It's been a long lingering issue on America's most popular singing contest: the "white guy with guitar" phenomenon wherein in the last five American Idol winners -- David Cook, Kris Allen, Lee DeWyze, Scotty McCreery and Phillip Phillips of seasons seven, eight, nine, 10 and 11, respectively -- are all known for their six-string-based sound, with a hint of singer-songwriter troubadour and aspiring rock star thrown into the mix.
So now that there's a new judging panel, which includes an R&B diva and a hip-hop superstar, will the curse finally be broken? The Hollywood Reporter asked Nicki Minaj that very question, and there is hope. "I'm pretty sure we'll have something new and different this year," said Minaj with a knowing nod.
While hard-pressed to explain why Idol audiences (and show producers) have been so averse to changing up styles (like incorporating rap) -- "I have no idea," said Minaj -- the wig-sporting singer promised she'll bring something new to the proverbial table. Viewers can expect plenty of "craziness and "kooky" behavior, she added. "Never a dull moment. ... I try to never plan what I'm going to say or how I'm going to feel, I just try to stay in the moment."
As far as bonding in the room, it seems the judges are doing plenty of that -- with the contestants. Said Minaj: "The contestants are lighting up my days. I didn't think I would gel with them so much ... it's interesting that once you see these kids and how much they want it and you know it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, you really put your heart and soul into it. With the judges we're having a lot of fun."
All four judges met the press on Wednesday afternoon along with host Ryan Seacrest who had these words to describe each panelist. Mariah Carey: "Soothing"; Minaj: "Pizzazz"; Keith Urban: "Whiskering"; and Randy Jackson: "Huggable."
Idol season 12 is currently in the midst of Hollywood Week. The show premieres on Fox on Jan. 16.