Original American Idol judge, Randy Jackson, is on a media tour to promote the second season of the FOX game show, Name That Tune, on which he’s the piano playing musician trying to stump the panelists.
But he’s also answering questions about American Idol, currently in its 20th season. Yahoo music conducted a lengthy interview with the Journey bass player. In it, he criticizes current singing show judges for being too “soft.” Also he insists that he and his fellow judges Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell considered Kelly Clarkson the frontrunner to win from day 1.
Simon Cowell, considered he “mean” and “honest” judge on Idol could be too much at times, Randy said to Yahoo. “Of course there were times [when Cowell was too mean]. I’m remembering the time Simon called someone a name — I’m not gonna use it — and I was like, ‘Bro, you can’t do that! This has gone too far now!’”
However, Randy thinks singing show judges are too polite and afraid of hurting contestants’ feelings.
“Now I think they’re all too nice. This is a tough, hard, mean, give-zero-Fs business,” Jackson told Yahoo. “Being honest with someone — if you’re terrible, you’re terrible. Wouldn’t you want to know that? Maybe me saying you’re terrible is going to help you get your thing together. Maybe you’re gonna go back to the drawing board, like, ‘No, I’m gonna defeat the Dawg! I’m coming back. I’m coming back to get you, Dawg!’
“There’s very little truth being told on these shows”
“One of the things I don’t like today is there’s very little truth being told on these shows,” Randy said. He blames it on the fact that shows like American Idol and The Voice fill their panels with artists, rather than industry execs such as himself and Simon.
“The problem with that is, no pop star wants to be mean or wants to be that honest with any contestant… because they don’t probably want to get it back. They don’t want to get it back. And they want to be liked,” Randy said.
A couple of things: While artists who can’t afford to turn off fan bases have issues dishing out negative critiques, panels are softer because 20-15 years later, it’s a different era. The aughts were a crueler time, with the likes of Perez Hilton mocking and humiliating young starlets. Last I checked, even Simon Cowell isn’t “Simon” anymore. America’s Got Talent panel, where Simon currently resides, is like any other contemporary talent show panel. Never humiliate the artists, is how they roll now, in the softer and kinder 10s and 20s. (Just stay off social media…but that’s another conversation!)
Also, by the time Randy ended his run as a judge on American Idol in 2013, he basically had a grab bag full of catch phrases that he pulled from. Sitting next to Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler on Season 10 and 11, he had very little to say of any substance. And on season 12, the Mariah and Nicki show pulled all the focus. It’s pretty gutsy–and hypocritical–of him to be criticising anyone who sits on a current panel.
Randy insists he considered Kelly Clarkson the front runner on Season 1
Next, Season 1 producers pushed Justin Guarini and Tamyra Gray as frontrunners until they weren’t frontrunners any more. Heck, the show didn’t even air Kelly Clarkson’s audition! Randy, however, insists that he, Paula and Simon new Kelly was a frontrunner from the day of her Houston audition. That’s some grade a revisionism right there. Simon was openly dismissive of Kelly at first, so excuse me as I scoff at Randy’s 20/20 hindsight. Watch the full interview with Lyndsey Parker below.
Randy hinted that he’s coming back to visit Idol this season
As an aside, when Randy chatted with American Idol host Ryan Seacrest on his radio show earlier this week, he hinted a return to Idol. If he’s returning, probably Paula is too. An who knows, Fremantle produces both American Idol and America’s Got Talent. Maybe they can wrangle an appearance from Simon Cowell. Likely they will be returning to the big American idol reunion special, featuring a slew of alums airing on Monday May 2.