Now that Mariah Carey is locked down for next season, American Idol is focusing on filling the last empty judge’s seat. The latest name to be thrown into the mix is country singer Brad Paisley, who has performed on Idol in the past and has also worked with previous winner Carrie Underwood.

There are enough connections to make Paisley a strong contender, and Deadline reports that the series may be seriously considering him as Tyler’s replacement. They signed Mariah Carey to fill the diva-in-a-low-cut-dress spot on the panel left open by departing Jennifer Lopez just a few days ago. Lopez and Tyler announced their decisions to leave the show one after the other not long ago. As for veteran judge Randy Jackson, he isn’t officially on board yet, but the fact that he’s Mariah Carey’s manager makes it seem quite likely that Idol will have him back for another season.

Brad Paisley would be an interesting addition to the show, the first country star to sit as a judge. The Voice already has a country singer as a mentor in Blake Shelton, and there’s certainly a big country music following out there. American Idol has seen a few country singers on its stage, with Carrie Underwood probably the most famous, and arguably the most successful, of all of the past Idol winners.

It does seem like Fox wants to have another male on the panel, although I wonder if it might not be a more interesting change to go to a two-woman, one-man judging panel. That said, there’s also a vague rumor that the show is re-considering going to a four-judge format. That could leave room for Paisley as well as another female judge.

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