Toby Keith Told 'American Idol' No Thanks
What do you think, folks? Did this ultimately pan out for the best, or should it go down as a missed opportunity at freshing up "American Idol" with some new color?
Katy Perry isn't the only sought-after artist who told the Fox primetime competition "Thanks, but no thanks." Country star Toby Keith passed up a chance to judge the upcoming twelfth season potentially alongside veteran judge Randy Jackson and fresh addition Mariah Carey, Billboard reports. Keith reportedly told executives that the show would cut too much into his recording and touring.
It's hard to say how the package Keith would've brought to the table would've balanced. True, "Idol" has skewed country in recent cycles; as Billboard points out, all but two "Idol" winners have hailed from America's South - a region historical very kindred with Keith's rural Midwest, Clinton, Okla., roots - and nearly all have dipped a toe into country music's waters. Keith could've lent that historically promising pool of contestants perspective that judges like Jennifer Lopez, Jackson and Tyler simply can't have for want of genre experience.
Also, Keith is colorful. Since Sept. 11, 2001, he's ranked among the most politically outspoken personas in music. A "red state" favorite, he launched a public assault on the Dixie Chicks' Natalie Maines after the singer cracked wise on then-President George W. Bush in France amid debate over whether or not U.S. troops should launch an assault on Iraq to oust then-dictator Saddam Hussein. He could've well been the closest thing "Idol" has seen to Simon Cowell since the original judge left the show to launch "The X Factor" following the tenth season.
The bad news? With that color could've come controversy. As has been demonstrated with the abruptly ended tenures of personalities like Bill Maher with ABC or Rush Limbaugh and Hank Williams Jr. with ESPN, outspoken voices with views far to one direction or the other can be off-putting to advertisers trying to reach as many consumers from the middle as possible.
Sure, it's Fox, and controversy is historically something the network weathers well. But with viewership and ad revenue declining last season, how big a gamble could the network really afford?
There's still time and a healthy pool of willing judges on the "Idol" side, but time will be the most fleeting factor in full replacing both Tyler and Lopez, who both announced their departures earlier this month after two seasons. There's also the uncertainty of Jackson not yet having a contract as his potential twelfth season draws near.