It was a tale of furry clothing accessories, “Mean Girls” quotes and British accents on the season 12 premiere of “American Idol,” its first with Nicki Minaj, Mariah Carey and Keith Urban as judges, joining the stalwart Randy Jackson.
After months of questions — could so many big names mesh well together? Would Minaj and Carey play nice? — “Idol” came to New York with a skip in its step, following the major success of defending winner Phillip Phillips, whose smash hit, “Home,” opened the show.
But rather than focus on the talent that came to the audition room over two days, much was said and shown of the rivalry between the show’s female judging crew. From the get-go, the pop legend and superstar of today got in their little kicks, from the moment the latter walked into the room with a furry drum major hat.
“We can have accessories? I didn’t know that was allowed. That’s the last thing I’ll say,” said Carey snarkily, prompting some choice stares from the rapper/singer. Later, Minaj could be heard whispering “she’s a b*tch, she’s a b*tch” through clenched teeth, Mariah announcing that she’d rebuke it if Nicki was, in fact, calling her such a word.
So civil certainly wasn’t the name of the game. Following a war of British accents, prompted by Minaj talking in one and Carey responding in one mockingly, and deliberation about a “Mean Girls” quote to which Nicki had apparently responded incorrectly, Minaj left the auditions claiming that she wanted to “strangle one of the divas on the panel, but I won’t tell you who.” She certainly wasn’t speaking of Urban, who deserves a raise for being able to sit in between the two during their constant bickering.
Such was the season premiere of “Idol,” a show that once prided itself on focusing on both the good and the bad of America’s talent during its audition rounds. Instead, only a select few full auditions were even shown, with only three falling under the category of laughably bad. This isn’t your older brother/sister’s “Idol,” but that was evident in 2012.
New York brought some star potential, as it often does. Sarah Restuccio stood out after a country-girl-turned-rapper audition that won Minaj’s heart. Gurpreet Singh Sarin — the Turbanator — injected some soul into the day with “Sunday Morning” (and confirmed that he owns 40-50 turbans). Angela Miller provided the day’s top audition despite major hearing loss. Frankie Ford went from subway busker to Hollywood-bound.
The show’s preview of the next episode — Chicago — tendered a glimpse into what can be expected from the judging panel, which appears to be enough of an argument between the usual gang that they implore the auditioning contestant to leave the room before things get messy. Though it’s unclear if choice singing talent will be featured on the show in upcoming episodes, one can be sure of one thing: the diva fight may be just getting started.