By now, you’ve undoubtedly heard the news that Simon Cowell, official Crass British Judge of FOX’s ratings behemoth “American Idol,” and perhaps the richest man on Earth to rock a $3 haircut, will be leaving the show at the end of this year, and moving over to become executive producer and judge for “The X-Factor,” a singing competition FOX will air next year.
Cowell will own part of that show, and stands to make even more money from it than the tens of millions FOX was offering him annually to remain on “Idol.” Cowell pulled a similar switch in his native England years ago, ditching “Pop Idol,” the British version of “American Idol,” for “The X-Factor.” “Pop Idol,” without Cowell, ended its run in 2004, essentially supplanted by Cowell’s new show.
And that’s likely what will happen here in America. FOX will now be airing two singing competitions that are basically the same, only one will have Cowell and one will not. Which one will you decide to watch? Well, consider that “Idol” has now lost its two biggest stars – Paula Abdul and Cowell – within months of one another. Abdul will be replaced by Ellen DeGeneres, who will be far less entertaining than the ever-loopy Abdul. Also, DeGeneres is unlikely to add anything to the show other than bad dancing and shockingly timid humor. The media seems to adore DeGeneres for reasons that escape me. I doubt the American public will be so enthused with her taking over the show.
Cowell was the one element of “Idol” that kept it grounded firmly in reality. He was the only one to cut through the slovenly applause from the audience to give a proper assessment of each singer’s performance. He offered sharp contrast to all the annoying gleefulness surrounding him. If “Idol” wants to avoid the fate of its British counterpart, they’re going to have to replace Cowell (and, while they’re at it, DeGeneres and useless fourth judge Kara DioGuardi) with someone as unapologetically acerbic. Perhaps they could even improve upon Cowell, and find a judge who offers a similar attitude, but doesn’t hit on the other judges and sport v-neck shirts 24 hours a day. Here are a few ideas, offered with little or no concern for practicality.
W. Axl Rose: With “Chinese Democracy” finally released to the world, the Guns N’ Roses frontman has little to do all day except indulge his own paranoid fantasies. Rose is completely and utterly INSANE, even more so than Paula Abdul. So imagine the joys of seeing him lord over a live telecast. Would he show up? Would he throw things? Would he jump into the crowd and hit someone with a glass bottle? Not only would I watch “American Idol” if Axl Rose was a judge, I’d go back to school and write term papers about it.
Madonna: I’d enjoy just trying to figure out what kind of accent she’s affecting each week. Wait, was that an Afrikaans dialect? Is she from Cape Town now?
Sting: He’s both arrogant AND British, giving him two vital qualities Cowell also possessed. Also, Sting has a beard now. NICE! People are always more truthful when they can hide behind a nice, bushy beard. The danger of having Sting on is that he may end up droning on and on about some cause you don’t care about. Or he’ll do yoga on the judge’s table. Scary thought.
Conan O’Brien: Not a good fit, but I see plenty of free time coming in his future.
Noel Gallagher: The former Oasis guitarist and singer is British AND he’s an even bigger jerk than Cowell and Sting combined. The only problem is that I’ve seen Gallagher in interviews and can’t figure out a word he’s saying.
Gordon Ramsay: “WOT? YOU CALL THAT A PROPA RENDITION OV “YESTERDAY,” DEARIE? (spits on contestant) RUBBISH! ABSOLUTE BOLLOCKS!”
Mick Jagger AND Keith Richards: Again, British. And if you were the sort of person who enjoyed watching Simon flirt with the hot contestants from the judge’s table, Mick and Keith will be more than happy to one-up him.
Elton John: Kinda pointless now that Adam Lambert has already had his run.
Random, Annoying British Music Executive You Don’t Know: And here is your leader in the clubhouse. FOX is not exactly known for their imagination, so it’s a strong bet that they’ll try and replace Cowell with someone who is kinda like Cowell, yet somehow fifty times more annoying.
Then again, perhaps the best choice to replace Cowell will be no one. Without him, it’s not a question of whether or not “Idol” will sink, it’s a question of how rapidly it will do so.