Aside from that much-ballyhooed spat between Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj that resulted in Ms. Minaj storming off set, Wednesday's (January 23) "American Idol" — which covered auditions in Charlotte, North Carolina — also saw what was immediately dubbed the season's best audition so far.
Candice Glover, a 22-year-old administrative assistant from South Carolina, set the bar pretty high for herself when she said people regularly compared her to Season 11 "Idol" stunner Joshua Ledet. But she raised it even higher when she belted out a knock-down, drag-out version of Duffy's "Syrup & Honey" that brought the judges to their feet.
"Best audition I've heard so far this season. What the what!" exclaimed Randy Jackson, while Mariah said Glover's voice was "the absolute best singing we have heard thus far." Nicki Minaj took things a step further, saying she was so obsessed with her that she wanted to skin her and wear her, then followed by saying, "if you don't go to the last round of this competition, something's wrong."
So yes, while the attention from Wednesday's episode was focused on the fight, several outstanding singers were introduced on the show as well. In all, 37 contestants snagged Golden Tickets to Hollywood, including 26-year-old Seretha Guinn, who took the judges by surprise by putting her own twist on the theme song to "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" in her audition. She followed it with a version of "How Do I Live," but it was "Fresh Prince" that earned her props from Mariah. "I loved you so much," Mimi told her, while Jackson compared her to Whitney Houston and Nicki immediately dubbed her a "superstar."
Another winner was 16-year-old Ja'Bria Barber, who was mocked for her snacking preferences (she has a thing for bullfrog legs) but praised for her warm vocals, which she laid out on a version of Bonnie Raitt's "Pride and Joy." Jackson gave her props for her conviction and "crazy swag," while Minaj deemed her a "big piece of cutie pie." Barber sailed through the auditions and earned a unanimous "yes" vote from the judges.
Isabel Gonzalez, a 16-year-old from Alpharetta, Ga., took on Sam Cooke's "Nothing Could Ever Change This Love" and was called "natural" and "effortless" by the judges. "People are going to fall in love with you, because you are a star," Carey told her, and sent her on her way to Hollywood.
The ladies led the Charlotte auditions; other standouts included 22-year-old Ashley Smith of Charlotte, who was dubbed "Blondie" by Nicki because of her blond wig and who wowed the judges with her version of Carrie Underwood's "Cowboy Casanova"; Brandy Hamilton of Charlotte, a 25-year-old whose rich take on Etta James' "All I Can Do Is Cry" caused Carey to say "pippity pow" in approval; 22-year-old fitness instructor Janelle Arthur of Tennessee, who sang Keith Urban's "Where the Blacktop Ends" and was praised as "a young LeeAnn" by Randy Jackson; and Summer Cunningham, who happened to find herself in the eye of the "Idol" storm when her audition caused Mariah and Nicki's feud to boil over, resulting in Minaj stomping off the set. Don't hold that against Cunningham, though.
A few guys made the cut as well, including Rodney Barber, a 27-year-old singer and bouncer from Charlotte whose "crazy big" voice was complimented by Urban after he tackled Edwin McCain's "I'll Be," and Jimmy Smith, a 25-year-old social worker who was told he has "something incredibly special and unique" by Mariah after doing Rascal Flatts' "Bless the Broken Road." Lastly, 27-year-old Brian Rittenberry of Georgia won the room with his husky take on the Beatles' "Let It Be," as well as with his tale of his wife living through a bout with cancer in her appendix.
Thursday's "Idol" covers the show's auditions in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Will Randy Jackson's hometown show out, and will Mariah and Nicki behave themselves?
Who were your favorite singers on "Idol" on Wednesday? Let us know in the comments!
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