With two empty seats to fill at the "X Factor" judges table, we thought we would help Simon Cowell by providing a few suggestions about who should fill those seats.
Rather than just pulling a list of random, unrealistic names out of the air ( Madonna? Too expensive. Lady Gaga? Be serious.), we created a set of criteria that each potential judge would need to fulfill. The show will want to keep the same gender split of two men and two women, so no fellas (though Andre 3000 would definitely bring some swagger to the show). Gone are the days of hiring unknown entities, so no one-hit wonders, British unknowns or girl-group members with solo careers stuck in limbo. And the candidate should be a recognizable star, but have enough time on her hands to devote to a full TV season.
With all that said, we narrowed down the field to 10 artists we think would do well seated between Cowell and L.A. Reid on season two of Fox's "X Factor."
| Donna Summer
Pro: A guest judge on Bravo's "Platinum Hit," the disco queen would bring credibility, presentation skills and a recognizable voice.
Con: She's got a great history behind her, but will a young audience just see her as out of date?
| Natalie Maines
Pro: The Dixie Chicks lead singer has proven she can speak her mind and stick to her guns. Recent Grammy wins indicate industry support, and the pop path of the last album demonstrates the Chicks are more than just a country trio.
Con: We're not sure the South has forgiven her for dissing Pres. Bush in 2003.
| Mary J. Blige
Pro:She's a bona fide superstar, still relevant as a recording artist, won raves as an "American Idol" guest judge, and her work in film and TV continues to impress.
Con: Does the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul have enough pop appeal to pull in big ratings?
Pro: Her celeb factor through the roof and, let's face it, she needs something to spark interest in her music career again. It's easy to picture her as a nurturing mentor who understands presentation better than nearly anyone.
Con: Is the soft-spoken Janet capable of giving harsh criticism to the contestants who deserve it?
| Alicia Keys
Pro: With a new baby, the show would offer her a chance to stay put in one place for a while. And when the time is right, Keys could use TV to premiere new music to the American mainstream.
Con: Will Keys' laidback persona make for juicy TV moments? We can't see her engaging in quibbling with Simon, a la Paula.
| Faith Hill
Pro: Remember her? A lot of America does and she would fill a void at the table - country-pop - while adding a light-hearted spirit to the judging.
Con: Next to her, Cowell would come off more mean than usual.
| Oprah Winfrey
Pro: Oprah's much-missed talk show was a powerful force when it came to generating music sales. Plus, she needs a vehicle to get people to watch her new network, OWN, which has not generated the expected viewership.
Con: It's hard to imagine Oprah playing second fiddle to anyone, especially Simon.
Pro:The spunky songstress is still a head-turning hit-maker, understands pop music theatrics, and has a great look for the tube.
Con: Some people still see her as a poor man's Aguilera, which won't help the show's "Voice" comparisons.
Con: Will.i.am might get jealous of all her attention.
| Mariah Carey
Pro: She's the obvious choice. Her name has been rumored more than any other possible judge and a TV show with Reid (the man who revived her career) and Cowell (apparently a friend) would make total sense.
Con: From a publicity and potential ratings standpoint? Uh, none!