American Idol's Mariah Vs. Nicki Feud: Will Short-Term Whoas Translate to Long-Term Woes?

Nicki Minaj Mariah Carey FeudI’m not gonna lie to you: I hastily clicked on TMZ’s “MARIAH SNIPES AT NICKI/ NICKI GOES BALLISTIC/ CAUGHT ON TAPE” headline the minute it landed in my inbox late last night. And right after watching grainy footage of Ms. Carey and Ms. Minaj’s dustup during American Idol‘s Charlotte, NC, audition rounds, the following thoughts went through my mind:

* “Thank God there’s a transcript, because I can’t understand a word these chicas are saying.”
* “I wonder if Nigel Lythgoe scripted this — or at least slipped a bonus check under Nicki’s dressing-room door to encourage her to instigate this.”
* “Holy hell, this is going to be Idol‘s highest-rated audition episode ever.”
* And finally, “Ugh, I really don’t want to see a whole season of this mess.”

It’s that final realization that got me thinking: Whatever your opinion of Idol — from Kelly Clarkson’s confetti-rific “Moment Like This” a decade ago all the way to Phillip Phillips’ coronation last May — the show’s enduring appeal has always been its ability to discover talented kids toiling away behind pawn-shop counters or slinging hash in greasy spoons and, in a matter of a few months, transform them into viable chart-toppers. And it’s never really mattered who’s been behind the judges’ table: That gig has been held down by a cranky British record exec; a loopy pop princess 10 years past her Billboard expiration date; an awkward songwriter-producer; a too-genial comedian/talk-show host; a loopy, scarves-obsessed rock legend; a former Fly Girl turned multihyphenate gajillionaire; and a dude named Randy Jackson. Idol has remained at or darn close to the No. 1 show on television through evey one of those personnel changes.

Sure, in recent years, a lot of Idol‘s off-season buzz has been generated by the judges’ annual “will-they-or-won’t-they” dance, but the Mariah-Vs.-Nicki feud seems very different. Does anyone really want to tune in to Idol on a weekly basis to see, at best, a mouthy rap artist try to verbally slay one of the grand divas of this generation, or, at worst, watch yet another tired iteration of the “two powerful ladies can’t share the same air” stereotype that, frankly, seems like a terrible fit for a show that’s trying to appeal to tens of millions of women.

To be fair, the inevitable Season 12 diva-off might breathe some renewed interest into the audition rounds, which for years have been most stale part of the Idol process. (The promise of Mariah calling Nicki a “three year old” certainly sounds funnier than another off-key vocalist in a Statue of Liberty suit.) But I wonder if Uncle Nigel might not offer Minaj a golden ticket to anywhere but the Steven Tyler Memorial Chair once the live telecasts begin sometime in March 2013.

After all, it’s one thing to air carefully edited (and carefully bleeped) shouting matches on one of the few network hits that appeals to everyone from Grandma to Little Junior, but it’s quite another to pull the pin on that grenade in the midst of a live telecast. And even worse than suffering blowback from the FCC or family groups in the event of a Roman Zolanski meltdown, there’s a far greater risk to the long-term health and brand identity of Fox’s reality behemoth: Potentially upstaging its next Kelly Clarkson or Carrie Underwood or Adam Lambert. Without the wide-eyed, pre-platinum-selling versions of those kids, Idol would be as artificial and fleeting as Minaj’s next dye job.

What do you think? Is the Mariah-Nicki feud good for Idol, and if so, is this a long-term or short-term benefit? Do you worry that a nasty diva-off might irreperably damage the Idol brand? Hit the comments with your thoughts!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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119 Comments
  1. Jared says:

    if those grown ass woman wanna fight on TV go right ahead..but at least have some contestants with an urban background. I’m sick and tired of white dudes with a guitar winning then getting dropped from there labels 2 mediocre albums in. Although I’m not a fan of Mariah..the lady can sing..well she used to be able to sing..not so much anymore..but who am I to judge?. And with Minajs cartoon persona If anything..id like to watch creative artists who bring something new and fresh to the table…Nevermind..ill just continue to watch X FACTOR instead with the classy Ms Spears..who doesn’t need to throw insults to get her personal point of view across.

    • Gorm says:

      Yeah that “classy” miss spears. the one that is in a pilled out state for the whole show. the one that blandly teases the hired help for her own sallow amusement.
      .
      Please. Britney is a sad, sad headcase that is just trying to evade a lawsuit that she got herself into while she was high as a kite and rolling around LA at night with bobby trendy and Adnan Galil while abandoning her children to hit up the clubs and flash her flaps while getting out of a sportscar.
      .
      “Classy” yea right.

  2. Gina says:

    I agree with you. To me, the judges should be people who CARE about the performers more than out-diva-ing each other. We saw that type of caring in some of the mentors (Stevie Nicks, for one). They really were out to help these newbies out. It’s interesting because Simon was more interested in how he came off…what clever things he had to say, etc. And I liked him but…sometimes, he crossed a lot of lines. Jimmy, too. Jennifer and Steven didn’t seem to do that–but, man, you could definitely feel when they didn’t want someone on there anymore. Especially with Jennifer. Smile on her face, poison arrow clutched in her hand. But, yeah, it should be (and I think it is, to a large degree) all about the contestants. I saw my first AI concert in years because I love Erika Van Pelt and wanted to see her in person. And, it was SUCH a nice evening. All the contestants were so loose and GOOD. Even the ones I didn’t much care for during the year, made me smile. Because they are young and full of dreams and life didn’t shoot them down yet. That’s what the show is all about. Not watching two women catfight and demonstrate how nasty people get when they get a little cash under their (at least in one case) talent-free belts. Jury is definitely out on this but … not looking good. Uncle Nigel is delusional if he thinks he can turn what is basically a family show into Bleep You, You Bleep, Central.

