Why American Idol Will Rescue Aerosmith

Photo illustration by Jesse Lenz

Photo illustration by Jesse Lenz

On January 19, the hot mess that goes by the name Steven Tyler will make his debut as an American Idol judge. Perhaps you’re familiar with the drama that accompanied his taking the job: After longtime judge Paula Abdul was dumped from the show, Tyler — then feuding with his band, Aerosmith — jumped at the chance to replace her. Several people weren’t pleased. “He’s a sacred American institution of rock ’n’ roll, and he just threw it all out the window,” said Kid Rock. Cantankerous Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry threatened once again to find a new singer.

Too bad Perry doesn’t recognize Tyler’s latest gig for what it is: the best thing to happen to the band since Catholic schoolgirls and giant asteroids. With his uncanny blend of Paula’s loopiness and Simon’s arrogance, Tyler’s going to reinvigorate the show (assuming he remembers that producers want him endorsing Coke, not coke). And that will reinvigorate Aerosmith, whose sales have been declining since the early ’90s. For instance, the 2004 album Honkin’ on Bobo not only failed to go platinum — it didn’t produce a single hit.

Just look at what Idol did for Abdul, who was in a similar predicament before she took the judge’s chair. In 2008 she released “Dance Like There’s No Tomorrow,” which was promoted on host Ryan Seacrest’s top-rated radio program — and became her first hit on the Billboard charts in 12 years.

Tyler is surely expecting the same results, and it now looks like his crotchety bandmates are finally coming around. “I’m trying to look on the positive side of things,” said drummer Joey Kramer. “Twenty million people a night would be exposed to Aerosmith via Steven. What’s so bad about that?” Maybe, guitarist Brad Whitford suggested, Tyler could use his new connections to get the whole band on the show.