Although rap sensation Nicki Minaj was actually on ABC's "Live! with Kelly and Michael" to promote her new album, Pink: The Re-Up, the conversation inevitably turned to her new job as a judge on Fox Television's hit show, "American Idol." They didn't get into the controversial stuff (apparently deeming it "old news" -- and rightly so), but the hosting duo did ask her about what being a judge was like. After showing a video clip of Minaj critiquing a young woman, the "Starships" singer looked surprised that they had a clip of her being completely floored by an audition and the woman's story.
In the clip, Minaj tells the auditioner that she is "incredible." She stumbles, trying to find the words, telling the contestant that she was also "proud" of her, noting that she was shouldering a lot of responsibility, having a child whose father was in a "horrible accident." She then says the woman is a "superstar." "Your voice is unparalleled," she says.
Host Kelly Ripa, once the clip ended, pointed out how emotionally moved Minaj had been during the audition. Minaj, dressed from head to toe in soft pink (including her spiked-heel platform shoes), seemed a bit shocked that the talk show had the clip. She admitted she had never before seen the clip.
Minaj explained that the woman auditioning had blown everyone away. The woman hadn't told her boyfriend, who had been involved in a motorcycle accident, that she was auditioning for "American Idol." Minaj said that the story and audition "melted" her, especially knowing that it would be "amazing news" for the boyfriend. She said it made her think of how quick people's lives could change -- a wreck, an audition. She wondered how it would affect the woman's relationship with the boyfriend.
Michael then asked what was the "hardest part" about being a judge.
Minaj said it was "obvious. It's like -- you don't want to crush anyone's dream."
Kelly, ever the pragmatist, quickly inserted. "But some people are delusional, Nicki."
Minaj agreed, saying that she couldn't simply sit there and not "be real." She said, "I remember when I would be at home watching, I loved Simon being honest. I didn't want to watch it just to hear people say, 'You're great!," "I love you!." She made exaggerated fawning sounds.
She said although there was a "time and place" for that kind of thing -- like with you own children, family, and friends -- "but you're looking for the next 'American Idol.'"
Minaj said she looked at her job as judge as a "big responsibility."
And it is. The young talent that the judges -- Minaj, Mariah Carey, Keith Urban, and Randy Jackson -- send through to Hollywood to test their vocal stylings and endurance could be the next Clarkson, Lambert, Underwood, or Daughtry. Telling them "no" or cutting them in subsequent rounds could delay dreams for years, even decades, maybe a lifetime.
Still, it is nice to know that "American Idol" won't be a season of judges simply sitting and sniping at each other. Tension seemed to be built into the new season as producers built a new judges panel after the departure of Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler but after and initial flurry of headlines, the "Idol" set seems to have settled down.
Perhaps all the judges are attempting to act responsibly...
"American Idol" returns to Fox Television for Season 12 on January 16, 2013.
(photo credit: Philip Nelson, Creative Commons)