And the winners are … as long rumored … Nicki Minaj and Keith Urban.
Plus previously announced Mariah Carey, of course.
And, for some strange reason, Randy Jackson, who had been rumored to be headed for a mentoring role.
Landing Nicki is a huge coup for Idol. She’s current. She’s flashy. Like her or not, it’s tough to look away when she’s in the spotlight.
She’s as big a current star as anyone The Voice can offer up. She certainly trumps both of the new X Factor judges in that department.
If she can judge, she might turn Idol into must-see TV.
With Mariah and Nicki in the fold, Idol needed someone like Keith Urban, a fairly straight-laced country guy.
After their potentially other-worldly critiques, he’ll bring a sense of down-home normalcy to the judging table.
And, of course, he’ll be the first country music judge in the show’s history. And Idol has had more success breaking country artists than it has in any other genre.
I just hope the judging is arranged in this fashion: Nicki, Mariah, then Keith. Mariah can try to out-diva whatever Nicki says, then Keith gets the final say and a chance to react and sort out what’s been said before he gets his turn.
Had Idol left it at that, I’d have been thrilled.
But they had to go and bring Randy Jackson back as a judge.
Why? He hasn’t said anything original in years. If I could watch the show on DVR, I’d fast-forward through his critique every time.
Not to mention the fact that Idol doesn’t need four judges weighing in on every performance. It just adds up to too much talk. And I’m guessing Mariah and Nicki won’t be known for their brevity.
If Idol needs anything, it needs more singing and less talk from the judging table.
But the good news is that two-thirds of the do-nothing judging panel from Season 10 and Season 11 is gone. Good riddance.
And all three of the new judges are likely to draw new viewers to the show come January 2013.
Here’s the official press release from FOX.
“AMERICAN IDOL” JUDGES ANNOUNCED
GLOBAL ICON MARIAH CAREY AND
MUSIC INDUSTRY VETERAN RANDY JACKSON WELCOME
RENOWNED RAPPER, SINGER AND SONGWRITER NICKI MINAJ AND
COUNTRY MUSIC SUPERSTAR KEITH URBAN TO JUDGES’ TABLE
When AMERICAN IDOL’s 12th season debuts in January 2013, superstar judge Mariah Carey – the best-selling female recording artist of all time – and returning judge Randy Jackson, a Grammy Award-winning producer whose expertise and beloved persona have been instrumental in discovering IDOL talent from the beginning, will be joined by two new judges: quadruple-platinum singer, songwriter, rapper and fashion icon Nicki Minaj; and Keith Urban, a four-time Grammy Award winner who has sold more than 15 million albums.
Hopefuls will meet host Ryan Seacrest and the new four-person panel of Carey, Jackson, Minaj and Urban today, when the auditions begin in New York City. Other audition cities include Los Angeles, Chicago, Charlotte, San Antonio, Baton Rouge and Oklahoma City.
Carey is a multiple Grammy Award-winning global superstar with more than 200 million records sold worldwide and more No. 1 songs than any solo artist in history, whose 18 Billboard No. 1 singles (17 of which Carey wrote) rival all but The Beatles. Jackson is a Grammy Award-winning producer who has worked on more than 1,000 gold and multi-platinum albums, which have sold more than 200 million albums worldwide. His amazing talent, vast studio knowledge, performing, touring and record company experience have made him one of today’s most coveted music industry experts. Known for her unique performance style and iconic fashion, Minaj became the first female solo artist to have seven singles simultaneously on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Urban, one of country music’s biggest stars of the decade, has four Grammy Awards and 14 No. 1 hits, and was named Male Vocal Artist of the Year three times, as well as Entertainer of the Year, by the Country Music Association.
