'American Idol' Recap: Nicki Minaj Bashes Janelle Arthur, Hits on Smokey Robinson
Nicki Minaj Slams Mariah Carey as 'Bitter,' 'Insecure'
Drama on Detroit Music Night!
Firstly, the strange judge behavior continueth on Wednesday's American Idol: for some reason, I just noticed that Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey don't ever seem to look at -- let alone acknowledge -- one another on the panel. When Mariah speaks, Nicki visibly turns away from Mimi to face Keith "Perfect Highlights" Urban. We don't need a body language expert to tell us that Nicki wants to smear "I HATE YOU" in pink lipstick on her rival's dressing-room walls. Also! Mariah mentioned on the air that producers "live" to cut off her commentary; perhaps the Hello Kitty enthusiast worked it so this time, she got to dole out some feedback first while Nicki and Keith -- usually the first ones to speak up -- waited their turns.
Adding to the Nicki/Mariah tension: the divas both wore red dresses, and the color coordination could very well have been calculated to get Idol conspiracy theorists like myself a-Twittering about their allegedly bitter feud.
While Mariah played up her batty public image, brandishing a pink "magic wand" and saying things like "hashtag POW," Nicki -- brash and blunt as ever -- played the Simon Cowell role. She was especially harsh toward her "little marshmallow" Janelle Arthur, who had the misfortune of sharing a duet (Madonna's "Like a Prayer") with the wildly talented, super-cool Kree Harrison.
"Kreedom almost made it look like she flew in to do a duet with an Idol contestant today," sniped Nicki, while Janelle -- visibly devastated -- tried not to break down on stage, Charlie Askew-style.
But the butterscotch-voiced country singer managed to redeem herself in her stripped-down guitar solo performance of The Supremes' "You Keep Me Hangin' On." Declared Mariah: "Janelle at her finest!" Not missing a chance to undermine Nicki, she added: "Anything that anybody said earlier, she just proved them wrong." (Nicki maintained that her voice was still "off.")
With Mariah's seal of approval, Janelle began to weep, silent tears of relief streaming down her face ... or were those tears from the realization that Kree, her biggest competition, is most likely going to outlast her in the competition?
As for the rest of the top eight, the night proved not to be a total bust -- well, maybe for one fan favorite. Behold:
Candice Glover (“I Heard It From the Grapevine”): Arguably the most powerful and dynamic performer this season, Candice can apparently do no wrong – and each week, she improves upon the last. (I mean, if you’re so good you can make mentor/Motown legend Smokey Robinson cry, then maybe you’re too good for the competition.) On Wednesday, she nailed it yet again on the Marvin Gaye classic, sporting her fiercest wronged-woman face and closing the performance with a bluesy growl. “Effortless,” quoth Randy Jackson. “Crazy-good.”
Lazaro Arbos ("For Once in My Life"): After last week's trainwreck, I thought Lazaro was a goner -- but dude's got a devoted fan base. The pressure on, the anxiety-ridden hopeful listened to Nicki's advice not to listen to Jimmy Iovine's advice and chose a song he was comfortable with, infusing it with Latin/lounge-y flavor, and it was not the worst. Boring, yes -- but somewhere in America, the voting bloc of Lazaro mom-fans swooned and swayed in front of their TVs, lining up the family cell phones to text in multiple votes and replacing their David Cook shrines with pictures of the Lazaro.. At least some credit for the contender's well-received turnaround should go to Smokey, who encouraged the shy ice cream scooper to follow his musical heart. "I don't know if you completely redeemed yourself but it was far better than last week," Randy told Lazaro. Echoing that sentiment, Nicki shifted the focus on the elegant, ageless Mr. Robinson, who sat in the audience, gushing: "I'm gonna ask Smokey if he'd like to be my sugardaddy. ... That's a sexy piece of specimen!"