'American Idol' Alum Kimberley Locke Says Original Judges Were the Best: 'It Was About the Talent' (EXCLUSIVE VIDEO)

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Former American Idol contestant Kimberley Locke broke out in 2003 during the FOX series' second season -- and she says the only reason why had been so successful was strictly due to the judges at the time: Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson.

"That panel of judges -- they were perfect. Hands down!" Locke gushed to Celebuzz during an exclusive interview in our Hollywood studio. "They were the best!"

"That chemistry comes around ever so often once in a lifetime and you can't recreate it," she continued. "You just can't"

Since Locke's season, the Idol panel has seen many changes. As of late, pop diva Mariah Carey, rapper Nicki Minaj and country crooner Keith Urban have joined Jackson as the singing competition's latest judges.

What does Locke think about the change? "American Idol is celebrity-driven," she said of the revamp. "This is just part of the hype."

"This is the American Idol formula and they do it so well," Locke continued to explain, referring to the recent news that Carey and Minaj have been feuding offscreen.

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"I don't believe they're going to that direction," she added. "I believe that the American Idol brand is so powerful, they will rectify that. But what they are good at is they've got us talking about the show and the show doesn't even start airing until January."

With the recent influx of singing competitions -- including Cowell's new brainchild The X Factor and NBC's The Voice -- on the air, it's been a struggle for American Idol to stay on their A-game. However, Locke isn't too worried about the series' ratings just yet.

"American Idol was the first of its kind," she reassured us. "It will always be No. 1."

Watch the video above for more of our interview with the Idol alum.

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