‘American Idol’ Judges Explain What They’re Looking For

American Idol Season 12 Ryan Seacrest and Judges Mariah Carey, Keith Urban, Nicki Minaj and Randy Jackson New 'American Idol' Judges Shoot New York Auditions: Cast photo New 'American Idol' Judges Shoot New York Auditions: Nicki Minaj New 'American Idol' Judges Shoot New York Auditions: Keith Urban New 'American Idol' Judges Shoot New York Auditions: Mariah Carey New 'American Idol' Judges Shoot New York Auditions: Ryan Seacrest New 'American Idol' Judges Shoot New York Auditions: Randy Jackson

FOX’s upcoming twelfth season of American Idol is sure to draw some curiosity with three new superstar judges whose backgrounds couldn’t be more different.

“It will be quite fun as you watch their different styles of judging and what they’re looking for,” executive producer Nigel Lythgoe, 63, told the audience during Wednesday’s premiere screening event in Los Angeles.

Mariah [Carey], I think, is looking for that singer/songwriter, that’s a true star, Nicki Minaj is looking for somebody that isn’t just there for their voice, but there for their performance, their charisma and everything else. Keith Urban is looking for an authentic singer, someone who is credible. Randy Jackson, I’d say, is looking for someone who sings on pitch,” he continued.

Their backgrounds couldn’t be more diverse. Jackson, 56, the veteran Idol judge has been with the show since its debut season more than a decade ago. Carey is a power vocalist and arguably one of the most celebrated voices of our time. Thirty-year-old Minaj is a relatively new celebrity (compared to Carey). She’s a rapper and pop princess who likes to employ several personalities, sometimes simultaneously. And Urban is an Australian country singer. Each has different styles, different perspectives, and different ideas on what they’re looking for from this year’s hopefuls.

Jackson seems pretty confident about his formula for finding the right contestants. “There are three things that are really big characteristics for me,” the musician said. “They are uniqueness, unbelievable talent, and star power. Those are the three things a great artist needs and will give you a shot at a great career.”

On the other hand, Urban is a bit more emotional about what he’s looking for in contestants. “The reality is that we all react differently to different things and so I think for me, at the end of the day, it has to speak to me,” he said.

“If a person is creating art and saying something in a way that I’m captivated by that person and I can’t take my eyes off that person, that’s it for me.”

Minaj confirmed Lythgoe’s assertion that she’s looking for an all-around entertainer more than a standout vocalist saying, “I think that it’s something where you’ll know it when you’re in the same room with it.

“If you named the 10 biggest stars out right now, who would you say has a Whitney Houston voice? That’s just not where we are right now,” the hip-hop artist elaborated. “So, I think that because of this day and time, I’m looking for an overall entertainer. [I’m looking for] someone who is going to captivate people with or without music.”

Carey, 42, says she’s still learning what she wants in a contestant. And so far, her choices have spanned from favoring street performers to strong vocalists.

“To me it doesn’t matter, “ she said. “They can be unique in some way, different in another way. It’s a learning experience for me and what I’ve seen is that diversity plays into it in a deep way.”

American Idol returns to FOX on Wednesday at 8PM.

– Cortney Wills

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Keith Urban Says ‘American Idol’ Didn’t Steal Him From ‘The Voice Australia’

Keith Urban Winter 2013 TCA Audi Arrivals At The 64th Primetime Emmy Awards 64th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards - Arrivals Audi Arrivals At The 64th Primetime Emmy Awards 64th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards - Arrivals Audi Arrivals At The 64th Primetime Emmy Awards 64th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards - Arrivals

A longtime fan of TV talent shows, Keith Urban jumped at the chance to be a judge on The Voice Australia when offered the job early last year. So, it came as a surprise to producers when the country music star announced he would not be returning for a second season.

“I couldn’t do that show again, because I was making the record, I’m literally making it right now, will be for the next couple of months,” he told reporters earlier this week about recording in the U.S., which kept him from returning to Australia. “Then Idol came along and it was perfect timing.”

A longtime Idol follower, he recalled watching the 2008 season finale with wife, Nicole Kidman when David Cook and David Archuletawere competing for top honors. Late for a dinner appointment, the celebrity couple decided to record the show and watch it afterward.

“I kid you not, the show must have run like 30 seconds over or something, and the TiVo cut out,” Urban recalled with dismay. “Ryan [Seacrest] is saying, ‘And the winner is, David…’ and it stopped. And we just sat there, gobsmacked going ‘Who won?’”

As for joining Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj and Randy Jackson on the Idol panel, Urban has few reservations about leveling harsh criticism at undeserving contestants.

