‘American Idol’ Season 12, Episode 3 Recap: Nicki Minaj Storms Out of Charlotte Audtions
It was the first time ‘American Idol’ took auditions to Charlotte, and they did it in style by holding them at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Known for being the homestead of past ‘Idol’ winners Scotty McCreery and Fantasia, the judges were hoping to find another winner in the crowd.
Naomi Morris made a strong statement with her D.I.Y. outfit, causing Nicki Minaj to yell, “You’re popping out!” While she hoped to impress judges with Aretha Franklin’s ‘Respect’ and the Temptations’ ‘Ain’t Too Proud To Beg,’ her chic outfit didn’t help her singing, which fell flat. But on the bright side, Minaj and Mariah Carey were both down to get some of Morris’ threads if they’re on sale.
Joel Nemoyer, who told Minaj that her outfit reminded him of cotton candy, gave an interesting rendition of ‘Feeling Good’ by Michael Buble while lying on the floor. Carey, Keith Urban and Randy Jackson were left speechless and laughed while Minaj calmly said, “Actually that’s a first for us since we’ve been judging -- laying down and singing. So I feel like, if nothing else, you’ve made history.”
Brian Rittenberry gave the judges a quick but heartfelt rendition of ‘Let It Be’ by the Beatles and easily impressed the judges even a skeptical Carey. “Wow I didn’t expect that,” she said. “I was surprised. I didn’t know what to think.”
With two days of auditions in each city, the judges can get a little worn out. So when Minaj noticed Urban snacking, she put on her British accent and said, “I want some trail mix.” And lucky for her, she gets what she asked for.
Jimmy Smith’s rendition of Rascal Flatts’ ‘Bless the Broken Road’ impressed the judges so much that Minaj could only sum it up with, “I think you poppin’ like I think you mad fly. And I feel like yo, your voice is what I’ve been waiting to hear today. It got that sweetness that I need to hear from my country singers, and that’s poppin’. Boom!”
Matthew Muse left the judges dazed and confused with his expressive performance of Brad Paisley. While he got an overwhelming no, Minaj gave him encouragement by saying he could be a model.
Isabelle Gonzalez was just another high school student until Jackson surprised her with an audition number. So in order to impress the judges, she effortlessly sang 'Nothing Could Change This Love' by Sam Cooke. “You are so adorable,” Carey explained and also compared her to a "young Phoebe Cates." “People are going to fall in love with you because you are a star,” she told Gonzalez.
Though she’s already been in an alternative rock band for four years, Taisha Bethea, with the approval and support of her bandmates, wanted to audition on her own. Covering Johnny Cash’s ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ and ‘You Oughta Know’ by Alanis Morissette, she left the judges a bit confused as to what her style actually us. However, Minaj defended Bethea, saying, “Your voice is unique. Especially because you’re a black girl, you’re not doing the typical R&B type of runs. I really, really enjoyed it.”
“Black girls can rock,” Jackson agreed.
After Beatha’s audition, the panel seemed to disagree on everything once again. But things took a turn for the worse when Summer Cunningham auditioned. Singing Bill Withers’ ‘Lean on Me,’ she attempted to present herself as a “soul country” artist. However, this causes a rift in the panel because Urban, Carey and Jackson pushed her into a country direction while Minaj felt that the singer was being forced into a direction that she may not want to be in. Feeling attacked, she leaves. “Maybe I should get off this f---ing panel,” Minaj says under her breath as she walks out. “I’m so over this!”
Footage of the media blitz surrounding the Carey and Minaj endless feud followed and even made Brandy Hamilton really nervous about her audition. However, her version of ‘All I Could Do Was Cry’ by Etta James not only impressed the judges but inspired Carey to say, “It was pow! No, it was actually pippity-pow.”
Before she tearfully (but happily) walked off, Hamilton quickly uttered, “Please don’t fight. It makes me sad.”
Both Minaj and Carey were surprised by the response, and it was obvious that Carey was affected.
Ashley Smith’s bubbly persona immediately grabbed the judges, but her R&B version of ‘Cowboy Casanova’ by former ‘Idol’ Carrie Underwood really surprised yet impressed the panel because, as Jackson said, “If you can sing, you can sing anything.”
After a montage of Minaj and her nicknaming obsession, Janelle Arthur impressed the judges with a country medley that included Keith Urban’s ‘Where the Blacktop Ends,” which he was sure she would mess up. She obviously proved him wrong with a unanimous round of yeses. Known as the “Voice of Charlotte,” Rodney Barber’s version of ‘I’ll Be’ by Edwin McCain quickly got him a ticket to Hollywood.
Candice Glover was cut from last season’s ‘Idol’ during the Hollywood rounds. But it looks like a year has really helped her find her true voice. Her auditioned sounded so powerful and flawlessly, Jackson said that she gave “the best audition I’ve heard so far this season.”
Minaj was so impressed that she felt she wasn’t worthy to even judge her and even mentioned that she wanted to “skin you and wear you.” Meanwhile, Carey was not so graphic but wished Glover already had material out that she could listen to -- requesting a mixtape.
Brad Harris, who was once a rapper out of Houston named Bakon, proved he was an eccentric character with his breathy and slightly off-key version of ‘A Whole New World.’ It was obvious that he wasn’t going through, but it looked like the rejection didn’t kill his spirits as he soon decided he’d become a host like Ryan Seacrest.
The evening’s last audition went to Seretha Gunn, who despite pushing music aside to deal with family issues brought a new take to the iconic TV theme song, ‘Fresh Prince of Bel Air.’ Bringing some jazz flair to the song, the panel didn’t expect that. She also blew the judges away with her version of ‘How Do I Live’ by Leann Rimes, and of course, bringing along her daughter to the audition just added to a cute moment and a happy ending to the show.
Watch 'American Idol' Season 12, Episode 3 Recap