The season 12 premiere of “American Idol” is just a week away, and tonight we got a sneak peak of the new judging panel’s rapport, when Mariah Carey, Keith Urban, Nicki Minaj and Randy Jackson did a live-streamed Q&A in Los Angeles in front of hundreds of fans and broadcast in movie theaters and on the Internet.
Ryan Seacrest hosted the interview, with questions coming in via Twitter and Facebook and from satellite sites around the country.
Mariah, in a black evening gown with a white bow bustier, set the tone of school-marm authority to start, when, suffering from “a bit of bronchitis” she quickly silenced the audience’s cheers by sharply saying, “It’s hard for me to talk, like I said, so I’ll just wait. Thank you.” She went on to answer Ryan’s question about why she took the job, saying it had to do with wanting some stability after having her two babies.
Nicki, frighteningly doll-like and in a dress that looked like a Mondrian, was next to answer, and said she did “Idol” because no one expected her to, and because Lil Wayne told her to.
With Ryan’s next question, about what’s changed in their judging style from the first audition to the end of Hollywood week, it seemed Nicki and Mariah were at a war of odds. Nicki proclaimed she didn’t change, and she was always honest. Mariah said she did change, but it was because “I’ve always been my own boss…I had to get used to adapting to working within a specific, a differing way.” And then, seemingly responding to Nicki’s assertion of always being honest, Mariah defended her own fluid style of judging: “It became more honest and true.”
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The one-upsmanship seemed to continue in a winded set of responses about longevity in the music business. And again when asked whether they were looking for a great singer or a great entertainer, Nicki said voices like Whitney Houston’s (or, we can surmise, Mariah Carey’s) are not relevant right now. “In the time that we’re living in now, we need an entertainer.”
Though they might not agree, the two never directly sparred. Instead, it was like an icy stalemate in which neither acknowledged the other’s presence.
Randy and Keith both chimed in every now and again, but let’s face it, Nicki and Mariah were the loose canons we’re all waiting to see. Although we did learn that Keith is a funny guy, so they say, and will be making us laugh once the recorded portion begins.
The real question on everyone’s mind, though, is what it’s like for Mariah to have to listen to countless bad singers do renditions of “Hero” et al. Ryan asked if she ever cringed when someone sang her songs, and, honest and true, or not, she said no. But then the real truth came out. “I would never OUTWARDLY cringe.” Leave that to us in the audience.
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The Season 12 Premiere of “American Idol” airs on Wednesday, Jan. 16 at 8/7c on Fox.