So the promos (and the beginning of the show) promise that things are going to get ugly on this episode of “American Idol” as the tensions between Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj reach the boiling point. I’m sure Dan Fienberg would much rather be recapping this than watching movies at Sundance (and he’ll be back next week, don’t worry), but we can still have fun, right?
8:03 p.m. ET First fake British accent, courtesy of Mariah!
8:05 p.m. Our first victim is Naomi Morris. She designs clothes, which are flashy — as befits an American Idol. And guess what? She’s horrible. Nicki would like her to wear false eyelashes. Naomi tells the judges she’s nervous, but Nicki falls over and requests a second song. Why are they giving this woman so much rope to hang herself? Nicki thinks her shoes and bra are popping. Randy says um, which means no. Mariah loves her clothes. Mariah’s gonna call Naomi about her skirt, but says the bra is too small for Nicki. Nicki is exasperated. Tension is building, I suppose.
8:09 p.m. Ryan is so glad they’re filming at the speedway. He is riding around in a really fast car and HE LOVES IT. Ryan is making me uncomfortable.
8:10 p.m. In voice over, we are promised that the wheels will fall off. Okay then.
8:15 p.m. In season five, singing on the back was a thing. So, Joel Nemoyer will be singing on his back. He loves Nicki’s cotton candy hair! The judges are already laughing at this poor guy, but he’s okay with it. Oh, no. Bad dancing. Nicki wants to call him Jumanji. He’s going to sing “Feeling Good.” On his back. And he’s bad, too! Nicki thinks he made history! But Keith and Mariah say no and Randy says no. Still, he gives them a bow. “Have you ever lived in Tokyo?” Nicki asks.
8:18 p.m. Brian Rittenberry is 27 and has had a rough life already. His wife had stage four appendix cancer. I didn’t even know that was a thing. The hardest part of her being sick was how to explain to his then-five year old son that Mom was gonna go to heaven. But she’s well! Holy crap! That was a fake out! You know he can really sing, don’t you? He has to. His wife loves Keith Urban. He sings “Let It Be,” and of course he can sing. Everyone, of course, loves him. Mariah is taken by surprise. Nicki loves the raspiness, and he’s going to Hollywood, and his wife is TOTALLY meeting Keith Urban. Mariah hopes he got her nails done. Keith tells her not to keep Brian in the basement anymore. My heart has been warmed.
8:23 p.m. Keith tells Mariah to cross off people as they audition so she can keep up. Mariah wants to know why he’s mocking her. I think he’s just trying to make sure she’s keeping with the program, really. He doesn’t seem particularly mock-y.
8:28 p.m. The topic is food. Contestants are hungry. Keith shares trail mix with Nicki. Anyway, we have a country fan next. Jimmy Smith, 25, is next and hey, he can sing, too! Thank goodness, because those first two auditions were depressing. Nicki declares him popping and mad fly. She thinks he has the sweetness she needs to hear from her country singers. Keith loves his voice, and thinks the tone reveals his personality. Mariah thinks he has something incredibly special and unique. He’s going to Hollywood. Mariah even gives him a Southern yep.
8:30 p.m. Montage of goodness. Sarina Joi-Crowe is in. Haley Davis is in. A girl whose name is far too long to be flashed on the screen for only two seconds is also in. Keith is about to pass out from hunger. Well, if Mariah and Nicki get into it, it will because they haven’t eaten yet. Oh, never mind, it’s lunch time. Keith needs to get hip to more Billy Holiday, which Mariah sings for him. Really, everything seems very friendly at this point.
8:37 p.m. Ryan is taking a gentle afternoon drive. Ryan is going to have to be pried from that car.
8:37 p.m. Scott McCreery is walking among the contestants. They love him! He’s excited to be there!
8:38 p.m. Matthew Muse, 23, is rocking a good hat. He’s a karaoke singer who communicates with his eyes. He is not bad, although he’s doing this odd crouching thing. Oh, wait, he just started hitting some bad notes. Randy asks him if he dances. And oh, oh no. If you audition for “American Idol” and they ask you to dance, one, don’t do it. And two, you’re going home. Nicki thinks he could be a model and gets him to walk. The judges deem him a cool dude, but a no.
8:42 p.m. Isabelle Gonzalez, 16, had been nominated by her aunt, so Randy Jackson goes to visit her at school. And rides a schoolbus! Isabelle is now the coolest girl in her school. She sings Sam Cooke and sings beautifully. And she’s adorable. The Disney Channel is stalking her right at this moment. Nicki is head over heels in love with her. What makes her dope is her effortless riffing. Keith says she’s a natural. Mariah thinks people will fall in love with her because she’s a star. She’s going to Hollywood, as Mariah sings. Mariah thinks she looks like a young Phoebe Cates. Good call, really.
