Mariah Carey 'Idol' Promotional Photo Released; Criticized for 'Awkward' Appearance (PHOTO)

Mariah Carey has released her first promotional photo for her new place on the American Idol judging panel for season 12. The pop star recently confirmed that she had signed on as a new judge for the upcoming series, and she has already stepped up for her promotional duties.

Just days after her official unveiling as a new judge, reportedly for $18 million for the season, Fox have released the first promotional shots of Carey. However, many have commented on their surprise at the picture, saying that Carey looks overly awkward in the photo.

Her new contract makes her the highest-paid judge of any reality show ever made, and it has been reported that the contract also comes with the option to renew as well.

"Her deal is rumored to be just under $18 million for one year with an option to renew," an American Idol source told People magazine.

Season 11 judge Jennifer Lopez reportedly received $12 million for that season's work, according to celebrity gossip site TMZ. However, she has dropped out for season 12 making the way for Carey and perhaps other new judges to join the panel.

Although some have been shocked at the huge pay deal for Carey, others have suggested the singer is worth it. She is a global pop icon, having sold more than 200 million records worldwide, and has racked up more number 1 singles than any other solo artist in history.

Many have also suggested that it is a last throw of the dice from executives behind American Idol. Ratings have been dropping and were very disappointing for season 11. So their latest move could be a final decision to invest as much as they can to ensure the new season garners more interest and is revamped enough to draw back fleeting viewers.

Whether Mariah Carey can win back viewers in the long run is yet to be seen. However, other circumstances will also play their role; such as whether long time judge Randy Jackson will return for the upcoming season? And whether rumors of Brad Paisley joining Carey on Idol as a judge are in fact true?