“I am thrilled about this year’s judges’ panel! We’ve got global icon Mariah Carey and IDOL’s heart and soul Randy Jackson, who will be joined by Nicki Minaj and Keith Urban. Nicki’s an unbelievably captivating international phenomenon who has made an indelible mark on rap and pop. And Keith is another great addition to IDOL – he’s one of the biggest stars in country music and I know that our fans and contestants will fall in love with him,” said Mike Darnell, President of Alternative Entertainment, Fox Broadcasting Company. “With an unparalleled star like Mariah, fan-favorite Randy, chart-toppers like Nicki and Keith and our incomparable host Ryan, we’ve put together one of the most exciting judging panels around.”
“We’re ecstatic to welcome Nicki Minaj and Keith Urban to the AMERICAN IDOL family, joining Mariah and Randy at the judges’ table,” said Cecile Frot-Coutaz, CEO, FremantleMedia. “Nicki is someone who represents a different side of the music industry, who has now crossed into mainstream culture with her unique artistry, style and flair. Keith is one of country music’s true stars who brings with him charm, wit and knowledge about the industry.”
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Executive producer Simon Fuller noted, “With the exciting addition of Mariah Carey, Keith Urban and Nicki Minaj, alongside Randy Jackson, AMERICAN IDOL’s star power has never been so great. For this we have to thank the ongoing commitment and belief of FOX and the dedication and focus of the IDOL production team. We have all been together since the very beginning and we are focused on making IDOL Season 12 the best ever.”
“IDOL has truly never looked better,” said Marc Graboff, President of CORE Media Group (owner, 19 Entertainment). “We couldn’t be more pleased about this new team of judges, and, along with our partners at FOX and Fremantle, look forward to a terrific Season 12.”
About Mariah Carey:
With a distinct five-octave vocal range, prolific songwriting and producing talent, Carey has defined the modern pop performance. As a singer/songwriter/producer, she has been recognized with multiple Grammy Awards, nine American Music Awards, Billboard’s Artist of the Decade Award, the World Music Award for World’s Best Selling Female Artist of the Millennium and BMI’s Icon Award, to name a few. She has two consecutive and unparalleled Billboard Song of the Decade titles: “One Sweet Day” (with Boyz II Men); and “We Belong Together,” further marking her massive presence on the charts since her 1990 song debut “Vision of Love.” Mariah became the second artist in history and the first female performer to have a song debut at No. 1 with “Fantasy” (1995), the groundbreaking collaboration with O.D.B. of the innovative rap group Wu-Tang Clan. Carey’s original holiday classic, “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” redefined its place in pop culture as one of the greatest holiday hits of all time when it reached No. 1 on the Billboard charts in 2011, 17 years after its debut. Carey’s influential and stellar contribution to the music industry spans multiple genres and is showcased through a multifaceted hit catalog as well as a long list of diverse collaborations.
Carey’s ongoing impact transcends the music industry and has left an indelible imprint upon the world at large. She recently made a substantial mark in film with her critically acclaimed role as a social worker in “Precious,” the 2009 film based on the novel “Push,” by Sapphire. A Congressional Award recipient, Carey has generously donated her time and energy to a range of domestic and international philanthropic causes near to her heart, including The Fresh Air Fund/Camp Mariah (a retreat where inner-city children explore career development), Save the Music Foundation and Make-a-Wish Foundation, among several others.
Carey is currently in the studio, writing, recording and executive-producing her next album for Island Def Jam Music Group, with the lead single “Triumphant.”
About Randy Jackson:
A music industry veteran of more than 20 years and a Grammy Award-winning producer, Randy Jackson began playing bass guitar at age 13 and got his big break when he joined the band Journey. A prolific producer, Jackson spent eight years as Vice President of A&R at Columbia Records, followed by four years as Senior Vice President of A&R at MCA Records. However, it was AMERICAN IDOL that propelled Jackson into the mainstream.
Jackson has since expanded into television production, setting up his Dream Merchant 21 Entertainment banner at Warner Horizon Television and launching the hit reality-competition series “Randy Jackson Presents: America’s Best Dance Crew.”
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While working on more than 1,000 gold and multi-platinum albums, which have sold more than 200 million albums worldwide, Jackson’s amazing talent, vast studio knowledge, performing, touring and record company acumen have made him one of today’s most coveted music industry experts.
