While American Idol fans slowly get used to the idea of a new judging panel -- and take sides in the Mariah Carey / Nicki Minaj feud -- what are the show's former contestants thinking of all the changes? One of them has weighed in on the new judges, and the feud.
Season 11 finalist Colton Dixon , the skinny-legged, Mohawked rocker whose ouster was a major surprise earlier this year, actually made it to Hollywood Week on Season 10 as well, so he was particularly close with former judges Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler , not to mention Randy Jackson .
"I was so happy that I was on last season to have them as mentors and judges," Colton tells ABC News Radio. "And I hope this year's contestants get that as well. I know Idol is starting from the ground up again and re-working something but I hope it comes together like it did for Jennifer and Steven."
So what does he think of new judges Mariah Carey, Keith Urban and Nicki Minaj? "I was very happy that Randy stayed," says Colton. "And I'm very excited that Keith Urban's there. They've had a huge country audience for years now so I think it was a very smart move to bring him. And he's such a cool guy."
He adds, "Even when the whole cat fight thing broke up with Mariah and Nicki, you see Keith Urban in the middle, holding his hands up, trying to be that figure, which is cool. I'm excited to see that." Colton says he's also excited to see "how the Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj thing is gonna turn out," so he'll definitely be tuning in.
As for whether or not he thinks that Mariah and Nicki's feud was real or a ratings stunt, Colton tells ABC News Radio, "I found it very believable. I'm not going to say whether it was real or not, because I don't know, but it looked pretty legit to me."
When asked if he would have preferred being judged by the new panel, Colton laughs, "I'm not going to lie, Nicki Minaj intimidates me a lot, just because I don't understand her!" But, he adds, "I would've loved hanging out with Keith Urban, and Mariah Carey too. She's so seasoned. I know she's going to bring a lot to the judging panel this year."
Meanwhile, Colton has two singles out: "Never Gone" and "You Are." They'll both appear on his debut album, The Messenger , which is due in early 2013. Colton first debuted "Never Gone" during the American Idols Live tour. Both songs are in the Christian rock genre, which is where Colton says he's going to stay.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio