Feb. 7, 2013 at 10:31 AM ET
In addition to the salary, the exposure and the ability to swipe at Mariah Carey whenever she wants, Nicki Minaj has discovered a fringe benefit of being an “American Idol” judge is the ability to mess with the minds of earnest young hopefuls just looking for a chance at stardom.
That was what poor Bryant Tadeo found out Wednesday, after what appeared to be a very good effort on the first day of the guys’ Hollywood Week. Minaj scared him half to death after he admitted under her prodding that he was tired and stressed.
“It’s good that you’re tired because we’re sending you home and you’re going to get a lot of time to sleep at home,” Minaj said.
One second passed. Two. Three. Four. Five.
“I’m kidding. You’re through,” she said. Tadeo collapsed in relief.
“Good one!” Minaj congratulated herself, as Keith Urban threw his arms up in joy, Carey gave a small shake of her head and felt old, and Tadeo tried to get his heart started again.
“This is the rule. You never say you’re tired,” Minaj said.
“Don’t ever say you’re tired ever again!” Tadeo’s mom scolded him backstage.
“I was so tired!” Tadeo responded.
Message not received. But like the song playing in the background said, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
Also emerging stronger was Lazaro Arbos, the contestant whose speech impediment makes it difficult for him to get words out when he speaks but goes away when he sings. As we found out Wednesday, Arbos has another strike against him -- he’s not familiar with a lot of American music, and he struggled to do anything with his Beach Boys song on group night.
That was tremendously frustrating for some in his group, especially since they had no choice. Not only did “Idol” make Hollywood a single-sex affair this year (why not go the other way and emphasize the possibility of hook-ups, making it a singing dating show? Maybe next year), Nigel Lythgoe and company assigned the groups. That’s a shame, since watching the poor forlorn outcasts try to find a home is always good television and has the added benefit of sometimes making everyone else seem like dopes (as the many people who dissed eventual season 10 winner Scotty McCreery learned).
But though he misfired in the group performance, he still had shown enough singing chops to advance. That wasn’t true of the biggest complainer in his group though, who didn’t think the result was fair. Maybe not, but it was good television.
For the most part, everyone folks have heard of made it through, even the lyric-forgetting Johnny Keyser and Gurpreet Singh Sarin. The notable exception: Kayden Stephenson, the plucky 16-year-old who looks half that age and is suffering from cystic fibrosis. Also shed a tear for train singer Frankie Ford, who got tossed off in the final moments.
Both promised to come back and try again next year, at which point Minaj will probably have come up with a bunch of new ways to amuse herself and torture them at the same time.
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