American Idol is coming back to TV, this time on ABC. Over the past several days and weeks, there’s been a lot of speculation over which network would snag the iconic show. Now that that’s settled, one of the remaining questions is: who will the judges be? The Hollywood Reporter says that there’s a chance an announcement will be made at ABC’s Upfront event on May 16.

Will producers bring back any previous judges? What about former contestants? Will the panel consist of only singers, or will there be a record executive (a la Simon Cowell) or a celebrity who’s not a singer?

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Here’s a list of 10 people who should be considered for ABC’s American Idol reboot:

Kelly Clarkson

There were rumors that FOX considered bringing back former contestants for what was originally the final season of Idol, for nostalgia purposes. With a reboot now happening, what better way to pay tribute to the successful history of this show than by having at least one of the judges be an alum? Kelly Clarkson, the very first winner, is one of the most successful contestants ever and has a bubbly personality that’s perfect for this kind of role. She not only guest judged/mentored in season 15, but she has experience judging another ABC singing competition show, Duets, and being an advisor on The Voice.

TMZ is reporting that Kelly is not only being strongly considered but that she’s essentially ready to sign on the dotted line, so let’s hope this happens. (And maybe we can get another “Piece By Piece” performance from the Idol Queen?) 

(UPDATE 5/11: Kelly Clarkson is joining The Voice as a coach for season 14, airing in spring 2018, which is when ABC is reportedly planning to air Idol.)

Jennifer Hudson

Jennifer Hudson has also been one of the most successful contestants to come out of Idol. That success spans not just albums but also roles in movies (including an Oscar-winning performance in Dreamgirls), TV and on Broadway. Plus, J-Hud has experience in this arena, having been a coach on The Voice UK (one of her artists won that year) and a Voice US advisor.

(UPDATE: Jennifer Hudson has signed on as a coach for The Voice season 13, so she won’t be able to judge Idol.)

Adam Lambert

Back when there was talk of former contestants becoming judges, I very much wanted Adam Lambert to get one of those spots. His success includes his solo albums (he’s the first openly gay artist to have an album debut at #1 on the charts), touring with the legendary band Queen and acting on Glee and in the Rocky Horror remake. Like Kelly and Jennifer, Adam has judging experience as well. He was a judge on Australia’s X Factor. And also like Jennifer, his artist won.

Chris Daughtry

A lot of the singers on this list are in the pop genre. Going with Chris Daughtry would bring a successful former contestant into the fold and add a rock singer to the panel. While it’s hard to say what kind of judging style Chris would have, I have this feeling he’d be more middle-of-the-road — not harsh like Simon but not super nice like Paula — which can balance out whoever the other two (or three) judges sitting alongside him are.

Keith Urban

It’s unlikely that ABC will bring back any of Idol‘s former judges. Even if that happened, Jennifer Lopez is too expensive and already has shows with NBC. Simon Cowell is also with NBC and would probably not want to come back unless he also had a producing role. And there’s of course some former judges who should never come back.

But if the network does consider any of them, it would be Keith Urban. Not only was he one of the most recent judges (and a country music star in his own right), but he really came into his own as a judge when sitting with the right panel (J-Lo and Harry Connick, Jr.). He offered valid critiques and constructive criticism without being mean.

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Scooter Braun

The original American Idol judging panel included music producers Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson. If ABC wants to go down this route again, my personal preference would be someone along the lines of Jimmy Iovine, who was the in-house mentor for a few seasons of Idol.

But they would probably want to pick someone who’s at least a little more well-known than Jimmy, like Scooter Braun, who launched the career of Justin Bieber. Younger generations, especially, know who Scooter is — and getting a younger demographic to watch Idol is something the network is very interested in, of course. Then again, with ABC being owned by Disney, would they want someone more connected to the Disney brand?

Miranda Lambert

Wouldn’t it be funny to see ABC snag Blake Shelton’s ex to judge a rival singing competition show? While that was the first thing that came to mind when I wrote her name down, Miranda Lambert being a judge wouldn’t be for drama purposes. She’s been an advisor/mentor on The Voice and even has experience as a reality show contestant herself, having competed on Nashville Star. Plus, she has a strong country music pedigree, having had huge success in the genre. I could see her being a judge who’s honest but in a constructive and encouraging way.

Reba McEntire

If ABC wants to bring on board a legendary performer and if the other spots aren’t filled with any country singers, then how about Reba? She has a made-for-TV personality that’s infectious, she’d be able to speak from years of experience working in the industry and she has experience as an advisor on The Voice and a guest judge on America’s Got Talent.


If Kelly Clarkson joins the show, the producers probably don’t want another judge with a very similar pop/rock music style. But Pink and Kelly have different personalities. Pink has a bit more of an edge to her, and I can see her being the kind of judge who is honest and doesn’t care if anybody disagrees with her.

Demi Lovato

The X Factor US may have lasted only three seasons, but one of the best judges that show had was Demi Lovato. She has a bright personality but is still willing to tell it like it is when necessary. Plus, Demi got her start with Disney — does ABC want to choose someone who has connections to the parent company or the network? It would be a smart move, not to mention she’d probably be the youngest person on the panel.

Who do you think should judge Idol? Do you like any of the names on this list? Who else should be considered? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

American Idol will return in the 2017-2018 TV season on ABC. Want more news? Like our American Idol Facebook page.

(Image courtesy of FOX)

Jeff Dodge

Staff Writer, BuddyTV

Jeff Dodge, a graduate of Western Washington University, has been a TV news editor for many years and has had the chance to interview multiple reality show stars, including Randy Jackson, Nick Cannon, Heidi Klum, Mel B and John Cena.