American Idol judge says girls are stronger


Talk about issues, Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj have had plenty of those as the new judges in this season of M-Net’s American Idol. Meanwhile, Debashine Thangevelofinds out how Keith Urban keeps his cool.

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AMERICAN IDOL: Keith Urban on the red carpet at the Hollywood Round of AMERICAN IDOL., Wednesday, Dec. 12 in Los Angeles. CR: Frank Micelotta / FOX.AMERICAN IDOL: Featuring host Ryan Seacrest and new judges Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj and Keith Urban, along with returning judge Randy Jackson, the 12th season of AMERICAN IDOL begins with the exciting two-night premiere Wednesday, Jan. 16 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) and Thursday, Jan. 17 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT).  Pictured L-R: Randy Jackson, Mariah Carey, Ryan Seacrest, Nicki Minaj and Keith Urban. CR: George Holz / FOX

PERHAPS one of the most exciting things about the 12th season of American Idol would be the hugely publicised on-air tiff between Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj. Although, the entire incident was unfortunately downplayed when the episode aired.

Thankfully, the guys – Keith Urban (pictured) and Randy Jackson – manage to effortless offset the cattiness with equanimity in the judges seat.

Unlike Steven Tyler, who has on numerous occasion shamelessly ogled at the gorgeous young talent, Urban, happily married to heavyweight actress Nicole Kidman, oozes professionalism. That the Grammy award-winner looks dishy doing so is an added bonus.

On critiquing the hopefuls in Las Vegas, he says, “Certainly, the audience’s reaction to our critiquing or opinions makes for a different kind of energy in the room. But, for me, I’m just trying to stay in the moment and just really give my gut reaction, the way a performance hits me. I’m just trying to stay on track with that and give them the best advice I can possibly give them and, hopefully, they get to go through to the next round.”

Now getting up in front of award-winning singers – and a noteworthy record producer – requires oceans of courage, especially for youngsters who haven’t even hit the 20 year mark. And Urban admits to being mindful of this fact.

“It’s tremendous, I never forget the environment they’re working in too. That’s an extraordinary thing, particularly when you’re young, 18 or whatever, and you’re standing there in front of us, in front of all about 1 700 people that were in the theatre last night and countless millions watching at home, and there you are, right in front of it, but you’ve got limited time to do your thing. So I have tremendous amount of empathy for the environment that they’re working in as well and I do take that into account,” Urban maintains.

While Carey and Minaj’s beef with each other has become somewhat of a public spectacle – it seems Urban has much respect for the Super Bass singer-cum-rapper.

He shares, “I’d never met Nicki before the show. We flew up to New York the night before the very first day of shooting and we all went to dinner, Ryan (Seacrest), and Nicki, Mariah, Randy and myself. That’s the first time I got to meet certainly Mariah and Nicki. I’d met Ryan and Randy before. But the very next day when we got into shooting what I really liked about Nicki was just her straight shooting directness .”

So how does he stay on Carey’s good side?

Urban says, “I think Mariah (Carey) responds to people in her own way. I clicked with her the first time I met her. I’ve always found this immediate connection with singers and musicians in general because I’m so used to playing in bands. I’ve been in bands where we’ve had guest artists come up and sing. So, for me, when I joined this panel I felt like I just joined a band...”

Of the talent pool this year, Urban is putting his money on a girl taking the title this year.

“All I can say is, at least from what we just saw last night, it’s absolutely a girl’s year to win, in my opinion. That’s not to say the guys aren’t strong because they really are. Its really more a testament to how strong the girls are this year.”

“I want to see the emergence of great artistry, male, female, it doesn’t really matter, but, definitely, the girls are stronger. I don’t know why that is. It’s just one of those things. We saw probably over 270 people all up to get it down to where we are today and the girls were just incredibly strong this year.”

Final verdict? Urban’s charm is infectious and his judging is spot-on. Talk about a perfect fit!

• American Idol airs on M-Net (DStv channel 101) on Saturday at 6pm.

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