In a new promo, the four judges of American Idol, Season 12, beckon viewers to return to that magical, inspirational time of year. You know the time they mean -- that annual shot at pop stardom that this nation's singers get each January. (The upcoming season premieres on Jan. 16 and 17 at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.) Watch the feel-good promo here:
"To all the dreamers," coos Mariah Carey. "To everyone who thought they'd never have a chance," murmurs Nicki Minaj. "It's almost that time of year, America," adds Randy Jackson. "A time to make dreams come true," says Keith Urban.
Here's a small quibble, though. The time of year for singing competitions has become…all year. The X Factor and The Voice are currently winnowing down their dreamers to a manageable number. Some of their contestants (The X Factor's Paige Thomas comes to mind) have already rotated through a couple seasons of Idol. Twelve seasons in, Idol can (and will always) be commended for kicking off the singing contest trend. But it really shouldn't pretend to be the only one.
Happily, the preview works on another level. With all the rumors of diva infighting at Idol recently, it's fascinating just to see Carey and Minaj in the same promo together, putting their best, heavily made-up faces forward. Light-up-stars sparkle behind the people-stars, projecting that giddy, evanescent feeling of pop stardom.
But anyone who's seen this video knows what's really happening behind the scenes. How long will these two attention-baskers be able to play nice? That's the question that will drive viewers to watch season 12. At this point, the "dreamers" of America are not Idol's main draw.