Aside from boasting four of the most talented female singers in the show’s history, this season of American Idol has basically been a hot mess. The ratings have been somewhere south of tepid, and wild rumors have consistently overshadowed the on-stage performances. From an alleged Mariah Carey for J Lo swap to whispers of all four judges getting axed at the end of the year, it’s been an ugly rollercoaster ride, and at least one judge has decided he’s ready to walk away.

Stalwart Randy Jackson, the only on-air personality not named Ryan Seacrest to be around since day one, announced today that he’s going to fold his golden tickets and exit stage left after this year’s winner is crowned. Here’s what he told E! News
"Yo! Yo! Yo! To put all of the speculation to the rest, after 12 years of judging on American Idol I have decided it is time to leave after this season, I am very proud of how we forever changed television and the music industry. It's been a life changing opportunity but I am looking forward to focusing on my company Dream Merchant 21 and other business ventures."

Jackson brought different things to the show based on what other judges he was surrounded with over the years, but the one consistent element was his incredible musical knowledge. Whether the contestant was singing pop music, R&B or even classical Indian music, he always knew enough to engage the performer in conversation about it and could instantly tell how sharp or flat on certain notes their rendition was.

I have no idea how many years Idol will go on from here, but no matter how long it does, Randy will always be considered one of the best judges to ever grace the program’s stage. Here’s to hoping he finds some way to continue leaving his mark on the ears of music fans the world over.

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