Nigel Lythgoe: Nicki Minaj is one of the best judges I've worked with
January 15th, 2013
09:27 AM ET

Nigel Lythgoe: Nicki Minaj is one of the best judges I've worked with

Fans should prepare for some changes when "American Idol" returns to Fox on Wednesday and Thursday this week, but one change they won't be seeing is a larger emphasis on hip-hop.

With Nicki Minaj joining the judges' panel last year, it was questioned if "Idol" would see an uptick in artists closer to Minaj's profile: rap artists who can also sing.

But, "American Idol" executive producer Lythgoe told CNN last week, he doesn't see that happening anytime soon.

"I don’t believe so.  I don’t think rap really fits in to 'American Idol' in the sense that I believe rap is an art form in itself more akin to poetry, more akin to drama, if you will," he said during a press call last week. "I think rap in the street when they have rap competitions is thrilling because these kids are making it up and having a go at each other.  They’ve got something to say.  This is about getting their frustrations out.  Hip-hop is a way of life.  It isn’t a genre in truth in 'American Idol.'"

(If that disheartens you as an aspiring artist, keep in mind that Minaj herself has urged developing rappers to steer clear of "Idol," telling press last month that she “definitely [doesn't] think a rapper should be in this competition. ... The hip-hop community wants you to be credible. ... I would never go on a show like this as a rapper. I wouldn’t encourage anyone else as a rapper to come on. I don’t think it's authentic.")

With that squared away, Lythgoe went on to mention the changes that are going to take place: the show made an effort to head out into smaller towns to find potential contestants who may not have been able to make it to auditions held in a larger neighboring city, which widened the talent pool; they also used "I Nominate," which let friends and family nominate a strong vocalist who was too nervous or shy to head out for the audition; and they've switched Hollywood Week up a bit.

"First time ever in Hollywood Week, we split the weeks up and gave a week to the boys and then a week to the girls, which really gave us an awful lot more focus on our talent this year that allowed us to see the woods through the trees, if you will," he said. "We’re going to continue to do that during the Vegas rounds as well up until the point we get to our top ten."

As for his oft-bickering new judges, Lythgoe admitted that he wasn't thrilled with the behavior displayed thus far, or the resulting reports.

"I don’t think that’s been a bonus in any way, shape or form, to be frank. It’s not publicity that I welcomed," he told press. "I really do - and I’ve said all the way since we began this show - it’s about the contestants. The judges are always going to be interesting because they are who they are, but the show is about the contestants. I don’t really want to know that there’s been a huge blow-up between them or anything like that and have it all taken out of proportion ... I’m not into that sort of publicity."

And yet, there's no denying that some viewers will be watching specifically for the catfights. "Everybody tells me I should be grateful for that," Lythgoe went on. "I would much prefer that they watch because these judges are excellent. Nicki Minaj I think is one of the best judges I’ve ever worked with."

His hope is that the focus will stay on the talent at hand - although he emphasizes that "Idol" isn't just looking for a great set of pipes, like another show we could name.

"It isn’t always about the voice; it is about charisma, it is about personality, it is about attracting an audience and doing that week on week," Lythgoe said, noting that the girls are a talented bunch this season.

"That is not to say that one of the boys will not sneak in because there are, I would say just off the top of my head, five or six really good guys and only five of them are going to make the top 10.  At the end of the day when you’ve got five guys and five girls, the strength of talent, the depth of talent, doesn’t matter.  You’re still only dealing with five males and five females.  It’s anybody’s game at that stage."

Filed under: American Idol 2013 • television

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soundoff (85 Responses)
  1. Bell

    The horrible judges are ruining Idol. A complete embarrassment!

    January 25, 2013 at 1:21 am | Report abuse |
  2. pmn

    Can you say liar? Nigel just wants the ratings to go up because they were down on the first show. She is horrible...she is trash with no class.

    January 23, 2013 at 9:26 am | Report abuse |
    • LIAR!!!

      THANK GOD you have called the world's attention to this travesty, You should get a special certificate or something.

      January 25, 2013 at 12:20 am | Report abuse |
  3. Lily

    First year I haven't watched IDOL and it is because of Nicki Minaj. Will not watch a single episode.

    January 22, 2013 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |

      If this is the first year that you have not watched IDOL, then this is the first year you have not lived as a total braindead fart breather, AND FOR THAT WE SALUTE YOU!!!

