I tuned in to American Idol tonight to check out the catfights between dueling divas Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey. So what happened? Were these kitties declawed?
Tonight's reigning diva instead was wannabe contestant Frankie Ford, who was sent home on the first night of the Hollywood Round after tugging the heartstrings of the judges.
Or so I hear. Full disclosure: I'd never seen American Idol before tonight. I'm not entirely ignorant about the iconic talent show, but I do have questions:
How many times are the judges required to sip from their sponsored Coca-Cola cups? (Related: Did the Coca-Cola Company throw a fit when the judges sent Coke fanatic Karl Skinner home?)
Are the judges encouraged to sing along with the performers, or can Keith Urban just not help himself?
Nicki Minaj's fake Cockney accent: awful or awesome?
Really, Nicki couldn't be bothered with Mimi tonight--she was too busy swooning over the boys. Girls were not allowed in this first installment of Hollywood Week, the first time (or so I'm told) that the auditions were divided by gender. (We'll see the ladies compete next week.)
The contestants received another surprise: Instead of contestants forming their own groups (so even Idol uses team challenges to amp up the dramz!), Nigel Lythgoe announced that the producers would select group members.
First, the crooners had to pass the solo round. Unfortunately, that did not include early favorites Dustin Watts, Dr. Calvin Peters and Karl Skinner (and his Cokes).
Nicki and Mariah's only real spat of the night centered around contestant Cortez Shaw and his unfortunate song choice: Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You." Nicki interrupted Mimi's praise to say she was "very, very disgusted by it"--but he moved on to the group round anyway.
For aspiring singers, you'd think mastering the lyrics of a song (their choice from a given list) in one night doesn't seem like a Herculean task. You would be wrong.
After a nearly flawless performance of Queen's "Somebody to Love"--which saw the entire quartet of Nickk Boddington, Mathenne Treco, Gabe Brown and "Glee Project" star Matheus Fernandes advance--a succession of groups managed to butcher the lyrics to a string of hit songs.
"What planet are you from?" asked an astonished Keith Urban when Nicki's boy Johnny Keyser said he'd never heard of the Four Tops' "Reach Out (I'll Be There)." (He advanced anyway.)
Other songs that saw lyrical "reinterpretations," humming or just silence included One Direction's "What Makes You Beautiful," Extreme's "More Than Words" and Maroon 5's "Payphone."
"Adam Levine is still alive and he's already turning over in his grave," Keith Urban quipped about Nicki's "favorite group."
Even the Beach Boys' "Wouldn't It Be Nice" took a beating, but that didn't stop Lazaro Arbos, whose stuttering vanishes when he sings, from moving on. (Two of his eliminated teammates complained bitterly about helping Arbos to their own detriment.)
After forgetting the words to Billy Joel's "For the Longest Time," stoic youngster Kayden Stephenson, who suffers from cystic fibrosis, was sent home, while his fellow boy bander David Leathers--cut last season--advanced.
The last act of the night almost didn't perform, as Frankie Ford broke down in sobs minutes before his group was set to take the stage. The judges sent him packing and spared the rest of the group, but warned Papa Peachez that he was "complacent."
But Peachez spoke the truth when he described his experience with Frankie--which perfectly matches my own first impression of "American Idol":
"I enjoyed it for what it is, a hot mess."