It’s official! American Idol’s long road to a revamped judging panel is finally over.
On Sunday Fox announced the signing on of 44-year-old Aussie country singer Keith Urban and 29-year-old rapper Nicki Minaj as the show’s third and fourth judges for the upcoming season. They join Mariah Carey, who signed on shortly after Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler left the show earlier this year, and Randy Jackson, who confirmed his return last week.
Minaj and Urban’s signing on settles months of reports and speculation about the show’s panel that saw names like Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, Nick Jonas, Adam Lambert and Kanye West thrown around as possibilities.
Fox’s president of alternative Mike Darnell said in a statement, “Nicki’s an unbelievably captivating international phenomenon who has made an indelible mark on rap and pop and Keith is another great addition to Idol – he’s one of the biggest stars in country music and I know that our fans and contestants will fall in love with him. With an unparalleled star like Mariah, fan-favorite Randy, chart-toppers like Nicki and Keith and our incomparable host Ryan [Seacrest], we’ve put together one of the most exciting judging panels around.”
As for the paychecks for the new judges, Carey is pulling in $17 million for her role. Urban and Minaj are reportedly earning $4 million and $8 million, respectively.
While the speculation and guessing is over, what remains to be seen is if the new judging panel will bring in more ratings for the show, which saw a record year-over-year drop in ratings last season.
We will see, when American Idol returns in January 2013.