New “American Idol” judges Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj both insist that the much-publicized feud between them is over… but their body language tells a whole other story.
Carey and Minaj joined fellow newcomer Keith Urban and lone holdover Randy Jackson at a Television Critics Association panel this morning to promote the upcoming Season 12 of “Idol” (debuting January 18). And the dueling divas both brushed off questions about any lingering bad blood between them… though they didn’t exactly deny it ever existed, either.
As Carey diplomatically put it, “this is a very passionate panel” with “a lot of strong personalities,” alluding to the alleged fight that took place between her and Minaj that ended with Minaj threatening to “shoot that b----“ (and Carey hiring extra security). But Carey insisted that the “Idol” franchise is “bigger than all that… bigger than some stupid, trumped-up thing.” And Minaj joked that she came up with a unique way to settle the feud: "I put on my sex tape."
Get a sneak peek at the new season of "American Idol" right here:
At the same time, there was a palpable tension between the two chart-toppers. They sat one seat apart, with the mild-mannered Urban between them as a buffer -- the same set-up they'll have during this season's auditions. And things got borderline awkward when Carey called the feud with Minaj “one-sided,” with Minaj quickly snapping back, “No, it wasn’t.” Later, when Carey joked that the new “Idol” panel is “putting the ‘fun’ back in ‘dysfunctional,’” Minaj (who looked bored and sullen throughout) didn’t crack a smile.
But Carey and Minaj did lavish praise on each other as well… though it took a little prompting from one TV critic, who asked the pair to say something nice about each other. Minaj generously called Carey “one of my favorite artists of all time… she shaped a whole generation of singers.” And Carey fondly recalled working with Minaj on the ironically-titled 2010 track “Up Out My Face”: “I did feel she would go very far.”
One big difference between the two: their approach to judging auditions. Carey said she had a lot of trouble saying no to bad singers at first, and that she had to hide her face while rejecting them. Minaj, on the other hand, had no problem dishing out tough love: “When people say yes to someone who doesn’t deserve it, it bothers me.” So could these two be Simon and Paula 2.0? After a lot of judge turnover and years of sagging ratings, “Idol” producers sure hope so.
Season 12 of “American Idol” premieres Wednesday, 1/16 at 8 PM on Fox.