      January 25, 2013 at 12:23 am | Report abuse |
  4. Doc Bologna

    teevoley has their tickets.

    January 22, 2013 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
  5. Your Management


    January 22, 2013 at 4:51 am | Report abuse |

    Minaj is revolting, obnoxious, annoying trash. Watched the first two audition episodes and that's it. After watching Idol since Season 1, I am done.

    January 22, 2013 at 4:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Barrabas

      I am with you on this one. I found myself totally annoyed and in a bad mood after watching her. I rather skip it this year. Just a shame because I like the show.

      January 22, 2013 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
  7. Donna

    I have watched AI since it started and I can honestly say that this is the worst season I have ever seen. All the arguments, making fun of contestants and most of all, Nikki is trying to control the show. Since when can someone like her say who has talent and who doesn't. It seems like she is saying outrageous things to keep the cameras on her. I predict that American Idol is over............................

    January 22, 2013 at 12:05 am | Report abuse |
  8. oh and the living off my parents garbage?

    i give them 900 a month to pitch in....the basement? I built at what..we all did?
    dont' want to pay 2,000 a month for crappy box in edgwater–bye bye....

    i have a warm cozy big house.

    January 21, 2013 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
  9. the max out mystery...

    that was to get gaga too sing walk this way....7 puzzled locked hidden. bureau is letting go...sometimes nikki lives on the edge even if its making her look like she has nothing to get what she needs but it was all worth it for the press–pictures movies...nobody cares didn't affect anything and never wil especially when i head to my next job position.
    i'm heading to the see.e..oe soon.

    i do wish you well–but life must go on and negative is over for nikki. we must focus on good things...

    January 21, 2013 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
  10. life must move ahead...

    and why? because life is too short. onward we go into 2013

    January 21, 2013 at 7:27 am | Report abuse |
  11. chris

    God I wish all these morons would stop with the 'Shes looks like such a freak' crap. DO you want all pop stars to wear boring jeans and t-shirt and sing about love? Yes you prolly do cause you BORING!!!!

    January 21, 2013 at 7:21 am | Report abuse |

      YESSSS you have nailed it. we are BORRRRING. I personally enjoy my boring ness and rub it all over my self languidly and with exagerated massaging motions, What were we talking about?

      January 25, 2013 at 12:13 am | Report abuse |
  12. blake

    Don't know what Nigel has been smoking. Minaj is a no talent, classless, obnoxious, narcisisstic woman. She may single handedly destroy AI.

    January 20, 2013 at 10:12 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Great work...

    what a catch

    January 20, 2013 at 9:24 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Trixee

    I don't know what Nikki been saying, but I really want some cotton candy baad.

    January 20, 2013 at 9:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nikki didn't do anything.

      she was picked on and we had too smash the intrusion...want that white.

      January 20, 2013 at 9:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nikki didn't do anything.

      gaga picked on her and we had to smash it...

      i need some "white" hope i can see u...

      January 20, 2013 at 9:27 pm | Report abuse |
  15. salleeee

    Keith Urban is a class act. Randy Jackson needs to change his same old, same old garbage. Mariah Carey is a
    pleasant enough person and seems sincere. Nicki Minaj is just so annoying and ridiculous looking that it's almost
    worth giving up the show completely, but I like to see the talent when it gets down to the real talent.

    99% of the people who write in here are idiots. The word is you're, not your, and some of you need to seriously get
    some English lessons...what a bunch of illiterates.

    January 19, 2013 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • really now

      Nicki Minaj is just the latest no-talent train wreck to grace AI judges table. looks like she's wearing one of Christina Aguilera's old wigs. She is a weird freak show almost as bad as Britney Spears. AI is still one of the most pointless shows on TV. Go away.

      January 20, 2013 at 9:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • redneck 1 not embarrassed yet..


      January 20, 2013 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse |
  16. which proves our point again

    gaga was there.

    January 19, 2013 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  17. Dave

    Nicki is a great singer but has absolutely no brains. She is sooo annoying. When she talks she does not add anything useful to the discussion/evaluation of the participant. She never has anything intelligent to say. She is sooo annoying that I am not watching AI anymore. I couldn't take her comments anymore after 10 minutes or so.

    January 19, 2013 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  18. i agree...

    i really want niki signed on again...she's truly a talent nobody will ever match....hahahaha

    January 19, 2013 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  19. This show is truly the funniest comedy in history

    and i will support the american idol and hope they alllll sign up again..

