In a newly released video interview with Access Hollywood, former American Idol grumpmaster general Simon Cowell got seriously grilled about the potential judges on his American relaunch of hit UK starmaker The X Factor. He was naturally evasive about something that still sounds like in the earliest stages of planning. But we did get a little bit of insight on who he's been talking too, and how close they may be to being the new Randy Jackson...


...George Michael

"I don't know yet."

...Nicole Scherzinger

"Nicole worked for me on X-Factor UK. She was brilliant."

...Mariah Carey

"Yes, I've spoken to her."

...Paula Abdul

"I've spoken to Paula. I'd say we've taken [the potential judges] down to a smaller group of people. And she's in that panel."

...Christina Aguilera

"No[, I haven't talked to her]."

...Katy Perry

"I have [spoken to her], but she's on tour."

...Elton John

"Never. He's so grumpy nowadays. He'd just be moaning the whole time. He's being a mum. If we've got somebody with kids, he's more than welcome to run the nursery."

...Tommy Mottola

"I was with Tommy last night. But, look, we make more than one show, so I meet people all the time."

So, uh, good luck everyone unless your name is Elton John. Of all these choices, we'd throw our weight behind George Michael--and not just because we've been giving away tons of his swag. Unlike, say, Paula Adbul; he knows how to make the transition from pop solo artist to career album artist—which means maybe he could pick an X Factor winner that could persist in the music business. All those amazing songs on Faith? He wrote 'em. He's certainly candid (we know every sordid detail about his arrest, from his own mouth) and maybe someone will try to impress him by doing "Wham! Rap." And, oh yeah, we already know he listens without prejudice (sorry).

But since Cowell is still casting such a wide net, here are five other performers we think would be a perfect match

Jani Lane of Warrant

Look, if Bret Michaels is gonna get his moment in the sun, why not someone who's even funnier?

John Mayer

Dude is a laugh riot and wildly honest at every turn—almost to a fault. We know this is usually a role for artists who's biggest hits are behind them, but he probably doesn't have that long anyway.

Sir Mix-A-Lot

The man literally cannot lie.

Leona Lewis

She was a winner on the British X Factor before becoming a superstar. Who knows what winning takes better than someone who has already done it?

Rick Astley

He had monster hits for days, understands British and American audiences, and pretty much has an Internet fan club raring to turn his every moment into gif or a meme. I mean, just look at this fascinating article about him!