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  • 10 Famous Celebrity Guest Judges You Forgot Appeared On American Idol – Screen Rant

 April 15

by Carolina

While Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson, and Paula Abdul will forever be remembered by fans as the original judges on American Idol, the show has used many notable judges over the years. Some of these judges have flourished as great additions to the show while others have left viewers scratching their heads, trying to understand why they were included in the show.

Although American Idol does not use many celebrity guest judges anymore, several seasons heavily relied on guest judges to boost ratings and maintain interest in the show as it transitioned to new permanent judges. As a result, there are many notable celebrities, musicians, and entertainers who have appeared on the show that even hardcore fans may not remember.

10 Ellen DeGeneres (Season 9)

An image of Ellen DeGeneres sitting on the panel on American Idol

When original judge Paula Abdul stepped away from the show, American Idol brought in a rotation of celebrity guest judges to fill out the panel for season 9. Because of this, comedian Ellen DeGeneres served as the judge for the post-audition rounds. The talk show host admittedly had little to contribute to the evaluation of singing talent, but would frequently offer feedback on stage presence and presentation.

Now that DeGeneres has found herself surrounded by controversy, she may seem like an unlikely choice to step in for Paula Abdul. But at the time, DeGeneres was the face of one of television’s most popular daytime shows and had gained renown within family circles for her work as Dory in Finding Nemo. While the show wanted to position her as a permanent judge, the fact that she was not included in the auditions and did not return as a judge the next season made it clear that she was just a guest judge on the show.

9 Gene Simmons (Season 4)

As the show sought various celebrity judges for the different audition locations in season 4, American Idol turned to KISS legend Gene Simmons for the New Orleans auditions.

Simmons’ theatrical rocker persona may not be the most intuitive fit with the family-friendly program, but his appearance came in the middle of a career when he tried rebranding himself by showing up in shows such as The Fairly OddParents and SpongeBob SquarePants.

8 Neil Patrick Harris (Season 9)

An image of Neil Patrick Harris on How I Met Your Mother

Child star Neil Patrick Harris has made consistent movie and television appearances since the late 1980s. However, he experienced a career resurgence that catapulted him back onto the A-list in the early 2000s, culminating in his Emmy-nominated role as Barney Stinson in How I Met Your Mother.

As part of this return to stardom, he made an appearance as a celebrity guest judge during the Dallas auditions for the 9th season of American Idol. A skilled singer and an undeniable showman, he was an ideal choice for the talent competition.

7 Joe Jonas (Season 9)

An image of Joe Jonas on American Idol

Over the two days of auditions in Dallas, Texas for season 9, the judges were joined by Neil Patrick Harris on one day and Joe Jonas on the other. Joe Jonas was no stranger to the music scene as his band, the Jonas Brothers, had already enjoyed massive success by that point.

However, in hindsight, Joe Jonas’ appearance on American Idol was indicative of the direction his career and the band were about to head. This episode was filmed just two months after the Jonas Brothers released what would be their last album for a decade, before their eventual reunion.

6 LL Cool J (Season 4)

An image of LL Cool J pointing to someone on stage

Season 4 reinvented the audition process, as guest judges joined Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson, and Paula Abdul during the audition for the first time in the show’s history. As part of this change, rapper LL Cool J joined the judges for the Cleveland auditions.

LL Cool J was a natural fit for the music industry and television show aspects of American Idol. This guest spot was one of many on-screen appearances that helped facilitate LL Cool J’s transition from hip-hop artist to actor.

5 Olivia Newton-John (Season 6)

An image of Olivia Newton John in Grease

Singer and actor Olivia Newton-John joined the regular judges as a celebrity guest judge for the Los Angeles auditions. Newton-John’s history with both singing and being an entertainer made her a reasonable choice to evaluate the would-be contestants.

While the Grease actor may not have been the most relevant star at the time, her charisma and charm made her a welcome presence on the show. Following this episode, Newton-John continued to make small appearances on shows such as Glee, RuPaul’s Drag Race, and Dancing with the Stars.

4 Avril Lavigne (Season 9)

Best known for singles such as “Complicated” and “Sk8er Boi,” Candian singer Avril Lavigne appeared on American Idol season 9 as a celebrity guest judge for one of the days of the Los Angeles auditions.

Appearing on the show several weeks before her 25th birthday, Avril Lavigne brought a youthful presence and a unique lived experience to the show. Because she had accomplished such a great deal of success in her teen years, Avril Lavigne was able to speak from a perspective that knew what it is like to become an overnight success at a young age from personal experience.

3 Victoria Beckham (Season 9)

Victoria Beckham on Amerian Idol panel

Stepping in as the first celebrity guest judge for American Idol season 9, Victoria Beckham joined the regular judges for both the Boston and Denver auditions. Most recently, Victoria Beckham has become known as a fashion designer and television personality. However, Beckham began her career as a member of the Spice Girls.

The initial idea to create the Spice Girls came from two managers who wanted to form a girl group to compete with the many popular boy groups. The managers placed ads in the newspaper and held auditions to form the Spice Girls. Given her experience and insight, Victoria Beckham was an excellent choice to appear as a guest judge.

2 Mary J. Blige (Season 9)

Legendary singer Mary J. Blige was one of the many celebrity guest judges who appeared in American Idol’s 9th season. The Grammy winner joined the regular judges for the Atlanta auditions.

It was a real shame that Mary J. Blige didn’t end up taking a permanent spot as she proved to be an excellent mentor for the finalists in season 11. The contestants certainly learned a lot from her.

1 Quentin Tarantino (Season 3)

Quentin Tarantino as Mr.Brown in Reservoir Dogs

Undoubtedly, the most surprising celebrity guest judge to ever appear on American Idol is acclaimed writer-director Quentin Tarantino. The Oscar-winning filmmaker is eccentric, but fans were not expecting him to pop up on a singing competition show.

However, the context in which Tarantino appeared actually made some sense. Tarantino served as a judge in a season 3 episode in which the contestants were challenged to sing songs from movie soundtracks. Few directors have so skillfully used songs in their films as Tarantino has over the years, making him a uniquely qualified, if somewhat unconventional choice to appear as a guest judge.

NEXT: The Best Singing Competition Series Currently On TV, Ranked (According To IMDb)



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About The Author


Shane Redding
(7 Articles Published)

Shane Redding is a writer based in Nevada, United States. He received a Master’s Degree from the New York Film Academy in Los Angeles, California. He now works as a Screen Rant List Writer for Valnet, Inc. In his free time, he enjoys playing and watching sports, theme parks, escape rooms, board games, and spending time with family

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