  3. Blinged Up says:

    I completely agree with you, Michael. This is (was?) my favorite show on television (I know, I’m a dork) and I’m already getting sick of the Nicki/Mariah stuff.
    X-Factor is inching its way to becoming my new favorite…
    I’m definitely not going to tune in with the kiddos this season to watch those two constantly go at it. Blech.

  4. Tori's Tori says:

    I was hoping to read the exchange of lines between Mariah and Nicki here but instead I only read the history of AI. Way to go, Michael!

  5. Tahoe Mike says:

    I still think one of the best moments ever on this show was when Katy Perry told Kara “This ain’t a Lifetime movie honey!”

    Now if only we can get Kieth Urban to call Randy out for being a useless moron, we might have something.

  6. MLO says:

    Sorry Idol – I will not be watching this year. Nicki Minaj, really? This show is supposed to be about the ‘idols’, not the overblown egos and questionable talent of the judges. Apart from my disdain for the judges, this season promises to be full of ‘bleeps’ and I refuse to watch shows like that, e.g. ANYTHING Gordon Ramsey because they’re ‘bleeping’ annoying.

  7. Artemis says:

    Fire Nicki Minaj. Problem solved. For everyone.

    • Mary says:

      Sorry they should fire both of them. Neither one of them are acting professionally. Look I will be the first to admit I am not thrill with Nicki on the panel, for that matter the same goes for Mariah.
      They both need to be adults here, and do their jobs. Nicki does not have the right to go off but Mariah needs to stop acting like a diva. I for one don’t want to listen to her accomplishments I heard it all from Randy for 11 years. Critique the contestants put the best ones through. This show use to be about helping someone break into the music business not revive your sagging career. I wish they went with a producer, a DJ and one star – keep Keith I think he is there for the right reasons and can the rest. I think it is Ironic the lowest paid one is the only sane one. I really feel Fox knew this was going to happen and was hoping it would either draw in viewers which I don’t think it will or it will be the death of AI because they will lose their core audience. If this BS keeps up I for one will not be watching. I am sick of it already and it is 3 months away.
      NIGEL DO YOU JOB AND HANDLE THE SITUATION OR THEY SHOULD FIRE YOU.

  8. Buffy0531 says:

    Poor Keith and Randy…they can’t get a word in to calm things. I don’t know why they went with Minaj…unless Uncle Nigel is trying to have AI tank without actually having to pull the plug himself. I feel sorry for the contestants, because if this continues with the live shows…it won’t be about the kids, just these blowbags…

  9. Emma says:

    I didn’t watch Idol last season but was willing to give it another chance with new judges. However the moment Nicki Minaj was announced as a judge I was like, you’ve gotta be kidding me, I ain’t watching her, no way no how. This little tirade of hers only solidifies my decision. This may be entertaining to some people but I am not one of them!

  10. I knew that Nikki was not a good fit. I was shocked that she was considered at all let alone hired. If the plan is to have ongoing foolishness this season I will miss my very first season of Idol.

  11. teatime says:

    Slezak, you should have referenced “Kelly Clarkson or Carrie Underwood or Phillip Phillips.” Phillips is the current winner. He has a double platinum hit that is still going strong. He deserved the shout out.

    • IdolFlash-7-9-35 says:

      Yes, I’m with you on that. My dad just heard “Home” on the radio today. And the girl across the hall from me was playing it on Pandora, so I stood outside her door and sang along. Not creepy or anything… :) I hear the album won’t be out by Christmas, but I hope I get it in time for my birthday.

  12. ROSEBUD LOPEZ says:

    Mariah is one of the most hardworking, disciplined, respectful female entertainers in our country. Has built an empire and never had a doll to play with as a child. Humble,family oriented, loves JESUS immensely. Nicki is VANITY and a passing materialistic, fradulent rapper who has destroyed her career because of her JEALOUSY. INSECURITY and LOW low self esteem. Her EGO is too big! Please don’t support American Idol and don’t let children feel like Nicki is a barbie. She looks like a clown. Parents wake up! She is SATAN in disguiseis a lier. Mariah is not a liar and NICKI SHOULD BE FIRED! MARIAH IS ON FIRE!

    • lLeena Hira says:

      Finally, a mature person who summarized this scenario. Your comment should be shared on all social media websites. Sometimes newcomers don’t know how to be humble. You can’t put trash next to class. Nicki is definitely overrated and Americans shuold not spend a dime on her. What messages are sending our children that a black girl

    • lLeena Hira says:

      Finally, a mature person who summarized this scenario. Your comment should be shared on all social media websites. Sometimes newcomers don’t know how to be humble. You can’t put trash next to class. Nicki is definitely overrated and Americans shuold not spend a dime on her. What messages are we sending our children that a black girl who bleaches her skin, fake hair, breast and buttocks and manipulates our children to think this good. God does not like this VANITY. Pray for Nicki who represents everything that is vane. So sorry for. NEEDS PSYCHOLGICAL HELP BADLY. NO CLASS OR SUBSTANCE. Don’t support her nor American Idol. Mariah will be ok. She doesn’t need this aggravation or money.

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    The Zune concentrates on being a Portable Media Player. Not a web browser. Not a game machine. Maybe in the future it’ll do even better in those areas, but for now it’s a fantastic way to organize and listen to your music and videos, and is without peer in that regard. The iPod’s strengths are its web browsing and apps. If those sound more compelling, perhaps it is your best choice

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