She'll bring in an urban audience - Hip-hop and R&B are arguably the biggest genres on the charts right now, and have been for some time...but "Idol" has become increasingly white-washed over the years. There hasn't been an R&B-singing champion on "Idol" in eight years, and the few R&B singers who do tend to go far on the show, from Ruben Studdard to Michael Lynche to Joshua Ledet, usually traffic in a more old-school style. Meanwhile, "The X Factor" has become the singing show of choice for urban music fans, with a judging panel that includes former LaFace Records co-founder/Island Def Jam honcho L.A. Reid and an inaugural season that included many hip-hop/R&B-influenced finalists. "The Voice"--which features hip-hop star Cee Lo Green as a coach and crowned an R&B singer with Alicia Keys connections, Jermaine Paul, as its Season 2 winner--has also siphoned off some urban-music-fan viewers from "Idol." So Nicki, especially paired with Mariah, could definitely draw in a different audience aside from the core viewers that have consistently voted for five guitar-strumming rock/country/folk singers in a row--thus making "Idol" diverse and competitive again. This, of course, is a good thing.
She'll be tough - Nicki has never been one to mince words in her raps, so I have no reason to believe she'll play the nicey-nice role once she's in the "Idol" hot seat. Just imagine if she took even one-umpteenth of the venom and fire in one of her diss raps, and unleashed all that on any hapless tone-deaf "Idol" auditioner. It'd be enough to make Simon Cowell blanch.
She isn't really qualified to judge singers - Nicki is a rapper, and when she does sing, she utilizes enough Auto-Tune to make T-Pain balk. When she cancelled her recent appearance at Britain's V Festival due to "strained vocal cords," the amused widespread sentiment messageboards and Twitter was basically utter disbelief that Nicki even had any cords to strain in the first place. Sure, a lack of singing skills didn't stop "Idol" from hiring J.Lo (or, come to think of it, Paula), but still. Considering that multi-octave belters like Aretha Franklin and Adam Lambert were supposedly up for this job, it's pretty disappointing that "Idol" didn't hire someone with real vocal chops or musical skills. But hey, I guess that's one way Mariah has Nicki beat, right?
She'll take even more focus off the contestants - How is anyone supposed to pay any attention to some humble small-town nobody covering Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" or Edwin McCain's "I'll Be" for the jillionth time, when you've got Nicki and Mariah fighting for screentime on every episode? I've repeatedly argued that the trend towards superstar judges on TV talent shows has practically made the contestants--you know, the people these shows are supposed to be turning into superstars themselves--mere afterthoughts. And having a scenery-chewer like Nicki on "Idol's" panel will only make this situation worse. Much worse.
Stay tuned as Idol is trying to keep up with X Factor and The Voice's success. Pray for the Barbs out there.
Sources: Yahoo.com (story), Inside Black Hollywood.com (photo)