Keith Urban has mastered the ability to stay neutral while on the contentious American Idol judging panel.

The Australian country crooner co-judges with Randy Jackson, Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj on the TV singing competition.

In October of last year, Nicki was caught on camera screaming profanities at Mariah after they disagreed during an audition.

Keith stays out of the drama.

"Yeah, yeah, Randy [Jackson] and [presenter] Ryan [Seacrest] are huge personalities,” he laughed to People magazine.

“I do my best to keep them civil. Oh, and Mariah and Nicki are in there, too.”

Keith understands why emotions run high on the panel.

The stars are all deeply invested in the contestants.

"First of all, it's four passionate people who really care about the artists," Keith explained.

"Secondly, it's four people who just got thrown onto a dance floor without any sort of choreography and were told 'dance together.' So some toes get stepped on – and we're figuring it out."

The new season of American Idol premieres on January 16.