Will Adam Lambert Be the New Simon Cowell on 'American Idol'?

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After all the recent "American Idol" buzz that Jennifer Lopez might not be returning as a judge, now comes word that even bigger shake-ups could be in store. Rumor has it that there might be a completely new panel, and "Idol" alum Adam Lambert is in serious consideration for the new line-up. The Season 8 runner-up was a hugely popular contestant, and has a successful recording and touring career. Since the perpetually eye-linered star is known for speaking his mind freely, are "AI" producers hoping to land a new Simon Cowell?

Street Cred

"American Idol" judge Cowell carried with him an air of authority that resonated with viewers, whether they really knew what his credentials were or not. Randy Jackson is a name-dropper extraordinaire, no doubt feeling the need to prove his relevance for 16 year olds who have no idea who most of the artists he's worked with are. Enter recent "AI" contestant and current music star Lambert. He's young, he's a Grammy-nominee, and his second album debuted at number one. For the older folks, and people who actually know something about music, the pop star with the incredible pipes is also performing with Queen.

Telling It Like It Is

During a sluggish Season 9, "American Idol" producers wisely brought the "Trespassing" singer in as a mentor to the largely lackluster contestants. Audiences everywhere were thrilled when he told Andrew Garcia flat out that he was "boring," and admonished eventual winner Lee DeWyze for having nothing going on from the neck up when he was on stage. It wasn't just idle insults, however; the performers who listened to his forthright advice turned in their finest performances that week.

Rather than having "favorites," as former "AI" judge Cowell often did, Lambert also seemed to know when a lighter touch was necessary. Giving the much-maligned Tim Urban a heavy dose of positive critiques, he coaxed one of the best vocal efforts out of the pretty boy singer that season. It seems the pop star would also be sensitive to any awe he might inspire. Asked about Britney Spears as a judge on "The X Factor," he compared it to his own experience with his idol Paul Abdul: "I wanted her to like [me] and be my friend."

New Format

Fox execs are saying that "American Idol," which had a drop-off in ratings, is due for some "creative invigoration." One of the show's biggest competitors for fans is "The Voice," which highlights its current music star judges mentoring and working with the contestants. The judges on "AI" supposedly do work at times with the singers, but it's usually off-camera.

A new "American Idol" format might have knowledgeable judges helping the inexperienced performers hone their song arranging and stage skills. Potential panel expert Lambert far surpassed any of his peers with stage presence during his "Idol" run, and was known for assisting his fellow contestants with song arrangements and advice. He's be the perfect fit for a show that chose this type of format.


Despite it being often considered a family show, "American Idol" seemed happy these last couple of years to make the most of Steven Tyler's "sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll" persona. The Season 8 star and potential new judge is no stranger to controversy, kicking off his post-"Idol" career with a scandal-inducing, racy AMA Awards performance, and occasionally hitting tabloids with some drunken escapades. For those who disapprove, they can at least take comfort that there wouldn't be the added "Dirty Old Man" vibe if Lambert flirted with the contestants.

Many fans miss the entertainingly cutting remarks that Cowell dished up each week, a stark contrast to much of the useless, feel-good "critiques" coming from the latest "American Idol" panel. Lambert could bring back some of that blunt criticism, and also some straightforward levity: "This is pop music, and it's not f---ing brain surgery," he told The Advocate in 2011. "I mean, some of it's serious…but some of it's just really fun dance music. And I'm wearing eight pounds of makeup because I f---ing want to. Why not?"

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