American Idol has finally announced who will be joining the judging ranks for Season 12 of the talent competition. Singers Nicki Minaj and Keith Urban will get their chance to crush the Hollywood dreams of hopeful singers, Fox announced Sunday.
Minaj and Urban will fill in the empty seats vacated by Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez who are leaving the show after just two seasons. They will join newcomer Mariah Carey and veteran Randy Jackson (yes, Randy Jackson has been a judge since the beginning of time.)
Another veteran Idoler, Ryan Seacrest, will stay on as host.
"I am thrilled about this year's judges panel," Mike Darnell, Fox president of Alternative Entertainment, told Fox News. "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."
Fox made the announcement only hours before the foursome met to start their first audition session Sunday in New York.
USA Today reports that Idol is hoping that the cast shakeup brings the kind of success it saw when former judges Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler joined in 2010. Ratings rose for the first time in five seasons, says analyst Brad Adgate of ad firm Horizon Media. The ratings dropped significantly last year.
Adgate told USA Today he expects a ratings boost from an initial curiosity factor. "You have three different musical tastes. I think there's something for everyone," he said.
"Country music is a very popular format (and ) it looks like the show is trying to get younger viewers, because both these new judges have an appeal with younger viewers, particularly Nicki Minaj. (American Idol's) median age has risen every season since 2002, when it was launched."
TMZ reports that it was almost curtains for Randy Jackson but he managed to stay on after contract negotiations failed with Latino singer Enrique Iglesias.