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<I>American Idol</I>: Judging the New Judges

We've only had one outing with the new judging panel on American Idol, but we can already see just how this season is going to pan out with the likes of Keith Urban, Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj joining Randy Jackson. And frankly, we're not all that impressed, though we never imagined a big fight could erupt over who knows more about Mean Girls. Here are our initial thoughts:

Keith Urban
He doesn't seem to be willing to vocalize his opinions really all that much, but he does appear to be the one sane and normal person on the panel. I guess every show needs one laid-back voice of reason. We're not sure we can count on him to deliver any cutting criticism as the season progresses, probably because he'll be too busy breaking up fights between Mariah and Nicki. Who put that poor guy in between the dueling divas? We're vaguely concerned for his safety. Also, at one point during the audition process, his gut reaction was to hide underneath a table. That wasn't an unwise decision. In fact, we want to hide under a table instead of watching this show most of the time as well.

Randy Jackson
Why did the other newbies think that he would be able to dole out advice on how to let people down easy? In his far too many years on this show (we get it, he's got no other TV opportunities besides showing up on the finale of ABDC), he's become increasingly less tolerant of the talentless and just blatantly laughs in their faces and tells them they suck. Not to say that some of these people don't deserve a harsh dose of reality, but by asking Randy for advice in that situation, the other judges proved that they really didn't pay attention to him when/if they watched previous seasons. Also, Randy is just 99 percent soundbites and ass-kissing, so trying to get an actual unprogrammed thought out of him at this point is damned near impossible.

Nicki Minaj
She's the young fun one of the bunch who really seems to just want to hug and love people, in a sort of borderline crazy Paula Abdul sort of way. But she does actually seem to have a sense of the music industry and is willing to acknowledge that people don't have to fit into one specific musical box all of the time in order to make it (she's a case in point). She also doesn't have time to memorize the details of Mean Girls, like some people, and isn't afraid to speak her mind, particularly when it involves slamming Mariah Carey. Now we might have pre-judged the situation here, but even with her wild hair and costumes, Nicki seems about a million times more genuine than Mrs. Cannon does, even when she randomly defaults into a British accent. She can't hide her opinions from her face and happily spouts off the word bitch. She might be nuts, but she's certainly the reason we'll keep watching this show this year... for her wardrobe alone.

Mariah Carey
She's certainly here to prove that she's still relevant in the world, even though she hasn't produced many hits in quite a number of years. She seems dead set on finding people with big belty voices, to revive her "style" of music. Christina Aguilera tried that with her team this season on The Voice and failed miserably. But mostly Mariah comes across as sensitive and uptight in contrast to Nicki's playful wackiness. Instead of brushing off the Mean Girls thing, she just kept harping on it and getting all persnickety about the character names and everything. Perhaps being bitter about someone else's accessories isn't really the best way to start a new working relationship. She seems like a control freak, what with her obsessing over what the lighting guys are doing, making sure that she gets her allotted time to speak and delivering passive aggressive comments about how her opinion doesn't matter if she's outnumbered, and yet, she's not willing to grow a backbone and tell contestants what she honestly thinks of them.

Obviously, there's a chance that once we get to Hollywood and the live shows that the editors won't be able to cut these squabbles and comments down to juicy little nuggets and things will change, but it seems unlikely. And since the talent doesn't seem up to snuff (are there just not enough decent singers to fill the glut of reality singing competitions on TV right now?), we're thinking this is going to be a mighty long season indeed.

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