Rapper Nicki Minaj and county star Keith Urban will join
American Idol as judges for the Fox
reality stalwart's upcoming 12th season, the network confirmed
Sunday, rounding out a revamped panel that includes the previously
announced Mariah Carey.
Randy Jackson, who has been a judge since the series' inception will also
remain on the now four-person panel, after previous speculation that he might
transition to a mentor role. Jackson is Carey's co-manager, and was said to be
instrumental in getting her on Idol.
The new judges replace Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez, who
announced their departure from Idol
this summer after two seasons on the show. The panel will appear for
the first time on Sunday in New York City for the first day of Idol auditions.
"With an unparalleled star like Mariah, fan-favorite Randy,
chart-toppers like Nicki and Keith and our incomparable host Ryan, we've put
together one of the most exciting judging panels around," said Mike Darnell, Fox's
president of alternative entertainment in a statement.
The judging changes come as Idol
declined about 25% in the ratings last season faced with a glut of competition
from NBC's The Voice and Fox's own X Factor and caused executives to look
for ways to reinvigorate the franchise, which last year was passed as the
top-rated show on television by NBC's Sunday
"Although we finished show at top once again... our ratings were down. Not
being the only game in town now, we need to keep things fresh," said Fox
president Kevin Reilly said at the TCA press tour in July.