Pop Culture

Nicki Minaj storms off set of 'American Idol'

If you’re reading this story, you’re probably expecting to hear about the huge fight between Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey. After all, it was all over the gossip sites, and the teasers heading into Wendesday’s “American Idol” episode all indicated that a major blowup was pending. Surely there would be fisticuffs, thrown beverages, screaming and cursing.

Boy, are you out of luck.

The much-hyped drama ran out of gas quickly. Far from being an intimidating figure capable of frightening Carey off the show, Minaj instead was a spoiled brat who stalked off because she got sick of the other judges trying to pigeonhole contestants into a particular genre. Who knows what happened afterwards, but all the viewers saw was a hissy fit.

And in her defense ... man, were the judges tiresome in Charlotte.

First, they got knocked off-kilter by Taisha Bethea, who said she was the lead singer of an alt-rock band and then auditioned with “Folsom Prison Blues.” An alt-rocker auditioning with country? Minds blown! It’s the first time ever that rockers have put their own spin on a Johnny Cash song! Except not so much.

Still, three of the judges couldn’t wrap their heads around that choice, even when she followed it up with Alanis Morissette’s “You Oughta Know.” The result was a split decision, with Minaj and Keith Urban prevailing thanks to Urban’s status as the Charlotte tie-breaker.

Then came Summer Cunningham, who didn’t get off on the right foot when she told the judges, “I did the country thing.” Free tip: When you’re 20 years old, singing before one of the biggest country music stars of recent vintage, don’t say you’ve already finished with his genre before you’re old enough to drink legally. It just makes him feel old.

She sang well enough, and Urban, Carey and Randy Jackson proceeded to get into a debate about country music and whether she should be signing it and why was she so dismissive of it and didn’t she listen to it when she was growing up and blah blah blah enough already as Minaj seethed watching precious minutes of her life slipping away forever. When she finally got to talk, she began with “Thank you -- for a minute I felt like this was a country music debate,” and a who-can-talk-over-each-other-more argument ensued that ended with Minaj stalking off the set.

That gives her the early lead on the diva meter over Carey, but the season is still young. Also, watch out for Urban, who now has had to leave the auditions early in two out of the three cities. That work ethic gets most people in big trouble. I’m just sayin’.

Oh, the singers? You want to know about them?

Despite the focus on judges conflict, and a ton of scenes that featured Ryan Seacrest hanging around the Charlotte Motor Speedway like he was a NASCAR fantasy camp, there did appear to be a lot of talent in the city that eventually made it onto the airwaves.

Candice Glover is a good bet to go far. She came back after getting cut in Vegas last year while groupmates Jessica Sanchez and DeAndre Brackensick moved on, and was the star of the auditions on Wednesday.

But she wasn’t the only big voice among the women. Janelle Arthur was the best of the country singers, and scored well with her easy banter with Ryan and the judges. Seretha Guinn not only had the cutest 3-year-old in “Idol” history, she put her own spin on “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and marked herself as a favorite. Sweet Isabel Gonzalez got on the Randy Jackson bus and went straight from her high school to Hollywood.

We also had Rodney Barber, the former homeless man who sings on the streets of Charlotte, and Brian Rittenberry’s tale of his wife who beat her stage 4 cancer. And Ashley Smith, who was set up to be one of the joke contestants but surprised everyone with the quality of her performance.

There was a lot to like in Charlotte, even if the judges’ snippiness was the story.

Do you think Nicki Minaj was right to walk off in the middle of a discussion? What did you think of the Charlotte hopefuls? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page!

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