On Wednesday, American Idol was full of surprises. But even emergency evacuations and absentee judges could not prepare viewers for the biggest shock of all, Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj joining forces to save a contestant.
On Wednesday night, American Idol auditions returned; first in what looked to be a vacant lobby of a San Antonio hotel, a hotel which happenened to have the worst acoustics EVER, and then in the second half of the show, to Long Beach aboard the historic Queen Mary. The Queen Mary had better acoustics, that is, until it began sinking to the bottom of the sea. Okay, well it didn't sink but at one point the fire alarms sounded which prompted the ever astute Mariah to exclaim, "It sounds like some type of warning!" Thanks to Mariah's razor sharp powers of observation (and Nigel Lythgoe informing them that they had to obey the alarms) all four judges were well on their way to the lifeboats before the warning turned out to be a false alarm.
To think that Mariah and Nicki almost missed all the excitement since both were delayed on their first day aboard; Nicki had rehearsals for the American Music Awards whereas Mariah got held up in traffic. This left poor Randy and Keith to fend for themselves and after butchering poor contestant Shubha Vedula's name, and channeling their inner Clint Eastwoods by holding conversations with vacant chairs, Mariah finally arrived. Mariah justified her tardiness by stating that if they (Idol) wants a diva they gotta pay the price. And nothing says diva quite like a full-length, skin-tight dress with a neckline cut so low one can see the top of your Spanx; unless you happened to notice that when Mariah arrived with her entourage, one of them held her hand and guided her all the way to her seat before releasing his grip. Nicki, upon her arrival, also received the same type of assistance to her chair. One would think that the Queen Mary was out on open seas during a white squall.
But despite poor acoustics, evacuations and hardcore diva behavior, the stream of contestants in search of their dreams was relentless. In Texas, Vincent Powell, a contestant from Season 11 who made it to the end of Hollywood week only to be sabotaged by Randy taking an inordinately long sip of his drink (feel free to re-read that explanation several times, it still won't make any sense) tried his luck again. Vincent performed, "Rock Me Baby," and started the auditions process off on the right foot.
That foot was quickly kicked out from under the judges when the brothers from San Antonio, David and Derek Bacerott arrived on the scene. For some reason, the two brothers put a lot of energy into trying, quite unsuccessfully, to sound "gansta" in their intro video. Unfortunately, their attempt to sound like vocalists didn't fare much better. Randy, Keith and Mariah all made valiant efforts to tell the brothers that they had zero chances of earning a ticket to Hollywood but Derek and David who both seem to suffer from Oppositional Defiance Disorder, refused to listen to reason. Finally, Nicki Minaj stepped in. "Your part of the audition is done," she announced, momentarily quieting their incessant string of contradictions. You go girl! But the brothers could not be silenced for long and even after all four judges rejected them, they continued their soliloquies even after leaving the room.
Wednesday night seemed to be a night of surprise auditions as Idol showcased several contestants whose outward appearances belied their talents. When Savannah Votion walked into her audition with ill-fitting jeans, an unflattering halter top and another single-mother sob story, the world was ready to write her off. But when she opened her mouth and sang, it was hard not to forgive all of her trespasses on the jaded patience of the long-time viewers. She had an amazing voice; one that Keith declared had life in it. He's so poetic . . .
Then there was Adam Sanders whose somewhat nerdy looks predisposed the judges to expect a below par audition. Instead, Adam delivered a performance so rousing that it earned him this year's equivalent to a standing ovation from the panel. Nicki Minaj typically abstains from such outward expressions of emotion, being the quiet, introverted individual that she is.
In tie for the most unexpected performance of the evening were Micah Johnson and Matheus Fernandes. Micah, after undergoing a tonsillectomy that resulted in nerve damage, struggled with a speech impediment while Matheus, though not technically a dwarf, made Ryan Seacrest seem like a Harlem Globetrotter. But despite the odds stacked against them both contestants delivered excellent performances and earned unanimous accolades from the judges.
Then came Papa Peachez, a self-described cute, little white boy with a big black woman trapped inside. When Papa introduced himself to the panel, Keith Urban sang, "Papa don't peach," proving that a sense of humor existed behind that hypnotic grin . . . those mesmerizing baby blues . . .that - wait, where were we? Oh right, Papa don't peach. Okay so, Papa Peachez delivered a polarizing though not without merit performance of an original song. Papa Peachez don't do covers, thank you very much! A position that suggests he obviously didn't think through this whole being on Idol thing very well.
Nicki - that crazy kid with a soft spot for quirkiness - LOVED Papa Peachez and claimed he was a superstar. Urban held a different opinion, stating that Peachez was too theatrical for his taste. Randy, though not immune to Papa's talent - he predicted that with a bit of work, the contestant could have something really powerful - sided with Keith. Then it was Mariah's turn and after such an impassioned endorsement from Nicki, it seemed inevitable that Mariah would strike the final blow to Papa's dreams and Nicki's hopes while throwing back her perfectly coifed mane and chuckling with an evil, diva-type laugh. Instead, Mariah gave Papa a "little yes," though chances are, Pavorotti himself couldn't have inspired her to give a more enthusiastic endorsement of Nicki's opinion.
With a hung jury, it was announced that Randy was the deciding vote that day and all hope for Papa seemed lost. But Nicki used her powers of persuasion on Randy, which basically meant that she whined until Randy realized that he'd rather be subjected to Papa Peachez's voice for the rest of eternity than to listen to Minaj for one more moment. With Randy acquiescing, it meant that Nicki and Mariah had saved their Peachez. It was a significant moment for American Idol who had long given up hope that the two women could ever bridge the rift caused by their enormous egos and insecurities. And who, you might ask, could have brought about such an unlikely reconciliation?
Only a big black woman trapped inside the body of a cute, white boy.
Tune in on Thursday, when Idol heads to Oklahoma in search of their next miracle.