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Why in the World Is Katy Perry Judging American Idol?

May 17,2017 17:09

American Idol, the singing competition about to launch its 16th season on a new network, has announced that Katy Perry will be on its judging panel when the series returns on ABC next winter. The news was revealed at ABC's upfront presentation Tuesday ...and more »


By Rich Fury/Getty Images.

American Idol, the singing competition about to launch its 16th season on a new network, has announced that Katy Perry will be on its judging panel when the series returns on ABC next winter. The news was revealed at ABC’s upfront presentation Tuesday afternoon, just hours after Perry all but broke it herself during an Ellen appearance.
American Idol certainly needs Perry. ABC raised the 15-year franchise from the dead well before it was cold in its Fox grave, causing consternation both within the network and outside of it—especially after two of Idol’s most starry alumni, Kelly Clarkson and Jennifer Hudson, pointedly signed on to serve as judges on the next season of NBC’s The Voice instead of the undead series that made them famous. Clearly, Idol could use a big name both to shore up its judging panel and justify its quick return—and according to Entertainment Weekly, Idol had actually tried for years to sign Perry. Now that it finally has her, the network is allegedly offering her somewhere between $10 to $15 million.
But it’s a little more difficult to understand why Perry would want to tie herself to Idol. On balance, The Voice has proven a much more fecund ground for artists in their prime—or at least on a steady plateau—than Idol has: think Rihanna, Miley Cyrus, Alicia Keys, even Blake Shelton and Adam Levine. Its two-season-a-year structure—“coaches” serve on a rotating basis—has proven attractive to performers who still want to be known primarily for recording albums and touring, rather than appearing on reality shows. The first incarnation of American Idol, on the other hand, was known better for attracting performers closer to the winter of their recording careers, like—gulp—Mariah Carey (sorry, Mimi!) and Jennifer Lopez (this hurts me more than it hurts you!).
Then again, maybe Perry needs American Idol, too. She’s about to release her fifth studio album, which means she’s just about on schedule for a “reinvention” stage—think of Lady Gaga curtailing her more theatrical shades to go full cowgirl for Joanne, debuting singles in dive bars and wearing American flags. (That album was also Gaga’s fifth solo release, not counting her weird Tony Bennett duet phase.) The once milk-covered Miley Cyrus is all wedding rings and virginal white for her new single, “Malibu” (off her upcoming sixth studio album), and it’s clear from an interview in Billboard that she’s got the country music fandom on her mind. (“The fact that ­country music fans are scared of me, that hurts me. All the ­nipple pastie shit, that’s what I did because I felt it was part of my political movement, and that got me to where I am now”—i.e., reminding them that “Dolly Parton is my ­fucking ­godmother.”)
And if you’ve been watching, you’ve seen Katy Perry make similar moves as well lately. Her first major appearance after she killed at the 2016 Super Bowl was at the Country Music Awards, doing a duet with Dolly Parton. Later in the year, she performed with Kacey Musgraves on CMT. A residency on Idol would give Perry a solid platform to approach the same sort of demographics Gaga and Cyrus have courted in their country-fried phases, even if the one-time Hillary Clinton booster is still purportedly concentrating on “purposeful pop.”
Her first album in four years, Witness, also comes out on June 9, and her tour revs up in September. Idol will help her market both—and showing up on television every week could also help Perry rehab her image, which has been through the public-relations ringer over the past few months, after a couple of flop songs and revelations that she made not one, but two racially insensitive gaffes. (Plus, that joke about Britney Spears at the Grammys? Not great!) If Perry manages to charm audiences on a regular basis, she stands to fall back into public good graces—whether or not she decides to go full-on country next.

Full ScreenPhotos:
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Katy Perry’s Rainbow of Hair Colors Through the Years

June 9, 2008
At MTV’s Total Request Live in New York City.
By Scott Gries/Getty Images.
June 6, 2010
At the MTV Movie Awards in Los Angeles.
By Kevin Winter/Getty Images.
August 28, 2011
At the 28th Annual MTV Video Music Awards in Los Angeles.
By Andreas Branch/PatrickMcMullan.com
September 12, 2010
At the MTV Video Music Awards in Los Angeles.
By Kevin Mazur/WireImage.
October 17, 2011
At Ghost the Musical in London.
By Ben Pruchnie/FilmMagic.
November 20, 2011
At the American Music Awards in Los Angeles.
By Andreas Branch/PatrickMcMullan.com.
November 20, 2011
At the American Music Awards in Los Angeles.
By John Shearer/AMA2011/Getty.
November 30, 2011
At the Grammy Nominations Concert Live!! held in Los Angeles.
By Lester Cohen/WireImage.
December 3, 2011
At the 3rd Annual “Change Begins Within” benefit celebration in Los Angeles.
By Andreas Branch/PatrickMcMullan.com.
February 11, 2012
At the Rocnation Pre-Grammy brunch in West Hollywood, California.
By David Crotty/PatrickMcMullan.com.
February 12, 2012
At The 54th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles.
By Kevin Mazur/WireImage.
February 22, 2012
At the Americana Brand mall in Los Angeles.
By JB Lacroix/WireImage.
March 7, 2012
At the Miu Miu Ready-to-Wear Fall/Winter show in Paris.
By Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images.
March 19, 2012
At BBC Maida Vale Studios in London.
By Fred Duval/FilmMagic.
March 31, 2012
At the 2012 Nickelodeon's Kids' Choice Awards in Los Angeles.
By Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic.
April 15, 2012
At the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival in Indio, California.
By Frazer Harrison/Getty Images.
May 20, 2012
At the 2012 Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas.
By Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic.
June 26, 2012
At the premiere of Katy Perry: Part of Me in Hollywood.
By David Crotty/PatrickMcMullan.com.
April 8, 2014
At Congressional candidate Marianne Williamson’s press event in Los Angeles.
By Araya Diaz/WireImage.
February 8, 2015
At the 57th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles.
By Jeff Vespa/WireImage.
September 8, 2015
At the premiere of the Vladar Company's Jeremy Scott: The People's Designer in Hollywood.
By Nina Prommer/PatrickMcMullan.com.
September 16, 2015
At the 2015 Harper's Bazaar ICONS Event in New York City.
By Sean Zanni/PatrickMcMullan.com.
February 12, 2017
At the Universal Music Group 2017 Grammy after-party in Los Angeles.
By Greg Doherty/PatrickMcMullan.com.
February 16, 2017
At the Marc Jacobs Fall 2017 Show in New York City.
By Jared Siskin/Patrick McMullan.com
March 5, 2017
At the 2017 iHeartRadio Music Awards in Inglewood, California.
From Getty Images.

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