Nicki, Mariah and Keith on their judging styles



American Idol has been filming Hollywood Week for season 12 over the past several days. Fortunately, the judges were able to take some time away to talk with reporters about how the season is progressing. And when talking to TV Guide, Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj and Keith Urban described what they’re like as judges. Nicki says that she’s “kooky. Never a dull moment with my judging style. That’s for sure. I try to never plan what I’m going to say or how I’m going to feel. I just try to stay in the moment and allow some craziness to come. We can’t really sit there and be stiff and say the same things.” This sounds in line with what everyone’s expecting from her. And it’s what I’m looking forward to most – as long as she doesn’t turn into a Steven Tyler-like judge.

I’ve said before that Mariah is probably going to be like a nurturing mother to the contestants. And she says as much, but instead thinks of herself as a fairy godmother. “I try to speak as frank as possible, as kindly as possible – not like sugar-coating the whole thing because that does nobody any good. And I think it would be boring for people to watch. But I feel like my experience as a recording artist and a producer and a writer has helped me get to a point where I can sit there and say, ‘I’m not sure if you hit this part correctly’…” Some have worried that she’ll be like the other big diva stars on these singing competition shows past and present who don’t offer a whole lot of critique or substantive comments, so I hope what she says here comes across on TV come January.

When it comes to season 12, most of the focus has been on Mariah and Nicki. But what about Keith? He says, “I try to not absolutely destroy somebody in front of millions of people, but at the same time, if someone’s not really on, and everyone at home knows it, that’s the difficult part too. And for me, if any of the emotions are present – the joy, the vulnerability, the insecurity, the uncertainty, the anger, whatever it is – if I can feel that in them, I’m interested. Even if they’re a little bit out of tune.” Let’s hope he doesn’t disregard pitch entirely, because that’s still an extremely important element of what makes a strong performance.

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