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Say it together: “Yes!” In just two episodes, America has seen no fewer than three wigs, off-the-color-chart eye shadow, one drummer hat and some of the most fantastic GIFs in Idol history.
Minaj has been hilarious, empathetic, slightly mean, deliciously sarcastic, witty, relatable, insightful and horny — clearly relishing her role in the show’s quest to find a star. In fact, you could say Minaj was born to do this job, and she does it with such relish that it’s exhilaratingly fun to watch. As an added bonus, she lets the viewers into her psychological makeup. To wit: She wanted to be a bus driver, her mother never heard her rap until she made it, the industry kept telling her to choose genres and she refused. It’s captivating television, and frankly those hating on the show need to give this version of Idol a chance, because this panel — driven by Minaj — already has put through some amazing vocalists, among them: Kez Ban, Mackenzie Wasner, Lazaro Arbos, The Turbanator and Brandy Neely. And it’s only been one week.
If you missed the show’s debut, Idol Worship offers as evidence our top eight Minaj moments so far:
1. Remember when Kara DioGuardi coaxed season nine stud Casey James into removing his shirt? That moment seems relatively tame compared to what Minaj did Thursday night, openly ogling the male eye candy with wide-eyed wonder. “Do you have a girlfriend?” is her favorite pickup line, but our favorite quip was aimed at one guy: “Is that a hole in your pants?” she asked. He fired back: “Why, ya looking?” Keeping with the same theme, Minaj made her, ahem, case when handsome hunk Griffin Peterson entered the room. Randy Jackson didn’t “get it,” but Minaj knew that the little girls would understand, and she coaxed Mariah Carey into a truce long enough for the issue that really mattered to her: hot guys. When Jackson asked if she saw Peterson as another Justin Bieber, she practically licked her chops: “Bieber never did this to me.” Ha! Classic, and a much-needed light moment for the female viewers to enjoy. Watch it below:
2. Another thing we were wondering about was whether Minaj’s alter egos — of which she has several — would emerge during the show. We got the answer in episode one when Minaj morphed into Roman, British accent and all. It’s as if she put on the other character to cushion the blow for the less-than-inspiring vocalists, and it was enough to slightly annoy Carey, who barbed, “We are not going to do the British thing.” Still, we’re amused by it and hope it slips out during the live shows.
3. Nobody handles the awful vocalists as well as Minaj. Case in point: aspiring Broadway vocalist Albert Chang, who crooned a pitifully off-key rendition of “The Phantom of the Opera.” Minaj just couldn’t resist ribbing Carey: “Your range is better than Mariah’s,” she squealed. “Do you know her range is the best range in the world?” Snap!
4. Poor, deluded Melissa Bush. Her desecration of Petula Clark‘s classic “Downtown,” complete with tragic pink jumpsuit, was bad enough, but Minaj and Carey couldn’t get enough of the girl’s last name. “Any relation to Kate Bush?” Carey asked, while Minaj reverted to the British accent and inquired if she was related to President George W. Bush. But in the end, Minaj got the last laugh: “You’ll always be my bush.” Zing!
5. Oh, Kevin Nabity. Minaj tried to pump him up with the timeless question, “Are you the next American Idol?” but she just wasn’t prepared for Nabity’s “dry” voice. His take on Barenaked Ladies’ “One Week” was hilarious enough, but Minaj just couldn’t let it go, encouraging him to continue his audition. Next up: the worst Styx cover ever, but Minaj’s needling of fellow judge Jackson, “You are not seriously insinuating that you don’t like Kevin, are you?” hit the bull’s-eye.
6. It was a milestone moment for American Idol when Gurpreet Singh Sarin, aka “The Turbanator,” took center stage. Minaj wasn’t sold on his vocals but caved when offered a marigold-colored turban. What was great about this audition was Minaj’s speed in coming up with nicknames and creating an immediate connection with the singers. In this case, she called him, “Turb.” Love that!
7. There were so many Carey fans coming through the doors that we almost started to feel bad for Minaj — until superfan Jersey girl Sarah Restuccio walked in the room. A would-be country performer, she whipped out her favorite jam, “Superbass,” and impressed! Minaj fully engaged with the girl, even pleading her case to be put through to the competition when Keith Urban was on the fence. This shows that Minaj will advocate for the kids once the competition hits the all-important Hollywood Week.
8. Finally, there was the blundering audition of Bieber wannabe James Bae. Yes, he was terrible, couldn’t dance and probably would benefit from Carey’s awesome advice that he should DJ (because it’s “artistic,” she cracked — “you can still deal with music and you don’t have to necessarily be the singer”). Minaj, however, invited him to the table for a one-on-one talk, telling the crushed hopeful, “You are special for life in general.” It was a sweet moment of empathy, humanity and, whether intentional or not, hilarity — sealed with a kiss from the star.
These are just a few examples of what we loved about Minaj’s debut, and there are still weeks of auditions to go. What are your favorite Nicki moments so far, Worshippers? Tell us in the comments below:
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