Season 12 of American Idol premieres tonight on FOX featuring the new judges’ panel with Keith Urban, Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj and veteran Randy Jackson. Keith thinks the diversity of the panel is one of the things that is going to make this season special. “The diversity is the thing I was most interested in because there’s four people that come from very, very different places that have very, very different views, “ says Keith, “and when we stumble upon somebody who all four of us unanimously agree upon, it’s an extraordinary moment, because more often than not, we’re a 180 from each other on some of the artists that we hear.” Keith says they even had to develop a system where each one of them got to serve as the tie breaker in different cities because it would often be split two to two on whether or not to send a contestant to Hollywood.
Of course there have been rumors and allegations that there is a lot of tension and friction amongst the judges, specifically Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj, and Keith says it’s only natural that in the beginning they stepped on one another’s toes a little because they’re all so passionate and had never worked together before. He compared it to all four of them being thrown on a dance floor together. “We stepped on a few toes at the beginning while we were getting our groove on; because we had no direction,” he says. They met for dinner one night and the next day they were sitting at the judges’ table together. Keith says, “I thought, ‘Well, surely we’ll have some ‘fake’ contestants first, you know, coming through and then they’ll bring out the real artists.’ Nope! That was it. We were just diving into it [laughs], so I think that kind of anxiety and strange energy and uncertainty and all of that went into the mix. I think it makes for great viewing, but it certainly caught all of us off-guard. Randy was the only one who knew what he was doing. So, the three of us are trying to figure it out and we finally got our groove on. We’re a passionate lot, no question.”