American Idol 2013: Episode – Sob stories, a Keith Urban duet and Minaj and Carey bicker over eyeshadow!

After Wednesday night’s premier of American Idol, the tension last night between new judges Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey had not eased in the slightest.

Last night’s auditions, which were filmed during the Chicago leg of the competition, saw Mariah and Nicki, who have fallen out quite spectacularly since joining the panel, go at it hammer and tongs again.

However, the bickering came to a halt, albeit a temporary one, when a bow-tied contestant named Lazaro Arbos walked on to the stage, armed with one of the biggest sob stories of the series.


Lazaro is a Cuban immigrant with a severe lifelong stutter, made even more pronounced after he moved to the States at age 10.

The shy 21-year old could barely introduce himself to the judges without his speech impediment mixed with nerves tripping him over his own words. However, when he began singing Bridge Over Troubled Water, no signs of a stutter could be heard, impressing judges and audiences alike.

All four judges let the attention waver from them and for once were all in agreement that it had been a lovely audition, with Randy commenting: “I love your voice. It’s amazing that the stammer doesn’t happen all the time,” whilst Nicki gushed: “Your story is very, very inspiring. I think you brought a really great vibe into the room!”

Mariah added: “You have a beautiful voice,” and Keith Urban advised Lazaro: “Just sing all the time!”

All four judges gave him the golden ticket to Hollywood.

However, no sooner had he walked off stage, the harmony was disrupted again when an argument broke out between Mariah and Nicki when Nicki did not put a contestant through because she was wearing the same eye shadow as her!

Those who did get through to Hollywood, obviously not wearing the same makeup as Minaj, were:

MacKenzie Wasner -MacKenzie’s father is veteran country session player Pete Wasner, pianist for Vince Gill, so had a bit of an advantage, especially when she chose to sing Vince’s own song, Whenever You Come Around to audition with. However the aspiring country singer certainly seemed to impress the judges with Mariah commenting: “Awesome…there’s a star power there that can be honed,” whilst Nicki added: “Someone like you walks in a room once every few years. That doesn’t even sound like a competition–that sounds like we’re listening to your first single.”
“I love that song, and you really did it justice,” said Randy, whilst country expert Keith added:, “What I love about your voice is you’ve got this great combination of strength and vulnerability.”
Kiara Lanier – Kiara has sung in front of the President before her audition, but seemed to be more excited to be singing for Mariah. She managed to twist the Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli’ song “The Prayer” into a soul song. “That’s a big song, and I was really impressed,” said Randy. “You have so much controllllllllllll,” added Nicki. Whilst Mariah called Kiara a “beautiful girl” with “huge potential”, and Keith compared her unique voice to Aaron Neville’s telling her: “You came ready to be a star.”

Stephanie Schimel – Stephanie gave a rendition of Dream A Little Dream Of Me impressing all the judges except Nicki who said she “wasn’t wowed”, however with all the other judges saying yes Stephanie was through, despite her eyeshadow which soon became the topic of bickering amongst the judges!

Gabe Brown – Gabe performed The Rolling Stones’ classic Gimme Shelter followed by We All Die Young, by the fictional band Steel Dragon from the 1996 hair-metal comedy Rock Star. Despite being loud, and apparently a joke act, Nicki commented: “I like you, Curly,” whilst Keith added: “I believe you, and I don’t think a person has to be into rock to hear your authenticity. I always found those guys who have those big, belting voices have really big hearts as well.”

Isabelle Parrell – Isabelle strutted her quirky stuff while she sang Baby It’s Cold Outside, and her confidence knew no bounds as she turned it into a duet with Keith Urban. However her cheekiness paid off with all the judges giving the 15-year-old a yes, with Nicki commenting: “You came in here poised; I love your tone, and I love your attitude.” Whilst Mariah praised Isablle’s “nice, humble, adorable quality.”

Griffin Peterson – 22-year-old Griffin looked the American Idol part, with his looks more than compensating for his just-above-average performance of Needtobreathe’s Washed By The Water. Mariah could see the physical potential though, commenting: “Girls are coming to his concert. Let’s just be honest! I see what the fuss is about.” However Randy said Griffin’s voice was “barely below average.”

Curtis Finch Jr. – Curtis chose an unlikely song to audition with in the Hillsong gospel standard God Is Able, But the judges seemed to like it, despite it being very different from anything that he might sing on Idol!

Mariah Pulice – Mariah came armed with a sad tale about anorexia, but it was her heart full rendition of the Beatles’ Let It Be, which had Mariah Carey in tears, saying: “You touched me. I know what it is like to sing through tears, and I commend you for that. I can’t even imagine how many people share the same story,” whilst Nicki added: “I really, really, really felt that song coming from you. I really, really, really am happy that you did that,” said Nicki. To which contestant Mariah (this could get confusing) cried: “I feel beautiful, for the first time in so long!”

Brandy Neelley – 17-year-old Brandy also had a sob story, but focussed her energy into making her rendition of the Hank Williams classic Your Cheatin’ Heart very much her own. Mariah called Brandy “A-plus-amazing.” Nicki called her “super-super-special.” Keith told her, “You just took it and made it your own. I love that!”
Josh Holiday – Josh had chosen a particularly cheesy song choice, Brian McKnight’s Back At One, but he certainly made it easier on the ears. “You’ve got something cool going on there,” said Randy. “Your tone is a tone we haven’t heard yet…an exciting sound,” said Nicki.

Courtney Williams – Courtney performed the Jackson 5 classic, Who’s Loving You, totally pulling off every note, including those ridiculously high ones.

Clifton Duffin – Clifton bought his parents along to his audition, which was a big thing as they had never heard him sing before, but when he performed the Carpenters hit Superstar they, and the judges were more than impressed. Keith called Clifton a “diamond in the rough”

Johnny Keyser – Waiter Johnny made it to the top 60 during last year’s show, until he made a mistake during the Hollywood group rounds by ignoring his groupmate’s fainting spell and just continuing to sing while she was sprawled out unconscious on the stage floor, earning him a bad reputation amongst Idol fans. However, back he came and performed a rendition of Try A Little Tenderness (fitting song choice considering). The judges all seemed to like him (despite Mariah and Nicki arguing about it) and Johnny was finally granted another shot at Hollywood.

Kez Ban – Kez at first seemed to be another joke act. An amateur fire-dancing street performer, making balloon animals in her spare time, she freely admitted that she didn’t expect to or even want to win “Idol” and that she had entered the audition room planning to sing the Pinocchio ditty “No Strings.” However, when she picked up a guitar and instead played one of her own original songs the judges were left astounded. “I can feel the realness in you,” said Mariah. “She’s everything,” raved Randy. “You’re very captivating. You told your story so beautifully. I believe you. I want to pay to come to your show,” added Nicki. Later, a stunned Kez admitted to Ryan Seacrest: “I had a feeling it was possible [that I'd make it through], but I thought that I was a little too bizarre.”

What did you think of last night’s contestants? Leave your thoughts and comments below:

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