New ‘American Idol’ Judges Promise a Tough-Love Fest

That big ol’ meanie Simon Cowell might be gone, but that doesn’t mean that American Idol hopefuls will be getting a free ride when the 10th season of the show starts in January.

New judges Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez, along with new in-house mentor Jimmy Iovine and returning judge Randy Jackson, appeared on Ryan Seacrest’s radio show on Wednesday to talk about how they’ll be approaching their tasks when the revamped show returns.

The general consensus? They might let you down easy, but if you don’t pass muster, they’ll let you down nonetheless. 

According to Tyler,

“I have the passion and the heart, and I’m going to love them to death. So I can say, ‘You’re going to Hollywood,’ but also you gotta tell them, ‘Don’t hate me for what I say, don’t get mad, get better.’ I will send them home with a broken heart, I’m going to be honest and truthful and open as best I can…and tongue in cheek.”

Lopez, meanwhile, reckons that she’ll have some level of artistic sympathy for the would-be singing stars, but when constructive criticism is called for, she won’t be afraid to dole it out:

“I think innately you can’t help but want to give them tough love in a sense. I don’t think I can ever be cruel to another artist because I am an artist, and I know what its like to put yourself out there, be in front of people, and say, ‘Hey do you like me?’ [I’m always going to judge] with a lot of love and caring and a lot of nurturing and honesty.”

So how can contestants stay closer to the “love” side of the “tough love” equation? Iovine, honcho of Interscope Records, cautions that they’ll be looking for singers who put their own spin on their selected material:

“[We’re looking for] 100% originality. We don’t need someone who loves Mariah Carey and therefore is going to channel her. We need that influence but we want that person to be themselves and be original and do the work. We don’t want karaoke.”

So what do other ‘Idol’ alum think? For his part, ‘Idol’ runner-up Adam Lambert says he loves the new blood in the judge’s chair.

Do you think the new approach will be an improvement to the show? Share your predictions in the comments section.