Katy Perry Will Probably Be a Horrible 'American Idol' Judge

But it's not for the reason you think.

By Shawn Cooke May 16, 2017
(Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images)

Just one year after its alleged series finale, American Idol is back from the grave. ABC announced last week that it's reviving the "pop-culture staple that left the air too soon," because 15 seasons is never enough. Details on the sudden reboot are scarce, but we know this much: Katy Perry is definitely, maybe going to be on the judges panel, and Ryan Seacrest is trying to make it work despite wearing more hats than the president.

Of course it's unnecessary. Reboots are almost always trite, desperate ploys to capture the original lightning—while missing several key components that made it great in the first place. Now, any reports of an American Idol reboot were going to look shameless this close to the "Farewell Season," but there's one way they could have justified its existence: bring back the dream team.

Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, and Randy Jackson were the best characters on television during American Idol's initial run. Each came with a fully fleshed-out persona—Simon's smirking cruelty, Paula's "what's in the Coke cup" ramblings, and Randy's simple intuition—because they weren't tethered to being anything else. The series was anchored by their effortless chemistry, and began to crack as the original lineup dispersed and new judges came into the fold. The short-lived Kara DioGuardi and Elen DeGeneres experiments didn't work; worse still, their attempt at skewing for an older Voice with the final panel of Keith Urban, Harry Connick Jr., and Jennifer Lopez.

Those tepid final seasons should give us caution about bringing Katy Perry and any other pop star onboard. Perry's balancing act of #wokeness and shoving her foot in her mouth could make for some amusing bits, but it's really just a part-time job. If she plays it safe enough, American Idol works as a savvy slice of marketing for the second leg of her Witness tour. When you're refining a brand—and are in the steady business of rehabbing that brand—it doesn't make for compelling TV. But when it's their only gig, a judge can make magic like this happen on a weekly basis: