NEW YORK -- Things are perfectly harmonious on American Idol's new judges' panel.
At least, that was the word on Monday at a news conference featuring returning veteran Randy Jackson and newcomers Keith Urban, Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj. It was the group's second day of working together; the audition road show next moves to Chicago.
"How can you feud in two days? A feud takes a little longer. It's fun. It's music. It's laughter," said Carey.
The next season of the show premieres in January and enters a landscape cluttered with star-studded talent competitions, most notably Fox's X Factor, with Britney Spears and Demi Lovato front and center, and the A-list mentors and judges on NBC's The Voice.
What made Urban, Carey and Minaj take the gig? Idol's ongoing brand recognition, coupled with the chance to mentor singers. Of course, the paychecks didn't hurt either, along with some other perks. "I'm a big fan of the brand," said Minaj. "This is such a credible brand. Plus I get a chance to wear a whole bunch of different wigs."
Urban called it "a legendary show" that epitomizes the American dream.
Carey, Urban and Minaj replaced outgoing critiquers Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez. The undisputed breakout, judging from the quickie press gathering: Carey, who is equal parts vampy, kooky, giddy and emotive. Minaj seemed hesitant, and Urban was reflective. No word on what's coming up on the next season or whether the judges will perform.
Jackson, who has been with Idol since Day 1, kept stressing that unlike newer shows, Idol has a history of launching major stars. "We've produced some career artists," he said.
Would they have passed younger versions of themselves on through to Hollywood? Not even close. A judge told a 9-year-old Urban, when he appeared on an Aussie talent show, that he should rethink trying to be a country singer. And "people that I wound up working with later on in life were people that told me no," said Minaj. "I probably wouldn't have passed myself because I didn't have the confidence."