FOX recently revealed the official panel for season 13 of American Idol. Season 12 judge Keith Urban returns for another run while Jennifer Lopez, who was a judge back in 2011 and 2012, re-joins the judging table. In addition, newcomer Harry Connick Jr. has been confirmed as the third judge for the reality-singing competition.
As the once-successful singing competition tries to regain its glory with the recycled judges, we can’t help but wonder, why there isn’t any artist in the genre of R&B getting their cup refilled with Coca-Cola as they contribute their expertise to finding the next ‘American Idol.’ There are several seasoned singers/producers in the world of rhythm and blues who could help with this difficult task.
However, we were going to name eight R&B influencers who would have been suitable for the job of being an American Idol judge.
While we don’t need the “Pied Piper of R&B” serenading the minors of the audience, R. Kelly’s musical artistry should be experienced by the contestants in the competition.
From the early ’90s to the present day, the Chicago native has been influential in the industry of R&B as well as other genres of music. His stage presence is unmatched by any other male R&B singer. He brings the strongest vocals and knows how to work a woman out of her clothes — literally.
Aside from having longevity, reaching other genres, and having a stage presence, R. Kelly undoubtedly has influenced several artists throughout his career, which spans over twenty years.
In addition, Kells’ songwriting ability and ear for what makes great and timeless music are all excellent factors that would make him beneficial to any of the hopefuls on “American Idol.”
Seven-time Grammy Award-winning songstress Toni Braxton has definitely made her mark in the R&B world. Shortly after her departure from the group “The Braxtons,” the singer laid the foundation for her own successful solo career.
Known for her big ballad hits like “Love Shoulda Brought You Home,” “Just Be A Man About It” and “Un-Break My Heart” Braxton would be a great gem for contestants. She could help with helping participants command the stage with those types of records while guiding them to keep their range under control as she has done time and time again.
In addition, as we have seen with the legend on the hit show Braxton Family Values she is a perfectionist. She will be able to coach competitors on bringing nothing less than 110 percent when they take the Idol stage.
As long as she isn’t handling the finances, the lucky contestants and FOX will be fine!
Our favorite “Uncle Charlie” without a doubt would be a great asset to the judging panel. Even though Charlie Wilson’s solo career didn’t soar until the early 2000s, he still has great experience in the music industry as a group member.
As the former lead vocalist of The Gap Band, during the beginning of a future Idol cycle, he can coach contestants on being the standout of the group while giving their counterparts the ability to shine.
He certainly has the home advantage of being popular among the young generation. His groundbreaking 2013 BET Awards performance with Justin Timberlake, Pharrell and Snoop Lion is attest to this fact.
More than that, his bubbly personality and a youthful attitude are needed for the competition among other characteristics.
The Queen of Funk has successfully carved her name into the pillars of the recording industry for over 40 years. Since her early days of Rufus to her own solo career, Chaka Khan has been a force to reckoned with in the R&B galaxy.
Unlike previous judges who have sugar-coated their thoughts to the contestants, Khan would bring the truth. Remember her comments about Clive Davis on hosting the annual pre-Grammy party while Whitney Houston’s lifeless body laid in the hotel.
“I thought that was complete insanity,” Khan said. “I don’t know what could motivate a person to have a party in the building where the person whose life he had influenced so enormously [had died].”
In this day and age, there are enough microwave artists just getting by with just their looks and not their singing abilities. It would be a great addition for the “I’m Every Woman” singer to spit the truth to contestants and instill her wisdom from her larger-than-life career.
Plus who wouldn’t love to see Chaka’s Khan be sassy and show off her fashion sense every week?
Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds
Without a shadow of a doubt, Babyface would be the perfect American Idol judge. The multi-award singer-songwriter has been a musical figure for over 25 years and is responsible for some of R&B and pop’s biggest acts — namely TLC, Toni Braxton, and Usher, to name a few.
As he has written and produced over 125 top 10 R&B and pop hits for several artists, it would be a special treat for him to give his thoughts on how the contestants either nailed the record or how they could have taken it up a notch.
Along with his role in the existence of many R&B/pop acts and writing contributions, his understanding of the recording industry would have been great for contestants. As former label-head of LaFace Records, his grasp on how to sustain lasting careers would undoubtedly be great knowledge to have in the back pocket for whoever wins or whoever is runner-up.
Additionally, as the 11-time Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter/producer readies his comeback with Love, Marriage and Divorce with Toni Braxton, this exposure would have been great for the “Whip Appeal” crooner.
Mary J. Blige
Billboard magazine’s most successful female R&B artist of the last 25 years has only been in the music game for 20 plus years and has touched the hearts of millions since day one.
While some people may feel like “Mary isn’t the best vocalist” to be judging a singing competition — they are wrong. Throughout the years, Mary J. Blige’s voice has become stronger and more controlled as she has become confident with her vocal abilities. She can teach hopefuls to be confident in their range while taking risks. Their risk throughout the competition and if they win may help save someone through song.
This wouldn’t be the first time the legendary songstress has lent her musical talents to Idol or other singing competitions. She has been a guest judge on season nine of American Idol during the audition phase and acted as a mentor with Jimmy Iovine on cycle eleven. In addition, she stepped in as a coach to Adam Levine’s team on NBC’s The Voice in 2012.
Did I mention she is the only artist with Grammys in gospel, rap, R&B and pop? Her resume speaks for itself.
Sean “Diddy” Combs
While Diddy isn’t an R&B artist, he has been the driving force behind the career of several R&B acts including Mary J.Blige, Faith Evans, Total and Carl Thomas, among others. However, while all these artists haven’t stood the test of time due to Diddy failed management tactics, the “Press Play” mogul still helped launch the careers of our favorite singers.
With Diddy’s experience in production and artist development, he would be a great contribution to the participants of the show. Like Chaka Khan, the honest artist will give contestants the truth. If you aren’t hot, he will let you know. Again, this is needed due to the high percentage of gimmicks in the music industry.
Also, Diddy is quite the dancer. With this unique talent as he advises competitors on their singing abilities, he could give pointers on how to work the stage as well. There’s nothing like a singer just standing in one spot throughout the show and never interacting with fans.
It was rumored the “Come To Me” entertainer was offered a chance to judge season 13 of Idol but due to his prior relationship with Jennifer Lopez, he turned the opportunity down. If J-Lo didn’t return it would have been nice to see his infamous two-step and his charming smile every Wednesday and Thursday night.
Like Diddy, Missy Elliott certainly isn’t an R&B singer. However, unlike Diddy, Elliott can hold a tune of her own as she has sung on all her platinum-selling albums (“Supa Dupa Fly,” “Da Real World”) and background vocals for a few dozen of our favorite R&B artists like Monica, Fantasia and others.
Aside from the “Work It” artist being an MC and singer, she has produced and penned several songs, which span over 15 years of classic R&B/pop tunes. Let’s not forget her major contribution to the Moulin Rouge soundtrack “Lady Marmalade.” Elliott knows what makes great music and what doesn’t.
In addition, The Cookbook MC has acted as her own star search. She has helped launch the careers of several R&B acts including Nicole Wray (“Make It Out”), Tweet ( “Oops…Oh My”), and Jazmine Sullivan ( “Need U Bad”).
Her musical resume speaks volumes about the amount of impact she could have on the lives of contestants and the competition.