“I’ve probably benefitted more from naysayers in my life,” he confessed. “It’s more so been the people who’ve said, ‘Terrible, you’ll never do any good at this. This is not your thing.’ Those people have actually been more beneficial to me than the people who’ve believed in me in the long run because I think they just gave fuel to my fire.”

But don’t expect to see him running roughshod over contestants on the show. Urban knows that most people realize when they’ve delivered a lackluster performance and while it’s important to be honest with them, there’s no need for piling on.

Although he claims to have learned the most from negative criticism, he confessed it still hurts when it’s leveled at him. “I don’t mind that it hurts me when people are negative or critical,” he revealed. “I’d like to think that my spirit is still pretty close to the surface. I wouldn’t like to think it’s so buried I can’t find it under my thick skin. Being immune to it, that starts to get into a dangerous place for any of us.”

Despite the well-publicized feud between judges Minaj and Carey, Urban enjoys the spirit of shows like The Voice and Idol.

“I’ve watched Idol for years, so it’s a bit surreal to move from the couch to the desk,” he marveled, joking, “Next up, X Factor! TV talent show whore, yes!”

American Idol premieres Wednesday, Jan. 16 at 8 PM on FOX.

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‘American Idol’ Judge Keith Urban: ‘I Get Along With Everybody’ (VIDEO)

So what’s it like sitting between Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj on the upcoming season of FOX’s American Idol? Just ask Keith Urban.

“It’s juicy. Very juicy,” Urban joked with reporters at a press event on Wednesday in Northridge, Calif.

“I like it,” the Idol judge continued, “I get along great with everybody. So, for me it’s been fun.”

Carey and Minaj made headlines after their altercation in early-October. Caught in footage provided by TMZ; in Minaj, 30, is seen swearing loudly at Carey, 42, behind the judge’s table during a Charlotte, N.C. audition. Idol veteran Randy Jackson rises to his feet at one point and tries to restore peace; new judge Urban, meanwhile, sits awkwardly between the dueling divas.

Urban previously told Extra that he felt like “the UN” during the now infamous brawl. But despite the unsettling introduction into the Idol world, the 45-year-old Aussie seems to have a change of heart.

“It’s a learning curve… for all of us… we’ve never worked together before,” Urban said.

Urban and fellow judges Minaj, Carey, Jackson and host Ryan Seacrest, are currently in Hollywood filming new episodes of Season 13.

Watch the full interview above.

The new season of American Idol will premiere on Jan. 16 on FOX.

Can’t get enough Idol? Watch more from new judge Nicki Minaj at the press event below.

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‘American Idol’s’ Keith Urban Shows Off Toned Body in Speedo During Birthday Trip to France (PHOTOS)

Keith Urban showed off his fit physique in a speedo while vacationing in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat in France. The birthday boy was in town while his wife Nicole Kidman spent time with their youngest daughter, Faith.

The American Idol judge celebrated his 45th birthday poolside at his hotel and played with his eldest daughter Sunday Rose throughout the relaxing afternoon.

Sunday showed off her swimming skills while her father watched proudly. The toddler made sure to protect her fair skin from the sun, sporting a long sleeve shirt over her bikini.

The father-daughter bonding time hit a high note as Sunday Rose put on a diving performance for her dad.

The Kidman-Urban crew has been in France for a couple of weeks now while Kidman is filming the movie Grace of Monaco, where she stars Grace Kelly.

Urban should soak up all the rest and relaxation he can get as the 12th season of Fox’s American Idol premieres on Jan. 16.

What do you think of Urban’s tiny swimsuit? Weigh in below.

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‘American Idol’ Mentor Jimmy Iovine on Mariah Carey/Nicki Minaj Tension: ‘It Could Pop’ (VIDEO)

Following this week’s shocking altercation between American Idol judges Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey, one question remains: will the raucous rapper and divine diva clash again? Idol mentor Jimmy Iovine isn’t exactly saying yes — but from the sound of it, you may want to take cover. Just in case.

“The two of them — I don’t know. I’ve not been there yet, but it could pop,” says the music veteran, who’s set to return to the show for his third season of mentoring contestants.

And what does Iovine think of the apparently hot-headed Minaj?


“Nicki [is] unpredictable, right?” he told Celebuzz at the 21st Annual Montblanc de la Culture Arts Patronage Award event honoring Quincy Jones. “But really talented, but a whole different generation, a whole different attitude toward music and where it should come from.”

