American Idol has added a fourth face to its panel of talent judges. Songwriter, producer and Grammy-nominated pop composer, Kara DioGuardi, will join veteran Idol judges Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson for the upcoming eighth season of US television’s most watched show when it returns in January 2009.
The addition of DioGuardi, 37, marks the biggest format change for the series, subtitled The Search for a Superstar, since it burst into prime time on the Fox network in 2002.
Though hardly a household name, DioGuardi has written and produced songs for numerous recording artists, including pop stars Gwen Stefani and Christina Aguilera as well as past Idol winners Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson. She has also received several awards in recent years.
In a conference call with reporters, she noted a previous collaboration with Abdul, saying they co-wrote a song early in her career, Spinning Around, which went on to become a hit for Australian singer Kylie Minogue.
It is expected that DioGuardi’s arrival will correct the ‘gender imbalance’ on the Idol panel. “For the past seven seasons, Paula has had to endure the experience of being the only woman at the judges’ table,” said Mike Darnell, head of alternative programming at Fox. “With Kara by her side, Paula finally has some back-up, and now there is going to be a lot more ‘girl power’ on the show.”
DioGuardi declined to critique her soon-to-be peers but said that she finds Cowell, known for giving the most unvarnished appraisals among the panelists, to be generally fair. “I think Simon is pretty spot-on most of the time,” she said.
Style and talent
The record producer and talent scout described herself as “pretty feisty” and willing to stand up for her opinions. “I’m going to be a straight-shooter,” said DioGuardi. The most important quality she is looking for in singers, aside from a “great voice,” is a style that sets them apart.
She said her favourite song is John Lennon’s Imagine, a tune that figured prominently in the show last season as the signature performance of young crooner David Archuleta, who was narrowly defeated by rocker David Cook in the end.