the puzzle.

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