American Idol ISO country judge: our predictions

TOBY 03.jpg
Photo by Nikki Miller
Toby Keith at the 2011 Minnesota State Fair

The country music world's been abuzz all week with Idol chit-chat about - cue Ryan Seacrest voice - Who will be... the next American Idol judge. Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez have vacated their seats, with Mariah Carey joining tenured judge Randy Jackson for the program's twelfth season, and rumor has it the show's producers have been searching out its first country judge - given Blake Shelton's popularity on The Voice, it comes as little surprise. Toby Keith recently turned down an offer for the spot.

Who cares, right? Oh, country music cares, alright. The Idol franchise has introduced to the genre such totally subpar superstars as Carrie Underwood, as well as a whole mess of folks you ain't never heard of: Scotty McCreery! Lauren Alaina! Josh Gracin! The addition of a country judge could signal a move away from the pop-sensible country sound endorsed over the years by the likes of Paula Abdul and Jennifer Lopez. Nah, who are we kidding - we're likelier to see more crap.

Ooh, unless they recruit a totally baked Willie!

We should be so lucky. Here are a couple of our suggestions, as well as a bunch of totally lame predictions for how American Idol will likely continue to make the genre sink further into suck.

The Likely Suspects:

Brad Paisley

Producers are reportedly courting Paisley, after Toby Keith turned down the gig citing scheduling conflicts. He'd be a good fit - he's well-known and pop-sensible, but still as country as Top 40 country radio gets. Plus, he's got an endorsement from Idol runner-up Lauren Alaina, who is everything you'd expect an American Idol cattle-call champion-cum-country superstar to be. "I think that would be really cool. He has a great personality and every time I've talked with him he's been super nice. He is really cool. I think that would be a good move for the show," the singer told CMT Radio this week. Plus, Paisley has been touring with former Idol winner Scotty McCreery. Might just be a match made in TV garbage heaven.

Taylor Swift

Rumor has it she's dating a Kennedy, which means she'll be dead within a year. Sorry, but I doubt Idol's insurance allows for that.

Shania Twain

Twain was a guest judge in Idol's ninth season, and after her reportedly rocky fifteen year business/pleasure relationship with Mutt Lange, she probably knows a thing or two about being groomed for pop-country stardom.

Jennifer Nettles

The super-cute Sugarland singer recently served as mentor on ABC's take on competitive singing reality shows, Duets, with her two partners winning the top two spots. Alas - OMG BABY BUMP ALERT - she recently revealed she and her new husband are expecting their first child come November, so she'll probably be a bit tied up.

Miranda Lambert

While her husband is busy judging over on The Voice, it seems she'd be well-suited to act as judge on Idol. And I dunno, something about pairing Mariah Carey and Miranda Lambert at the head table just screams Caaaaaatfiiiiiiiiiiiight! I'm all for it.

Keith Urban

Urban just wrapped production on Australia's version of The Voice, so it's possible the judging bug's bit him. Plus, this sexy dad would be a hit with moms watching nationwide.

Tim McGraw and Faith Hill

This sexy mom/dad duo would be a hit with moms/dads watching nationwide. Double your pleasure, I guess?

And in our dreams:

Dolly Parton

She'd be the world's sweetest judge. Everyone would win! Yay!

Totally Baked Willie

Duuuuuhhhhhh. You know you'd totally watch this.
(Watch to the end to see Willie Nelson demand that Larry King handcuff him, and give him an "enema test.")

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