On a NASCAR race track, tempers flare, often hitting their brink to the point that, well, accidents happen.
During Wednesday night's "American Idol" auditions at Charlotte Motor Speedway, ill will flared to its breaking point, as the long-hyped Nicki Minaj vs. Mariah Carey fight/argument/blow-up finally happened, sending the auditions into a brief siesta while things simmered down.
The disagreement, which had been a long time coming following a series of snide remarks and catty looks between the two artists, began during the audition of 20-year-old Summer Cunningham, who sang a soulful, pretty "Lean on Me." Afterward, Cunningham explained that she "did the country thing" for a little while as an artist, though she seemed to let on that the genre had not worked out for her.
The statement immediately triggered a sea change in judge Keith Urban, who proceeded to question Summer on what kind of artist she sees herself as; Randy Jackson and Carey joined in. Minaj, on the other hand, appeared bored and a bit frustrated during the discussion, having already said that she enjoyed the girl's voice. "For a minute, I thought it was a country debate," she said, arguing that her fellow judges were "scaring" Cunningham into labeling herself and that they had gone a bit overboard with picking her act apart. Finally, the tension was enough that Minaj left the audition room entirely, but not before Summer got her Hollywood vote.
"That was my move," Carey said of Nicki's departure as the singer/rapper walked away. "I was gonna do that the next time she ragged on me."
The "big fight" many claimed the fight to be once news of it first surfaced, it was not.
In fact, the sour attitudes had subsided by day two of Charlotte auditions, with nary a hint of much animosity between the two judges. The better vibe was probably helped by contestant Brandy Hamilton, who told the judges to not fight. "It makes us sad," she said as she left the room following her affirmative vote to Hollywood.
So the Nicki-Mariah feud seems to have hit its rather tepid acme, though it's unclear whether tensions will continue to simmer or if any animosity will reign through the rest of the auditions and into the Hollywood round.
The officially released video of the "fight" is a faaaaaar cry from the curse-laden rant Minaj is seen making in a cellphone video from the same day:
Perhaps -- one can certainly only hope -- the focus during broadcasts will return to more of the singing, rather than a spotlight on judge relations/antics. Charlotte auditions were fairly kind to "Idol," with Janelle Arthur, Jimmy Smith and Candice Glover among the city's best.
"American Idol" returns Thursday night at 8 p.m., with the auditions moving to Baton Rouge.