(Published Jan. 17, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit
Long-Running talent-reality show “American Idol” spices things up by introducing three new judges with “strong personalities” for its 12th season, which premieres globally today.
Executive producer Nigel Lythgoe stated that the “passionate” new additions to the team will be looking for “something else” this year, according to an interview released by Star World.
The show’s new judges—country star Keith Urban, popular hip-hop artist Nicki Minaj and chart-topping R&B diva Mariah Carey—join the only remaining original judge, music producer Randy Jackson.
Lythgoe hinted that season 12 already looks promising for female contenders. “This year, there is more strength in the talent, I think, of the girls,” he said. “That is not to say that one of the boys will not sneak in because there are, I would say just off the top of my head, five or six really good guys, and only five of them are going to make the top 10. At the end of the day, when you’ve got five guys and five girls… it’s anybody’s game at that stage.”
And as previously evidenced by some of the show’s tighter, more divisive competitions, the ultimate showdown for the “Idol” crown can be unpredictable: “It isn’t always about the voice; it is about charisma, personality, attracting an audience. If there was an absolute formula to stick to in order to win ‘Idol,’ we’d have probably found it by now, bottled it and I’m sure one of the production companies would be selling it. But we haven’t! It’s really what grabs you.”
Lythgoe described Urban as “a lovely man.” Nicole Kidman’s country singer husband sometimes “looks like he’s watching a tennis match” when caught between Minaj and Carey’s exchanges.
“But when it’s his turn to speak, he gives his mind and he won’t put up with anybody else knocking him down—he’s had rounds with Mariah, Randy and Nicki,” Lythgoe revealed.
The season’s “strong personalities” will attract renewed interest, according to Fox International Channels Philippines territory director Jude Turcuato.
“I think it’s very healthy as far as entertainment is concerned,” Turcuato said during a phone interview. “As a viewer, I’d be excited to see if there really is a tiff between Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey. Nobody knows whether it’s fabricated or not, but I think it’s real, and it makes for good TV.”
Turcuato added that the dueling divas, who collaborated on a song in 2010, inevitably created buzz for the show, replacing the harmonious—and some fans say, predictable—dynamic of the last panel.
“There wasn’t much conflict with Steven Tyler, J. Lo (Jennifer Lopez) and Randy last season, so expect that to change with the new panel of judges,” he said. “It’ll bring back the tension between them, like in the early seasons with Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul.”
As for the “next” Jessica Sanchez, there’s a possibility that the new season might have a few similar surprises: “I was told that there are Fil-Ams this season. It’s a tight community, and those who join and make it to the finals are really supported by their fellows abroad and all over the world. That was made evident by Jessica’s success in the previous season.”
(The 12th season of “American Idol” premieres today, on Star World.)