Recent episodes of American Idol have featured countless “rawwwwwr talent”s from a lovesick Keith Urban, brutally honest missives from Señora Ladybug Nicki Minaj, surprisingly zesty complete sentences from Randy Jackson, and unbridled self-centered rambling from Mariah Carey. Whose specialty do YOU value most? Vote below….


I’ve ranked the Top 10 season 12 contestants as they head into tonight’s live show, so why not judge the judges, too? It turns out… my American Idol Judges Power List is just one note off from the order in which they stand! (Sit down, fools! Save it for the finals.)

Keith Urban

I love how passionate he gets. Keith is always marveling at his goosebumps-riddled forearms and writhing around in his seat in G-rated ecstasy. “If that was recorded right here, I would play that in my cahhhhhh,” he drooled to Angela Miller. (Keith has also taken the liberty of re-naming Angela as “Angie,” while singing it.)

And he’s got serious musical chops — remember when he rattled off all the wild and crazy keys Kree Harrison hit last week?

Keith Urban: basically Steven Tyler with a more consistent pulse. A-

Nicki Minaj

She’s been aggressive, but it’s mostly worked. After her wakeup call to a nerve-wracked Paul Jolley on the Hollywood stage — “Jolley. It’s ONE MINUTE. For you to come onstage and take it off your face,” I’m pretty sure I cheered. At times her agendas feel forced and scripted under the disguise of candor: “Nigel, Mike Darnell — I just want an acoustic album, right now,” Nicki raved about Angie.

She’s certainly the most sexually charged judge we’ve seen, which can be creepy with young contestants. “You wasn’t sittin’ on it right tonight,” Nicki sputtered last week out of one side of her mouth as the rest of it ferociously sucked on another damn lollipop. And the first note we saw of hers to Elijah Liu was that he was a “little star” and that she wanted to have his babies. He’s 18, so it’s okay. Classy, even. Legal. If this is all appealing to you, you probably enjoy Nicki Minaj very much.

Most of her comments focus on appearance, sexiness, personal style, and marketability. It’s obnoxious, but it’s what Idol wants. She often makes some great points.

Nicki Minaj: nowhere near the s—show I thought she’d be. B

Randy Jackson

Randy has made a few decent calls (STOP THE PRESSES) this season (CANCEL THE INTERNET), but it’s mostly the same old churn we know too well. The girls are in it to win it, Ryan! I’m looking for moments! It was just okay for me, dawg! Like Nicki, Randy’s really blatant about seeking out good-looking “complete package” contestants — “I would sign you right now because you look amazing,” he assured Aubrey Cleland. It’s been somewhat fun to see how many times he can unsuccessfully paraphrase the general sentiment “Wow, you’re so good, you didn’t even need to slut it up!”

Randy Jackson: Still Randy Jackson. D (is for Dawg)

Mariah Carey

Mariah’s at a disadvantage — she always speaks last, which reinforces her somewhat shocking early-season presentation as the beta-diva to Nicki Minaj (the horror!). It’s fun during some moments when she’s So Very Mariah — gazing off to the left so cameras will only capture her “good side,” suddenly perking up at cross-dressing contestant J’DA’s mention of “glamour and glitter” and making a dramatic ‘O’ face any time there’s a series of high-pitched runs, because girl, she invented that. But she honestly doesn’t offer a whole lot on this show, in this setting.

I do think Mariah could get better and more succinct throughout the season. I rather enjoy her long-winded attempts to make points, some of which do end up translating into constructive vocal technique notes that could actually benefit the contestants. Nicki may be delivering all the sound bites, but Mariah knows her stuff and will get to the point if you stick around. C+

Boobs toward the light, dahling!

One thing’s clear: None of these guys is the new Simon.

So how would you grade the judges? Was I too nice to Randy?

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