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Danny Groner

Danny Groner

Posted: January 23, 2011 02:33 PM

With American Idol back for its 10th season, some music fans are wondering how Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler can fit into the mix at the judges table. Tyler, it was reported this week, was once in contention to replace Robert Plant in Led Zeppelin. The rocker's role on the Fox singing competition is rightfully being scrutinized - Is he the new Simon Cowell? Or is he the new Paula Abdul? For Tyler, though, listening to so many aspiring singers could lead him back to the stage. "Don't be surprised if the scores of Idol wannabes have him scrambling for Joe Perry and the boys sooner than later," says one writer. But has Tyler strayed too far from his rock 'n' roll roots to find his way back?

Who is this Tyler? "In its heyday, hard rock band Aerosmith was known just as well for its music as it was for its hard partying, and Steven Tyler was the baddest rock star around, doing drugs, destroying hotel rooms, chasing Playboy bunnies, you name it," says Emily Temple at Flavorwire. He is "reinventing himself as a somewhat sassy, friendly American Idol judge" that is "not the least bit reminiscent of his old hard-edged ways." The Fox show may even keep him away from recording new music with his bandmates. "That's not very rock-and-roll, and it's not very nice either."

Let's eulogize him: "Dearly beloved. We are gathered here today to celebrate the life of Aerosmith's Steven Tyler. Let us put the unfortunate events of the past few weeks behind us and remember the Steven we knew and loved best," says Dave Bidini in National Post. "Absolve him, if you can, for having traded in his reptilian badness for smile-ready prime-time television, his soul for a suit, his honour for a place at the venal judge's table." Musicians before Tyler have been "ensnared by the demons of mainstream," but "few have taken such a perilous turn. It's a shame. "Steven was tempted, and now, he is gone."

Leave now to uphold your legacy: "It's okay to stop," says Christopher R. Weingarten in Esquire. Both Joe Lieberman and Regis Philbin did it this week. Tyler has nothing left to prove, no honors left to win, and he "could donate half his possessions to charity and still have more money than anyone you've ever met." This career move instead "reminds us too much of the embarrassment he's made of himself, and not enough of the man who taught America what scrawny, whale-lipped scarf fetishists in this country are capable of: rock 'n' roll."