As for Carey, “[She] has a lot of information. She’s really a record producer,” Iovine said. “She’s talented, but she can back up her talent with A&R sense, and sense of the studio and how things are done and why things are done. So if she gives what she has, that’ll be really interesting.”

The two made headlines after their Oct. 2 altercation, caught in footage provided by TMZ; in it, Minaj is seen swearing loudly at Carey behind the judge’s table during a Charlotte, N.C. audition. Idol veteran Randy Jackson rises to his feet at one point and tries to restore peace; new judge Keith Urban, meanwhile, sits awkwardly between the dueling divas. 

Yesterday, Urban told Extra that he felt like “the UN” during the fracas. But despite the unsettling introduction into the Idol world, Iovine says Urban is bound to acclimate quickly — and do a bang-up job as judge.

“Keith is a real musician, great musician,” Iovine said. “A lot of his influence seems to be rock and roll to me. I don’t know him that well, because he does country, but it seems to be rooted in [Bruce] Springsteen and [Tom] Petty and [Bob] Seger and all that stuff. And that could be a great tool to have on the show because a lot of kids come from rock and country.”

As for Jackson?

“Randy’s just Randy,” Iovine said, smiling. “He’s great.”


And despite the drama, Iovine is looking forward to returning to the Idol set, where he’ll meet up with old friends and hopefully make some new ones.

“I know Mariah. I don’t know Nicki, and I know Keith a little bit,” he said. “But we’re going to get to know each other on the show.”

“It [will] be fun to see the whole new gang, the new judges. Keep them honest and stuff — make sure they’re doing their thing.”



‘American Idol’ Feud: Keith Urban Weighs in on Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey’s Fight

Have feuding American Idol judges Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj resolved their issues?

Auditions in Charlotte, N.C., resumed on Wednesday, following Tuesday’s big blowout between the two judges. Carey, 42, and Minaj, 29, reportedly disagreed on an Idol hopeful’s performance, and things got so heated, Minaj lashed out at Carey, shouting, “I told them I’m not f***ing putting up with her f***ing highness over there.”

Now fellow judge Keith Urban is weighing in on the onset antics. At the NY Film Festival premiere of The Paperboy, the country crooner told Extra he felt like “the UN,” to which wife (and Paperboy star) Nicole Kidman chimed in, calling him “Switzerland.”

What else did Urban have to say about the Idol blowout?

Urban, like Idol host Ryan Seacrest, believes that the judges’ differing opinions are a good thing for the Fox staple.

“I love it, I gotta say, look I love working with passionate people,” he said. “I love artists. Everyone just sort of expressing themselves. It’s a very alive and very invigorating work environment. A lot of passion. Randy is the craziest, so you know I’m predictable.”

Meanwhile, Seacrest described the heated exchange as “intense” on his radio show, On Air With Ryan Seacrest, before adding: “You know that when you put Nicki, Mariah and Keith together, you ‘re going to get different opinions — which is fantastic.”

However, Seacrest did agree that the sparring “did go too far” and eventually,  producers had to wrap production. Thankfully, the two dueling divas seemed put aside their differences on Wednesday. According to TMZ, Carey and Minaj kept things professional onset.

It seems like the judges are now focusing on what’s really important: Finding the next American Idol.

“Charlotte has been fun,” Minaj told Fox 8 on Wednesday. “We had a lot of laughs yesterday, found a lot of good voices and interesting new talent — a lot of country stars.”

“It’s going great,” said Carey. “I love it here. It’s so warm and nice.” When asked about the level of talent in Charlotte, Carey replied, “I think the talent has been really good. Like, exceptional.”

Who Will Be the Best Judge on ‘American Idol’ Season 12? (POLL)

Ryan Seacrest confirmed the world’s worst-kept secret on Sunday when he tweeted that Nicki Minaj, Keith Urban and Randy Jackson will join Mariah Carey at the judges’ table on American Idol Season 12.

Now, as auditions get under way in New York City, Celebuzz wants to know: Who will be the the most valuable expert at the table?

Will Carey hit as many high notes as she does in the studio? Will Minaj steal the show with her many quirks and alter egos? Will Urban channel his wife, Nicole Kidman, and give an Oscar-worthy performance?

Or will Season 12 belong to Jackson, the seasoned veteran who has been running the dog pound from the very beginning?

Cast your vote in the poll, at right, then reveal your choice — and the reason behind it — in the comments.

American Idol Season 12 returns to Fox in January.

