'American Idol' Judge Mariah Carey: 'We're Putting the 'Fun' Back in Dysfunction'
'American Idol' Judge Mariah Carey: 'We're Putting the 'Fun' Back in Dysfunction'

Rapper says it took an endorsement by Lil Wayne to convince her to take the job

Just a reminder: "American Idol" returns for Season 12 on January 16. That means we only have a week to see if the infamous Mariah Carey/Nicki Minaj feud will live up to it's hype and for Keith Urban to put his judging hat on. Billboard recently attended a Q&A with Ryan Seacrest, Randy Jackson and the three newest judges to get a taste of what's in store for this season.

 

Seacrest began by asking each of the judges what made them decide to sign on this season.

 

Aside from the fact that "Idol" has "changed trends in music and produced massive superstars," Carey said she came on board for the job security. "I just had two babies and I thought it would be a good thing for me to have something that was a little more stable than just constantly working."

 

Minaj, who admitted to being hesitant to accept the gig, said that she was excited to be a part of something that people wouldn't expect her to do. "I asked a lot of people that I cared about if I should do it and the last person that I asked was 'Lil Wayne. He said, 'Absolutely do it.' And that was my last thing where I found peace with it," she explained.

 

Despite his busy schedule, Urban took the position because he wanted to be part of giving up-and-coming musicians the chance to be listened to. "This show does that… on steroids," he joked.

 

In terms of what the judges are looking for from this year's contestants, Jackson expects the full package: "Uniqueness, unbelievable talent, and star potential." Minaj stated that the best way for a contestant to win her over was to flash her. She also said that in a day and age where the top 10 superstars in music do not have voices like Whitney Houston, she is on the lookout for "an entertainer -- someone that's going to captivate people with or without music." Urban added that, "At the end of the day, every single one of us watched somebody we loved not get through [to the next round] and it's very frustrating" but revealed that there are people he's extremely thrilled about that made it to Hollywood.

 

Other highlights from the panel: Minaj admitting to autographing a boob and championing a contestant she nicknamed "Big Crazy Barb"; Carey stating that she's used to being her own boss and that being a part of "Idol" has required her to adapt to working a different way; Jackson revealing there were many tie-breaking moments during auditions; and Urban telling us to look out for a 15-year old girl who auditioned with an original song that was so good that he told her, "If you release that tomorrow, people will buy it by the boatloads."

 

Prior to the Q&A, the audience was shown a Season 12 promo, filled with surprises -- Minaj flirting with a shirtless contestant, Urban falling out of his chair, and a touching story of a 21-year old with a speech-impending stammer, yet a remarkable singing voice.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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