Team Mariah or Team Nicki? Although I think Nicki should have kept her cool, in the end I have to side with her in the argument. Basically, Nicki felt that Mariah and Randy were bullying Summer into singing country music, when she had clearly expressed a preference for a more soulful vibe. Shouldn’t a singer’s own opinions on her artistry be respected? That was the main question Nicki posed, and I have to say, she was making a valid point. Although contestants who have a strong sense of who they are as artists do best on the show, Nicki is bullish on the importance of NOT pigeonholing contestants. I like the way Nicki thinks outside of the box.
Nigel obviously LOVES Nicki, because she’s getting a fantastic edit. And I have to say I find her to be totally entertaining. Thank God for her, I say. If it were Mariah, Keith and Randy on that panel it would be a snooze-fest. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Keith Urban, but his low key charm and intelligence would not be enough to counteract Randy’s snoozy cliches and Mariah and her regal banality.
I hope the arguing eventually morphs into high spirited sparing, because so far, this is a VERY talented group of contestants. The standouts for me were rock singer Taisha Bethea and Ashley Smith for their unique charm, and Candice Glover for returning with her impressive R&B voice to make us question all over again why she was eliminated last year in Las Vegas.
The quote of the night was from Nicki Minaj said to Candice after her performance of Duffy’s “Syrup and Wine”: “I want to skin you and wear you…I’m not even worthy to critique you.”
Janelle Arthur is another impressive returnee. We’ll see if she can take her country vibe further than Las Vegas this year. Once again, the girls out-shown the boys. But will it matter once the voting rounds begin? Nigel is definitely trying his very very best to stack the deck. But a contestant like Jimmy Smith and his clear pure country voice? He could spoil the plan.
I’ll be live blogging the American Idol Charlotte auditions right here! Stay tuned for fireworks as Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey have a blow out.
The Charlotte auditions open at what else…the NASCAR race track! Ryan Seacrest is behind the wheel listening to some yacht rock! Alrighty then.
Here we go…the TMZ click of the big FIGHT. Oh boy. We are SOOOOOO GOING THERE. But 6 hours before? The judges “arrive” at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.
And back during the cattle call, Scotty McCreery pumped up the crowd.
Naomi Morris – 28 – Charlotte NC – “Respect” by Aretha Franklin – She loves fashion. She makes her own clothes. Actually, her designs aren’t bad. “You’re popping out” Nicki says about her revealing bra. Nicki calls her “Ome”. A take on “Owe Me”? Or something. Nicki likes the outfit, but advises her to put on lashes. That’s the fashion. On to the singing and WHOA. Ome better stick to fashion design. She’s horrible. Off key. Loud. Nicki suggests she stop to take a breath breath. After taking a few seconds, Naomi launches into the “Ain’t too Proud to Beg.” Can someone beg her to stop now? Randy is shaking his head. Mariah tells her not let a no get her down. Her clothes are beautiful. “Continue to shine as a fashion designer,” says Nicki, who says no to the singing, but wants the bra. “That bra is too small for you,” snarks Mariah. Oof.
Joel Nemoyer – 20 – Carlisle, PA – “Feeling Good” – Somehow, the young singer believes singing while laying down is a great gimmick. He recalls David Foster using the technique with the Season 5 contestants. Joe says Nicki’s hair looks like cotton candy. “My hair is edible,” she says. MAJOR MARIAH EYE ROLL. Nicki asks Joe to dance. He does…dorkily. “I think you are so cute Jo Jo. Can I call you Jomanji?” He lies down on the ground to sing. It’s terrible and ridiculous. The judges crack up. When they stop laughing, they agree that singing is not his thing. “No” is not enough for Randy. “Never,” he says. “Have you ever lived in Tokyo? Asks Nicki as he leaves the room bowing.
Brian Rittenberry – 27 – Jasper, GA – “Let it Be” by the Beatles – His son is his biggest supporter. Oh. His wife had stage 4 cancer. She was supposed to die. But she went into remission. She loves Keith Urban! Of course she’ll get to meet him. Brian has a big, husky baritone. The judges like it. Mariah was taken by surprise. I’m not sure why. There really is nothing remarkable about his voice. Keith likes his “light and soul.” Nicki loves his tone and raspiness, and his commitment to country. Just as the judges are saying yes, Ryan brings the family into the room to meet Keith. The wife is so very excited. Who wouldn’t be, right?
Jimmy Smith – 25 – Waynesboro – TN – “God Bless the Broken Road” by Rascal Flatts – Jimmy auditioned online after he saw it advertised on twitter. He’s got a pure, clear, huge voice. Nicki thinks he’s poppin and MAD FLY. She says, “It’s got the sweetness I need to hear from my country singers.” Keith says, “I can tell who you are from your tone.” Mariah calls him incredible and unique. It’s 4 yeses, of course. “Yep,” says Mariah in her best hillbilly voice.” Jimmy was surprised by Nicki’s support of a country boy such as himself. Ha. Jimmy is cute and has a decent voice. If he makes it to the voting rounds, he could be that male spoiler Idol fans who long for a female winner dread.
