Aretha, Watch Your Back: 10 Stars Who Would Make Great Judges On “American Idol”

July 19, 2012  |  
1 of 10

Now that Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler have chucked the deuces to “American Idol,” the conversation has been over who will be the new judges following their exits. Randy Jackson is even rumored to be ready to back away from his current position, so that leaves a lot of space for popular new-school and old-school talents to step in. Aretha Franklin has already put her name into consideration to sit in one of the judge’s chairs, but who else would be great? Here are 10 other talents to help bring the show back to its former glory. Or at the very least, keep it interesting.

RiRi will never be the vocalist of our time, but she has that “X Factor” that connects her to fans. In an era where image is more valued than substance, Rihanna can give a few pointers on how to be a media darling and keep the public interested. In 2005, the ink was overflowing with premature obits that her career wouldn’t sustain because she didn’t have the talent to back up her hype. It’s 2012 and Rihanna is still at the top of the charts and Forbes just listed her as the 3rd highest grossing celebrity under 30 with a haul of $53 million while stronger singers are in search of relevance and commercial success. Love or hate her, Rihanna’s built a brand for herself and it’s not as if she’s just gonna sit there with a smirk on her face. If her Twitter feed is any indication, she can talk that talk.

Chaka Khan
Chaka’s been looking better than ever lately these days and her voice is still in similar shape. It was only a few months ago that she shared the “American Idol” stage with contestants and upstaged them all. Chaka needs to make a return to “Idol” as a judge and pass on what she has learned to a new generation. She’s definitely not the one to hide her feelings when everyone else is too afraid to make it plain.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then Prince’s facial expressions from the judge’s panel would be priceless. The reclusive star wouldn’t even need to speak to throw some well deserved shade at an off-key singing contestant. Prince’s stare, sigh’s and eye rolls say all that they need to and then some. Just ask Trey Songz.

R. Kelly
Controversy has surrounded much of R. Kelly’s career because of allegations of him being sexually involved with underage girls, but that hasn’t taken away from his talent. The accomplished singer and songwriter has penned such classics as “I Believe I Can Fly,” and Michael Jackson’s “You Are Not Alone” to name a few. He can possibly mentor some of the contestants on what it takes to make a good song and something tells me that he wouldn’t be shy about appearing on camera every week, Pied Piper mask and all…

Janet Jackson
Miss Jackson has served as the blueprint for many aspiring R&B/pop singers and dancers. Janet never had the strongest voice, but she excelled with her dance-worthy tracks, iconic style and mastered the stage with her rhythms. Janet knows what it takes to make a name for one’s self and to step out of the shadows of a famous sibling to create your own brand and legacy. She’ll never be nasty with her comments but give the best constructive criticism with a smile. She’s like a better version of Paula Abdul.


Even though Brandy said she didn’t want to do anymore reality TV, I can’t see her passing up an opportunity like this if offered. And she would have a lot to offer as a judge. She’s had the huge success, classic albums, and even used that success to venture into TV and film, so she knows the importance of creating a brand and good music. I could see her also as the Paula Abdul type, honest when she needs to be, but also nice. But after her turn on “Dancing With the Stars,” I could also see her getting a little fiery with the contestants as well…


Lauryn Hill
For all of Lauryn’s faults, she’s still the first female artist to have won five Grammy’s in one night. She’s also a talented rapper and songwriter (see the classic, The MisEducation of Lauryn Hill), and a equally gifted producer. After dropping her career-changing album, she hasn’t been afraid to challenge the industry and has refused to play the game. Some folks like to keep it Disney but she’d keep it real. These contestants would hear the truth about what that life is really all about, and if they’re throwing millions at J.Lo, they definitely need to do the same for LBoogie (and we know she could use it right now).


Mariah Carey
Carey’s name is already being tossed around to fill in for her homie Randy Jackson, and we understand why. Mimi is as perfect as they come to be the next “Idol” judge. Talent? Check. Success? 18#1’s and more than 200 million records sold worldwide. Longevity? It’s been 22 years since “Vision of Love” dropped in 1990 and Mariah is still a marquee name. Shade Thrower? The best at it. The “Idol” producers need to cut Mariah a multi-million dollar check because she’d be worth every penny. She’s got the credentials to judge if anyone can carry a note and the charm to keep it all the way cute.

Tina Turner
It takes a legend to know if a newcomer has what it takes to make it in the music biz. Tina came into her own as a performer and superstar following her split from abusive ex, Ike Turner, and has a catalog of classics from her time with the Ike & Tina Turner Revue. Every singer needs to know how to manage the good with the bad. There’s no one better than Tina to help weed out the strong because the industry is not for the faint at heart.

Matthew Knowles
Say what you want about Matthew, and many have about the former Destiny’s Child manager. Most of it is true, you can even ask Beyoncé. But even still, the knocks against him just may be the calling card he needs to be a judge on the show and use to his advantage. There will never be another Simon, but Matthew doesn’t need to smile for the cameras. Someone’s got to be blunt and be the bad guy, and you’ve got to give him credit, he knows how to spot and cultivate talent, even if he’s shady…

Stephanie Guerilus is a multimedia journalist and author. Follow her @qsteph

More on Madame Noire!


Trending on MadameNoire

Comment Disclaimer: Comments that contain profane or derogatory language, video links or exceed 200 words will require approval by a moderator before appearing in the comment section. XOXO-MN