Simon Cowell

Michael Becker / FOX

Just about everyone with even a passing interest in global popular culture is fascinated by Simon Cowell's American Idol swan song this season and the show's search to find a suitable replacement.

Who could possibly fill the shoes of Idol's most famous and memorable judge? Well, Simon himself just shared some ideas about that with reporters, and even passed judgment on a couple of wild-card candidates, former Oasis frontman Noel Gallagher and gossipy gadfly Perez Hilton. Could either of them qualify? Here's what we're learned:

Perez Hilton

Frank Micelotta/Getty Images for MTV

First off, regarding the transition, does Simon Cowell himself have a frontrunner in the race to replace him? Says the Brit, "Who could do it, in my mind? If I really knew the answer to that question, I wouldn't tell you."

Cowell does, however, have a good sense of the job requirements, which he says are these: "You've just got to find somebody who can actually make a difference to the contestants, who's not afraid to speak their mind, who's not afraid to be honest and occasionally blunt but not to be gratuitously rude. I'm really getting tired of that now."

Cowell said that what he's been telling his bosses about their candidate search is this: "I think [music experience] is really important. It's interesting that when we first started w had a record producer, an artist and an A&R man, so you've covered pretty much everything you need to do. I would say somebody who has had managerial experience is always very helpful. In simplistic terms, it's like if you judge the ice skating at the Olympics—if you're going to give a score, you genuinely need to know what you're talking about."

Simon suspects that if the Idol judges panel doesn't stay stocked with music-industry professionals, the quality of the show could eventually suffer. He notes, "Over the years, judges have been replaced by personalities. That, in the long term, will create problems, because you've got to be able to spot a star. Whoever replaces me, my advice has always been, 'Find somebody who actually knows what they are talking about and who has actually experienced success in the music business.' "

Noel Gallagher

Jon Furniss / Getty Images

Like who? One reporter suggested Perez Hilton, to which Cowell responded, "Perez would be funny. He's got a good taste in music. He's a personality. I mean, that could work." Another pitched former Oasis frontman Noel Gallagher, which caused Cowell to quip, "Noel? Do you think people would [be able to] understand him?" The reporter suggested subtitles, to which Cowell laughed and commented, "Subtitle him! [Laughter.] Actually I know Noel, quite well, and I like him. He's quite funny and a brilliant songwriter. It's a possibility."

But don't rev up the subtitle machine too soon. Cowell's not out the door for a few months yet, and for now he's just enjoying his final season on Idol.

When asked how it felt to be considered "irreplaceable" by some Idol fans, Cowell said, "It's very very flattering, and I really do appreciate it, but like I said before, the show goes on and I'm going to feel sad when it all ends. But it's much nicer to be popular than unpopular, so I do appreciate it."

Who do you think could be the next Simon Cowell on American Idol? Post your suggestions in the comments!


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