'American Idol': Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj and Keith Urban on what to expect from the season 12 judges

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"American Idol" returns on Wednesday, Jan. 16 for a new season and with three new judges. What can fans expect out of Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj and Keith Urban as they meet the contestants of "Idol" Season 12?

Which judge sees herself as a fairy godmother? Who is the "kooky" judge? Who just wants to be fair and find a connection? We had a chance to talk to all three new judges during Hollywood Week -- find out what they had to say here!


Their judging styles

Mariah Carey: I like to think of myself more as like a fairy godmother.

I don't know that I have a judging style. I really think it's more, I try to speak as frankly as possible -- but as kindly as possible. Not like sugar-coating the whole thing, 'cause that does nobody any good and I think it can be important for people to watch.

But I feel like my experience as a recording artist and a producer and a writer has helped me get to the point where I can sit there and say, "I'm not sure if you hit this part correctly, because maybe the modulation took you by surprise, or you know, you weren't quite prepared blend that harmony."

Nicki Minaj: Kooky.

Never a dull moment with my judging style, that's for sure. I never try to plan what I'm going to say or what I'm going to feel. I just try to stay in the moment and just allow some craziness to come into this room. I mean, it's the entertainment business. We're artists. So if we don't have some craziness and kookiness, then it wouldn't really be real.

Keith Urban: Fair. Fair and authentic.

I try to not absolutely destroy somebody in front of millions of people. But at the same time, if someone's not really on -- and everyone at home knows it, that's the difficult part too. It's tricky when someone's just completely murdered a song.


What they're looking for

Mariah Carey:
I feel like I get really attached to certain people for different reasons, whether it's a story or, what it mainly is being the talent. You know, sometimes I see myself in some of the contestants. Like as when I first started.

Keith Urban: I'm more interested in people that want to sing than be famous or a star. I think that's what you should be driven by. You should be driven by the fact that you want to say something, and you just have to sing. It's just in you to sing.

For me, it's just the connection -- I just feel a connection with them. There's something authentic about the way they speak to me. And for me, if any of the emotions are present -- the joy, the vulnerability, the insecurity, the uncertainty, the anger, the whatever it is... If I can feel that in them, I'm interested.

Nicki Minaj: The contestants are lighting up my days. I didn't think I would gel with them so much and bond with them so much. But it's interesting once you start seeing these kids and you know how much they want it and you know that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity, you really pour your heart and soul into it.

"American Idol" Season 12 premieres on Wednesday, Jan. 16 at 8pm on FOX.
Photo/Video credit: FOX
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