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Randy Jackson on 'Idol' Judges' Feud: 'All Families Are Dysfunctional!'
American Idol returns Jan. 16 on Fox with three superstar judges (Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj, and Keith Urban) and one big question: Can the show pick up ratings steam again?
"You'll see a few new wrinkles," veteran judge Randy Jackson says of Idol's formula.
As for a reported feud between the divas, Jackson insists that was growing pains: "It takes a minute to settle in. All families are sort of dysfunctional! But the chemestry and passion are amazing."
Jackson, 56, breaks down this year's talent (finally, a female might win again!) and more in the exclusive interview below.
On what's in store for season 12.
"Every season of Idol is so completely different from the next. People were probably thinking since Phillip Phillips won last year, the people who would turn out an audition this year would be similar to him, but it’s a completely different year. There are not a lot of singer-songwriters. It’s interesting. The diversity this year is just amazing. And I think that a girl could have a real shot this year."
On this year’s Idol hopefuls.
"You’ve got some pop artists, country artists, R&B artists, Christian artists, some edgy, alternative people, and people that are a little jazzier — it’s a mixed bag. The music industry has changed a lot since the show first started. It’s in probably one of the worst places it’s ever been, but the criteria for our contestants will never change. You have to be amazingly talented vocally, you have to have star power, and you have to be uniquely different."
On standing tall as the only veteran judge.
"I’m the super glue of Idol! It’s great. I love this show. I think it’s the greatest talent show of its kind. The kids that have come off the show have done so well. It’s proof of concept that Idol really works. Just look at Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Fantasia Barino, Chris Daughtry, Jennifer Hudson, and Jordin Sparks. The show has really worked. It’s great to be back, and I must say, this new panel of judges is really strong."
On the chemistry between the new judges.
"These guys are all artists, and there’s a fun, passionate, caring vibe from them. They’re really pulling for these kids. They’re now calling me the mean one because I cut to the chase really quick! It’s a great panel. We’ve got four distinct personalities and opinions. It’s definitely hard to get us all to agree. There’s very little unanimous voting. Two will like something and two won’t. It’s definitely very interesting!"
On sitting beside his friend and colleague Mariah Carey.
"It’s great. She’s sold 200 million albums, and you won’t see anyone in today’s music scene ever approach that or do that again. She’s written 18 number one songs, and she’s got that amazing voice. There are a lot of kids who walked into the audition and said to her, 'I grew up on you, idolized you, you’re my idol.' I think it’s really great for her. The funniest thing is to see people walk in and try to sing her songs in front of her. There are some bold kids out there — this is the year of the bold Idol kids!"
On the reported feuding between Nicki and Mariah.
"Whenever you put people together, it just takes a minute to gel and really settle in. It’s like any great family. All families are sort of dysfunctional! We’re that way, but we’re vibing together. Everything is like gravy now. The chemistry is amazing, the passion is amazing. I love this panel."
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