8:46 p.m. Apparently after the commercial break, the auditions are going to come to a screeching halt. Yeah, right. I’ll believe it when I see it, “American Idol.”
8:50 p.m. “Glee” returns tomorrow night. You know, in case you like singing.
8:50 p.m. Keith asks when Mariah started writing songs. She was six! Our next singer is Taisha Bethea, 21. She’s in an altrock band. She used to be the kid in high school who sang really loud all the time, and her bandmates are with her at the audition. They’re such nice guys! She’s going to sing “Folsom Prison” by Johnny Cash, but rocking. Well, not too strong. But her Alanis is better. Mariah thinks she’s… interesting. Keith wishes he could hear her with her band. Mariah can’t wrap her head around it because she’s not sure if she’s really a rock girl. Nicki doesn’t care about her music style, but think she’s unique because she’s a black girl who isn’t doing R&B runs. Nicki says yes. Mariah says she isn’t 100 percent convinced, so she says no. It’s actually a yes from Keith, and Randy would say no. So, two yes, two no. Keith is the deciding vote today, so she’s going to Hollywood. Her band comes in and hugs her. They’re happy for her! For now!
8:55 p.m. Then, the judges start disagreeing with one another. Ryan declares, the stage was set. Cracks had formed! So, here’s Summer Cunningham, 20. She’s going to sing “Lean On Me.” Nicki really likes Summer and thinks her voice was pretty and controlled. She was pleasantly surprised. Keith asks her how she sees herself. Soulful country is her niche, implying country isn’t soulful. Keith is mildly insulted. Randy thinks she has a country yodel. Mariah wants to know if she loves country. Summer LOVES COUNTRY. It’s like being home. She’s sounding a little desperate.
Keith says yes. Randy says… yes. Mariah agrees that her voice works well with country, so she’ll say yes. Nicki thought it was a country music debate. Why are we picking her apart? I can’t really disagree with Nicki. Other singers get an instant pass, but Summer has to promise to be a country singer. Mariah says she’s just trying to help her, which is also true, while Nicki feels like Summer’s being scared into lying. Randy tries to interject, but Nicki thinks she’s making her change her mind. Summer looks like she wants to LEAVE, yesterday. Keith finally starts applauding and tells her she’s going to Hollywood.
Nicki feels insulted by Randy because he doesn’t value her opinion. She gets up and she’s DONE! Ha! So, Nicki walks off, but not because of Mariah. So, that was a fake out. Well-played, “American Idol,” well-played.
9:05 p.m. It’s day two. And guess what? We get a clip montage of the battle heard round the world, but which we didn’t really see. Funny, but I saw that camera phone video, and none of that seemed to be in what we saw here. That was lots of swearing and it was between Nicki and Mariah. Hmmmm… Anyway, production was shut down. Auditioning singers are sad. The background music is sad. We are awash in sadness.
8:07 p.m. Our first contestant of the day is… Brandy Hamilton, 25. She’s nervous because, hello, as far as she knows the judges tried to kill one another. Nicki calls her honey pie. She’s a Navy reservist that got in trouble for singing while out of uniform. She’s singing Etta James, and of course has a lovely voice. Randy thinks she lit up the room. Keith thinks that even through the nervousness, he knows it’s all in there. Nicki could feel it. Mariah thought it was pippity pow, A plus. So, she’s going to Hollywood.
Brandy, as she’s leaving, tells the judges not to fight because it makes her sad. Nicki clutches her heart. She knew she sent her through for a reason.
8:16 p.m. Mariah thinks one person coming in looks like a cartoon dude with his ridiculous hat. Nicki sniffs. She is wearing a hat! Mariah explains she wasn’t talking about her. Nicki does not believe this, clearly.
8:16 p.m. Ashley Smith, 22, is a spunky African-American chick with blonde hair and black glasses. Nicki names her Blondie. She’s almost 5’1. And wait, she can sing! This I was not expecting. I mean, during the walk-up, they practically put Three Stooges music underneath it. But she’s just spunky AND talented. She sings Carrie Underwood. Nicki likes her. Mariah thinks she’s effervescent. Keith couldn’t look away. She can’t look away from him, either! Randy loves that she sang country. She’s going to Hollywood.
