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Freelance entertainment writer, martial arts instructor, and mother of two.

American Idol 12, Jan. 16 – Hooking Me Again

This is the first time since season one that I am not looking very forward to American Idol. I had no idea what the show was going to be like in season one, and my kids begged me to turn it on. After hearing Kelly Clarkson's voice one time, I was hooked. And now this year, I know what to expect, and it's not Nicki Minaj. Oh, why couldn't they have left Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez in the judging seats?

This can't be right. Ryan Seacrest is recounting past seasons and talks about 371 #1 hits among the past Idols. What? That can't be right! Really? He also mentions assembling the biggest names in the business for the judging. Nicki Minaj? Really? Who said no so that they had to accept her? She joins Mariah Carey, Keith Urban, and of course, Randy Jackson.

We start off tonight watching auditions in New York City. Nicki has her drum majorette hat, and that touches off an argument between her and Mariah, as the latter didn't know accessories were allowed, yet she does love the hat.

The two female judges are still arguing as Michael Buonopane, 27, a shuttle driver from Saugus, MA, comes dancing his way in and singing custom lyrics to We Will Rock You. Keith jokes that he wants him to come out of his shell. Mike claims he didn't know what to do until he got through the door. Then he starts saying something about listening to a radio and starts singing again, random songs, like he's on the radio.

Nicki asks if Mike is going to sing, and Randy just wants to skip the formalities and asks if they can just say “no” now. Mariah is just going to yes, feeling like her vote doesn't matter anyway. Randy tells him it's not him, it's them. Mike tells Mariah on the way out that All I Want for Christmas is the best modern-day Christmas song. Mariah looks right at Nicki, saying that it's seventeen years later and still number one. Nicki repeats over and over “She's a bitch.” Mariah wants to rebuke it if she called her something that starts with a B and ends in itch. Three words. Catfight is coming.

After a break, while the makeup and hair crew are going to town, Mariah says she wants to lose three pounds, and Nicki claims to know how to do it. It turns out she's just doing a quote from Mean Girls, a film they are both familiar with. Irony.

The next contestant, Tenna Torres, 28, a promotional model, Queens, is very excited to see Mariah. She's been listening to her since she was 5 and even went to Camp Mariah when she was younger. She even had a chance to sing for Mariah when she was 13 and hopes she remembers when she shows her a picture. Mariah is glad to have an alumnus there. Randy wants to hear Tenna now, but Mariah says she'd rather look at pictures of herself. Keith, MIA so far, tells Tenna she should have said she'd bring the pictures to Hollywood if Mariah wanted to see them longer.

Tenna sings You've Got a Friend and is pretty good. The judges seem to be enjoying it as well. Mariah and Nicki celebrate, but when Mariah says she needs to comment first, Nicki pouts. Mariah says if they can have someone like this come out of season 12, she'll be proud. She votes yes. Keith calls Tenna refreshing and thinks she has a lot of patience and pace. Nicki votes yes, as does Randy. She's through, and Mariah asks to get copies of the pictures.

Tenna isn't the only good one, as another three contestants get good comments from the judges and go through. One of them looks like Snooki.

James Bay, 15, of Long Island, wants to be sensational superstar like Justin Beiber. If he would “die yesterday, it would be a miracle.” Hmm. He tells Keith he sings in his room all the time and knows what the audience wants. They want a character. He sings One Less Lonely Girl, and Randy looks out the window, because I don't think he has the papers to hold in front of his face to block the obvious laughter.

Nicki tells James she likes him a lot and asks if he has a girlfriend. He doesn't and is single. James wants to do a collide with her one day. She interprets and suggests maybe he wants a collaboration. Mariah suggests he DJ instead, and Keith didn't think he had the whole package. Randy cuts to the chase and tells him singing isn't his thing. Randy wanted to be a NASCAR driver, but it's not his thing. Nicki wanted to be a bus driver, but it's not her thing. James gets four noes, and Nicki tells him she means it when she says he's special. She tells him he's young and not afraid, and she never would have done that at his age. She hugs him on the way out. She's showing a tiny bit of heart.

Christina “Isabelle”, 21, Duluth, GA, says she can't look at the judges until after she sings, because they're all so gorgeous. Nicki brings up that she read that Christina struggled with her weight, as to her, Christina walked in all amazing, beautiful, and confident. She admits she was 200 pounds in high school, and she wanted to be a singer and feel good, so she lost about fifty pounds. This ends up back in a discussion of Mean Girls.

Christina sings Summertime and sounds gorgeous. It is just so crisp and clear. Keith gives her a wow after a high note, and the others just smile away. Nicki utters “O-M-G” when Christina is done. She thinks she should feel proud and thinks she could go far in the competition, because what she did was a combination of amazing skill with beautiful tone and beauty.

Keith thinks Christina is a natural singer. She admits she listened to Mariah when she was growing up. Keith appreciates the vulnerability and humanity in her voice. Nicki liked that she knew who she was when she started singing. Mariah loves the song and has been singing it since she was a baby. She wants to hear her explore it a bit more. Randy wants her to believe more in herself. She probably will with four yeses. She thinks it will prove that no matter your size, if you have the confidence, you can go far.

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