It's a refrain that's become all too familiar over the past six years: this is the [article id="1702264"]year that a woman[/article] will break the spell of those earnest boys and their guitars and win "American Idol."
Yes, perpetually pumped judge Randy Jackson says it just about every season, and well, we all know what his clairvoyant abilities amount to. But over the past week, two of his new cohorts have thrown their hats into the ring and predicted that Kelly, Fantasia, Carrie and Jordin might finally have some sisterly company in the "Idol" hall of fame.
"The stars have aligned and the girls that have come to audition for us have had just had strong voices like I don't know what," Minaj told MTV News. "We narrowed it down to some great girls. I think we did a great job picking amazing voices, so I am actually hoping a girl wins this year."
And while we're not sure about [article id="1702756"] "Queen of the Jungle" Zoanette Johnson,[/article] there's good reason to have that kind of confidence, as such promising contenders as Kree Harrison, Tenna Torres, Angela Miller and Amber Holcomb made it to the round of 20 last week. Wednesday night's show also found Breanna Steer, Aubrey Cleland, Candice Glover and Janelle Arthur advancing for one of the strongest groups of female contenders in years.
In a conference call with reporters last week MTV News asked Urban if he agreed that the women seem to be fielding a much stronger team this year than the men. "I think you're right. All I can say is at least from what we just saw [last Wednesday] it's absolutely a girl's year to win, in my opinion," he said. "That's not to say the guys aren't strong because they really are. It's really more a testament to how strong the girls are this year."
All Urban said he really cares about is the emergence of great artistry, whether male or female. "But definitely the girls are stronger," he noted. "I don't know why that is. It's just one of those things. We saw probably over 270 people all up to get it down to where we are today and the girls were just incredibly strong this year."
Asked if perhaps having Minaj and Mariah Carey (and their bold, strong opinions) on the panel may have played a factor in the way things have played out, Urban gave unrequited props to his fellow newbie.
"I certainly think having somebody like particularly Mariah ... inarguably one of the world's great vocalists, period," he said. "This is a global vocal powerhouse and any girl, I think, would love the opportunity to sing for Mariah and get feedback from her and get direction from her. I think that's been a real plus for the show to have somebody like her on the panel."
Get your "Idol" fix on MTV News' "American Idol" page where you'll find all the latest "Idol" news, interviews and opinions.