8:20 p.m. NIcki has to give people nicknames to remember them. Tom Cruise, Gumby, Victoria Beckham, Curly, Bunny, Chicken Lady, Booby Trap, Purple Boy, Big Crazy Barb, Finger Lickin’ Good, Collard Greens
8:21 p.m. A new Honey Pie. Janelle Arthur, 22, has worked at a theme park as a young Dolly Parton. I guess she worked at Dollywood? And whoa, she has great pipes. Keith loved it. Nicki thinks she’s special and seems like a star. She’s going to Hollywood.
9:28 p.m. Keith has to leave at 2:30 and it’s 2:00, so it’s time to rush! And it’s time for people to suck. One more before he leaves, and it’s Rodney Barber, 27. He’s the voice of Charlotte. About a million people call him the Voice of Charlotte! Ah, he sings on the corner and people give him money. He does have a beautiful voice. He gives half his proceeds to homeless people. He was homeless four years ago, but he got help. So why can’t he help others? Nicki is inspired by his story, and so is Mariah. Randy thinks she’s an inspiration, and Keith thinks he has a big voice. So yes, he’s going through.
9:32 p.m. Keith is leaving to hold Nicole’s wife while she wins an award. Everyone thinks Keith is super nice. Which, hey, he does seem to be.
9:33 p.m. Candice Glover, 22, is returning to the show after being cut in a previous season. She’s a church girl and she’s going to show them she now knows herself. Of course we know she’s good enough to do this again, and wow is she good enough. Randy and Mariah give her a standing ovation. Nicki tells her she wants to skin her and wear her. This is a good thing, if that’s not entirely clear. She says she’s not even worthy to critique her. Mariah thinks it was the absolute best singing they’d heard so far. Mariah wishes she already had something out she could listen to. Randy says she’s exactly what this show is about. So, um, of course she’s going to Hollywood. Really, the only question is whether or not she wins the whole damn thing.
9:38 p.m. The search for Amelia begins on “Touch” February 8. You know, in case you like… Amelia, I guess.
9:41 p.m. I wonder if Ryan has a giant-sized container of Purell.
9:41 p.m. Ja’Bria Barber, 16, is next. She likes to hunt and fish. She likes frog gigging. Even her mom thinks this is gross. Gigging is about going out at night, gigging the frog, then frying and eating the legs. The judges make fun of her for gigging frogs. Nicki thinks she’s disabling frogs. Mariah suggests she try the middle section. Nicki makes her promise to stop killing frogs if she goes to Hollywood. Beautiful voice, so I think she is going to Hollywood. Frogs everywhere, rejoice! Mariah likes her voice and thinks she’s adorable. Randy thinks she has a little spunk. She’s not scared. She kills frogs, why would she be scared of these guys? And yes, off to Hollywood she goes.
9:45 p.m. Brad Harris, 28, is getting the goofy music and the dying cat noise. Oh, and he bangs into things accidentally. He doesn’t think it’s done any damage he says in a slow and labored voice. Can we please stop making fun of him? I am already bummed out. He used to rap under the name Bakon. Like Akon, but with a B. Mariah imagines bacon. Nicki likes turkey bacon. Oh, come on. And yes, he sucks, though not as badly as I expect. Still, he’s not good, either. The judges seem to enjoy making fun of him, then change their minds, as if they just realized they’re making fun of the (possibly) slow kid. He gets a big, sad no, and then they laugh about him once he leaves. Brad thinks he should be a host like Ryan. Hey, you don’t have to have talent to be a host!
9:52 p.m. Seretha Guinn, 26, is a hairstylist and mom to 3-year-old London. Last year her boyfriend was in a serious accident that almost cost him his life. He’s had eight surgeries so far and has two more to go. But things can only get better! But Monty doesn’t know she’s auditioning. She wants to give him a happy surprise. London looks like a little pink powder puff. She calls Nicki Dun-Dun. She’s her best friend but Nicki doesn’t know it yet. Nicki wants a hug and a picture. And the little pink bear is for her! The bear’s name is Dun-Dun, too. She’s going to sing “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” Nicki looks worried. But you know, this is cute. It’s the jazz version. Nicki asks to hear something else, which proves she really can sing. She’s going to Hollywood, and she’s crying, and everyone is so touched.
London takes a picture with Nicki, and looks kind of terrified. This reminds me of the line of kids waiting to see Santa at the mall. Sort of scared, then really scared, then happy about seeing Santa about an hour later.
What did you think of the Mariah-Nicki non-fight? Did you see the camera phone video? Who did you like from the Charlotte auditions?