Wednesday night saw the much hyped clash between “American Idol” season 12 judges Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey. In North Carolina – home of mild mannered “Idol” winner Scotty McCreery. Who woulda thunk it! I’m calling them that specific name of “ ‘American Idol’ season 12 judges because I really, really hope this judging configuration doesn’t last beyond one season. Actually, we didn’t even really see much of the diva judges’ fight, since “American Idol” bosses wouldn’t air it. But here’s what went down.
The incident began over conflicted vocalist Summer Cunningham, a 20-year-old student from Georgia, and her audition of Bill Wither’s “Lean on Me.” Cunningham seemed to have a strong vocal and style, but her comment that she “did the country thing” insulted Urban, kicking off an inquisition that grated on Minaj, who loved Cunningham’s voice, tone and look. Jackson argued Cunningham’s voice was good for country because of her yodel. But “is it your passion?” Mariah Carey asked.
That’s when it all kicked off as Nicki Minaj fought to regain her status of taking over the judges’ table. “We are scaring her into lying,” she argued.
This prompted the greatest war in “American Idol” history. And we the viewers mssed most of the fun. Minaj did fled the room throwing out “shut the f— up” after Jackson threw his 30 years of music industry experience into the “who is Top Dawg” judge debate. Mariah Carey sought to inject some humor over Minaj’s exit by saying, “That was my move. I was going to do that the next time she ragged on me.”
And that was it. That was the fight.
It was left to Brandy Hamilton (25) to mediate and show some grace sadly lacking in the judges. “Please don’t fight. It makes us cry,” after she captured our attention with a wonderful rendition of Etta James’ “All I Could Do Was Cry..”
Brian Rittenberry, a bookkeeper from Georgia, had a sad tale for the audience: His wife was diagnosed with appendix cancer in 2009, and her “head grew to the size of a basketball.” How could he explain to his 5-year-old son that his mom was going to go to heaven? Tghankfully he didn’t have to. She recovered and was at his audition. Just like his overly dramatic back story, his belting out of The Beatles’ “Let It Be” was oversung but the judges enjoyed it. “I didn’t expect that, and you took me by surprise,” said Mariah. “You have a good light about you,” Keith said, adding that his voice was “husky and cool.” All four judges voted yes, and his wife got a hug from Keith.
Matthew Mewes was excited to share his gift with Urban, which he said resembled the vocal stylings of Brad Paisley. He had a curious way of performing, crouching forward in a stiff stance, which amused Nicki Minaj. And me. We won’t see it again though, of course. With virtually no singing talent, he was outta there.
Randy Jackson surprised Isabel Gonzales on a school bus. Her aunt had nominated her. She was gorgeous and I fell in love with her just like Nicki Minaj did. “You’re a natural,” said Keit Urban. “You are so adorable,” said Mariah Carey.
Aspiring rocker Taesha Bathea split the judges with a jazzy take on “Folsom Prison Blues.” After another song, “You Oughta Know” by Alanis Morrisette they were still undecided, but Keith’s “yes” took her to Hollywood.
I expected Ashley Smith to be terrible after she said she is a natural talker and just wants people to look at her. She had the bleached-blonde hair, pink lipstick and nose ring to attempt to secure the attention she craves. But when she started on Carrie Underwood’s “Cowboy Casanova” she was great. She had a deep tone and a soulful delivery that the judges loved. “I couldn’t take my eyes off you,” said Keith. “You did that justice,” said Randy.
Janelle Arthur impressed the judges with her “gorgeous tone” on “Where the Black Top Ends.” impressed the judge, who complemented her “gorgeous tone.” “I think you are special and you seem like a star,” said Nicki. “You did a good job without doing too much.” Mariah was impressed as well. “[You have a] pretty demeanor. Really nice.”
Rodney Barber set himself up as something special by saying he is “The Voice of Charlotte.” I wanted (expected) previously homeless guy to be awful after displaying such arrogance, but you know what, he was pretty darn good. His take on “I’ll Be” by Edwin McCain showcased a rich and supple tone. All four judges were inspired by his big vocals and story and gave him an easy “yes” to Hollywood.
Candace Glover was cut in Las Vegas last year but was back with a new style. Boy has she improved! Randy and Mariah gave her a standing ovation. “I want to skin you and wear you. I’m not even worthy to critique you,” said Nicki in a slightly creepy way. “This was the absolute best singing we have heard so far,” said Maria. “I wish you had something out that I could listen to.” Can she make it further this time? She’s certainly started well.
Ja’ Braia Barber is a frog hunter, which hasn’t won her any credit with me. She sang one of Mariah Carey’s favorite songs, though: “Pride and Joy,” the Bonnie Raitt version. Randy liked that she was not scared. She kills frogs, for heaven’s sake; why would she be scared” Nicki Minaj said if she goes to Hollywood, she needs to stop killing frogs. Yeah, right. That’ll work.
The final audition of the night, in true “American Idol” fashion, was a tear-jerker. Seretha Guinn, brought her adorable daughter, London Marie, to the audition and told us how her boyfriend was in a car accident and, after being in a coma for two days, underwent eight surgeries. Her first song choice, “How Do I Live,” by LeAnn Rimes tugged at the heartstrings, but she was stunning on the theme from “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.” Definitely one to watch out for in future?
Did we find a potential “American Idol” winner in Charlotte?