Kara DioGuardi Learns to Love the Limelight

"American Idol's" fourth judge opens up to "GMA" after her big bikini reveal.

May 28, 2009 — -- Some people have success. Some people have fame. Right now, Kara DioGuardi has both, and seems to be enjoying every minute of each.

With her first season as "American Idol's" fourth judge behind her, the singer/songwriter/producer extraordinaire joined "Good Morning America" to talk about her recent run on America's favorite competition show and her stunning, bikini-clad turn on the show's finale.

DioGuardi said she hopes to return to the hit reality singing competition next season because it was an "incredible ride," but initially she admitted she was surprised when the show called to offer her a slot at the judges' table.

"I was wondering why they wouldn't hire somebody famous," she said on "GMA" today. "When you get that call, it's so flattering. And I worked with so many 'Idol' contestants, it felt like a natural extension."

The multitalented DioGuardi said transitioning to an "Idol" judge was natural because she's worked with so many artists during her career.

DioGuardi's Not So Idle Career

DioGuardi's accomplishments as a producer and songwriter are almost too extensive to describe: From her catalog of several hundred songs, more than 268 have been released on major labels worldwide, and more than 168 have appeared on multi-platinum-selling albums.

Over her career, DioGuardi has had nearly 40 international charting singles and her songs have helped propel 45 albums into Billboard's 200 Top Ten.

Her work is frequently featured in major motion pictures, television shows, film soundtracks and radio spots, as well as national and international commercial campaigns.

She has written and produced for Christina Aguilera, Santana, Kelly Clarkson, Celine Dion, Faith Hill, Carrie Underwood, Marc Anthony, Pink, Britney Spears, the Jonas Brothers and Jessica Simpson, among others.

"I've been so lucky. I've worked with some of the best artists out there," she said.

Almost everyone is familiar with at least some of her work. Gwen Stefani's "Rich Girl," Aguilera's "Ain't No Other Man," Clarkson's "Walk Away" and Dion's "Taking Chances" were all top 40 hits penned by DioGuardi.

This great professional success is matched by the battles DioGuardi has fought and won in her personal life. DioGuardi once struggled with an eating disorder and insecurities about her looks.

DioGuardi's 'Idol' Bikini Moment

But during the "American Idol" finale, DioGuardi was able to take the stage and reveal to millions not only her beautiful voice, but a fantastic body dressed only in a bikini after she had ripped open her dress.

"I don't think I was thinking," she said. "I'm just glad the button on the bottom got stuck because those are my problem areas."

It was a spoof on former "Idol" contestant Katrina Darrell, who spent the season auditioning for the judges and the world in a bikini.

DioGuardi said the show's producers had the idea that she should sing on the final night in a bikini, and while she thought it would be amusing, she thought the swimsuit portion of the idea would go away. It didn't.

"They had this idea. And I thought, 'Wow. That's really a fun idea. That sound likes it would be historical,'" she said. "The singing part I was kind of down for."

The act stunned everyone, including the other judges, who had made a bet with DioGuardi that she would chicken out, so they had to pay up afterward to a charity, Phoenix House, a nonprofit organization dedicated to substance-abuse prevention and treatment services.

"I've been building recording studios there in different facilities, to help kids that are going through drug addiction, to kind of deal with their emotions -- to go to a place that's safe, where they're not judged, where they can kind of open up about what they're going through," DioGurardi said. "And it's really helped a lot of them in their recovery. The money that Fox donated will go to build another one."

DioGuardi received some criticism for her bikini act, but she said she didn't regret doing it.

"I did it for charity. So, at the end of the day, I'm willing to make fun of myself," DioGuardi said.

Used to working behind the scenes, DioGuardi lately wears a confidence that matches her enormous talent. The 38-year-old is poised on the brink of a spectacular career as a public figure in her own right, and she seems to wear her newfound fame well.

DioGuardi said that she actually likes signing autographs and hugs fans who come up to her on the street.

"The fact that someone even asks for my autograph makes me very happy," she said.

Kris Allen Vs. Adam Lambert

As for "American Idol's" unexpected outcome, DioGuardi shied away from saying just who she would have voted for to take the season 8 crown.

"They both shared this kind of fearlessness that they were who they were. They had a vision for themselves as artists. And they really stuck to it. And I really admired that about them," DioGuardi said. "I think this year, we didn't end up with just singers. We ended up with artists. And you have a real sense for what their records will be when you go to the record store. And that ultimately is the goal."