    January 19, 2013 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  20. Thats what we think of SPAM EATERS...


    January 19, 2013 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  21. nikki was much thinner then

    she's a fat low life now..

    January 19, 2013 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • BUTT

      Her chubbiness makes me want to gnaw on her and enjoy juicy fatt nastiness and it tastes SOOOO GOOD. and she's freaky so that's a plus.

      January 25, 2013 at 12:19 am | Report abuse |
  22. Yo


    January 19, 2013 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  23. Jeff

    I watched AI for 10 minutes the other night for the first time in about 6-7 years.. Worst show ever. The judges arguing takes away from the contestants. I have a question, what does Nicki Minaj do? Does she have a talent? YUCK YUCK YUCK. Maybe i will watch the show again in 2020.

    January 19, 2013 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • M.A.P. (Mothers against poo)

      Nicki Minaj is just the hottest new female rapper since Lil Kim – but, y'know, no biggy!

      January 23, 2013 at 9:07 am | Report abuse |
  24. dmwinsd

    I may not be in the desired demographic for the show, but I have enjoyed AI for about six years. As I read the stories of the NM/MK spats before the current season began I was worried. My worries have come true. If NM keeps up the adolescent attacks on MK I will have to move on – it's too painful to watch. It may be appealing to 14 year-old girls, and I suppose that is the goal of turning the show from a talent search to a catfight. Has AI simply jumped the shark in an attempt to improve ratings? I agree that NM has judging skills, and truly hope she can develop decent relationships with the other judges, all of whom I like. But it appears that she is trying to take over the show with her clown suits and antics. AI, please come back!

    January 19, 2013 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • M.A.P. (Mothers against poo)

      It's spellt Mariah Carey – with a C, not a K. K?!

      January 23, 2013 at 9:06 am | Report abuse |
  25. Bruce Wayne

    Nicki Manij is a no talented,self centered piece of trash.I don't see why she is on "Idol" and I don't understand why "Idol" is still on the air.The show should have been cancelled after last year.I will not watch "Idol" any this season.Lady Gaga would have been a better judge.I feel sorry for Randy Jackson and Keith Urban.They have to be in the middle of all that drama.Please..please..PLEASE let this be the very last season of "Idol" and quit polluting people's eyes with garbage.

    January 19, 2013 at 2:55 am | Report abuse |
  26. mia in California

    Why all the hate for Gaga and Minaj? They are successful whether we like them or not.

    January 19, 2013 at 2:28 am | Report abuse |
  27. Steve

    Every other judge on American Idol is better than her...not sure what Nigel means by saying she is one of the best judges he's worked with.

    January 19, 2013 at 12:17 am | Report abuse |
  28. It did look like cotton candy

    now she's a brunette and looks much better...shoot gotta run.

    January 18, 2013 at 9:10 pm | Report abuse |
  29. Trixee

    Is Nikki's hair real? It look like cotton candy.

    January 18, 2013 at 9:09 pm | Report abuse |
  30. Jan Ermpit

    we want joy and future happiness and this will happen because life is too short to be bitter towards keith urban and the cast of American Idol

    January 18, 2013 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
  31. Tom Carrington

    American Idol 2013 is a train wreck. Toooooo much about the judges. Hate Nikki – too full of herself. American Idol turning in to the Jerry Springer of Reality Singing shows. Can't wait until So You Think You Can Dance – Nigel don't mess with it. The judges are there for the contestants not for themselves as American Idol has turned into.
    Deleted American Idol from my DVR

    January 18, 2013 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  32. Jim Dandey

    Lythgoe comes off as a creepy pervert on the show he judges on, and Minaj is an idiot.

    January 17, 2013 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  33. nicki has big boobs...geeze

    saw an interview with her this morning...

    January 16, 2013 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
  34. derp

    "rap artists who can also sing"

    Which excludes Minaj.

    Talentless dumb drama queen.

    January 16, 2013 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  35. Happy Go Lucky

    i'm so glad they love to worth together.

    January 15, 2013 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
  36. 2 for you

    hands down.

    January 15, 2013 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  37. you see rock star--

    your never keep your mouth closed.

    January 15, 2013 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
  38. Nikki is number 1

    everyone hates gaga she should be aware of that by now.

    January 15, 2013 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  39. gaga is a silly woman and we're sorry

    she cannot handle it like nikki can. poor thing stuck in the mansion all alone.

