'American Idol' Recap: Episode 3

By Daniela Duron,

American Idol's third episode of auditions in Charlotte, N.C. was the episode we’ve all been waiting for. The highly publicized feud between judges Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj reached its peak this episode, and production even had to be stopped. Fortunately, the talent was unbelievable, with Randy Jackson saying at the end they may have even found the winner.

Ryan Seacrest starts the show by reminding the viewers that two of the show’s winners, Fantasia and Scotty McCreery, had come from North Carolina. Scotty then makes an appearance in the crowd and poses for pictures with fans. He then speaks to the crowd waiting in the stadium, and tells them that he was in their spot two years ago and that the next American Idol could be there. Ryan then tells us that auditions will be held in the world-famous Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Naomi Morris is the first audition of the day. She says she loves fashion, and when Nicki gives her makeup tips, Mariah doesn’t look too amused. Morris finally sings “Respect” by Aretha Franklin, but the judges explain her singing isn’t as great as her fashion.

Joel Nemoyer is next, and he gives possibly one of the strangest auditions of the show. He explains he likes to sing while lying on the ground, and gives his own rendition of “Feeling Good” by Michael Buble. The judges look confused, but Randy gives him a very clear, “never.”

We then meet Brian Rittenberry. He reveals is wife was diagnosed with cancer several years ago and the doctors told her they couldn’t guarantee her two years; but she is now doing better and is healthy. He sings “Let it Be,” and the judges are taken by surprise and send him to Hollywood.

Jimmy Smith auditions next, who says he was inspired to sing by Keith Urban. He sings “Bless the Broken Road” by Rascal Flatts. Nicki tells him his voice was what she was waiting to hear all day, and Keith says he loves it as well. Mariah adds his voice is something special and unique, and with that he’s given a golden ticket.

The judges return after their lunch break to Matthew Muse’s audition, who seems extremely excited about the possibility of a golden ticket. He sings Brad Paisley and gives an interesting and entertaining performance, but the judges tell him no.

The Idol Bus Tour then shows up again, with Randy travelling to Alpharetta, Ga. to surprise Isabel Gonzalez, a high school student. She sings Sam Cooke’s “Nothing Can Change This Love” and the judges are highly impressed by her. Nicki says she is “absolutely, head over heels in love with her” and Mariah adds that people are going to fall in love with her.

Taisha Sethea is next, who says she is the lead singer in a rock band. She sings Johnny Cash and although Mariah likes that she’s different, she’s confused as to what kind of artist she is. Nicki says she doesn’t care about that, telling her yes along with Keith. Mariah and Randy tell her no, but since Keith is the deciding vote in Charlotte, she goes through.

That split between the judges was just the beginning, as they continued to have different opinions on several of the contestants and couldn’t agree on anything. This forms a crack in the panel and after a long day, it sets the auditions up for disaster.

The major fight between Nicki and Mariah takes place with Summer Cunningham’s audition. After she sings “Lean on Me,” Keith asks her what singer she is. She says “I did the country thing,” something which Keith doesn’t appreciate, based on his look. Keith, Mariah and Randy then question her about what singer she is and whether she should sing country music, while Nicki looks away, visibly annoyed. After they finally tell her yes with an explanation, Nicki says, “Thank you, for a minute I thought it was a country music debate.” She then continues and asks them why they are tearing her apart and that they say unnecessary comments all the time. Mariah says, “We’re trying to help her as opposed to talk about her outfits” and Randy adds that he has 30 years of experience. Nicki then says, “You’re right. I can’t help her,” while she storms off and says she done doing the show.

The huge fight between the judges causes production to shut down for the day. They return for the second day of auditions, however, cooled down and ready to start a new day. Brandy Hamilton starts the auditions, and the judges enjoy her, while Randy says that she lit up the room. He adds that he’s rooting for her and wants her to do well. As she leaves, she turns to the judges and says, “Please don’t fight. It makes me sad.”

Ashley Smith and Janelle Arthur are the two next contestants, and the judges love both of them, giving them their golden ticket and sending them through to Hollywood.

Rodney Barber, ‘The voice of Charlotte’ is next. He says he sings around the city around every day and gives half of his proceeds to homeless people. Nicki says she is inspired by his story and Mariah says, “Absolutely yes.”

After Keith leaves to attend an event for wife Nicole Kidman, Candice Glover auditions, who was cut during Vegas Week last season. After she sings, Randy and Mariah give her a standing ovation. Nicki adds that she’s so good, she’s not even worthy to critique her. Mariah also adds that she’s at a loss for words and that she wishes she had music out already so she could listen to it, while Randy says she is the best they have heard all season.

Ja’Bria Barber auditions next, who says she likes to go frog gigging, which involves trapping frogs for food. Although the judges are a little baffled by her hobby, they love her voice, with Randy saying she has spunk in her.

Seretha Guinn is the last audition of the day, who brings her daughter in the audition room with her and also tells her story of how her boyfriend was recently in an accident that left him in critical condition, but that he’s now recovering. She sings “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” and leaves Nicki crying and telling her she’s a superstar. Randy even compliments her by telling her she has a little Whitney Houston in her. After they say yes, Nicki takes picture with Guinn’s daughter, who has nicknamed Nicki “Dun Dun.”

That wraps the auditions in Charlotte, where 37 people go through. Auditions next move to Baton Rouge, La., which airs tonight on FOX.

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