Mariah Carey Joins ‘American Idol’ -- Who Does This Benefit More?

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It takes a huge, superstar diva to fill the shoes of a huge, superstar diva. Turns out "American Idol" made it happen after all, with the swift replacement of Jennifer Lopez with fellow pop icon Mariah Carey. The 42-year-old Grammy winner officially fills the seat recently vacated by J.Lo, a deal that is rumored to net her somewhere between $12 and $17 million. Finding an aged rocker to replace Steven Tyler may be a tougher job, as the somewhat even trade of Lopez for Carey seems almost too easy. Now that the deal is done, many might wonder whether Mariah will reinvigorate the show or if the show will reignite the career of Ms. Carey?

Filling the Louboutins of an international superstar on live television to act as a singing judge has become a seemingly simple task these days. Carey joins a long and impressive roster of stars who have recently bet on reality singing competitions as a way to revitalize their careers and show their more human sides. The roster of judges, mentors, coaches, and every title in between includes the likes of Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, Kelly Clarkson, and Demi Lovato -- and that list only accounts for female stars on network shows here in the United States. Add in international versions of these hit shows, cable installments in the wide range of shows, and male performers, and the list becomes exponentially more impressive.

Stars like Jennifer Lopez and Christina Aguilera are shining beacons for what sitting on a panel can do for one's career, as both have enjoyed major resurgences in popularity and visibility due to their day jobs critiquing amateur singers. The power of the panel even inspired the likes of Kelly Clarkson to return to competition shows and join Jennifer Nettles and John Legend in competing onstage alongside their contestants. While "Duets" had nowhere near the impact of predecessors like "Idol" and "The Voice," it is clear that major recording artists are willing to appear live for a chance to boost their career and likeability.

While Mariah is set to bet on "Idol," are viewers ready to bet on her? Landing Carey will undoubtedly secure the return of veteran judge Randy Jackson -- since the "dawg" is her manager and was an active player in her negotiations. But with a returning judge and a new one that resembles the career of her predecessor, is this really a recipe for the show's renaissance? Rumors of a panel that included former "Idol" contestants like Adam Lambert could have made for a more revitalized, differentiated competition show -- and a sort of homage to what was once the biggest show on television. Bringing back the only remaining original judge and introducing another mega-star diva may not be what the reality show needs. While it is still the juggernaut powerhouse in the singing competition pantheon, last season's major dip in ratings and the show's absence from the Emmy nominee list suggests that a serious overhaul may have served Nigel Lythgoe's project more than just another big name.

The headline of Mariah Carey joining "American Idol" will spark excitement and debate. Can Nick Cannon's wife -- and her truly impressive vocals, a talent not shared by her predecessors -- make "American Idol" into the unstoppable force that it was for its first decade on the air? While she and her husband now both rely on reality singing shows as their principal gig, at least they will never go head-to-head. The real question is whether or not the casting of Carey on the judge's panel will serve the singer or the show more. Given the crowded cast of singing shows and the trend of judges' careers after their stint on a panel, it looks like Moroccan and Monroe's mom just might get the better deal out of all of this.

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