Remember when singing competitions kept their judges a little longer than one or two-year stints? Perhaps American Idol set an unattainable precedent during its first seven years on the air, with zero changes to the judging panel during that time until Kara DioGuardi joined the group during season eight. Maybe the mass of new competitions with relevant, still-in-the-biz judges made each panel more malleable by necessity. Whatever the reason, judging panels on Idol, The Voice and The X-Factor have been marked in recent years by ever-changing bodies in the judges’ seats.
In the latest installment of the case of the rotating judge lineup, Nicki Minaj announced Wednesday she would be leaving American Idol after just one season as part of its lineup. Minaj follows longtime judge Randy Jackson, who will be leaving the show after being with it since its inception in 2002.
According to Us Weekly, the plan was always for Minaj to last just one season. An insider tells the publication that the rapper/singer will return to her musical career, including recording a new album to follow up Pink Friday: Roman Holiday.
But Idol isn’t the only show seeing a change in staff next year. Us Weekly also reports that Shakira will be stepping down as judge on The Voice, to be replaced by a familiar face — former Voice judge Christina Aguilera.
Shakira also claimed that she needed to get back in the studio to record a new album, as well as “[getting] back to motherhood.” The popular Latin crossover artist was, like Minaj, only on the show for a season.
It was Carson Daly that confirmed to the publication that Aguilera would be returning. The singer left the show to focus on new album Lotus, and has since featured on the Pitbull hit “Feel This Moment.”
Is that all? Not likely. Though two of Idol’s four judges have announced their departure, sources indicate the entire panel — as well as the entire show — could be in for an overhaul. That includes Mariah Carey and Keith Urban, two singers who, like Minaj, have been with the show for only a year. The show may also be letting go producer Nigel Lythgoe, who’s been a key figure in the show for quite some time.
Some expected Idol to rebound from a few years of slipping ratings with the new, star-studded panel, but that hasn’t turned out to be the case. Though it’s still a major moneymaker for FOX, the show has lost in the ratings this season to The Voice, which also brought in big names for its newest installment. Blame the judges? Blame the producer? Blame the format? Either way, expect the show to return in 2013 having had a major retooling.
The Voice may not be done with the changes, either. Reports are Cee-Lo Green wants back in on the Voice action, while fill-in Usher could be the odd man out. In other words, the next season of The Voice could look much like its first.
Then there’s The X-Factor, the current also-ran of the U.S. singing competitions, which has seen Britney Spears and L.A. Reid leave their seats after the last season.
Want to be a judge on a singing competition? There are openings. Boy, are there openings.
-Kevin Rutherford, Radio.com