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Fox is really shaking things up for the eleventh season of American Idol, in that they’re not making any changes to the judging table this year. The network announced today that last year’s arrangement of judges and host will stand for Season 11 when the series returns in January.
The Fox singing competition started out with three judges. For seven seasons, Randy Jackson, Simon Cowell, and Paula Abdul sat at the judges table and served as filters and later, advice-givers to each new crop of Idol hopefuls. In Season 8, Kara DioGuardi joined the show to serve as a fourth judge. In Season 9, Paula left the show and was replaced by Ellen DeGeneres (remember that bit of randomness?). Kara left next, as did Simon and as of last season, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler were on board to fill the two vacant judges’ seats. After all of the shifts and changes, either due to contract issues or the show’s attempt to breathe life into the series that, while still a ratings juggernaut, Idol’s ratings has been steadily fizzling for quite a while now.
For the first time in years, the judges are staying the same. Fox confirmed today that Randy, Jennifer and Steven will return to judge the eleventh season of the series. I can’t say that I all-out dislike Randy, Jennifer or Steven. As opinion-givers go, they’re fine. The star power is there, but the wow-factor really isn't. We don’t see the same spark between them that we once saw so frequently between Randy, Paula and Simon. When the original trio was together, I got the sense that none of them felt like they had much to lose by being completely honest, so all of them were. As nice as Jennifer and Steven are, I sometimes wonder if they’re too used to be polite and supportive to their fans, both being long-time beloved celebrities, to offer genuinely honest criticism.
Given all of the shifting that’s gone on, not changing the judges seems like a bold move. Perhaps this is Idol and Fox’s way of not rocking the boat. With The X Factor set to take Fox by storm this fall, people might be looking for a bit of familiarity by the time Idol rolls around in 2012.
American Idol auditions are currently taking place. For information on when and where, check out AmericanIdol.com.