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American Idol 12, Jan. 23 – The Big Fight That Wasn’t

Isabel now appears before all four judges and jokes about ditching high school to follow her dream. She sings Nothing Could Ever Change This Love. I'm not sure if she's ready for this yet, but she has something about her that is very appealing. Nicki tells her she is head-over-heels in love with her and could listen to her riff all day so effortlessly. Keith calls her a natural, saying she had the confidence to perform in front of them. Mariah says she is so adorable, she knows people will fall in love with her. It's four yeses! Mariah thinks Isabel looks like a young Phoebe Cates. I see it. Her family celebrates with Silly String.

Keith chats up Mariah, asking her when she first started writing songs, reminding her that it's Wednesday. She jokes it was yesterday. More seriously she says she was about 6. She started with poetry, as her older sister wrote poetry.

Ryan talks with Taisha Bethea, 21, Concord, NC, who is in a rock band called Carson. She used to be he girl in school who would sing loud every time, and it led to this. Her bandmates love that she has this opportunity and think she has a shot at making it. She tells Randy she wants to be a rock artist, yet she's singing Folsom Prison, promising to make it rockin', but seems kind of average to me. She then sings You Oughta Know and is better.

Mariah think Taisha is interesting and different and has her own thing going on. Keith would like to see her with her band, because he almost wonders if she isn't more suited to a band, although there's something about her voice and he likes the way she performs. Mariah isn't sure she can wrap her head around it, as she's confused to where she's going, wondering if she's really the rock girl.

Nicki doesn't care what Taisha's style is, but likes her voice and style. Especially because she's a black girl, she's not doing the typical R&B. Nicki votes yes, Mariah isn't convinced, so votes no, Keith votes yes, because he wants to hear more, and Randy votes no. Since they're in Charlotte, Keith is the deciding vote, so she moves on. Her band joins her, and Randy confirms they'd be happy for her to move on. They say they would be, but really what are they going to say right here in the moment in front of the judges and on TV?

Summer Cunningham, 20, Warner Robins, GA, walks in for the audition we've been waiting for. Not that it's particularly good, although it may be, but this is supposedly the one that tears the judges apart and causes the big catfight. She sings Lean on Me and has a beautiful voice.

Nicki says she really likes her and thinks her voice is pretty and controlled with a nice tone. She also likes her look. Keith asks how she sees herself as a singer, and she says “I did the country thing,” but thinks of herself as a soulful country singer. He says he always gets thrown when people say they did the country thing, as to him it's like saying “I did the brain surgeon thing.” Randy thinks her voice naturally lends herself to country, as she has a yodel that comes out. Mariah asks about her connection to country music. She grew up singing many different things but when she decided to pursue music, it was country. Listening to country music is like being home to her.

Keith votes yes, Randy does as well, and Mariah mentions how she thinks Summer's voice is more suited to country and votes yes. It goes to Nicki who is happy it has come to her, as she said for awhile she was worried it was a country debate. She says “you guys” make comments about people in pop music all day long … Keith asks if he does, and she explains she's directing this towards Randy and Mariah. Mariah argues that they're trying to help Summer.

Nicki feels like they're trying to get people to change their minds about who they are. Through the argument, Summer somehow gets the four yeses. Randy tells her on the way out he was just trying to help her after his thirty years in the business. Nicki takes offense and says he's right, she can't help her and walks off, questioning why she's on the panel. Mariah says she stole her move, as she was going to walk out the next time Nicki ragged on her.

After watching what talk shows and entertainment shows had to say about the skirmish, everyone is hoping to avoid problems today, including the first auditioner of the day, Brandy Hamilton, 25, Charlotte, NC. She's a Navy Reservist who got in trouble for singing while not in uniform. She'd sing or hum while cleaning her boots. She sings All I Could Do Was Cry, and I can't imagine anyone telling her to stop singing. It's absolutely beautiful.

Keith jokes she likes the soft, sensitive songs. Randy likes that she came in and lit up the room being all positive. That's what stars do; they're infectious. Keith mentions that through the nerves and dry voice, he heard enough to know it's all there. She mentions she didn't have any training, just sang at church and school. Nicki tells her she made her feel what she was singing, like Nicki was actually watching her man with someone else. Mariah agrees she lights up the room and calls it A plus, A-pippity-pow. Brandy gets four easy yeses. On the way out, she tells them not to fight, because it makes them sad. Randy says that right there makes it all worth it.

Ashley Smith, 22, a hostess, Charlotte, NC, sits eating a sandwich before her audition. She just celebrated her birthday and mentions she has a hard time sitting still and staying out of everyone's business.This just seems like a definite act. It's an obviously really bad wig, and she's so over-the-top. Nicki renames her Blondie. She also shrinks her down to five feet tall.

Blondie sings Cowboy Casanova, and Keith says he knew she was going to sing that song. She's actually really good. I don't know what's up with the big persona and the bad wig, but she has some awesome talent. Nicki really likes Blondie. She likes that she sang country and thinks it was really pretty on her. Mariah really enjoyed her and found her very effervescent. Keith couldn't look away, and she explains it's like how she is with him. She'd rather keep her feelings for him a secret though. Randy says he always says if you can sing you can sing everything, and he loves that she chose that. They vote, and she's going to Hollywood.

Nicki tells Keith he has to join the club and get an alter ego with nickname. This is followed by a montage of all her nicknames for the contestants. She even calls one buxom contestant “Booby.” I like that she calls many female contestants “Little Ladybug.”

Janelle Arthur, 22, a fitness instructor, Oliver Springs, TN, walks in and Nicki calls her “Honey Pie.” She's nervous, so Mariah tells her to take a deep breath. She was cast in her first production at 8 years old, portraying a young Dolly Parton. She got to met her once as well. She's sings Where the Blacktop Ends, and Keith is really excited to hear the song choice. She's really, really good.

Keith loves it and tells Janelle she has a beautiful voice. Nicki thinks she is really special and that she already seems like a star, which is hard to come by. She thinks she did a really good job without doing too much. Randy thought the vocals were amazing, like a young Leann Rimes. Mariah calls it fantastic with a very pretty voice and a really pretty demeanor. It's obviously four yeses. They comment after she walks out that she's sweet and real.

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