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The Farr Side: Can Lionel Richie bring credibility back to ‘American Idol’?

The Farr Side: Can Lionel Richie bring credibility back to ‘American Idol’?

“American Idol” returns Sunday, at its new home on ABC.

The show that brought to light the lives and careers of many talented folks like Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Jennifer Hudson, Katharine McPhee, Chris Daughtry and Clay Aiken to name a few, is back after nearly a two-year break.

I couldn’t be more excited, and it’s been that way since season 1. Seeing Clarkson grow and improve with each week was inspiring the first season and I was hooked. Knowing I had a vote in helping her achieve her dreams made it even more satisfying.

Initial judges were the best. Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, and Randy Jackson were the real deal. They possessed the necessary chemistry for a show like “Idol” to work, both with potential singer wannabes and the viewing audiences. Through the years, the panel changed, not always for the better. The show began to focus more on the judges and less on the talent. It had a negative effect, particularly when Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj were on-board. The distraction caused by Carey and Minaj caused a detraction, resulting in the loss of viewers.

Jennifer Lopez, Steven Tyler, Keith Urban and Harry Connick Jr. were good, but the show’s premise had lost its original power.

I often said Cowell was responsible for the show’s initial success, even if you disliked his bluntness. Agree or disagree, Cowell knew how to make stars of undiscovered talent. His departure left a hole in “Idol” that was never fully filled.

Unlike “The Voice,” “Idol” invested more in its participants. I like that. The time I invested watching the show had a payoff, because results were heard later on the radio.

It was my hope someone like David Foster or Lionel Richie would join “Idol” and keep the show on pace. But I believe it fell prey to “The Voice” and its need to compete with their “coaches.”

So I was thrilled to learn that Lionel Richie will be a judge on Idol’s ABC reboot. He joins Katy Perry and Luke Bryan. All three possess pizzazz that could work, but we won’t know until we see it play out.

Richie brings a career making him worthy of such a position, more so than Perry and Bryan. He’s a consummate singer/songwriter/entertainer who is beyond “Idol status” — He’s an icon. His track record as a music artist validations his inclusion on the judges panel.

Richie is a perfect artist to shed light on what a career in music can mean. His knowledge will bring credibility back to a show worth preserving. He represents what “American Idol” is all about.

— David T. Farr can be reached at farrboy@hotmail.com. You also can find The Farr Side on Facebook.

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