Mariah Carey just inked a deal reportedly worth $18 million to be a judge on the next season of “American Idol,” while fellow pop star Britney Spears will reportedly be collecting a $15 million paycheck for her judging duties on “The X Factor.”
While these two ladies share scores of multi-platinum hits, legions of adoring fans and world-wide name recognition, they also share a well-documented history of loopy behavior, which should make for some must-see TV this fall.
“Britney’s had such a tumultuous career that looking to see what happens with her and how she handles herself on a live show is going to be hugely interesting,” ‘American Idol’ expert and editor-in-chief of rushfieldbabylon.com, Richard Rushfield, told FOXNews.com. “I’m waiting to see what Britney does.”
'Paula Abdul created the archetype of the sweet but crazy reality show judge'
- Ben Mandelker
“I think Britney will be given a list of appropriate responses that she can say or not say, and she’ll use them over and over again,” said pop culture expert and editor of bsideblog.com, Ben Mandelker. “She’s like a robot. She’s a national curiosity at this point, but she doesn’t actually say anything bizarre.”
Carey, meanwhile, has the potential to be an insightful judge, if she doesn’t go soft on the contestants.
“She will certainly be able to talk about how to improve a performance, and get into the technical stuff,” said Mandelker. “The question is whether or not she’s just going to be praising every contestant with lavish words about butterflies and rainbows and charm bracelets.”
Carey’s experience hosting bizarre late night shop-a-thons on QVC may actually come in handy for her “Idol” gig.
“Mariah’s had a history of meltdowns and she has a reputation of being a diva, so maybe she will bring a little bit of edge to the panel,” noted M.J. Santilli, self-described “Idol” fan girl and editor of mjsbigblog.com. “Actually, I think that would be good for the show if Mariah is a little nutty. I think people love that. I think people loved Paula Abdul when she was a little off her rocker."
Abdul, who set the standard for bizarre judging practices during her eight seasons on “American Idol” and her brief tenure on "X Factor" may have been the blueprint for reality show producers hiring Spears and Carey.
“Paula Abdul created the archetype of the sweet but crazy reality show judge, and we’ll always love her for that,” noted Mandelker, who also hosts a reality show podcast on iTunes. “I hope that Britney can bring some kooky behavior to ‘X Factor’ and be what Paula Abdul was in her heyday.”
After two seasons of bland observations from judges Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler on “American Idol,” experts tell FOXNews.com that new blood was desperately needed on the judging panel.
“A judge should not only know music and understand performances, but they have to be able to articulate what made a performance strong or weak,” said Mandelker. “I think the problem with Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez was that they had the same critiques week after week after week, and that’s what really made them bad judges.”
“JLo and Steven shied away from being really honest with contestants, maybe because they were afraid that people wouldn’t buy their records or go to their concerts,” said Santilli. “I think it’s kind of hard for an artist who’s out there, trying to be popular, to sit on a panel and be critical. There’s a risk there that you might turn people off.”
Which may be why behind-the-scenes players seem to make the best judges on “American Idol.”
“I would love it if they found someone like Jimmy Iovine to be on the panel,” noted Santilli. “Somebody who is an insider–a record executive or a manager–someone who is really willing to tell it like it is. I don’t think that kinder, gentler panel really worked for ‘Idol.’”
“I think ‘Idol’ has a great judge there with Jimmy Iovine,” added Rushfield.
“Unfortunately, he’s sidelined and not a part of the judges’ panel. But his post-game comments have been terrific and it’s just a tragedy that you hear them the next day–and not when they can inject some actual drama into the show.”
In any case, “Idol” fans will be watching this fall, or at least watching the premiere.
“I always watch at the beginning–I always give it a chance,” said Rushfield. “But I don’t see that they’ve produced a game-changer yet. I’m waiting to see that still.”