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Steven Tyler Leaves American Idol. Could J-Lo Be Next?

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Danny Moloshok / AP

American Idol judge Steven Tyler of Aerosmith participates in the American Idol panel at the Fox Broadcasting Company Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour in Pasadena, Calif. on Jan. 8, 2012.

Well, hellfire, save matches, [American Idol bleep logo] a duck and see what hatches: Steven Tyler is leaving American Idol.

The singing judge, Aerosmith frontman and coiner of obscene folk expressions joined Idol with Jennifer Lopez two seasons ago, but, Fox announced today, he’s leaving to focus more exclusively on his music. Here’s his statement, and I strongly suggest finding your friend who does the best Tyler impression to read it aloud to you:

After some long…hard…thoughts…I’ve decided it’s time for me to let go of my mistress ‘American Idol’ before she boils my rabbit. I strayed from my first love, AEROSMITH, and I’m back – but instead of begging on my hands and knees, I’ve got two fists in the air and I’m kicking the door open with my band. The next few years are going to be dedicated to kicking some serious ass – the ultimate in auditory takeover…On Nov. 6, we are unleashing our new album, Music from Another Dimension on the Earth, Moon, Mars, and way beyond the stars…IDOL was over-the-top fun, and I loved every minute of it…Now it’s time to bring Rock Back. ERMAHGERD.

Anyway. Tyler and Lopez have held down the judges’ table with Randy Jackson for two seasons now, and while they’ve made the judging—well, less judge-y—with their general reluctance to give tough criticism, Tyler has at least shown a empathy, a quirky sense of humor and a kind of loveable-grandpa side (to balance his occasional creepy-grandpa flashes with Idol’s comely young lady contestants).

Part of the surprise here was that recent attention has focused on whether J-Lo would stick around; as recently as today she’d been quoted as saying that this past season might be her last. I don’t know if this is as worrisome for Idol, though, as the departures of Paula Abdul, Ellen DeGeneres and especially Simon Cowell. The show may not be the same, but the ratings have not collapsed (they may be fading, but Idol could do a slow fade and be strong for years). It always seemed likely that recording stars like Tyler and Lopez would do the show a few years at most, so the show may just be entering an era where judge is a more temporary, visiting-laureate position.

At least we’ll always have Randy Jackson. Though at last report, he too had not yet signed on for season 12. ERMAHGERD.