Mariah Carey’s ‘American Idol’ Debut: Review Revue

By: Sam Lansky / January 17, 2013

What’s new on American Idol, you ask? Well, quite a lot! There’s new judges in the form of Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj and Kelly Clarkson circa 2002 (oh wait, that’s Keith Urban! Sorry, our bad), and everyone’s chattering about how they fared. (Mostly Carey and Minaj because, y’know.)

And while Minaj divided opinions with her loud personality and aggressive steering of the Idol judging ship, Carey made less of an impact, considering her monster salary and notoriously diva-style mien; critics seemed surprise to find that she was a much cooler presence on the judging panel than Minaj. But even if Carey’s legendary vocal talents and unparalleled commercial successes don’t match up to Minaj’s zaniness, everyone agrees that the show has gotten pretty watchable. Head below to see highlights from the reviews.

:: Vulture described Carey as “sighing [and] imperious,” saying that the diva shtick wears thin pretty quickly: “But when Mariah asks a production assistant: ‘Would it befrightfully tiresome for someone to bring me a bit of ice?’ it all gets deeply off-putting. And — this is a thing that we have to take the time to specify now — not deeply off-putting in a fun way.

:: While The Hollywood Reporter raved about Nicki Minaj, they were a little more ginger when it came to Carey, although they still complimented her technical knowledge: “As for Carey, she gave salient advice to delusional auditioners (‘you can do this as a hobby’) while offering astute observations on vocal tone and delivery. Finally, we have a judge that can speak with conviction about the craft of singing. Hallelujah!”

:: FOX News noted that Nicki Minaj stole the show, and Carey clearly got on her “nerves right from the start.” But, as they wrote: “For her part, Carey, who host Ryan Seacrest described as ‘the definition of diva,’ didn’t put up too much of a fight. At times, Carey seemed simply bewildered by Minaj’s borderline-rude behavior.”

:: The Huffington Post considered their respective paychecks, noting that Carey didn’t necessarily deliver given her high salary: “Whether the clash is real, Minaj’s scrappiness came off as far more entertaining than Carey’s demure, even queenly, manner. Carey is getting a truly royal paycheck: $18 million, to Minaj’s $12 million.”

:: USA Today highlighted Minaj’s accomplishments as well, explaining that Carey’s fears about having to share the stage with another talent may be well-deserved and opening their review with the ominous line: “If Mariah Carey was concerned that Nicki Minaj might show her up, she was right.”

:: Gawker thought that Carey’s odd behavior was captivating: “Mariah simply could not restrain the type of eccentricity that comes from being a global superstar for almost a quarter of a century. Even at her most normal, she is a delightful weirdo. This show is, in a word, riveting.”

What did you think of Mariah’s big premiere? Let us know in the comments below, or on Twitter and Facebook.