We’ve heard the questions since confetti rained down on American Idol Season 9 winner Lee DeWyze last May. What kind of changes will Season 10 bring? Who will replace Simon? Kara? Ellen? Names such as Justin Timberlake, Harry Connick Jr. and even Howard Stern were bandied about. In the end, the producers opted to go back in time, retaining as judge, 1980’s Journey bassist Randy Jackson and adding 1970’s pop icon Steven Tyler of Aerosmith and 1990’s hit maker Jennifer Lopez. J-Lo made sense, she was Paula Abdul without the medication and at least had hit the upper reaches of the Billboard charts in this century. But Steven Tyler?
Kid Rock called Tyler’s acceptance of becoming an American Idol judge “the stupidest thing he’s ever done in his life. He’s a sacred American institution of rock and roll, and he just threw it all out the window. Just stomped on it and set it on fire.” Sorry Kid Rock, but you don’t last 40 years in the recording business without finding some way to keep the public’s attention. Aerosmith and Tyler were considered America’s greatest rock and roll band in the 1970’s but had faded from the scene until they were introduced to an entire new generation by teaming up with Run/DMC for a remake of “Walk This Way” in 1986. A string of MTV videos helped propel Aerosmith’s popularity into the 1990’s. So now what? How about having your face seen twice a week on America’s most popular television show? TV brought Ozzy Osbourne to mainstream America and his concert ticket sales and album sales skyrocketed. Are Aerosmith and Steven Tyler far behind?
After months of hype, week one of Season 10 is in the bag. How did Steven grade out? In appraising talent, give Tyler a C. He seemed only average in passing through to the next round those singers that were deserving. He needs to be a bit tougher and could use work. He also needs a better catch phrase than “you sing beautiful.” Give Tyler a B in rejecting Idol wannabes. Unlike Lopez, Tyler had no problem in dismissing those he didn’t like, usually with a kind but firm denial. He’s not Simon yet, but who can be? As an entertaining judge, Tyler deserves a B-. His humorous remarks seemed less forced and were as funny as most of what Ellen DeGeneres tried to add last year. And yes, some of his rock and roll bad boy personality surfaced when telling a sweet, 16 year old contestant that she was showing just the right amount of skin. I’m still ready for him to cut loose though. Be warned, if Tyler is drumming on the desk while you are singing, you aren’t going to Hollywood. Overall, I give Tyler a B-. Not a bad start.
It’s still too early to tell whether Steven Tyler will step it up a notch and become a grade A judge. He has potential. It’s easy to look good on tape (although one should shy away from looking at any of his close- ups. Yes, as his momentary flash of skin showed, he’s in great shape but I think there’s been a bit of work done on that legendary face). Let’s see how he does on the live shows later this year. Was becoming an American Idol judge a wise move by Steven Tyler? Current Aerosmith fans will still keep going to their shows and buying their albums. But a whole new set of fans will emerge. Throwing his career out the window? Any time you can add a new legion of admirers, and Tyler’s time on American Idol will, you’ve made the right move.