May 9, 2013 at 6:53 PM ET
You can’t boot Randy Jackson from “American Idol,” no matter what the rumor mill says. Instead, the only original judge remaining announced Thursday that he’s voluntarily leaving the show following next week’s finale.
His exit has been talked about for years, and he’s seemed less comfortable with every change the show has made since the original crew broke up. Amid all the chaos over the past few “Idol” seasons, Randy’s been the one constant on the panel. He outlasted Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul, survived the Kara DioGuardi and Ellen DeGeneres era, and along with J.Lo, helped keep Steven Tyler from getting into too much trouble.
Now, when season 13 begins next year, the Big Dawg will just be a memory ... at least until he comes back for guest performances/mentoring/promotions like everybody else seems to do.
While he’ll be gone, he won’t be forgotten. Here are six things we’ll miss when he’s not around next year:
"Yo!" "Check it out, dawg." "I’m just keepin’ it real."
Was there anyone who said the same things every week more often than Randy? Whether it was because of a lack of creativity or a desire to spark “Idol” bingo games, the audience could always depend on him reusing his favorite phrases to death.
Now who’s going to say someone’s “in it to win it?” Or that a hopeful “can sing the phone book?” He was always a dependable source that this was the best season ever, and the most talented finale in the show’s history. Now, someone else is going to have to fill the role of the hype generator.
The worst part of this season was that with Mariah Carey on the panel, Randy felt compelled to stop mentioning every week how often he’d worked with her in the past. Still, it was a rare week that viewers didn’t hear at least once or twice after a performance that he’d worked with the artist before. Oh, and did you know he played for Journey?
3. The keeping of the musical legacy
There’s some value to having a guy who can remind contestants that “Idol” didn’t start three months ago.
Telling artists that “Summertime” is owned by Fantasia, that nobody will do Heart’s “Alone” like Carrie Underwood, or that Elliott Yamin did “A Song For You” way better brings up the show’s history much more effectively than inviting folks such as Stefano Langone back for random performances. Though plenty of the longtime fans were sick of Randy, the one thing he did really well is serve as their voice and remember the great performances of previous years instead of being entirely focused in the now.
4.The facial expressions
Particularly in recent years, Randy has been an open book. If he’s confused or surprised, his eyes get big, his jaw drops, and his face seems to expand to twice its normal size. It’s the face that launched a thousand gifs.
5. He's Mariah Carey's Cliffs Notes
Now there’s no way Mariah can come back for another season. All she says, is “I agree with Randy.” What’s she going to do with him gone?
6. The familiarity
There are so many TV talent shows these days that it’s hard to remember which is which. There’s one that has chairs that turn around, another with Howard Stern, the one with the British guy who used to be on “Idol” and is now on some show nobody remembers he is on, and more.
But for 12 years, viewers could turn to Fox starting every January, see Randy Jackson, say, “Man, he’s still around?” and feel comforted that “Idol” was back and the predictable hijinks would ensue. Losing the last link to the old days on the panel just makes "Idol" look even more like a series that is performing well because it’s a good brand name and not that it’s a great product.
With Randy gone, we’re officially entering the stage where the vast majority of the “Idol” audience knows more about the show and is more invested in its success than in any of the judges, whoever they turn out to be next year. Don’t underestimate the chances that his departure will do more to bring the show to its knees than anyone is thinking about today.
What will you miss most about Randy Jackson on "American Idol"? Tell us below in the comments!