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American Idol Recap: Nicki And Mariah Fight, Contestants Shine Bright At Charlotte Auditions

We’re two weeks into the 12th season of American Idol, and we’ve finally come to the moment everyone’s been waiting for. No, not the truly inspiring audition from the contestant who will surely be the next Idol winner. This show isn’t about that anymore. Hello! We’re talking about the big blow up fight between new judges Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey!

Nicki and Mariah’s showdown during last night’s Charlotte auditions episode left lots (of shade) to be desired, as most of the catty (and threatening, according to Mariah) back and forth reported about all autumn long was left on the cutting room floor. Instead, we’re treated to (or tortured with) the awkward moments that led up to the fight.

We’ll dive more into the fight later, but, for now, let’s bring the attention back to the contestants. Charlotte showed up and showed out. There were some spectacular voices found, including a few quirky rockers, soulful crooners, and kickin’ country gals. Here’s a rundown of some of our favorite talents of the night:

Brian Rittenberry – 27: Talk about an inspirational story! Brian’s wife was given only two years to live after being diagnosed in cancer of the appendix. It’s bad enough Brian was facing a life without his wife, but he also had to explain to his young son that his mom is dying. By some miracle, his wife has survived for three years and is doing well. With those worries aside, Brian is trying to live out his dream to be a singer. We were already connected with Brian from his story, but his big, raspy, soulful voice just sealed the deal. Four yeses and a meet and greet with Keith for Brian’s wife!

Jimmy Smith – 25: After being discovered through his online audition, Jimmy was invited to audition in person. Good call, Idol producers. Jimmy is a good ol’ country boy with a captivating country voice. And he’s pretty damn nice to look at, too! “You have something incredibly special and unique,” Mariah said. “I can’t wait for the world to hear it.”

Na’Chelle Fullins-Lovell – 19: We only saw seconds of her audition in a montage of golden ticket-grabbers, but HOLY-FREAKIN’-SMOKES!!!!!!!!! Na’Chelle’s range is out of this world! You just know Mariah can not wait to have a whistle note showdown with her.

Isabel Gonzalez – 16: Isabel looks like a pint-sized combo of Selena Gomez and Miranda Cosgrove and couldn’t be cuter if she tried. But one thing she has over both Selena and Miranda: a great singing voice. (Yes, this is shade.) It has some maturing to do, but Isabel’s voice is rich and bluesy and will be absolutely killer once she gets to work in the competition. “I’m absolutely head over heels in love with you,” Nicki said. “You’re a natural,” said Keith. “People are going to fall in love with you because you are a star,” added Mariah.

Taisha Bethea – 21: It’s not very often you find a black rocker chick, and that’s exactly what Taisha, who fronts a rock band with four guys, is. It took Taisha two songs to convince half the panel to let her through to Hollywood, and we’ll also admit she’s no Hayley Williams, but she’s interesting and we’re happy we’ll see more of what she can do.

Summer Cunningham – 20: And here we go. Summer is the contestant behind the big Mariah/Nicki blow up. Here’s how it happened: Summer chose “Lean On Me” for her audition; Keith asks Summer where she sees herself as an artist; Summer says she “did the country thing” but sees herself more as a “soulful country” artist; Keith, Randy and Mariah are all a little thrown by her comment and wonder if she truly loves country/wants to be a country artist and pretty much puts her on trial to defend her love of country; Nicki gets pissed, specifically at Randy and Mariah, and breaks down why Summer shouldn’t be forced to “claim” country if she doesn’t want to be; Mariah throws precise shade and says they’re only trying to help and it’s better than being the type of judge who comments on a contestant’s outfit; Summer stands there looking lost, confused, and scared; Summer gets her golden ticket and heads for the door; Randy tells Summer on the way out, “No matter what Nicki thinks, your voice still fits better with country” and that he has 30 years of insight and he’s only trying to help; Nicki says, “Oh, you’re right. I’m sorry. I can’t help her. Maybe I should just get off the f*cking panel,” and storms off. This is when Nicki and Mariah’s highly-publicized fight goes down, but we never see it on air. It’s best that way. What we saw was embarrassing enough.

Ashley Smith – 22: Ashley looks like a cheap, knock-off Nicki, so obviously we thought she was a joke contestant. No sir! Ashley slayed her soulful rendition of Carrie Underwood’s “Cowboy Casanova,” proving you can’t judge a voice by its loud, obnoxious, bargain basement lacefront exterior. Four yeses!

Rodney Barber – 27: Rodney went from singing and living on the street to helping other homeless people get back on their feet once he got back on his. The good karma and his good voice paid off. He wowed the judges with his rendition of “I’ll Be” and secured a golden ticket to Hollywood with across the board yeses.

Candice Glover – 22: Candice made it all the way to Vegas last season, and she came back to see if she can make it even further this year. She damn sure better. Candice gave us goosebumps with her killer range, insane control, and powerful pipes. Nicki said it best: “I’m obsessed with you. I wanna skin you and wear you…you are what people in America watch American Idol to see…I’m not even worthy to critique you.”

Seretha Guinn – 26: Another sad story and another remarkable voice closed out the auditions in Charlotte. Seretha is picking up the pieces after her boyfriend, the father of her adorable three-year-old daughter London, was severely injured in an accident. His recovery inspired her to chase after her dreams, so with little London in tow, Seretha auditioned for Idol. Her audition song? A fantastically sassy remix of The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air theme song and a dynamic version of Leann Rimes’ “How Do I Live.” “You’re a superstar,” Nicki said. “You got a little Whitney thing there,” Randy said. “I loved you,” Mariah added. Four yeses!

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