Let's just move right ahead and assume that Nicki Minaj will shortly be named the newest judge on “American Idol,” as widely reported. What would she be like as a judge? Best to approach this as a word association game, so here goes: Colorful, fun, annoying, profane, obnoxious, silly, vain, interesting, angry, obscene, genuine and quite possibly verbally assaultive, which comes under the heading “interesting.” She's been known to throw fits at critics — most recently over a trio of canceled concerts. She's a character, needless to say, who will draw much more attention to herself than to the contestant — which may be what this gig is about — although whether she'll display the requisite “heart” or empathy for some struggling newcomer remains a great unknown.
But what this appointment — assuming it does indeed happen — really appears to signal is “Idol's” willing abandonment of “nice” judges, who say nice, constructive, pleasant things to contestants. Recall that with the departure of Simon Cowell, “Idol” producer Nigel Lythgoe demanded a gentler approach. That was largely misguided because the judges tried so hard to be nice that they forgot how to judge. Enter Minaj who almost certainly will not be the nice counterpart to Mariah Carey. In fact, expect Carey to be the nice one. Minaj, in other words, could be the new Simon Cowell — albeit in a pink tutu.
In a Billboard cover story a few years back, Minaj spoke about her style as a waitress. She would actually scream at customers and in one instance, chased one out the door. Wonderful! That's what we need to see on “Idol:“ Nicki Minaj chase away horrible contestants.
Also watch Minaj in a recent “Ellen” interview. She has an interesting habit of changing personas -- she'll be one person one instant and someone almost completely different the next. So perhaps Nicki could handle the job of two judges at once.