As much as the general public is fascinated by televised talent competitions, nobody wants to watch a bunch of people they’ve never heard of offer advice to a bunch of contestants they’ve never heard of. That’s why celebrities make the perfect judges – at least, in theory they do. Sometimes the producers of these shows don’t know quite what they’re getting into, as evidenced by some of the personalities on this list. We rank the celebrity judges of American Idol, The X Factor, and more from least to most absurd, after the jump.
Ben Folds, Sara Bareilles, and Shawn Stockman
Really, the current Sing-Off crew is the most normal of the whole bunch of celebrity judges, and they’re all pretty perfect choices for a competition that’s entirely about a cappella music. As a former Boyz II Men member, Stockman knows how to blend as one voice in a big group; Bareilles has a brilliant ear for harmonic composition (have you heard the intro to her last album?); and Folds is so into a cappella that he even produced an album of his own songs being covered by college groups. What more could a reality TV audience ask for?
Don’t get us wrong: We have no qualms about Cee-Lo’s judging ability. He’s definitely qualified to swivel that chair around in The Voice and tell people nice things about their singing. But really, on a purely aesthetic basis, who in the world of network reality TV is more absurd than Green? Look at him! Look at his big, fluffy Persian cat! We had to put him somewhere on this list.
You know who’s weirder than Cee-Lo, though, surprisingly? Blake Shelton, also from The Voice. About a month ago he actually tweeted the sentence, “If you don’t support #TeamBlake you can probably describe in detail what your grandpa looks like naked…” Really, we’re not making this up. What does that even mean as an insult? That if you don’t like Blake Shelton, your grandfather is senile and doesn’t know how to put on clothes anymore? What kind of nefarious curse are you wishing on us, Shelton?
We like Ellen a lot, but we don’t exactly think of her first when we think of who would be the best at evaluating pop-star wannabes. She just isn’t mean enough to tell them if they’re awful! Nor is she wacky enough to make up for that inability to criticize, so she spent most of her time on American Idol just sort of sitting there. Now, if they’d let her present her advice to contestants in the form of interpretive dance, then that would have been entertaining.
It was recently announced that the Disney pop sensation will be a judge on the next season of The X Factor. She seems like a capable young woman and all, but that’s just it – she’s so young! Shouldn’t a judge have a bit more experience? (Then again, judging other people is what teenage girls do best…)
Guess who Lovato’s going to be judging alongside? That’s right, Britney Spears! Sure, she’s the Princess of Pop and we bet she can provide some interesting insight into what the business of music production is like, but let’s face it — it’s not her voice that she’s known for at this point. After all, you can barely tell it’s her singing underneath all the synth harmonies in most of her newer singles. It just seems unfair for her to evaluate singers who don’t have the benefit of Auto-Tune, lip-synching, and giant snake boas.
Piers Morgan, Howie Mandel, and Sharon Osbourne
As crazy as these guys were together before Morgan left to be the new Larry King, they were still a pretty solid team in their wackiness. Odd that the majority of the judges on America’s Got Talent were British, though. Which isn’t to say they were too buttoned up to have a good time — remember when Morgan and Osbourne had that water fight after a results show?
NBC’s made a lot of weird moves recently. Surprisingly, hiring this infamous shock jock to replace Piers Morgan on America’s Got Talent is not the worst of them. Still, even he thinks someone should be fired over the decision, so everyone at the network has to have figured out that this season is going to be odd, to say the least. We have high hopes for Stern because we know he won’t have the same problem as Ellen – we bet he’s chomping at the bit to make fun of some weirdos doing magic tricks!
It could be worse for the producers of America’s Got Talent, of course — remember when David Hasselhoff was still on the show? Apparently his contract was not renewed over concerns due to his recent alcohol abuse, which is a shame because he was responsible for some pretty crazy moments. Somehow we bet no one’s going to be performing a song devoted to their crush on Howard Stern, like that one guy did for the Hoff.
Maybe it’s just us, but we don’t understand the Pussycat Dolls. This isn’t a comment on whether or not they’re worthy of public attention. We seriously don’t understand what they are (although we admit we haven’t made much of an effort). Some kind of Playboy burlesque dance troupe turned reality show-created girl band that sells lingerie? And Scherzinger is their lead singer? Or she was but now she’s a solo… performer? Who got fired from the X Factor for being bad at crying? We’re just very confused, we guess.
At least Nicole’s working her way up in the world, since she started out as a dancer and now she’s a household name. What about J-Lo, though? She’s the highest paid Latina actress in Hollywood and used to dominate the cover of every tabloid, and now she’s an American Idol judge? Aren’t you’re supposed to do that before you’ve made it big, not after? Then again, these days, no one is more famous than reality TV stars…
Christina Aguilera and Adam Levine
We had to group these two together because man, oh man are they always at each other’s throats! At least J-Lo is pretty civil with all of her fellow judges. Guys, you’re both widely successful pop stars! You’ve both sold millions of albums! You’re on the most successful talent show since the first three seasons of American Idol! Now sit there and play nice, or Cee-Lo’s going to replace you with his cat.
What do Aerosmith and American Idol have in common? Nothing, really. So why is Steven Tyler a judge for the show now? The weirdest part of all this is that he thinks he’s a replacement for Simon Cowell. Considering that he imparts the contestants with such gems of wisdom as, “You just made love singing to each other,” he’s definitely more of a Paula.
Speaking of whom — oh, Paula. If anyone had told us before 2002 that the singer who danced with a cartoon cat in the ’80s would once again become a household name, but this time for for her critical eye… well, we probably would have laughed at them. Then again, maybe that’s because we have the wisdom of hindsight and we know how weird the Paula years got towards the end. Seriously, what was in that Coca-Cola she was drinking?