In 2006, Jackson executive-produced and performed on the legendary Sam Moore’s Grammy-nominated album “Overnight Sensational.” Jackson also teamed with country music superstar Travis Tritt, and most recently, he brought together an eclectic mix of artists on “Randy Jackson’s Music Club, Vol. 1,” the first release from his Dream Merchant 21 record label.
Also a published author, Jackson has penned two books: “What’s Up, Dawg? How to Become a Superstar In The Music Business” and “Body With Soul: Steady Your Sugar, Cut Your Cholesterol and Get a Jump on Your Best Health.”
About Nicki Minaj:
Nicki Minaj is a Trinidadian-born American rapper, singer, songwriter and voice actress. Known for her underground mix-tape presence, Minaj garnered the attention of Lil Wayne, who signed her to his record label, Cash Money. She immediately rose to prominence when she released her debut album, “Pink Friday,” in November 2010. It quickly became a commercial success, peaking at No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard 200 and was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) a month after its release. She simultaneously became the featured “It” girl on a string of high-profile singles from artists such as Madonna, Mariah Carey, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Eminem, Rihanna, Lil Wayne, Drake, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Usher, Ludacris, Justin Bieber, Trey Songz and Alicia Keys. Minaj also has become the first female solo artist to have seven singles on the Billboard Hot 100 at the same time. Her seventh single, “Super Bass,” has since been certified quadruple-platinum by the RIAA and has sold more than four million copies, becoming one of the best-selling singles in the United States.
Minaj released her second studio album, “Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded,” in April 2012, which topped charts internationally, and spawned the Top 10 singles “Starships” and “Pound the Alarm.” Since then, the album has sold one million copies worldwide, and has become one of the best-selling albums of 2012, according to Nielsen SoundScan. At the 2012 MTV Video Music Awards, she won Best Female Video for “Starships.” At the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards, she won Best Hip-Hop Video for “Super Bass.”
Nominated for a 2012 Grammy Award in the category of Best New Artist, Minaj’s rapping technique has been hailed by critics for its use of alter-egos, accents (notably, British) and rapid-fire pace. Equally well-known for her unique sense of style, her use of colorful wigs and outlandish costumes ranks her as one of the world’s leading fashion icons. Minaj is in the midst of her Pink Friday: RELOADED Tour.
About Keith Urban:
In 2001, the Country Music Association honored Keith Urban with its Horizon Award, designating him a talented artist with a bright future. He is the first Horizon Award winner in history to go on to win the CMA’s Male Vocalist of the Year, a title he’s captured three times, and the coveted Entertainer of the Year. More than 15 million albums later, Urban is a four-time Grammy Award winner, who has also won a People’s Choice and American Music Award. He’s
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won five Academy of Country Music Awards and had 14 No. 1 songs, including 28 Top 5 hits. In 2012, he became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. His latest CD, “Get Closer,” comes on the heels of his fifth consecutive platinum or multi-platinum release. It has produced three consecutive No. 1 singles: “You Gonna Fly,” “Long Hot Summer” and “Without You.”
In 2009, Urban was named radio’s most-played country artist, thanks to No. 1 hits such as “Sweet Thing,” “You’ll Think Of Me,” “Only You Can Love Me This Way,” “Better Life” and “Days Go By.” In addition, his 2002 smash, “Somebody Like You,” was named the No. 1 Country Song of the Decade by Nielsen BDS (based on radio airplay and audience impressions).
But Urban’s reputation as an elite songwriter, musician, vocalist and virtuoso guitarist is no more evident than when he is onstage. His electrifying concerts have played to sold-out venues in Australia, Germany, England, Canada and the United States, all while receiving high praise from critics. In fact, 2009’s Escape Together World Tour, as well as 2007’s Love, Pain & The Whole Crazy World Tour, were both, according to Pollstar, one of the top-grossing tours for their respective years. Last year, his Get Closer 2011 World Tour solidified Urban as one of the music industry’s best live performers.