Anywho, the gang is in Chicago and they seem well-rested after the NYC auditions. Hat Watch 2013 starring Nicki Minaj is in full effect and she steps out in a full leopard-print ensemble, complete with her captain’s hat, which my husband referred to as “something a Liberian dictator might wear.” BTW, today’s auditions are taking place at the Adler Planet-Arium.
The first contestant of the day is a pretty blonde teen from the gorgeous rolling hills of Tennessee who is predictably fantastic. Is there a farm somewhere where they’re breeding Carrie Underwoods? And before the first commercial break, we get a somehow understated and elegant “POW!” from Mariah Carey, which I rightfully deign the quote of the episode.
Some fool in a square top breaks rule number one: “Don’t sing Mariah to Mariah unless you are Mariah.” Mimi herself openly laughs at him. Cut to Kiara, who confesses she sang for President Barack Obama. This sounds promising. Nicki likes her immediately and then Kiara gushes to Mariah. Point for Kiara for remembering how much Mariah loves it when you remind the world that she is multiracial. Kiara has a great voice and makes it through.
Next up at the auditions, Stephanie already looks crazy to me with all that sheer black clothing, and she appears to be taking her hair and make-up cues from an ’80s issue of Playboy. Mariah, Randy Jackson and Keith Urban like her well enough, but Nicki is bored. “Nothing jumped at me,” Nicki tells her. Unlike the leopard that literally jumped out at her while she was hunting on safari looking for a new outfit.
Suddenly, Keith wonders, “Why are my mommies fighting?” as Mimi and Nicki go at it over Stephanie. I am so in love with how they fight with Keith in the middle. Compared to the slab of marble he sleeps next to every night, this must feel like quite an exciting romp!
Here comes hopeful Melissa Bush and, no lie, Mariah can’t get over the fact that her last name is “Bush.” She and Nicki have a little free association and finally bond over something. Ms. Bush sports a pink Elvis jumpsuit that makes me nervous that she’s going to be groped on the L-train on the way home after her audition.
Mariah looks positively sick when Melissa announces she will sing “Downtown.” After singing terribly and seeing the judges’ reactions, the poor child looks like she’s going to have a panic attack. Seriously, there should be no age limit for having to get parental consent to come on this show. These poor people! But then, I guess that would be biased against talentless orphans. I’m sorry, I can’t save you all!
Ha! Nicki’s being playful, swatting at Randy and Keith with her mirror.
Contestant Gabe Brown shows up with cookie bribes and crazy curly hair. Mariah wants to X-ray her cookies first like Halloween candy. Mimi believes in urban legends! Gabe is funny and turns out to be our first rocker guy. He belts “Gimme Shelter” by the Rolling Stones, and then wins Mariah over with a softer “We All Die Young.” Keith compliments Gabe on his big heart and pleads with his eyes for Gabe to save him from these two harpies before he continues on to — you guessed it — Hollywood!
A weird guy wearing denim who breakdances sings Barenaked Ladies‘ “One Week.” Honestly, I don’t think he’s all that terrible, but he looks crazy, and anyone singing that song is going to sound like a maniac. This leads to a montage of rejection. Tears, bartering, begging, offers of sexual favors under the table. And everyone’s crying.
Nicki gives out those hugs like candy at a parade and I realize I want to be comforted under Mariah’s amber waves of grain as she tells me gently, “This…it’s just nor for you.”
Young Keith Urban fan Isabelle walks in and is smart enough to flirt with Keith and ask him to sing “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” with her. Adorably, Keith gets nervous and forgets the words while a camera on Mariah reveals that she would like you to know she knows all the words to the song, thankyouverymuch. Isabelle is clearly a genius because now Mariah is gushing about how (surprise) Christmas is her FAVORITE!
Nicki tells Isabelle she has, “a thing about [her] that seems to me like a star.” Maybe it’s a planet? They are in a planetarium. Randy says no, but Isabelle’s still going to Hollywood!
