Keith Urban Enjoys Nicki Minaj’s ‘Raw’ Straight-Talk on ‘American Idol’

by | February 20, 2013 at 3:47 PM | American Idol, Interviews

Keith Urban on "American Idol" (FOX)

With “American Idol’s” Top 40 “sudden-death” round kicking off tonight, new judge Keith Urban says it’s still too soon to pick out any front-runners.

“I think it’s too soon to tell, only because it’s extraordinary what can happen from week to week,” Urban told reporters today in a phone conference. “I’ve watched people emerge unexpectedly.”

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He did say, however, that taping in front of an audience for the first time, he noticed big responses to last week’s breakout singer-songwriter, Angela Miller. Audience reaction to Miller “and other girls was pretty obvious,” he said.

Urban also stressed the country talents of Janelle Arthur and Kree Harrison, whom he compared to Adele for having “this incredibly authentic voice.” About Zoanette Johnson, who surprised audiences last week drumming on her own quirky jazz tune, he said, “You never know. She’s like a box of chocolates right? You never know what you’re going to get.”

So is this, finally, the year of the girl? “It’s absolutely a girl’s year to win,” Urban said. “I want to see the emergence of great artistry, male, female, it doesn’t really matter. But definitely the girls are strong.”

Watch Zoanette’s Performance in Hollywood:

Urban said the new crop of talented women on the show might have something to do with his co-judge, Mariah Carey, “unarguably one of the world’s great vocalists, period.”

Urban continued: “Any girl I think would love the opportunity to sing for Mariah and get feedback from her, get direction from her. It’s been a real plus for the show to have somebody like her on the panel.”

As for his relationship with Carey, Urban said the two “clicked” upon meeting, as he did with all the other judges, including Nicki Minaj. “For me, when I joined this panel,” he said, “I felt like I just joined a band.”

Urban said he especially appreciates Minaj’s straight-talk. “Growing up in Australia, I like people who are raw and straight and tell it like it is, so I clicked with Nicki from the get-go.”

Also a coach on “The Voice” in Australia, Urban said he’d like to see “Idol” take the same route. “I love that mentoring dynamic,” he said. “There’s so much we have to pass on. There’s so many questions young artists have. And there’s a lot of learning curves we can help them go through, without keeping them from their own journey.”

Another thing from “The Voice” Urban would like to see on “Idol”? The judges performing together. “I’m going to keep pushing Randy [Jackson],” he said, “to see if we can put a little band together. I would love to do it.”

See the “Idol” Top 40 Explain What Made Them Audition in One Word:

“American Idol’s” Top 40 performances kick off tonight at 8/7c on FOX.