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I have been a loyal American Idol watcher from the beginning, and I’m curious to see what the show’s tenth season, the first without main judge Simon Cowell, is going to be like. After Paula Abdul left and was replaced by Ellen DeGeneres, the show lost a lot of its spark – and its mumblemouthed, random babbling. According to TMZ, Idol producer Nigel Lythgoe is planning some major shakeups at the judges’ table next season. They report that DeGeneres has quit the show, songwriter/most longwinded person ever Kara DioGuardi has been fired, and Jennifer freaking Lopez has been hired. There’s also a rumor going around that Steven Tyler of Aerosmith will join the panel as well.

Frankly, both of these choices seem incredibly uninspired. It’s starting to feel like Idol isn’t a forum for new musicians so much as it is a way to secure regular income for singers in decline. But one thing has slipped under the radar amidst all the talk of comings and goings – the fact that Randy Jackson totally sucks. During the first few seasons, I liked Randy, but once the show started to become a juggernaut he started phoning it in. As a contrast to the sober, tell-it-like-it-is Simon and the reliably loopy Paula, Randy was a nice middle ground at the judges’ table. He was honest in his criticism, but without being as acid-tongued as Simon. He was gentle in his approach, but he usually focused on singing instead of telling contestants how nice they looked that day and how cute their outfit was a la Paula. But as the show went on, Randy’s comments grew repetitive. By this point, the guy basically only has three possible responses:

  • That was aight.
  • Yo, you can SANG.
  • Something involving the word “dawg.”

I’m not challenging Randy’s musician cred – the guy was in fucking Journey. But he’s been on the show for so long that he has totally lost any spark. It seems that his strategy has been to fly under the radar, letting other judges take criticism while he lingered in the background. By staying inoffensive, he secured his spot at the table. Now, as the only remaining original judge, he can use nostalgia in his favor and claim that he’s part of the show’s core. In reality, he’s just a hack who has been allowed to stay on the show well past his expiration date. If Idol has proven anything, it’s that it can survive casting changes. It’s the format that makes the show – not the contestants, not the judges, and sure as hell not Randy Jackson.

That being said, I will personally throw a parade for any contestant awesome enough to audition with this song, though: