If you were hesitant to buy into the season twelve “American Idol” hype about Mariah verses Nicki, well, seeing is believing. These two were at each other like two teenage sisters forced to share a room and a wardrobe. The bickering seemed real and was a constant and the eye rolling, well there was a lot of it. The pleasant surprise was Nicki Minaj, whose comments were compassionate, thoughtful and insightful throughout. Her revolving hair color, well, that’s another story.
Dangling success in front of potential Idols, Phillip Phillips, last year’s ‘American Idol’ winner, opened the show cold with a taped performance of his mega-hit, “Home.” Then the other mega-stars, Jennifer Hudson, Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson, all Idol-made, were briefly featured.
The new judges were introduced – Nicki Minaj, Mariah Carey and Keith Urban, plus staple, Randy Jackson, and, so it began, from New York. It was an interesting combination to say the least. The words was so intense when the show started that it took one contestant walking onto stage singing, to force a Nicki-Mariah cease-fire.
But let’s not forget, this show is not just about famous divas, it’s about the contestants too. (Isn’t it?) There were a few standouts and a few singers the judges would probably like to forget.
“You’ve Got A Friend” was sung by the first legitimate contestant of the night, Tenna Torres, from Queens, New York, a 28-year-old Mariah fan. Tenna went to Camp Mariah, and even brought in pictures, which Mariah tried to abscond. This girl is someone to watch.
Christina “Isabelle” from Duluth, Georgia, who struggled with her weight in high school, had incredible range, captivating all of the judges. “I see you going far in this competition,” said Nicki. “I think you’re a natural singer,” said Keith. “I love the vulnerability in your voice.” Mariah said, “Thank you darling” when Christina told her Mariah was her mentor.
Frankie Ford from Brooklyn, New York, who sang on the train for money, fumbled on his first attempt at wowing the team with “Sweet Dreams.” He stopped, took a beat, composed himself, and then nailed it. The smiling panel flagged him and sent him onto Hollywood. Keith liked his “big voice” and Randy said, “I like this kid.” Mariah liked his “inner glow” and Nicki said she liked what was different about him, despite him not having the best voice of the day.
Angela Miller didn’t let her hearing impairment stop her from a great showing. “Impressive,” said Randy. Nicki said she hadn’t “felt that all day.” Mariah said they’d been missing out on “tone” all day. Keith liked her. Green light to Hollywood.
Ashlee Feliciano wowed the team, as did her family’s kindness (fostering children with medical issues). The judges called them all in to say hi and then gave her a unanimous wave onto Hollywood.
Not everyone was so lucky.
James Bae was up, claiming to be singing some Biebs, but deciphering the tune was challenging if not impossible. “Yeah, okay,” was all Keith said. “Randy commented on the lovely New York weather, and Bae hit up Nicki to “collide.” Mariah suggested Bae considered, DJ’ing. Nicki gave him some unexpected kind words, about being special and brave to show up.
Jessica Kartalis from Staten Island was unknowingly nominated by her mother to audition, but struggled through and left in tears when they passed.
A wigged, red-Michael-Jackson-Thriller-wearing guy provided some relief from the seriousness of the auditions and the judges played along. Keith crawled under the desk while laughing and Nicki egged him on, asking for more.
Opera(ish) came to Idol via Albert Chang. When he hit the high notes, Randy burst out laughing. Nicki said, “Your range is better than Mariah’s.” Keith couldn’t quite get a comment out, but he was smiling.
Note to future contestants: If Nicki breaks out the British accent, you’re going home. It’s her rejection voice.
By the end of the show, Nicki said she thought the judges all gelled. Mariah agreed.
Never mind who won the night from a singing standpoint who out-diva’d the other – Mariah or Nicki? Leave your comments below.
Follow Stephanie Krikorian on Twitter @StephieKrik.
Source: The Wall Street Journal