American Idol season premiere recap: Mean Girls

Nicki Minaj somehow manages to render Mariah Carey the beta diva. Plus, contestants! 
Ep. 01 | Aired Jan 16, 2013

CLAWS OUT! Did you look like this while watching?


Shira Gavrielov is an absurdly thin noodlewoman in comically short white shorts who sang a middling cover of Amy Winehouse's version of "Valerie." She once had a No. 1 single in Israel, but what's more important here is those shorts. I have some underwear that look like those shorts. I think they were marketed as "boyshorts." But they're UNDERWEAR. Anway, she's a hottie and to top off the shorts, she childishly stammered out "New York is the Big Apple and I wanted to have a bite." Whoa. She's totally in. Right? Randy, Keith, and Nicki screamed "Yes!" after Randy counted to three, while Lady Mariah chimed in half a beat later -- on purpose.

Next up: the thoroughly delightful Frankie Ford, 24, who sings on the subway to make money and has "every intention of outworking everyone here." What does he think this is, Annie? He won't have to clean the mansion or sing on the stoop. He'll get to live in it! (And he'll probably sing on the stoop.) Silly Frankie. Professor Minaj started to explain the New York subway system to Keith Urban and America, and Keith was instantly all "Bish please -- I too played on the train." Love it!

Poor Frankie --"Double F!" cried out Randy in vague recognition of the alphabet -- started out too sharp on "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)," but he eventually collected himself and was able to relax, delivering a smooth rendition with plenty of his own tonal shifts. I like how confident and genuine he is -- so often, the gifted and talented are just one or the other. The hearty handshake he offered bit player Ryan Seacrest was sublime. "Thank you, sir!" Coming up: Frankie goes to Hollywood.

Sarah Restuccio, 17, is a good ol' Jersey Girl -- but not that kind. The Hammonton (Blueberry Capital of the World) native is the proud winner of tonight's Best Occupational Chyron award:

Screen Shot 2013-01-16 at 6.50.43 PM


Sarah's grandma told her she had "a great aunt, or something, who was an opera singer." Who cares? Blueberry farm! This girl was so utterly charming. She grew up with country, so Sarah tried out "Mama's Song" by Carrie Underwood, which slightly underwhelmed. It wasn't as pretty as she was, but it was pleasant enough. Just not exceptional. Randy tentatively asked her if she could do something else.

Sarah's eyes brightened. "I sing Super Bass," she announced -- the present-day equivalent of the 1980 film Airplane!'s "I speak jive." Perfect! Sarah killed that one and seemed to be having way more fun in the process. Keith politely said he found the different parts of her personality encouraging, Randy asked Sarah "Who do you want to be?" and then suddenly Nicki Minaj was on a ferocious tear, running her motormouth at breakneck pace as if in direct competition with Sarah's audition and talking over three other people while leaping wildly from topic to topic.

"So many girls on a farm sing Super Bass, HELLO, Taylor Swift made Super Bass hot!" "Boys are gonna love her because she's pretty." "What Keith is saying, Mariah…." "She doesn't have to choose one!" ……and it went on and on. There was no need to be so combative -- no one was arguing with her! When Keith eventually gave Sarah a yes, because duh, Nicki dramatically sighed, "Thaaaaaaank you, Keith. I really believe in this girl!" As if she were the only one.  I desperately wanted a surprise cameo from Supernanny Jo Frost. There's still hope yet -- it's only episode 1.

NEXT: The Best Exotic Marigold Turban

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