Nicki Minaj would prefer to go down with the ship than to walk down the Queen Mary's gangplank in her enormous platform heels. At least that's the impression we got when the fire alarm went off and Nicki just sat there rolling her eyes until Nigel Lythgoe himself told her to scoot.
The excitement all started when 16-year old Jesaiah Baer started singing Kimbra's "Settle Down" and the docked cruise ship's fire alarm went off, forcing the logistical nightmare of a mandatory evacuation of a thousand American Idol hopefuls, and Nicki. For her part, mama Mariah Carey was the first one off the ship, knocking a few deckhands and Randy Jackson out of the way. When the all-clear was finally given, Jesaiah resumed her performance and earned a ticket to Hollywood.
Micah Johnson is the living example of one of those medical horror stories that parents whisper to each other in school hallways – he went in to get his tonsils taken out and came out with nerve damage and a speech impediment. Luckily his speech impediment entirely disappeared when he sang and he quickly procured a ticket to Hollywood. Even though the auditions stretched from San Antonio to Long Beach, California, the only contestant who brought Mariah to tears was Matheus Fernandes. (Avid reality television watchers may have recognized him from his stint on another Fox show, The Glee Project.) The diminutive Matheus has been to lots of doctors in search of a diagnosis, but turns out he's just short. His voice, however, is huge. Again: He made Mariah cry. What else do you need to know? Along with these three contestants, 47 other hopefuls are headed to Hollywood. Here are a few of the highlights:
"At Last" there was something Nicki and Mariah could agree on: Savannah Votion was Hollywood-bound. From the moment the first two words of Etta James' classic tumbled from her lips, the judges were awed. Mariah looked dumbstruck, and Randy almost ate his fist while she sang.
Professional worship leader Cristabel Clack sent Mariah to church with her performance of Alicia Keys' "If I Ain't Got You." Mariah held her hands up in praise and announced, "I know you, I get you, I love you." If Hollywood doesn't work out, at least Cristabel Clack has her awesome name to fall back on.
Ann Difani's husband nominated her to perform on Idol, so with her mysterious Randy-bestowed "special person number" in hand, she sang Faith Hill's "Stronger" in a sweet voice that Keith Urban thought had a "pretty tone." Nicki, Randy and Keith voted yes, but Mariah could only muster a half-hearted "sure." Then she caught herself being indifferent on national television and changed it to "Yes, definitely."
Papa Peachez doesn't like doing covers, but he does love Nicki Minaj. He sang an original darkly spiritual song about himself. Nicki loved everything about it, of course. After Papa Peachez promised to bring "it" to Hollywood, Randy changed his vote.
When tiny teen Sanni M'Mairurua isn't singing he does Christian ministry through dance. Randy deemed his Michael Jackson song "fresh." Every time Adam Sanders mentioned Mariah's name he started crying, so it seemed like Idol was prepping him as a joke contestant. That notion dissipated the moment he opened his mouth and delivered a soulful performance so good that Keith, Mariah and Randy gave him a standing ovation. Even more surprising, Nicki was struck mute. Well, almost mute.
Veteran Matt Farmer suffered a traumatic brain injury and was supposed to have been rendered sterile, but brought his three-year old daughter as proof that he's not firing blanks. With such an adorable prop on his arm, even if he was mediocre, he was through to Hollywood.
When Stephanie Sanson said she was going to sing Adele's "Set Fire to the Rain," Mariah visibly cringed and she didn't even know yet that the purple-haired girl was going to give a screamo rendition of the song, smash a light and flip America off, twice.
While Rachel Hale earned the happiest contestant award due to her pasted on smile and peppy performance, Briana Oakley got points for poignancy. The teen was bullied by her classmates after appearing on an episode of Maury as one of America's Most Talented Kids. But she's older and wiser now and knows that she loves music and just wants to sing. Nicki was rendered repetitively monosyllabic ("Wow. Wow. Wow. Wow. Wow. Wow.") by the performance. Hopefully Briana won't get bullied by her fellow contestants in Hollywood.
Best out-of-context comment: "You definitely have strong pipes."
Most diva moment: "I need to get my pastor on the phone!"
Worst fashion: Keith's hair is venturing intoBilly Ray Cyrus circa 1984 territory.
Best fashion: Based on today's outfits, Nicki's and Mariah's cleavage should get each its own vote and a guest-judge title in the credits. Best Mariah-ism: Mariah doesn't always show up 45 minutes late to auditions, but when she does, she's dressed like a mermaid.
Previously: Mariah Carey Cries in Baton Rouge
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