    January 15, 2013 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  40. Gaga has no idea

    how sad she is...take your meds gaga...your being watched

    January 15, 2013 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  41. gaga can't do anyting right can she.

    she always falls into the same trap like always. she's such train wreck and embarrassment to everyone.

    January 15, 2013 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
  42. gaga lhas no talent

    nikki wins....

    January 15, 2013 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  43. Its so sad

    gaga has no charisma whatsoever.

    January 15, 2013 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  44. She is so jealous of you

    its incredible–other 4 "not close"

    January 15, 2013 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
  45. Your so jealous

    medical assistance is required for gaga–she doesn't understand she's trapped all day long.

    January 15, 2013 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
  46. get the other 4

    pie in face.

    January 15, 2013 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
  47. nancy

    Memo to Nigel

    I have watched American Idol since season one. I will NOT be watching this year. Not only because I cannot stand Niki Minaj – I have never and will never like Mariah Carey.

    You made 2 terrible choices and for that – you have lost me as a viewer.

    January 15, 2013 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • nomoreidol

      I have watched American Idol since season one. I will NOT be watching this year. Not only because I cannot stand Niki Minaj

      100% correct, we didnt watch this last session of idol for that reason get rid of niki, we have watched idol for years but when you brought niki ok board the show lost its flavor

      i guees you dont need the ratings, the voice is were alot of people went to as a fall back, and their ratings are going up while idol is going down

      January 16, 2013 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
    • very talented..

      saw her in an interview this morning...

      January 16, 2013 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
  48. Bryan

    Wait, a producer is making wildly positive hyperbolic state,nets about his own show? Shocking!

    January 15, 2013 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  49. lah

    I still don't understand why AI hired two judges, one hip hop and the other country when AI is trying to find a pop star. AI should not allow the contestants to play an instrument and they should have more weeks where the contestants have to sing current pop songs. Once the contestants are narrowed down to four or five I would like them to sing two songs on an episode. However, I would like to hear each contestant sing the same song to see how each one would interpret it. Also, tone down the theatrics, no need for marching bands, explosives, or fire. But, like others I will not be watching due to the hiring of Nicki Minja and Keith Urban.

    January 15, 2013 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
  50. its like a ghost town...


    January 15, 2013 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
  51. nikki is a talent

    you will never meet again–number 1 yay

    January 15, 2013 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
  52. Jude Law

    is a fine fine actor....

    January 15, 2013 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
  53. happycow22, donna summer and other stars....

    we love nikki she's the best of the

    January 15, 2013 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
  54. Mommy Holey

    i like nikki she's got guts..

    January 15, 2013 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  55. Any body up for Queens tonight?

    haaaaaaaahaaaaaaaaa–no then shut up

    January 15, 2013 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
  56. Guest

    "Nikki Minaj is one of the best judges I've ever woked with" I hate LIARS!

    January 15, 2013 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
  57. you tah ready--

    dinne 6pm 2..

    January 15, 2013 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
  58. Jose'

    As a Hispanic I do not hate Nicki M. She just seems like an ugly cow though.

    January 15, 2013 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
  59. you tah ready!

    be home for dinner by 6pm? k?

    January 15, 2013 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
  60. Steve

    "It isn’t always about the voice; it is about charisma, it is about personality, it is about attracting an audience and doing that week on week," Lythgoe said, noting that the girls are a talented bunch this season.

    Then why is it, year after year, the winner just vanishes or their career is what one would call far less than stellar. A couple of successes out of all the seasons they have run is just embarrassing as is this show, anymore.

    January 15, 2013 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
  61. Society cannot go on because you hate nikki minaj.


    January 15, 2013 at 9:53 am | Report abuse |
  62. Em

    Nicki Minaj is just trash. We will NOT be watching.

    January 15, 2013 at 9:49 am | Report abuse |
  63. Dan

    I bet and hope it will have the lowest ratings of any show on TV. No Nikki Minaj for us. She is mega gross.

    January 15, 2013 at 9:47 am | Report abuse |
  64. Trish

    We will not be watching at our house. Since Nikki Minaj became a judge our home has become an Idol free zone.

    January 15, 2013 at 9:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Roman

      Lol Nicki Minaj controls your lives. "Why the bums so mad that the Queen on Idol huh?" – Nicki Minaj

      January 15, 2013 at 9:24 pm | Report abuse |

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