Nearly a month after Nicki Minaj was first rumored to have joined “American Idol,” producers made it official Sunday, announcing she’d serve as a judge on the show’s upcoming 12th season, filling out a (very crowded) panel that also includes Mariah Carey, Keith Urban and lone holdover Randy Jackson.
And while the news of Minaj’s hiring certainly earned “Idol” some much-needed press — especially when its competitors, “The Voice” and “X Factor,” are in full swing — the jury’s still out on what she’ll actually bring to the show. Needless to say, she’s a unique choice for a judge, especially on a show like this, which has never embraced hip-hop. On the other hand, Minaj is by far the most contemporary judge “Idol” has ever employed, and her recent forays into the world of pop prove she’s more than a one-trick pony (and if any contestant ever needs style advice, well, let’s just say they won’t be seeking Jackson’s opinions on the matter).
So will Nicki help reinvigorate “American Idol,” or will she fare as well as the last outside-the-box hire, one-season flop Ellen DeGeneres? What kind of advice can she possibly give the contestants? And, perhaps most important of all, can she go an entire season without killing Mariah Carey? Here’s what two of the biggest “Idol” fans — and noted experts — had to say.
“I am absolutely intrigued by Nicki Minaj as ‘American Idol’ judge. She’s a good addition, if only because ‘Idol’ needs her more than she needs them. Nicki is so hot on the charts right now. … She’s a character and an oddball,” MJ Santilli, who runs “Idol” fan site MJsBigBlog.com, told MTV News. “Also, I’m looking for the panel to have a little tension. Bring on the disagreements. I don’t particularly want Mariah to be snatching the wig off of Nicki’s head, but we need something other than the ‘yes’ fest we had the last couple of years from the Randy/J.Lo/Steven panel.”
“A lot of the ‘purist’ fans are complaining that she can’t sing, relying heavily on Auto-Tune, and shouldn’t be judging the show. However, she brings in an urban and pop presence we have not seen on the panel ever,” Rickey Yaneza, who edits Rickey.org, added. “She is the most current artist that the show has had and is actually currently working. [She] makes the show current regardless of what you think of her. Nicki is going to be a great judge, and the fact that Mariah already ‘hates’ her makes me look forward to their interaction on the show.”
Of course, as Yaneza noted, Minaj’s hiring has left some “Idol” fanatics hollering. But as the show enters its 12th season, perhaps that’s a good thing. After all, if ever there was a show in need of a shot in the arm, it’s “American Idol.”
“I’m looking forward to Nicki shutting down the naysayers. I have never seen such a negative reaction to a prospective judge when the Nicki rumors initially surfaced,” Santilli said. “For some folks, Nicki is too weird and profane for ‘Idol.’ But I see this polarized reaction as a good thing for the panel. The ‘American Idol’ core audience, which grows older and older every year, needs a shakeup.”
“We now have a diverse panel in terms of genre and two of them [Minaj and Urban] are currently still making music and not using the show as a ‘comeback’ vehicle,” Yaneza said. “I will definitely watch next year. ‘American Idol’ somehow always delivers even in the face of controversy.”
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