Fox has found a new American Idol judge in superstar singer Mariah Carey, who will take up one of the slots vacated by Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez earlier this month and, by her own account, "can't wait to get started." The reality TV singing competition has struggled to maintain its once-enviable ratings in recent years, trying out a string of judges (remember the distinctly uncritical Ellen DeGeneres?) without managing to stop the slide; last season's ratings were down approximately 29 percent. Clearly willing to pay handsomely to keep Idol from imploding, producers are reportedly paying Carey $18 million for a one-year contract. Wise investment?
Yes. Mariah is the perfect choice: Carey is the right pick for a number of reasons, including the likelihood that she "won't play nice" — a good thing, says Lyndsey Parker at Yahoo. After two seasons of contestant-coddling from Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler, "it's time for some tough talk on Idol." And don't forget that Mariah can actually sing. "Let's face it, Jennifer Lopez was never going to go down in history for her Maria Callas-like belting ability." But Mimi can blow, so she joins the judges panel with "built-in cred."
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No. This is a ploy to boost her career — and it probably won't work: Mariah is indeed one of the greatest singers of her generation, but her "headiest days are, arguably, behind her," says Leslie Gornstein at E! News. Her last non-holiday studio album sold a handsome number of copies — 540,000 — but that's barely half of the 1.3 million copies she moved with 2008's E=MC². Consider the argument that J.Lo's career didn't benefit much from her Idol stint (though Lopez parlayed it into a smash single, "On the Floor," her 2011 album sold just 333,000 copies), and "the Second Coming of Mariah Carey" might not pan out as planned.
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Mariah will certainly bring the crazy back to Idol: "I'm not sure if Carey's tenure will be a tremendous success or a terrifying train wreck," says James Montgomery at MTV. The woman who performed for Moammar Gadhafi and named her twins Moroccan and Monroe will definitely bring back "some much-needed unpredictability to the show." She's also got "plenty of attitude, and the kind of resume any wannabe superstar could only hope to attain." But "will she nod off during a live broadcast?... Threaten to cut a bitch?" The beauty of Mariah Carey as a judge is: Anything is possible.
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