When So You Think You Can Dance returns this year, expect two new faces on the judging panel alongside Nigel Lythgoe — and both have appeared as guest judges before.
Rumors have been swirling lately that Paula Abdul will replace Mary Murphy, and now it’s been made official — but she’s not the only one. Singer Jason Derulo is also joining the show for season 12.
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“I have dedicated a large part of my career as a choreographer to discovering and mentoring some of the most iconic artists and performers from all over the world,” Abdul said in a statement. “So You Think You Can Dance has a long-standing history of launching brilliant careers for young choreographers and dancers in the industry. It’s going to be a true honor and pleasure joining this panel with Jason and Nigel, and I’m looking forward to an exciting new season!”
Executive producer and judge Nigel Lythgoe added, “With the new and exciting format comes a new and exciting panel of judges. I’m delighted that Paula Abdul and Jason Derulo will be joining me at the judges’ table this season on So You Think You Can Dance. Paula is an incredible artist and she brings the perfect combination of expertise and heart to the panel. Jason’s insight, humor and creativity will add a new perspective to the panel that we haven’t had before.”
The “new and exciting format” Lythgoe is referring to is the Stage Dancers vs. Street Dancers theme for season 12. After the auditions, the judges will narrow the field down to the Top 20, which will consist of 10 street dancers and 10 stage dancers — every week a dancer from each genre will be sent home.
We all know Paula Abdul as the former long-time American Idol judge, who was part of the original trio with Randy Jackson and Simon Cowell. She departed after season 8, but teamed up again with Simon for the inaugural season of The X Factor USA. (Simon ended up firing almost every on-screen cast member, including Paula, before season 2 began.)
The pop star, who has had hits like “Straight Up” and “Opposites Attract,” has extensive experience in dance, of course. She got her start as a Los Angeles Lakers cheerleader, and eventually became an award-winning choreographer. She created a dance competition series for CBS called Live to Dance in 2011 that lasted one season. Paula has appeared on SYTYCD before as a guest judge, and she was a judge on the Australian version as well.
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The hiring of Jason Derulo is more of a surprise. The R&B singer, who has sold over 45 million albums worldwide, is also known for his dancing skills. Jason was a guest judge in 2014.
In a statement, he said, “I am truly excited, and eagerly look forward to joining the cast of So You Think You Can Dance. It is one of the most respected and longest-tenured shows on network television, and I hope to be a part of new growth and continued success.”
With two new judges joining the panel, it doesn’t look like there will be any guest judges during the new season. This announcement comes on the heels of longtime judge Mary Murphy’s departure. At the time, she said, “I’m saddened of course to be released from my contract. I’m very grateful and proud to have been part of such an extraordinary television show, So You Think You Can Dance, for 11 seasons. I’m sure there wasn’t a person watching that didn’t know I loved what I did!”
What do you think of the two new judges? Are you excited that Paula Abdul and Jason Derulo will be permanent members of the panel? Or were you hoping for someone else? And will you miss Mary Murphy?
So You Think You Can Dance returns for season 12 in summer 2015 on FOX.
(Images courtesy of FOX)