Sarina-Joi Crowe – 17- Columbia, TN, Haley Davis – 26 – Charleston, SC, (cute little Lady Bug, says Nicki!), Na-Chelle Fullins-Lovell – 19 – Charlotte, NC – a singer with a very Mariah-like whistle register are next. It’s a montage of golden tickets!
And it’s TIME FOR LUNCH. As they go, Mariah suggests Keith check out Billie Holiday…
Scotty is back! Hi Scotty
Matthew Muse – 23 – Florence, South Carolina – “When I Get Where I am Going” – He’s a karaoke veteran. That’s a bad sign. He swears he’s been compared to Brad Paisley. His singing is barely passable. and he moves around the floor, using some sort of kabuki hand movements. Clearly a joke contestant. But poor Matthew isn’t in on it. When Nicki tells him he could be a model, Matthew goes full Vogue, showing her how he would work a runway. Brad Paisley would be proud. Snark. And it’s 4 big noes from the judges.
Isabel Gonzalez – 16 – Alphareta Ga – “Nothing Could Ever Change This Love by Sam Cook – She was nominated by her aunt. Randy shows up at her high school to surprise her. Despite her aunt and half the town showing up, Isabel swears she had no idea what was going on. Oh listen to her sing! She’s good! Very blusey and soulful. A mature sound with a beautiful tone. And she’s very bubbly. “I’m head over hills in love with you,” says Nicki. “You’re a natural” says Keith. “You are so adorable,” says Mariah, “You are a star.” It’s 4 yeses and the first “surprise” contestant is sent to Hollywood. Her family covers her in silly string as she walks out of the door.
Uh oh. The fight is coming.
Mariah tells Keith she’s been writing songs since she was 6.
Taisha Bethea – 21 – Concord, NC – Folsom Prison Blues by Johnny Cash – She’s in a band! The guys are very supportive. She’s an African American girl who sings alternative rock. Randy isn’t really impressed, he wants to hear something else. She sings “You Oughta Know”. Mariah thinks she’s “interesting.” Keith may think she’s better suited to be in a band. Mariah can’t pin down her style. Nicki likes her and doesn’t think it’s important for her to pick a style. She appreciates that Taisha is not the typical R&B singer. I wonder if that irks Mariah. Hm. Nicki says yes. Mariah says no. Nicki makes a face. Keith says yes. Randy says no. Since Keith is the tie breaker in Charlotte, she heads to Hollywood. I think it was a good decision.
Next, a montage of singers the judges just can’t disagree on. And here it comes…
Summer Cunningham – 20 – Warner Robins, GA – “Lean on Me” – She’s got a big ole voice. Nicki loves her tone and control. But Keith is insulted when Summer says she started out doing “the country thing,” as if she were denigrating it somehow. She He’s a little insulted that she said she did “the country thing.” She calls what she does now, “soulful country” but Randy, Keith and Mariah aren’t buying it. Randy thinks “the country thing” is good for her. Summer is grilled further on her country roots. She finally admits that she grew up with country and that it “feels like home.” Randy, Mariah and Keith say yes, with reservations. Nicki, who had been throwing side eye the whole time finally says, “Why are we picking her apart over a country comment.” She accuses Mariah and Randy of picking contestants apart all day long. The argument begins. “Is that what I do? We’re trying to help her, rather than just talk about her outfit,” snarks Mariah. “You are scaring her into lying” says Nicki. She feels that the judges should respect the contestants’ feelings about who they believe they are as artists. “We’re trying to help her,” says Randy. At this point, Randy sends Summer out of the room. Randy and Mariah are clearly on one side. When Randy mentions “30 years of experience…a little insight…” Nicki takes it personally and walks out of the room. Mariah is pissed. The worst of the argument is left on the cutting room floor.
And we have to wait until after the break for the aftermath.
The next day the sh*t hits the fan when TMZ airs the video of the fight. We see the media fall out. But regardless, the show must go on.
Brandy Hamilton – 25 – Charlotte, NC – “All I Could Do Is Cry” by Etta James – She’s a Navy reservist. She got into trouble for singing around the base. She’s a solid singer and performs with heartfelt emotion. “I love you man. You lit up the room. That’s what stars do,” says Randy. Keith thinks it’s “all in there.” “You really made me feel,” says Nicki. “It was pow…A+” says Mariah. It’s 4 yeses from a VERY subdued Day 2 panel. As she leaves the room she says, “Please don’t fight, it makes me sad.” The remark sobers the panel even more.