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Nicki Minaj and Keith Urban Join the ‘American Idol,’ Season 12 Judging Panel


The hunt is over, once and for all. After testing out candidates — including Nick Jonas — throughout the duration of the summer, the search for the American Idol, Season 12 judging panel has reached its end. Unfortunately for all of the Jonas Brothers fans out there, Nick will not be sitting alongside Mariah Carey and Randy Jackson. Instead, say hello to new male and female additions, who should look at least a little familiar: Keith Urban and Nicki Minaj.

FOX President of Alternative Mike Darnell says of the fresh AI faces: “Nicki (who was rumored to seal a spot on the show as early as late August) is 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. With an unparalleled star like Mariah, fan-favorite Randy, chart-toppers like Nicki and Keith and our incomparable host Ryan [Seacrest], we’ve put together one of the most exciting judging panels around.”

The CEO of Idol owner FremantleMedia, Cecile Frot-Coutaz, echos the President’s sentiments, and went even further with her own statement. She says Nicki ”represents a different side of the music industry, who has now crossed into mainstream culture with her unique artistry, style and flair.” As for Keith, she exclaims that he’s ”one of country music’s true stars who brings with him charm, wit and knowledge about the industry.”

Before this recent announcement, Miley Cyrus and former-American Idol contestant Adam Lambert were rumored to fill the vacancies left by Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler as well. But now that the decision’s finite, here’s the real question: Which reality singing competition will be better in its newest season, American Idol or The X Factor? (Vote here!)

Quiz: Which Reality TV Music Judge Are You?

‘American Idol’s’ New Judges Nicki Minaj, Keith Urban and Mariah Carey Shoot New York Auditions (PHOTOS)

Newly announced American Idol judges rapper Nicki Minaj and country singer Keith Urban joined Mariah Carey and show veteran Randy Jackson for the show’s auditions at New York’s Lincoln Center on Sunday.

Host Ryan Seacrest joined the new panel for the first Season 12 cast photo and FOX released some shots of the judges outside the auditions with potential contestants lined up for their moment in front of the new panel.

Take a look at the first photos of Idol’s new crew above.

What are the new judges looking for?

According to the Washington Post, Minaj says she’s looking for a “superstar.”

“Something that can’t be defined in words,” the 29-year-old rapper-singer vaguely explained.

As for Urban, who left his judging post on Australia’s The Voice for Idol, he says that his own experience competing in singing competitions will steer him away from being mean.

“I did similar shows when I was very young in Australia,” Urban, 44, pointed out. “And I was sort of crucified by one judge. So I don’t know that I’ll ever be that guy.”

Pushed against the deadline of Sunday’s on-camera auditions, FOX confirmed the new judges early on Sunday.

“Nicki’s an unbelievably captivating international phenomenon who has made an indelible mark on rap and pop,” FOX’s Alternative Entertainment President Mike Darnell said in a statement. “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.”

Reportedly, Minaj is getting a $12 million dollar paycheck while Urban will receive between $3-5 million for filling the post.

Carey’s hire was confirmed back in July with a reported salary of $17 million. And Jackson’s position was precarious for a while until negotiations went south with Latin pop star Enrique Iglesias earlier this week.

What are your thoughts on the new Idol judges? Sound off in the comments section below.


‘American Idol’ Confirms Nicki Minaj, Keith Urban as Judges

Hip-hop queen Nicki Minaj and country crooner Keith Urban are officially taking a seat on the judging panel of American Idol, FOX confirmed on Sunday.

“Nicki’s an unbelievably captivating international phenomenon who has made an indelible mark on rap and pop,” FOX’s president of alternative Mike Darnell said in a statement on Sunday. “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.”

The two join previously announced judge Mariah Carey, plus returning Idol favorite Randy Jackson.

Host Ryan Seacrest took to Twitter immediately following Fox’s announcement, posting an Instagram photo of the new team, with Minaj’s platinum blonde hair taking center stage.

“Everyone gave a heartfelt toast about being on the show after we ate last night. Cant wait to see the first contestants today,” Seacrest added.

What did the newly added judges have to say about their new gig?

Urban, 44, also took to Twitter following the announcement, writing


Minaj, 29, hinted at her new gig the previous day, only posting “Info tmrw…” on her Twitter account, before re-tweeting Seacrest’s welcome message Sunday morning.

According to Deadline, Urban’s contract is rumored to be as much as $5 million for season 12, while Minaj is rumored to be making as much as $12 million.

Carey, 42, was added to the Idol judging panel over the summer when FOX broke the news at the Television Critics Association session. Her reported salary: a record-breaking $17 million.  Jackson, who has served as a judge on the show since it premiered 10 years ago, closed his own deal only last week.

American Idol season 12 will kick off in January.