Even before sharp-tongued Simon Cowell officially bid "American Idol" goodbye after nine seasons of judging the reality competition, everyone from Perez Hilton to Howard Stern began eying his now-vacant seat. But one "Idol" alum has a suggestion about who should take the open spot on the panel. Season-two runner-up Clay Aiken says the show should keep it in the family when selecting Cowell's replacement, bringing in an ex-contestant to sit on the other side of the judges' table.
"I've always thought it would be a great addition to the panel to have someone who's a former contestant and knows what it's like to be up on that stage and be critiqued," Aiken told Billboard.com.
While Aiken's down with the idea of a former "Idol" contender offering insight, he's not necessarily gunning for the gig. "Well, I'm so far removed from it at this point that I don't know if I remember what it's like, but who knows."
Aiken didn't shut down the idea of returning to the amateur talent juggernaut that launched his career, but he said his judging style would differ from Cowell's abrasive approach.
"I would not put myself out there to be as caustic as he is, but if they want to call me, bring it on," Aiken said. "We can talk."
Aiken, however, is not as far removed from all things "American Idol" as he says. For his upcoming tour, the singer is teaming up with Ruben Studdard, the "Velvet Teddy Bear" who bested the crooner in the show's second season.
"We've been talking for years about trying to do something together and had never really found the time to do it," Aiken said. The singer said the former competitors will combine their distinct musical styles on the summer tour.
"It's kind of a musical revue of sorts — some of the biggest hits and greatest songs, from our point of view — and songs that have influenced us from over the past five decades," Aiken revealed. "We're really good friends and have a great time when we're together, so I think it's going to be a lot of fun to do a tour like this, for us and for the audiences, too."
Aiken released his fifth studio album, Tried & True, a collection of standards, on June 1.
Do you think Clay Aiken would make a good "American Idol" judge? Let us know in the comments!