Despite the fact that Jimmy Iovine‘s critiques of each contestant are by far the best part of “American Idol” each week, the Interscope Records chairman tells reporters ahead of the Season 11 finale that he has no plans to join the judging panel permanently — and he hopes Jennifer Lopez stays despite rumors she’s leaving.
“You know, no one has asked me and not right now,” he says. “I like working with musicians, and I like the creative aspect of what I do on the show. I really enjoy that, that’s a lot of fun for me, and [becoming a judge] would change that, so probably not.”
He’ll likely keep his current role as mentor to the contestants, and continue to share his opinion of each performance on the results show each week. Besides, he doesn’t want to be a judge anyway.
“The judges, what they do is so difficult — to go on the road and listen to people sing a cappella, thousands of them — I couldn’t do that,” he admits. “To differentiate and to find one kid and not the other — what they do is really extraordinary and that’s what I think you’re seeing on ‘American Idol’ that was missing in some of the years right before that. The A&R process that these judges collectively do is really extraordinary. That’s the thing I’m most impressed with.”
As for Lopez’s rumored departure from the panel, Iovine says he hopes she stays but he doesn’t have a say in the matter. “She’s incredible; I hope she does it again,” he says. “I know nothing about this, unfortunately. On this particular show it’s a decision that’s way above my pay grade. I am low in the totem pole. I don’t get to make these decisions about the judges.”
Now, on to the finalists: Iovine says both Phillip Phillips and Jessica Sanchez have extraordinary talent and deserve to be in the finale.
“Jessica is born with one of those gifts that you see very, very rarely — the tone of her voice, the range, her poise,” he says. “She has every chance to win this thing because she can strike a chord in you with the right song that, no matter what you think before that, you’re going to vote for her. She can change your mind on a dime because those voices don’t come around every day. There are so few people who can sing like that in the industry today.”
All that, and she’s still in high school. “She’s a pro. She’s 16 years old, but when this girl is 18, when she grows the next few years, she’s going to be, as they say, a ‘problem,’ which means she’s going to do really, really well. She has all the capabilities and all the skills to do great.”
Phillip, on the other hand, has a very different gift. He’s a singer-songwriter, and to get so far in the competition without people hearing any of his songs is remarkable. Iovine says he looks forward to working with Phillips on his first album.
“[With] singer songwriters, it’s a complicated thing. He has the advantage now of being exposed, of people hearing him in an incredible circumstance. A lot of people know who he is, and that’s an extraordinary advantage. But now he has to go and make a record that lives up to the popularity and the hype, which is not always the easiest thing. His record, he’s going to put a lot of work into it and we’re going to help him a lot.”
Iovine says Phillips’ success is great for him and for “Idol” for finding such a talent. “This guy, I don’t know how he was missed in the industry because he really has such a charisma and such a vibe and a great character. He was looked over, and it’s great that he got on this show. It’s terrific for the show that he made it through.”