September 17th, 2012
03:28 PM ET
This isn't the first time "American Idol" has thrown us for a loop with a judges' announcement, but the latest panel is being received by some fans as a dealbreaker.
After plenty of speculation, Fox revealed that the new lineup for the 12th season will include, in addition to previously announced judge Mariah Carey, Randy Jackson, Nicki Minaj and Keith Urban.
We believe former judge Jennifer Lopez said it best when she told Katie Couric Friday: "That's an eclectic group."
To NPR, this is "Idol's" attempt to bridge the gap between the image the show likes to project - namely, youthful - and the audience it actually has with "a median viewer age of about 50."
Hiring Minaj, a 20-something artist whose existence in mainstream pop culture stretches back just a handful of years, is an attempt to draw younger viewers as well as a potential opportunity to mix in some hip-hop and rap, something that "Idol's" not known for.
Keith Urban, meanwhile, brings the country credibility that "Idol" probably should've established long ago, considering how well it's done in creating stars in that genre, with Carrie Underwood being the shining example. He also seems to appeal to the current audience. On both Entertainment Weekly and Celebuzz polls of which judge will perform the best next season, Urban's beating them all, including mainstay Randy Jackson.
Those Urban fans were few and far between in CNN.com's peanut gallery, though, as commenters predicted this'll be the end of "Idol," with Minaj bearing the brunt of the blame:
But Spin magazine argues that Minaj's critics just haven't been paying attention. "Minaj is perfect for the show," the magazine posits. "Her enthusiasm and affability certainly puts her in a different category than [previous judges] Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler ... The decision to pick up Nicki Minaj for 'Idol' seems birthed out of that 'Voice' strategy [on NBC] to skip desperate, attention-starved megastars of the past and go right to the successful musicians of right now, whose opinions and presence carry some real weight."
The Los Angeles Times agrees, calling the new "Idol" panel one that's "not just there for career resuscitation," and the judges, at least, will "likely be worth watching."
For the first episode, at least. "American Idol" returns to Fox in January.
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