Chris Isaak Turned Down Idol Because “It Takes Up the Whole Year”

Chris Isaak tells the that he was asked to be an American Idol judge, but turned it down, because he felt it would interfere with his life as a touring musician.

“I felt like such a jerk, ” Isaak said, “but I said, ‘Look. I looked at the show, I like the show, and it’d be fun to do, but I can’t do it, because it just completely takes up the whole year.’”

The singer did a couple of TV shows, The Chris Isaak Hour and The Chris Isaak Show, and had fun doing both, but saw them as an  “accoutrement” to his musical career.

I would have loved Isaak as an Idol judge, but, if he’s not dissembling to save face,   I gotta respect his devotion to his musical career. Very cool.

Read more excerpts after the jump.

Whatever people were speculating was going to happen with you and an American Idol judging gig, it didn’t happen — is it at least a relief to be able to spend more time playing music?

…I’ve been playing with the same guys for like 25 years, or longer, and that’s the center of everything I do. I’ll do movies, and I like doing television and stuff, but I never want to give that up. I always want to be playing live. A few months ago, I got a call, and my agent was going crazy, going, ‘Oh my god, you realize that everybody wants this. You got offered the lead in a television show. It’s a weekly television show on a network with the biggest producer.’ He called me twice, saying, ‘Please, I want you to do it.’ I felt like such a jerk, but I said, ‘Look. I looked at the show, I like the show, and it’d be fun to do, but I can’t do it, because it just completely takes up the whole year.’”

And that might be hard for that side to understand, because it seems like the world of television can be a lot more comfortable place than the world of a touring musician.

“Oh, when he was talking to me, it was like somebody saying to a little kid, ‘But don’t you understand? It’s going to be Christmas every day.’ And I’m going, ‘It’s already Christmas everyday, brother.’ He’s going, ‘You don’t know what it’s like to be a network television star.’ And I go, ‘You’re right, ’ but I’m thinking in my mind, ‘you don’t know what it’s like to be in this band. It’s a lot of fun.’”

About mj santilli 33682 Articles
Founder and editor of, home of the awesomest fan community on the net. I love cheesy singing shows of all kinds, whether reality or scripted. I adore American Idol, but also love The Voice, Glee, X Factor and more!


  1. This breaks my heart. I love Chris Isaak. He is smart, funny, and not bad to look at! He would have been a great judge.

  2. Good to know and sorry he couldn’t do it. Pity Idol that Steven Tyler was evidently the best they could do.

  3. Oh, Lordy, now I have to watch crazy Steven and reportedly divaish already J-Lo and Randy (hoping reports are right that he’s pulled himself together, though…) while thinking, It coulda been Chris Isaak. Sad. Glad he has enough of a music career still to not want to miss the time, though.

  4. Well, Chris, it would’ve been beyond awesome to have you at the table, but I understand. Keep rockin’, dude.

  5. I would have loved him as a judge, but I love him more as a musician. I think he made the right decision. Just because ‘everybody wants it’ doesn’t mean it’s good.

  6. Can we get Steven Tyler to wear a Chris Isaak mask or something? I love Chris’s live shows so I guess I won’t complain, sigh.

  7. Ohhh I love his Wicked Game………
    He probably would have been a good judge. I love Steven Tyler though too – so I’m fine that Chris declined. I’m neutral so far about Jen.

  8. I love Chris Isaaak. No, I flove him, he’s talented, he’s snarky, and he’s easy on the eyes. He is awesome live and he and his band are TIGHT.

    So yeah, AI’s loss, is my gain.

  9. He would have been great as a judge, And he would have looked great as a judge.

  10. Steven Tyler is so washed out. ’tis a shame that Isaak couldn’t make the time.

  11. Oh what could have been. I love his sense of humor almost as much as his voice not to mention seeing him on my big screen tv vs Steven Tyler would have been so much more pleasant on my eyes. :)

  12. “OK who is this guy??”……..Well then……………………….
    This guy is arguably the best singer songwriter of the 80’s/90’s.
    He is the next best thing to drop dead gorgeous!!! If you have a chance to see his “Best of Chris Isaak video Cd, I believe many of you will have slipped out of your chair before it is over.
    He was one of my hopeful choices along with HCJ. Great in front of
    an audience! He is very much a guys guy, so I don’t think he would
    have shaved his arms for you Luv. Just one thing, I would have liked him to change is his nose, which could have been a little staighter, and He would have had it all. Well anyway having one imperfect feature is not so bad. He definitely has sexy down Pat!!!

  13. This guy is arguably the best singer songwriter of the 80’s/90’s.
    He is the next best thing to drop dead gorgeous!!!

    Plus funny and smart.

  14. Yup. Justjude put him in a pretty tidy nutshell. :) He’s all that and a cold brewski.

  15. Crazy that after all these years he’s still so sexy and just all around awesome. Love, love, love…hairy arms and all. He’s a dude!

  16. Ewwww he has really hairy arms o_0

    that sux :(

    Some of us find hairy arms very sexy. lol

  17. Chris was my first choice when I heard Idol was interested in him. He would have been perfect for the show. Besides being an attractive man, he’s witty and smart!

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