Detroit's Queen of Soul is looking to stake her claim to the "American Idol" throne, reportedly asking to fill one of the judges' seats left open after Aerosmith's Steven Tyler and hit singer Jennifer Lopez announced they were leaving the reality singing competition.
But is Aretha Franklin, 70, named the greatest singer of all time by Rolling Stone, who Fox producers and the TV viewers want?
"She's the original American idol. Honesty is one of her attributes and who could argue her understanding of vocal talent -- especially in this day of auto-tune?," Spike, cohost of WKQI-FM (95.5)'s "Mojo in the Morning" told the Free Press today.
The buzz about Franklin began late Saturday when CNN and TMZ published reports that Franklin had emailed "Idol" producers expressing interest in filling one of the vacated seats on the reality singing competition's judges' panel. An email sent to Franklin's publicist asking for confirmation wasn't returned Sunday.
Last-standing original judge Randy Jackson has also been rumored on various entertainment web sites to be departing the series, which would enter its 12th season in January. "Idol," the one-time ratings juggernaut that had 30 million viewers tuning in during the show's peak in 2006, has been steadily declining in the ratings over recent seasons, dropping to an average of 20 million in 2012.
"The broader question is can any judge save 'American Idol'?" Spike adds.
"If they don't change the execution of show, if there are not bold changes done to keep people interested, 'American Idol' is going to become the MySpace of reality TV," he said of the now-defunct social networking site that pre-dated Facebook.
For Franklin, who's still hoping to have her memoir adapted to the silver screen, joining "Idol" will certainly be a big boost, exposing her to millions of young fans who watch the show but might not know her music that well.
But with judges on competing singing shows like Christina Aguilera, Adam Levine and Cee-Lo Green on NBC's "The Voice" and Britney Spears and Demi Lovato on Simon Cowell's Fox series "The X Factor," Franklin might not be exactly who "Idol" producers are hoping for. Names like Mariah Carey and former "Idol" contestant Adam Lambert have both already been rumored on various entertainment web sites as potential new judges.
Still, there's no denying the "Respect" singer's vocal prowess.
Sterling Heights' Christina Chriss, the lead singer for pop-rock group Kaleido, said she's not into reality TV shows but Franklin's words would mean a lot.
"She's an icon," Chriss said. "She's such a strong woman and I really look up to her. I love her music and anything she had to say to me about my singing would be powerful."
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