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'American Idol': Mariah Carey 'Had Reservations' About Joining Judges' Panel

The multi-platinum recording artist also reveals what happens when a contestant sings one of her own songs.

Mariah Carey Idol press conference P
Frank Micelotta / PictureGroup / Fox

When she was just starting out in the music industry looking for her big break, certain avenues weren’t available for a young Mariah Carey -- specifically, a show like American Idol.

So now that she’s a multi-platinum recording artist sitting at the judges’ table for the Fox singing competition, she looks at the contestants and empathizes with their journey.

“I get really attached to certain people for different reasons, whether it’s a story or mainly the talent,” Carey told reporters on Wednesday, as the competition was whittling down Hollywood Week contenders. “I see myself in some of the contestants when I first started.”

Carey, who joined the panel this fall alongside Idol mainstay Randy Jackson and newbies Nicki MInaj and Keith Urban, added that she isn’t sure she would have put herself through the same scrutiny in her early years.

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“I'm glad I didn't do a show like this,” she said. “I would've hated it! I learned on stage how to perform and what I realized  is the best advice for them is to just be themselves, because that’s what really sells now."

With that said, Carey is fully present on America's most popular TV show. “It’s a huge deal,” she said. “This is massive. It’s one of the biggest television shows ever. It changed the way we look at music and changed people’s vocabularies. Pitchy? Thank you, Randy for that!”

As for her own role, Carey said she likes to think of herself "more of a fairy godmother” than a judge. Her method: "I try to speak frankly but as kind as possible," she said. "But not sugar-coating ... that won’t do anyone any good."

What else does she bring to the judges' table? Three decades of wisdom earned through experience. Said Carey: "As a recording artist and producer and writer, [it's] helped me get to this point where I can sit there and say, 'I'm not sure if you hit this part correctly,' or, 'You weren't quite prepared to blend the harmony with this person singing way louder than you.' These things I’ve known for more than half my life."

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Naturally, knowing how popular Carey's hits are among Idol hopefuls, we had to ask: what's it like to hear one of your own songs performed for you? "It's funny," said Carey of the approximately four contestants who tried it. "Sometimes I'm, like, 'What do I do if it wasn't the best performance?' But I treat it like anybody's song. One of them actually used a song from my first album, and it was obscure and took me by surprise." Ironically, she added, "It was the song when I almost sold my publishing. They wanted this song, and told me they would give me $5,000. Fortunately, I said no!"

When it came to taking Idol's offer, Carey explained that it was her husband Nick Cannon, host of NBC's America's Got Talent, who helped convince her. "He really wanted me to do this and I had my own kind of reservations -- I didn't know how I would adapt to this situation." she said. "But it’s great to be here, I'm happy and honored to be here."

What do you think, Worshippers? Are you ready for a new Idol era? Which Mariah Carey song do you think is hardest to audition with? Let us know in the comments.

Twitter: @Idol_Worship