Partway through, Keith leaves to go play a concert because not everybody is making Mariah money on this show. And it’s probably just as well, because now is the part of the episode where Nicki treats auditions like Manhunt. Corn-fed, All-American Griffin Peterson shows up and already Nicki is giving him a nickname. Straight out of the sleazy Hollywood producer handbook, Nicki tells Griffin, “You look and feel to me like a star.” Emphasis on “feel.” (Slips him her hotel key.) Meanwhile, Randy is straight cock-blocking, but the smitten ladies are hearing none of it. Grif is going to Hollywood!
Curtis Finch “Finchie” Jr. tells the judges he is going to sing Smokie Norful and Randy is already sold. Curtis is really good, with a beautiful church choir voice and Mimi is so filled with the spirit, she is moved to raise her hand and get misty-eyed. He is pretty great, and gets a resounding yes, as well he should.
Then, Mariah and Nicki share a moment that I would love to commemorate with a Precious Moments statue when Nicki says of Curtis’ sister’s sheer awe at meeting Mariah, “Do you know what it’s like to meet Mariah Carey for the first time?” To which Mariah adorably replies, “You did not like me when you first met me,” with a pout. Ugh. I DIE at how these two are being so sweet to each other right now.
Then contestant Mariah enters the room and Mariah Carey reveals (unwittingly) that she regularly Googles her first name to see how popular it is. (Number 62, in case you’re wondering.) I predict a straight sympathy vote. The hopeful confesses that she suffers from an eating disorder and starts to cry. I know it won’t happen, but I wish that once she collects herself, she would burst into a cheerful ragtime tune. “Hello my baby! Hello my darling! Hello my ragtime gal!” like the Warner Bros. frog.
At this point, I’d like to make the joke that Nicki is wearing my favorite Apple operating system.
Then there’s Brandy from Kentucky, who went through foster care, adoption, general heartbreak and sadness. By day two, Nicki has ditched the hat for a curly blond wig — a more natural look. Brandy sings “Your Cheating Heart.” I feel like poor Keith gets so little love on this show between Mimi and Nicki that the key to getting to Hollywood is to give him a little wink and a smile. Take note, contestants.
More good, soulful singers get yeses. Clifton has been keeping his singing talents from his parents. He sings Luther Vandross, is great and Ryan Seacrest reveals Clifton’s parents were listening all along and he’s going to Hollywood! Mariah would like you to know she loves that song and that she and Luther were very close.
Ieisha sings badly and is a no, but I am happy she stopped by so that Mariah and Nicki could get cute and bust out into Another Bad Creation‘s “Iesha” as soon as she leaves. I vacillate between wanting them to kill each other and be besties for life.
Johnny Keyser prompts Nicki to ask, “Do you have a girlfriend?” But all I can think of is how weird he looks with that eye makeup that I’m pretty sure we weren’t supposed to notice. Also, I feel like his rendition of “Try a Little Tenderness” wasn’t great, but Nicki wouldn’t kick his ass out of bed. Unless Grif showed up.
Kez Ban is next and fakes us out by being really weird and antisocial but singing beautifully with a distinct, gravelly voice. AND it’s an original song. So, not only is she super strange, she’s talented and naturally my favorite who I totally want to win.
Weird sad montage of bad singers. Blah. Stupid.
Little Ashley Carrie is wholesome and does musical theater. I want her to have a show on the Disney Channel where she puts on costumes and makes lots of friends. But then she sings and it is bad. Basically, she’s just yelling. It’s like a vocal assault. Poor thing. She’s the first contestant to be escorted out.
Now, the moment we’ve all been waiting for: the sweet stuttering guy from the promos, Lazaro, is here. I hate that Idol knows how to tug at my heartstrings. It’s the freaking King’s Speech and he’s wearing a bow tie. I’m not going to cry, dammit.
Lazaro sings “Bridge Over Troubled Water” so much more smoothly than he could ever speak, but I wonder — if he didn’t have such a touching story, would let him through? Only time will tell. At least, I hope he has a fun visit to California and I look forward to seeing his collection of endearing neckwear.
And next week, Nicki returns with more hats and wigs! Also, it looks like she storms off. I predict that at some point, she’s going to be replaced with a top hat with googly eyes.
Till then, my pretties!