‘The X Factor’ Judges: Grading the Candidates

Ever since Nicole Scherzinger and Paula Abdul left their judging posts on The X Factor, America has wondered who will take over the judges’ spots. And while there’ve been rumors of several potential A-list candidates, Simon Cowell only has two empty seats to fill. So we’re grading the candidates to help Cowell decide who best fits the position. It’s time to judge the judges!

janet jacksonJanet Jackson

Janet Jackson has been a prominent figure in pop culture for over 25 years, and while she wasn’t a part of the beloved Jackson 5, she’s spent most of her life surrounded by music and even released a hit single with her King of Pop brother, Michael Jackson. Basically, she was born for this business. She’d be a phenomenal judge. The contestants would kill to work with the member of music royalty. Her input on song choice and choreography alone would be worth tuning in for. Plus, if the series delivered a look at her home as part of “Judges’ Homes” week, ratings could really skyrocket. Not to mention that Jackson would be the equivalent of Idol’s Steven Tyler, in that they’re both wild cards (we all remember her memorable Super Bowl halftime performance with Justin Timberlake). With this girl, you’d never know what to expect, which would be a major draw.

Grade: A

leann rimesLeAnn Rimes

There’s no doubt Rimes possesses musical talent. She’s released a variety of pop-country songs and her single “How Do I Live” became a huge hit in the late 90s. But these days she’s become somewhat irrelevant – at least musically speaking. We hear more about her personal life than her music career. Between her Twitter rants and extreme weight loss, she’s become pretty unlikable, which wouldn’t exactly help the show’s ratings. The judges play such a crucial role throughout the season, so it’s detrimental when they lack a decent fan base – which is one of Rimes’ weaknesses. And while everyone loves a mean judge (Simon is proof of that), Rimes doesn’t posses that “love-to-hate” vibe, which makes Simon so endearing even when he is a complete ass. When it comes down to it, the show would be better off going with another candidate. This isn’t the right job for her.

Grade: D


Fergie’s a bit of a toss up. While she’s definitely a lot more likable than Rimes, it’s unclear how much she would actually be able to contribute to the judging process. She’s talented and knows a thing or two about giving a good performance (last year’s Super Bowl halftime show aside), however, her detriments may outweigh her expertise. If she were to be assigned to mentor an unfamiliar category like “The Boys,” then her input could become almost obsolete. If Fergie was to add any sort of credibility or helpfulness to the show, it would be essential that she be given the “Groups” category to mentor — otherwise her involvement could be pointless.

Grade: B-

kelly rowlandKelly Rowland

Rowland would bring a certain level of credibility to the judging panel. Her experience as part of Destiny’s Child and working alongside the ever-talent Beyonce would definitely allow her to provide great insight into the industry. However, like Fergie, she would only prove useful if assigned the “Groups” category since she hasn’t had any major success once Destiny’s Child broke up. If anything, she’s famous by association now more than anything else. And due to her deflated popularity, she would likely try to play the role of “the nice judge” and therefore pretend to love each and every performance as to not stir up controversy. It wouldn’t bring much to the show and, to be honest, it’d be a little dull to watch.

Grade: C-

katy perryKaty Perry

Let’s just pretend for a second that Perry is not incredibly busy and would actually have time to be a full-time judge on a reality show. It would be phenomenal! She’s so young and hip, contestants would have an easy time connecting with her, and she’d totally be able to relate with what they’re all going through given that she’s relatively new to the business as well. Plus, she would be such a cool mentor to have regardless of the category. Perry is known for her eccentric performances, so it would be great to see her implement that creative mindset into the contestants’ performances each week. By the time she was done with them, they’d all probably have pink or blue hair — it would be ratings gold. And you know she’d be the “sassy judge” of the bunch, playfully giving Simon a taste of his own wicked medicine. And if all this wasn’t proof enough, she was lovely and entertaining when she was a guest judge on American Idol in 2010. Making her one of the new judges should be the show’s No. 1 priority, though the chances of her being available to do it are slim to none.

Grade: A+


Pink is completely unique. Everything about her – her look, her sound – screams originality, which would make her a rather exciting addition to the X Factor panel. Her 2009 performance at the VMAs still resonates with fans to this day, so if she were to help the contestants perform at a similar level, that could really raise the bar for the show itself. Even helping contestants to improve from week to week. This girl is definitely worth looking into.

Grade: A-

britney spearsBritney Spears

Though I wouldn’t normally categorize her as someone who should be passing out advice, Spears would certainly be a huge ratings draw. Similar to Jennifer Lopez‘s initiation into Idol, the name alone is enough to grab people’s attention. Even non-fans of the show would want to tune in to see what Brit has to say. However, from an actual judging standpoint, I’m not sure how beneficial she would be. She could definitely add a new level of promiscuity to her groups’ performances, but it seems unlikely that she could handout much advice outside of pop music. As a judge it’s good to be well-versed in a variety of musical genres since each contestant will have different vocal strengths – something that Spears might not be well equipped to handle.

Grade: B+