Which Judges Will Return to 'American Idol' Next Season? We Need More J. Lo, Keith & Harsh Harry
The time has finally come to crown the Season 13 champ on the American Idol finale. While the finale is going to be all about finalists Jena Irene and Caleb Johnson duking it out for rock supremacy, we're going to be paying extra-special attention to the judges' table. It's not so much because we're more eager than usual to hear their critiques, which we we know are extra-important on Finale Night, but mostly because we want to see if they drop any clues — little hints in their feedback, body language, looking cheerful or depressed — as to whether or not Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez, and Harry Connick, Jr. will be returning for Season 14.
Okay, okay. We know the current season of Idol hasn't even sung its swan song yet, but speculating about another season is just about all we can do to fill the soon-to-be Idol-sized hole in our hearts when the winner is crowned Wednesday night. Plus, with the big Idol shake-up that Fox Broadcasting chairman Kevin Reilly described on May 12 before the network's Upfront presentation (Idol may decrease the number of hours for the show's next season from its usual 50-something to 37 and air as a two-hour show one night a week) we can't help but wonder if the judges' panel will see similar changes next year.
No One's Jumping Ship... Yet
During Reilly's press conference, he wasn't ready to confirm whether or not Urban, Lopez, and Connick, Jr. would grace us with their selfie-taking, Grumpy Cat-loving, "goosies"-feeling selves next season, but The Hollywood Reporter notes that "multiple sources suggest" all three Idol judges will be back. E! News also reports that producers and Fox execs are happy with the chemistry of this year's Idol judging panel, and they hope to see the trio back for another season, although no deals have been closed and Fox has not released an official announcement on Season 14's judges.
However, when asked if he would be returning next season as a judge during a visit to Live! With Michael and Kelly on May 14, Connick, Jr. said, "I'll be back." (How very Terminator of him.) The fact that some have criticized Connick, Jr.'s tough feedback for the contestants and his refusal to give standing ovations for their performances — traits that have earned him the nickname "Harsh Harry" — and he's still on track to be back next season seems like a good sign that Urban and Lopez are likely to return as well.
For the most part, all three judges still seem very enthusiastic about the show and its contestants. Urban is the only judge to tweet his thoughts about individual contestants' performances basically as they happen on the show. You can see that Lopez always feels each and every performance, dancing in her seat, singing along, or letting us know she's got the "goosies." And where else would Connick, Jr. take "stalkies" if he wasn't an Idol judge? Just on the street like us commoners? We don't think so.
There also does seem to be chemistry and positive energy among the Idol judging trio, which is more than we can say for a couple of last season's judges. One source told People in regard to the Idol judges:
They like and respect each other a lot. What you see on camera is exactly what you get when they're off — fun, playful, but they all take this job very seriously."
Is Seacrest Out?
And don't for one second think we forgot about our boy Ryan Seacrest. Sure, there's usually not as much speculation surrounding his comings and goings as the judges' panel, but Seacrest's contract is technically up after this season. But before you have a "I'm going to Hollywooooood!"-sized freakout, Fox is reportedly close to inking another two-year Idol deal with Seacrest. Contestants and judges come and go, but Seacrest is (hopefully) forever.
But Maybe We Should Shake Things Up...
We don't mean to disrupt the "Cumbaya" energy of the group, but maybe one way to help Idol's flagging ratings could be some changes to the judges' table. It won't solve all of the series' problems, but the judges are most successful and most entertaining to watch when they each bring something different to the show. It really hasn't been fun to listen to the judges since Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, and Randy Jackson were on the show because they each had different areas of expertise and different personalities to give Idol that bit of tension that's just missing from it now.
While Urban, Lopez, and Connick, Jr. vary in their musical and performance styles, they mostly only bring one point-of-view of the music industry to the panel, and they possibly get along too well. Here's hoping a likely second round of this judging trio doesn't feel too routine by next season.