With Nicky Minaj, Keith Urban and Randy Jackson, do American Idol's judges now look like The Voice?
(UPDATE: NBC announced Monday that R&B singer Usher and pop diva Shakira will replace Cee Lo Green and Christina Aguilera in next spring's cycle of The Voice. NBC executives had implied this summer that some of the show's stars might not stick around for two cycles of the show each year.
Big question now: Are Green and Aguilera sidelined for one cycle or forevermore?)
News today that country star Keith Urban and eccentric rap star Nicky Minaj are joining Randy Jackson and Mariah Carey as judges on American Idol surprised no one who even marginally follows the pop culture press, where the news leaked days ago.
(Or anyone watching daytime TV; new talk show host Katie Couric told outgoing Idol judge Jennifer Lopez about the lineup during a show taping Wednesday).
But now that the reporting prowess of some gossip outlets has been confirmed again, the question arises: Can this really work?
As fans noted last week, the four-judge format failed manificently on Idol a few years ago, when Jackson watched as star judge Simon Cowell was growing bored, new judge Kara DioGuardi was struggling to fit in and comic Ellen DeGeneres was slowly realizing life was too short to spend inside the show's dysfunctional bubble of star trips and fame chasing.
Now the show has drafted a cadre of stars which seems calibrated to ape the composition of judges from rival The Voice.
You've got the eccentric pop star (Cee Lo Green on the Voice, Minaj on Idol), the occasionally ditzy, super-sezy vocal diva (Christina Aguilera/Carey), the down to earth country star (Blake Shelton/Urban) and the wild card (Adam Levine/Jackson).
And if we're to believe the gossip sheets, failure to close a deal with Enrique Iglesias is the only reason jive-talking Jackson is back in his Idol dawghouse as a judge, saved from demotion to "mentor" for at least one more season.
The team was unveiled today as auditions began before the superstar judges in New York City. So we can expect months of scuttlebutt on how everyone is performing as the judges spend the next few months winnowing down contestants for auditions in Hollywood.
And if the ratings struggles of its cousin on Fox, The X Factor, are any lesson, Idol producers better have a lot more up their sleeve than a judges table filled with hot pop stars.
(both photos from host Ryan Seacrest's Twitter posts today.)
See the press release Fox put out below, with lots of details on social media and more:
“AMERICAN IDOL” JUDGES ANNOUNCED
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.”
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. 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. 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. 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.
AMERICAN IDOL has been the No. 1 entertainment program among Total Viewers for the past nine consecutive seasons. To date, IDOL alums have produced 356 No. 1 Billboard hits and garnered nearly 250 million iTunes downloads. Season 11 winner Phillip Phillips’ first single, “Home,” which was released May 23, has been certified platinum. Last year, Season 10 winner Scotty McCreery released his debut album “Clear As Day,” which dominated the Billboard Country Albums chart and has gone platinum, selling more than one million copies. McCreery is the youngest male artist to ever enter the U.S. albums charts at the No. 1 spot.
AMERICAN IDOL is produced by 19 Entertainment, a division of Core Media Group and FremantleMedia North America, Inc.
Visit www.americanidol.com for exclusive videos, interviews and photos, as well as special behind-the-scenes information and all of your AMERICAN IDOL news. “Like” AMERICAN IDOL on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AmericanIdol. Follow the series on Twitter @AmericanIdol and join the discussion at #idol. Follow host Ryan Seacrest at @RyanSeacrest, and follow the judges: @MariahCarey; @yo_randyjackson; @nickiminaj; and @keithurban.