‘American Idol’ Season 12, Episode 2 Recap: Chicago Brings the Talent
Randy Jackson, Mariah Carey, Keith Urban and Nicki Minaj moved to Chicago to find some new talent. And considering this city is where ‘American Idol’ came across Jennifer Hudson, the panel was hopeful to find another diamond in the rough. Luckily for them, they found more than just a few.
Kiara Lanier, 21, who once sang for President Obama, gave her rendition of ‘The Prayer’ by Celine Dion, which she did without trying. Stephanie Schmiel, 21, followed and sang ‘Dream a Little Dream.’ She apologized for being shaky but still made an impression on all the judges — except for Minaj. “I wasn’t wow-ed,” the rapper said. “But nothing wow-ed me. I don’t think you feel like a star. I don’t feel it. You know what, we wear the same color eyeshadow. We rival, and that’s why I said no. But now you’re going to Hollywood…”
Mariah then restarts the feud that day and cuts her off, saying, “See, this is what I have to deal with…”
And the arguments went on from there with Keith Urban stuck in the middle. At one, point we see Urban banging his head on the table and said, “I feel like a scratching post.”
Unfortunately, the good auditions didn’t flow in and out of Chicago the way they expected. Kevin Nabity, who is a self-proclaimed ‘Ninja Turtles’ superfan and “dancer,” baffled judges with his auction-like rendition of Barenaked Ladies’ ‘One Week.’ “I feel like I was at a bad auction, and Kevin is selling me a bad motorcycle I don’t want,” Jackson exclaimed.
Melissa Bush wanted to impress the panel with her pink-and-silver cat suit. The 27-year-old student and massage therapist sang the 1965 Petula Clark classic ‘Downtown,’ which hardly dazzled the judges. And Minaj summed up the series of rejections with “Bush, you’ll always be my bush, but that is no.”
And the bad auditions kept coming with a series of rejections that were full of tears and pleadings for a second chance. But unlike other seasons, the judges seemed to be a bit nicer and offer encouragement and lots of hugs.
While Keith Urban tries to keep the auditions going, Mariah apologizes for not being on point. “I’m sorry this is my first real job,” Carey said. Oh, Mariah.
Isabelle Parell, 15, sang ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside,’ with Urban since it’s duet, who skipped school for the audition. She got three yeses with her sweet rendition. But despite Jackson’s no she was put through.
Urban had to leave halfway through the Chicago auditions to do a show in Las Vegas leaving Randy to hold down the fort, who planted himself between the two ladies. The auditions then went through a series of good-looking men that inspired Minaj to even say, “I see you licking your lips, playboy. What’s really good?”
Griffin Peterson, 22, walks into the room and gets Minaj flustered. And after covering ‘Wash by the Water’ by South Carolina rock band Needtobreathe, the ladies actually banded together against Jackson to send Peterson to Hollywood.
“You look and feel like a star. You just have something that lights up,” Minaj said. ”Those girls are coming to be his concert.”
“I see what the fuss is coming about,” Jackson explained though still unconvinced. “You got the Bieber thing.”
“No, no Bieber don’t do this to me,” Minaj quickly threw back.
Curtis Prince, Jr., 24 who Minaj quickly nicknamed Finchy, gave a soulful performance of ‘God Is Able’ by Smokie Norful. After the performance, Minaj snapped, “O.M.G. Get it boy, boy boy,” and then followed by a united yes. After getting the green light to go to Hollywood, Prince asked Carey if his friend, who was a huge fan, could meet Carey, which she obliged.
The moment was so emotional that even Minaj had to share her first Carey meeting. “Do you know the first time it was like meeting Mariah Carey? It was so monumental,” Minaj said.
While Prince gave an uplifting audition, the tone soon turned serious when Mariah Pulice came on and revealed that she was a recovering anorexic. “If there was no music, I would not be alive,” the 19-year-old said. “When I started to sing again, the feeling was nothing that I ever felt before.”
She gave a very emotional performance of The Beatles’ ‘Let It Be,’ and touched the judges. “You touched me, and I know what it’s like to sing through tears,” Carey said.
After getting three yeses, her entire family ran in to congratulate her with tears of joy that left both Minaj and Carey welling up in tears, too.
And this is all just day one. On day two, the Chicago talent kept coming.
Brandy Neely, 17, was the first day’s audition, and her version of Hank Williams’ ‘Your Cheatin’ Heart’ took the classic to the present — obviously putting her through to Hollywood. This followed with great auditions from Josh Holiday, who did Brian McKnight’s ‘Back at One;’ Courtney Williams, who sang ‘Who’s Loving You’ by the Jackson 5; and Andrew Jones, who covered Amii Stewart’s ‘Knock on Wood.’
Clifton Duffin, who hid his singing talents from his parents, auditioned with ‘Superstar’ by Luther Vandross and blew everyone away — essentially putting him in the next round of competition. Carey and Minaj knew all about performing secretly. “My mother never heard me rap, like before I made it, she never heard me,” Minaj explained. “With me, I was just like, ‘My mother should never listen to no damn rap music.’”
Johnny Keyser, who auditioned in Season 11, came back with Otis Redding’s ‘Try a Little Tenderness.’ Aside from Minaj’s obvious crush on him, he proved his improvements and is going to Hollywood.
Street and fire performer Kez Ban surprised everyone with her eccentric demeanor with two great performances — a cover of ‘Pinocchio’ and an original song — showing that she was more than a singer but an artist.
Unfortunately, Ashley Curry made the judges question how she became a musical theater major during her cover of Jessie J’s ‘Mama Knows Best.’ It was so bad that Carey had to get up and walk off. “You gotta prep, prep for that!” Minaj said as the panel continued to laugh.
The night ended with probably one of the most inspiring auditions of the night: Cuba-born-Florida-resident Lazaro Arbos. Despite living with a strong case of stuttering, he sang ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ flawlessly, which brought yet another contestant to tears.
We can’t wait to see what else comes from him along with the other 46 contestants that we will be seeing in Hollywood.
Watch ‘American Idol’ Chicago Recap