Steven Tyler on the new 'American Idol' judging style: 'We switch on being brutal'
“Ryan [Seacrest] is definitely going to be having a baby,” said “AI’s” top dawg and veteran judge Randy Jackson, commencing a round of questions at the AT&T Building in downtown LA.
Miracles of science aside (Note: Seacrest is not with child), “American Idol” has certainly birthed a new family for viewers.
Fox unveiled in late September, after months of speculation, that music stars Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez would be added to the judging panel. The hiring of the pair marks a near complete renovatation of Fox’s ratings darling — and it returns the judging panel back to three after the recent exits of Simon Cowell, Ellen DeGeneres and Kara DioGuardi.
So how are the new additions vibing with “AI’s” old hands?
“We’ve all moved in together at a beach house,” Seacrest joked.
“I think it’s all good,” Jackson added more earnestly.” We’re all getting along.”
But back to what the reality competition series is supposed to be all about: talent. A newbie to the judging block, Lopez said she’s been impressed with the contestant pool.
“We’ve put a bunch of people through — probably more than they have in the past,” she said. “We have about 15-20 real superstars … people who could be recording artists.”
Still, they say, there are some questionable people who appear before them. And while no one will cop to being Simon 2.0 — “We switch on being brutal,” Tyler said — the judging style will not be lacking in candor.
“I think everyone tried to be as honest as they can without breaking anyone’s spirits,” Lopez said. “We’re not out to cut them down or make a joke of them.”
Adding to that, Tyler said: “We don’t beat them up. Some really think they’re all that, and we let them down easy. Sometimes it’d be nice to flambé them …”
Being placed under the fire is something Tyler's all too familiar with. Kid Rock recently told Entertainment Weekly that the Aerosmith frontman’s decision to join the show was “the stupidest thing he’s ever done in his life. He’s a sacred American institution of rock 'n’ roll, and he just threw it all out the window. Just stomped on it and set it on fire.
“I think whoever’s advising him,” he continued, “we should bring back the guillotine, or whatever they call that thing. And if it was himself, he needs some serious counseling. I love him to death, but I gotta speak the truth.”
Tyler’s retort at today’s press conference: “He’s just jealous … And he’s working his new record, so God bless him.”
But now on to more important matters: Lopez’s wardrobe. Cowell had perhaps the most notable “AI” attire in the past, often sporting form-fitting plunging V-neck T-shirts. Lopez, though, once took plunging to a whole new level with the infamous floral Versace dress she wore at the 2000 Grammy Awards. And she promises that her style selections will be just as unpredicatable on “AI.”
“Look, I’m just going to be me … every day that’s something different. I like getting dressed up. That’s not going to change for this show. “
We can all sleep a little easier tonight.
— Yvonne Villarreal
Photo: Steve Tyler and Jennifer Lopez join Randy Jackson as the new judges to "American Idol" hosted by Ryan Seacrest at the Forum on Sept. 22. Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times