MARIAH Carey will join American Idol as a judge next season, bringing her star power to the show that remains a ratings leader but has seen its viewership diminish.
"I am so excited to be joining Idol," said Carey.
"I can't wait to get started."
The show, which saw judges Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez exit at the end of last season, will be back for season 12 in January.
Kevin Reilly, of the Television Critics Association, called Carey "the biggest recording artist that any of these (talent) shows has ever had," adding that she was the "artist that many of these contestants have tried to emulate, have tried some of the songs, have tried to hit the notes."
Reilly said he was "thrilled" to confirm reports that Carey had signed up to the show. The Grammy-winning pop star is receiving just shy of $18m for a one-year contract with a renewal option, according to a person familiar with the negotiations.
The exit of Tyler and Lopez left original judge Randy Jackson and started a guessing game about repla-cements, with Carey at the top of the list.
As one of music's best-selling singers, she could provide the clout American Idol needs to compete in an increasingly crowded talent show field.
Besides Fox sibling The X Factor, which recently added Britney Spears and Demi Lovato as judges, there's NBC's The Voice, which boasts Christina Aguilera.
"Not being the only game in town now, we need to keep things fresh," Reilly said.
The search is on for a third judge, and he promised another impressive pick.
It could be a star or someone like music executive and Idol mentor Jimmy Iovine, who wasn't a household name when he joined, Reilly said.