All Hell Breaks Loose on American Idol

Steven Tyler is out.

Jennifer Lopez is out.

Mariah Carey is in?

Randy Jackson, whom you’d assume would step away from the judges’ table only if prompted by a swarm of SWAT team laser-sights dancing across his forehead at the end of a 36-hour standoff involving a Comme des Garçons dynamite vest, a Patek Philippe watch trigger, and a diamond IN IT TO WIN IT pin anchoring a suicide manifesto to his lapel, might be stepping away from the judge’s table.

The Idolverse is in chaos.

But let’s back up for a minute.

Where’s Tyler going? Back to Aerosmith, full-time, without the distraction of having to judge-scat borderline illegal things at a procession of underage female singers who know the way to the leathery arbiter’s heart is through the involuntary pinging of his scarf-swaddled jail-bait detector. Free of Nigel Lythgoe’s karaoke shackles after two disappointing seasons, Tyler can finally rededicate himself to the band’s never-ending quest to recapture the elusive magic of that song Diane Warren wrote about the apocalyptic romance of an imminent, extinction-level meteor strike. He will be missed. (He will not be missed.)

And what about J.Lo? As recently as yesterday, she mused that her time on Idol might be coming to an end. What’s unclear: whether or not she knew about the Tyler departure before she started talking publicly about retiring from her judgeship, or if said musing was merely a (very shrewd) negotiating ploy to upgrade her compensation from a reported $12 million to a 15-minute jewel-collecting spree in Rupert Murdoch’s treasure cavern. She’ll be redirecting her motherly energies into nurturing the moribund movie career that her Idol exposure shock-paddled back from D-level rom-com oblivion. Oh, and she’ll probably continue to insist on making music, too. You really can’t blame her for trying, people — give her a lot of money for that. She will be missed. Genuinely. So, so shiny.

How about Randy? Us Weekly is reporting that Jackson may transition from judge to more of a mentoring gig, which, you know, might be a good change, affording him the opportunity to properly tune the pitchy before they hit the stage. (Assuming, of course, his head isn’t blown off by sniper fire during the aforementioned standoff over his evolving role.) We’re happy it sounds like they’re keeping him around. A millionty-billionty-times-triple-infinity-plus-five happy? No, we lost our ability to be that excited about anything sometime during Season 9, but happy enough. The Dawg needs to go down with the ship.

So what’s next? We suppose we’ll find out the result of those rumored Mariah Carey negotiations shortly. She’s a good get. After that, we’ll be strapping ourselves in for weeks of rumors about who’s plugging those gaping holes in the judging panel. Go ahead, treat yourself to a minute’s worth of imagining the huge names they’ll undoubtedly chase (if not actually snare), because this show is dead without some splashy moves: JT. ‘Ye and Jay. Eminem. Madonna. Peter Dinklage riding on Adele’s shoulders. All of U2 stacked up in some modified Hollywood Squares boxes. An evil clone made from stray hairs on one of Simon Cowell’s old V-neck sweaters and some saliva from a pit bull with spongiform encephalopathy. Rahm Emanuel with a sledgehammer. Go crazy with it, we’ll wait.

Done? Good.

God bless the United States and God bless American Idol.

Filed Under: American Idol, Idol, Jennifer Lopez, Mariah Carey, Randy Jackson, Steven Tyler

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Mark Lisanti is an editor at Grantland.

Archive @ marklisanti