Nikki Minaj And Keith Urban Join 'American Idol' Judging Panel
Iconic rapper Nikki Minaj, 29, and country sensation Keith Urban, 44, famously married to fellow Australian Nicole Kidman, are the latest pair to join American Idol as judges, alongside Mariah Carey and veteran Randy Jackson — expanding the panel to four members from three in previous seasons. “Nicki’s an unbelievably captivating international phenomenon who has made an indelible mark on rap and pop,” said Fox's President of Alternative Mike Darnell 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."
But it won't be cheap. With Carey already slated to receive close to $18 million annually, Minaj's $12 million contract doesn't lag far behind — an investment Darnell thinks will pay off. "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," Darnell said. Minaj and Urban may also add new perspective to the 12th season of the pop-oriented show, which has largely ignored the rap and — with the exception of Carrie Underwood in season four — country genres.
Although Idol remains the top entertainment TV series, its reign over the singing competition domain is no longer uncontested: NBC's The Voice has found its footing with judges Adam Levine, Christina Aguilera, CeeLo Green and Blake Shelton, while Fox's own X Factor is stealing audiences with L.A. Reid, Simon Cowell, Britney Spears and Demi Lovato. With the recent departure of former judges Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler, and rapidly eroding ratings, these new additions may be just what Idol needs to make a comeback.