The American Idol reboot is officially a go, with ABC picking up the show for a 2017-18 season. While details on judges remain unknown, there is the possibility the show could go with an all-alumni panel.
ABC will be rebooting American Idol for the upcoming TV season, the network announced Tuesday morning through Good Morning America. It is not yet known if Ryan Seacrest will return as host or if judges Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez, and Harry Connick Jr. will return to the panel.
One concept that could keep American Idol fresh and show its impact on pop culture is to have a judging panel full of past contestants. The series made superstars out of many young singers through its 15-year run, all of which have a unique perspective on the American Idol experience. Michael Orland, an associate music director on the original show, suggested an alumni panel in a Variety report.
“I say, do a reboot and get some of these past ‘Idol’ performers and not just winners to come sit in the judges’ chairs,” he said. “I think there’s more than a handful that would be really great at it.”
So which Idol contestants would be best at doling out critiques to budding singers? Here are 10 who could offer strong perspectives.
1. Kelly Clarkson
As the original American Idol winner, Kelly Clarkson has become one of the most iconic singers from the franchise. She has produced countless pop hits over the years and now has a lot of experience in the industry. She guest-judged during Season 15 and offered fun and hilarious critiques to the contestants, and she could be a warm presence on the judging panel.
2. Chris Daughtry
Chris Daughtry was a prime example of how it wasn’t necessary to win Idol to have success in the industry. With his band, Daughtry, he had a string of hit singles in the pop-rock world that made him one of the most successful contestants in the show’s history, win or lose. He could provide a rocker edge to the show.
3. Jennifer Hudson
Even more so than Daughtry, Jennifer Hudson is a testament to finding success after a shocking Idol elimination. The powerful singer won an Oscar for the 2006 musical Dreamgirls, her film debut, and has created a solid film career for herself on top of her music career.
4. Adam Lambert
While Adam Lambert is currently touring with Queen, he could be an invaluable voice of reason on an Idol judging panel. He too has found success after not winning through singing, touring, and acting. Lambert was also a guest judge on Season 14, and as The Voice winner Alisan Porter suggested in a recent interview, he’s not afraid to give honest critiques.
5. Jordin Sparks
Jordin Sparks, winner of Season 6, could provide youthful energy as a judge. Sparks was one of the stronger Idol winners after the show, having hits like “No Air” and dabbling in acting. She has also guest-judged and guest-hosted other shows before.
6. Clay Aiken
No stranger to reality shows, Clay Aiken could easily fill a spot on the judging panel. His fanbase, the Claymates, became the first real fanatical voting group on the show and helped carry him to modest success after the show. However, Idol producers may not be interested after he bad-mouthed the show in Season 15.
7. Melinda Doolittle
Melinda Doolittle may not be as much of a mainstream success as others mentioned in this list, but she knows how to judge. The Season 6 veteran appeared for several years on TVLine’s Reality Check chat show, where she and host Michael Slezak discussed Idol at great length. Doolittle could be a strong technical judge on the panel.
8. Todrick Hall
Todrick Hall may not be known for Idol, considering he was eliminated at the Top 16 of Season 9, but he has become a big name in the theater community. In addition to starring in Broadway’s Kinky Boots, he has a successful YouTube channel and has released multiple albums. He has a strong perspective on finding success in music and performing in the YouTube generation.
Fantasia was the ultimate rags-to-riches story when she won Season 3 of American Idol. Since winning, she has earned 11 Grammy nominations (and one win), starred in her own Lifetime biopic, appeared on Broadway, and more. She could offer sound advice on never giving up on your dreams.
10. Carrie Underwood
The ultimate success story from American Idol’s 15-year run, Carrie Underwood has become a true superstar. With multiple crossover pop-country hits, Grammy wins, headlining tours, fashion lines, and foundations, she is the pinnacle of using the Idol experience to your benefit. The only question is whether Idol could nail her down for a judging gig.
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