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?


"Is there anything interesting about yourself?" Nicki asked the next hopeful. "I've had hearing problems my whole life," insisted 18-year-old Angela Miller. Whew! At least this wouldn't be a waste of time. The perky sweetheart with major Katy Perry face gave my favorite audition of the night with Jessie J's "Mama Knows Best" -- "a favorite today," Mariah muttered disgustedly in one of her zestiest asides of the night. Angela showed excellent restraint in knowing when to make notes softer, and i was mesmerized by some of her admittedly basic hand gestures. Perhaps she is made of magic. Keith liked the way she "moved closer to us" (read: him). "All day long, we haven't had tone -- a real tone with a real soul behind it and just a beautiful texture," raved Mariah (read: UNLIKE YOU, NICKI).

Angela was in it to win it, but Angela's mom was in it for the Ryan Seacrest hug following her daughter's triumph. So funny. I also love Angela's big bearded boyfriend (maybe brother). General, non-sexual cuteness all around.

Mariah Carey immediately characterized the visual of young Gurpreet Singh Sarin, 22, ready to sing in his purple turban, as "a lavender moment that I really like." Yep, pretty much. The Turbanator (™) has 40 to 50 turbans and, rest assured, "can bring that creativity and colorfulness to American Idol." All you have to do is approve his wardrobe. His vocal on Maroon 5's "Sunday Morning" was sadly nothing too special -- pretty enough, but unremarkable. Keith probably had the right idea when he said the Turbanator would come in "too light" amidst all the power vocals of the competition. But the other three accessory-mongers, with visions of gilded turbans cloaking their own heads, gave Gurpreet a break. "I like light singing and breathy stuff, so I thought it was really pretty," said Mariah, again talking about herself. It's all good! He's a nice kid. One of his turbans is marigold, to match Nicki's "hair."

I'm guessing we were all more emotionally impacted by Ashlee Feliciano's magnanimous family, who took in three medically challenged children and just radiated love and compassion, than we were bowled over by her "nice and clear" (said Mariah) rendition of "Put Your Records On." The potential is definitely there, though, and Ashlee is incredibly likable. The "let's meet your beautiful complicated family" moment in the audition room was lovely, but I was way more choked up as Ashlee broke into tears in a confessional while explaining how much she loved her parents. She cried ---> I cried. It's a rule.

Of course, we met a bunch of delusional sad sacks, but at least the carnage wasn't mean-spirited. I didn't really need to see another "token awkward Asian" segment (James Bae, Albert Chang), but at least at the end of James' rejection he got to hug a friendly clown. Trivia non-expert Brett Holt's segment allowed for some amusingly cheesy dream sequences, and when he mumbled his name out loud it sounded like "Butthole." The flashiest and trashiest was Benjamin Gaisey, a large "ladies' guy" from Sinking Spring, PA who'd stuffed himself into a red leather anti-superhero costume -- the better to thrust his crotch at you with! Benny told Ryan he couldn't zip up his jacket because "it's from years ago." Haha, okay.

Esteemed Colleague Email of the Night:


Kristen, these men are nihilists. There's nothing to be afraid of.

And that's it!

Did you think the judges' antics overwhelmed the episode, or did you enjoy the dynamic after awhile?

Also, in case you missed this in August (and who reads websites in AUGUST?) -- here's how I envisioned the initial Mariah-Nicki conflict going down, way back when both judges were announced....

Mariah Carey gets the Nicki Minaj phone call: A very special ‘American Idol’ dramatization

Screen Shot 2013-01-16 at 10.14.31 PM


Read more:
Your initial thoughts on the new 'Nicki Minaj Show'?
'American Idol': Let's predict the ratings
'American Idol': 12 Wishes for Season 12

Ask Annie anything about 'Idol' -- or whatever -- below.

Latest Videos in TV


From Our Partners