CONTROVERSIAL rapper Nicki Minaj and country singer Keith Urban joined the American Idol judging panel on Sunday, as the ageing Fox network show seeks to boost its star power and recapture sliding audiences in a crowded TV talent show field.
Report by Reuters
In a decision that divided Idol fans, Minaj (29) known for her outlandish outfits and headline-making performances, and Urban were confirmed by Fox hours before auditions in front of judges kicked off in New York for the show’s 12th season.
They joined Grammy-winning singer Mariah Carey, whose name was announced in July, and record producer Randy Jackson –– who with host Ryan Seacrest are the only remaining members of the original line-up.
The new line-up follows the departures earlier this year of Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler and singer-actress Jennifer Lopez after two years, and returns the singing show to a four-person panel last seen in 2010.
The Fox announcement followed months of rumours about likely contenders for the job, including rapper Kanye West, pop star Katy Perry, Latin singer Enrique Iglesias, former American Idol runner-up Adam Lambert, and teen idols Nick Jonas and Miley Cyrus.
American Idol has been a ratings juggernaut since it debuted on Fox in 2002 but audiences are now only about half the more than 30 million who watched regularly in the show’s 2005 and 2006 heyday.
The last season finale in May drew a record low of 21,5 million viewers and Idol lost its eight-year crown as the most-watched programme on US television.
Minaj is the top female rapper in a hip-hop world dominated by male artists.
She burst onto the music scene in 2010 and quickly made a name for herself by adopting numerous alter-egos and with multiple hit records including Starships.
She has also proved controversial, appearing on the Grammy awards red carpet in February with a fake pope. She made headlines last week for expletive-filled lyrics that appeared to support US Republican contender Mitt Romney, but which she later said were meant to be sarcastic.
Reaction to Minaj on Sunday was typically extreme, with some viewers saying they would never watch American Idol again and others giving a big thumbs up.