Keith Urban will be replacing Randy Jackson

There’s another shakeup at the American Idol (AI) judges’ table.  Last week, Randy Jackson confirmed he’s leaving the aging reality series after 12 seasons of judging the best and worst of America’s unknown singers since the show’s debut in 2001.  Jackson is the sole original judge remaining on the panel after Paula Abdul and AI creator Simon Fuller left when the show was at its peak.

On Wednesday (May 15th), US Weekly confirmed that rapper Nicki Minaj was also departing after just one season.  Reports indicate that the rapper will focus on touring, business deals and her next album.  Minaj also stated that she only had planned to judge one season.

During a surprise appearance on Tuesday’s The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Keith Urban confirmed his return next season.  The country singer/guitar virtuoso stated that he will be replacing Jackson on the judge’s panel for season 13.  He did not indicate if any of the current judges will be returning.  Urban is the first country judge to take a seat at the judge’s table.

No word on the fate of fellow newcomer judge Mariah Carey, but reports indicate that she is also on her way out the door after feuding all season long with Minaj.  Rumors have been swirling for months as to whether any of the current judges will return or if all will be replaced and downsized back to the original three panel judge that launched AI into a cultural phenomenon.

The series has lost a lot of steam over the last several seasons, even hitting a series low in recent weeks.  Producers attempted to retool the competition show this season by signing Carey to a whopping $18 million contract, Minaj for significantly less at $8 million and Urban for $6 million, all for a single season.  Jackson was rumored to make anywhere between $5 and $6.5 million for Season 12.