"This is where it all happened," host Ryan Seacrest ominously intoned at the start of Wednesday's "American Idol" episode. Ryan, of course, was referring to Charlotte, North Carolina, the infamous audition city where catfighting alpha-female judges Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj went from frenemies to full-on enemies--and some intrepid TMZ spy was conveniently on the scene, flipcam in hand, to document what went down. This Wednesday, viewers would finally find out what really happened to set off the feud heard 'round the Interweb back in October.
Nicki Minaj walks off the "Idol" set
But the real question was...would viewers even care anymore?
I admit I was torn. And just a little curious. Yes, there was a part of my inquiring mind that naturally wanted to know what all the fuss had been about. What exactly was it that made Nicki stomp off the set, spewing expletives like Steven Tyler on a bad day? What drove Mariah to post the single drawn-out word "whyyyyyyyyyyyyy" on Twitter (only to delete the tweet moments later)? And what made Mariah run off to her buddy Barbara Walters, scandalously claiming that Nicki had violently threatened her? With a gun?
But then there was another, much larger part of me that was so over it. (Like, to quote Carrie Bradshaw, I needed a new word for "over.") I just wanted the show to keep calm and carry on...and keep its focus on the contestants.
Anyway, about an hour into Wednesday's episode, one of those contestants, a mild-mannered young girl named Summer Cunningham, unwittingly found herself at the center of this controversy. When Summer somewhat offhandedly told judge Keith Urban that she "did the country thing" already, an insulted Keith got a little mad (well, mad by Keith Urban standards, not by Nicki Minaj standards), quipping: "That's like saying, 'I did the brain surgeon thing.'" This prompted fellow judges Randy Jackson and Mariah to question Summer's true musical calling, and poor Summer quickly, somewhat desperately backpedaled, claiming she was actually a huge country music fan who practically grew up on a farm and came out of the womb sporting a cowgirl hat and spurs.
The feud begins...
So Nicki looked increasingly annoyed during this long-winded exchange, making her famously GIFable faces and tugging agitatedly on her pink My Pretty Pony wig. When it finally came time for Nicki, who supported Summer from the get-go, to speak, she grunted: "Sheesh, for a minute I thought this was a country music debate! Why are you picking her apart because of a country comment? It's like you're scaring her into lying!"
Nicki gets nasty
"We're trying to help her, instead of talking about her outfit," snarked Mariah. Then Randy bragged about his "30 years of experience." And that was it: Nicki strutted off the set in frustration, practically threatening to quit the show--and apparently soon after, the outtake from this outburst was all over TMZ's YouTube channel. And the rest was history, or herstory.