Mariah Carey: First ‘Idol’ Promotional Photo Released

Mariah Carey’s first American Idol promotional photo has been released into the wild by FOX, and features the 42-year-old diva in a figure-hugging sequined orange dress.

It’s not exactly the most natural pose, but I… think that’s a smile? Sort of? Maybe?

Anyway, the five-time Grammy winner was announced as an Idol judge earlier this week. Since then, we’ve heard word of her salary ($18 million per series, reportedly with an option to renew for a second season) and insiders spilling the beans on how the diva is a ‘nightmare’ to work with, which doesn’t sound like Mariah Carey at all.

The next season of American Idol will air in early 2013, and the luring of Carey to the judging panel has been widely viewed as a bid by executives to rescue a show which saw audiences dip last season. Carey’s deal makes her the highest-paid judge of any reality show ever made; TMZ reports that season 11 judge Jennifer Lopez, who Carey has replaced, raked in $12 million per series for her work. Other new judges are expected to join the panel.

Is Carey worth this amount of dough? If she brings the viewers back – and her continued popularity in gossip rags suggests she has a chance of doing this – Idol executives will think so. She remains a bona fide pop icon, having sold more than 200 million records worldwide, and has had more number ones than any other solo artist in history.

What do you think, readers? And what do you make of Mariah Carey’s first American Idol promotional photo?