We see Mariah TRYING not to ruffle Nicki’s feathers. No she was NOT making fun of people who wear funny hats right there, she assures Nicki.
Ashley Smith – 22 – Charlotte, NC – “Cowboy Casanova” by Carrie Underwood – It’s THE ASHLEY SHOW. OMG. This chick’s outfit and hair is CRAZY and hilarious. What a character. I LIKE HER. Nicki calls her “Blondie”. Mariah is still rolling her eyes. She’s an African American girl, with a crazy wig and weird outfit and she sings country…absolutely beautifully. “That sounded really really pretty. I LIKE BLONDIE.” Mariah says, “I enjoyed you. I really did.” Keith says, “I couldn’t look away.” She feels the same way about Keith. Ha. “Thoroughly entertaining.” Randy says, “You can sing anything. Blondie you went on and killed it.”
Next, a montage of Nicki handing out nicknames. OMG the guy she called Gumby. Too funny. “Booby Trap” might be my favorite. “Collard Greens.”
Janelle Arthur – 22 – Oliver Springs, TN – “Where the Blacktop Ends” – She’s been singing since she was casted as Dolly at a theme park. She has a huge huge voice with GREAT control. Janelle is a season 10 and 11 returnee, and already a fan favorite, by the way. Keith LOVED IT. Nicki says, “I think you are really really special. You already seem like a star.” Randy calls her a “Young Leann.” Mariah says she has a “pretty demeanor.” It’s 4 yeses.
Keith HAS to leave at 2:30
Time for a montage of terrible, terrible auditions. “You are not good for the singing portion of the show,” says Nicki. “Something about that was scary.” Ha.
Rodney Barber – 27 – Charlotte, NC – “I’ll Be” by Edwin McCain. He’s the voice of Charlotte. Oh. He sings out on the street. He was homeless 4 years ago, and now he helps the homeless. Nice guy, too bad his voice is akin to BELLOWING LOUD. Mariah thinks he’s fantastic. Really? “You’ve got a big voice,” says Keith. That’s one way of putting it. Nicki is captivated. It’s 4 yeses. Hm. If he didn’t have the sentimental backstory, I wonder if he would have advanced. Aw. Keith is leaving to be with his wife, actress Nicole Kidman, at an awards show.
Candice Glover. 22 – St. Helena Island, SC – “Syrup and Honey” by Duffy – She was the girl who was cut in Las Vegas after a fantastic performance as part of the “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore” performance with Jessica Sanchez and Deandre Brackensick. She’s got a very vocal fan base that has stuck with her ever since. She rips the roof off the joint, and gets a standing o after her performance. She’s a powerful singer, with great range and personality. I wonder why she was cut in Vegas last year? “I’m obsessed with you,” says Nicki, “I want to skin you and wear you…I’m not even worthy to critique you.” Mariah says, “This was the best singing we’ve heard so far.” Of course, it’s 4 yeses. Joshua Ledet singing “I Believe” as she happily leaves with her golden ticket in hand.
Ja’Bria Barber – 16 – Clover, South Carolina – “Pride and Joy” by Bonnie Raitt – She loves to hunt, particularly “frog digging” which consists of spearing frogs in the muck. Yuck. The judges are kind of freaked out. She loves frying up the legs. TASTES LIKE CHICKIN. Nicki hates that the rest of the frogs are wasted. “Frog killer” is her nick name. LULZ. This girl has something special. She’s got an upbeat personality and charisma. I like her. Mariah liked her song choice and voice. “You got a little spunk in you,” says Randy. “You’re not scared.” Nicki thinks she’s got a strong voice and is a cutie pie. It’s 4 yeses.
Brad Harris – 28 — Maiden, North Carolina – “A Whole New World” – After Brad reveals that he used to rap under the name “Ba-kon”, a discussion of the fried breakfast food ensues. And then, when he begins his terrible singing, we see Mariah dreaming of fried bacon. That’s the entire joke. Ooookay.
Seretha Guinn – 26 – Charlotte, NC – “Fresh Prince of Bel Air’- Her boyfriend was nearly killed in a car accident. He was in a coma for two days. His hands got messed up. He’s had 8 surgeries. Boyfriend has no idea that she’s here today. She brings her daughter, 3 year old London, into the auditions. London calls Nicki Dun Dun. A nick name! Aw. The little girl is so shy. She doesn’t seem to have made the connection between the woman sitting on the judges’ panel and that singer she likes. What a weird song choice, but oddly, she makes it work through sheer personality. She’s got great style as a singer. “Incredible” says Nicki, “I’m so proud of you.” Nicki is really moved. “You’ve got a little Whitney thing there,” says Randy. Mariah loved the first song.
37 hopefuls advanced to Hollywood.