'American Idol' Adds A Fourth Judge

Gwen Stefani/ Kelly Clarkson/ Pussycat Dolls songwriter Kara DioGuardi to join show's lineup in January.

When the eighth season of "American Idol" premieres in January, a fourth judge will be joining vets Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson: Grammy-nominated songwriter Kara DioGuardi.

"We are turning the heat up on 'Idol' this year and are thrilled to welcome Kara to the judges' table," said show creator and executive producer Simon Fuller in a statement on the show's Web site. "She is a smart, sassy lady, and one of America's most successful songwriters. We know she will bring a new level of energy and excitement to the show."

Other incarnations of the show throughout the world include four judges, and executive producer Cecile Frot-Coutaz said that even "American Idol" had been intended to have a fourth judge. "We've seen from our international series that having a fourth judge creates a dynamic that benefits both the contestants and the viewers," she said.

Mike Darnell, president of Fox's alternative programming, added: "For the past seven seasons, Paula has had to endure the experience of being the only woman at the judges' table. She's been as an island of consideration and gentle criticism between Randy and Simon, offering her invaluable expertise as a performer and #1 artist to the thousands who have competed on 'American Idol.' With Kara by her side, Paula finally has some back-up, and now there is going to be a lot more 'girl power' on the show."

DioGuardi-written or co-written hits include Christina Aguilera's "Ain't No Other Man," Gwen Stefani's "Rich Girl," Kylie Minogue's "Spinning Round," Celine Dion's "Taking Chances" and the Pussycat Dolls' "Beep" and "I Don't Need a Man." Her songs have also been recorded by Pink, Hillary Duff, Paris Hilton, Ashlee Simpson, Marc Anthony and several "Idol" alums, including Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Katharine McPhee, Taylor Hicks, Bo Bice and Clay Aiken.