<em>American Idol</em> judges timeline

Occasionally finding the need to reinvent the show with new faces or having to find new judges as some decide to leave, American Idol has had quite a few familiar and somewhat interesting faces throughout the history of the show.

Some critics say judges are chosen and sacked due to viewer ratings, other say it is to maintain the quality. Yet, we as viewers have the most say and sometimes we find ourselves judging the judges more than the contestants.

Here is a look at the American Idol judges through the years:

Season 1 - Season 8 (2002 -2009)

Kicking off Season 1 on 11 June 2002, the adapted version from the British reality show Pop Idol, the first season aired on the Fox network.

Signing on as judges for the first eight seasons of American Idol were Randy Jackson, Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul.

The mix of a British meanie, music producer and pop star were according to the LA Times: "A hit and run". The producers however felt they had a hit team and that "people will learn to love them".

In 2009, American singer-songwriter Kara DioGuardi was signed on as a fourth judge for Season 8, and joined the remaining panel of Simon, Randy and Paula.

Everything was set for Season 9, but it was not until the end of Season 8 that Paula chose to leave the show, rather than accept a salary below her asking price for Season 9.

Season 9 (2009)

After the departure of Paula Abdul, the producers had to sit down and decide who they will sign on to replace Paula's empty seat.

After much deliberation, the first half of the season consisted of using guest judges in their various auditioning processes.

Niel Patrick Harris, Katy Perry, Mary J Blige, Shania Twain, Avril Lavigne, Joe Jonas, Kelly Clarkson and Victoria Beckham took their turn in the judges seat while the producers were still searching for a suitable, permanent replacement.

Ellen DeGeneres was finally brought on as a replacement for Paula Abdul. Fans found themselves devided: whilst some enjoyed DeGeneres' fun angle to the show, others were outraged by the fact that Ellen has no background in the music industry and adding little value to the show.

Season 10 - 11 (2010 -2011)

Randy Jackson was left as the only judge after Ellen DeGeneres, Simon Cowell and Kara DioGaurdi took their exit from the show.
Simon left to start off an American version of The X-Factor, whilst Kara and Ellen's contracts were not renewed.

In a big unveiling ceremony, it was announced that Aerosmith-rocker Steven Tyler and megastar Jennifer Lopez will join Randy as the newest judges for Season 10.

Many American Idol fans welcomed the new additions.

Season 12 (2012)

After Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez announced they would be leaving the show due to "various reasons", producers had to hit the drawing board again.

New plans were drawn up to create a structure similar to The X-Factor, but this was not long-lasted.

Original producer, Nigel Lythgoe, also famous for shows such as So You Think You Can Dance, was brought back onto the team to help give the show a boost after failing viewer numbers.

Soon rumours went flying around about various celebrities who have been pegged for the new judging panel. Joe Jonas, Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood were just some of the names dropped for the newest season.

Officially the fist celebrity to sign on as a judge for Season 12 was Mariah Carey. Soon after she took to her Twitter-account saying: "Yay! I am so excited to be joining Idol. I can't wait to get started in a couple of months."

Nicki Minaj was also said to be in negotiations with producers.

It was also reported that Randy Jackson's duties would be reduced to a mentor. But, in early September he was signed back on as a judge with Nicki Minaj.

On 16 September, the judges were announced in TV Guide magazine, and it was revealed that Keith Urban was also signed on as a judge.

Sources: The LA Times, American Idol Online, Entertaiment Weekly