'American Idol' returns: What's the verdict?

Friday, January 18, 2013 - 11:19am

(CNN) -- Wednesday night marked the return of "American Idol" with brand new judges Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj.

We never imagined we could miss Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler so much.

For the first night, we were treated to auditions from New York City, where contestants rolled through offering up what was supposed to be their best for a shot at a golden ticket to Hollywood.

As you can imagine, there was much tension and disappointment. Oh, not so much from the singers, but from some of us viewers regarding Mimi and Minaj.

The pair went back and forth all night, sniping and at one point coming across as "Mean Girls" as they debated about the movie "Mean Girls."

No seriously. That actually happened.

Minaj seemed to want to make an impression right out of the gate as she talked often, loudly, and sometimes over people. When subway singer Frankie Ford stood before the group, Minaj took the opportunity to try and explain what a subway is to the other new judge, Keith Urban.

Urban may be from another country (Australia) and sing country music, but he does know what a subway happens to be.

Some reviewers loved Minaj: The Toronto Star said of her performance, "despite some silliness, such as using a British accent from time to time, Minaj was articulate and very attuned to the contestants." The paper found Carey, on the other hand, to be seemingly "rather full of herself, and also seemed most likely to lapse into Jennifer Lopez-style platitudes as the season wears on."

The Seattle PI thought Urban "couldn't help but be overshadowed in this company as he sits between the bickering ladies," while EW noted that they were "impressed and surprised by how many 'okay' contestants the judges turned down..."

Vulture didn't buy the Carey/Minaj diva-off, writing, "Sure, I can imagine that they wouldn't get along terribly well, but neither one is a good enough actress to sell any serious beef."

In the back-and-forth with the new judges, we almost forgot about anchor judge Randy Jackson, on top of the reason you are supposed to be tuning in: the contestants.

In addition to Ford, the ones to watch also appear to be Angela Miller, who blew the judges away with her performance. It was made even more remarkable by the fact she suffers hearing loss.

There was also Teena Torres, who as a child sang for Carey, and Christina "Isabelle" (we are unsure as to why her name was listed that way) who lost 50 pounds but gained the judges support. The latter's status as a student from the Berklee School of Music allowed Carey to toss of the zinger, "I went to the school of f***ing LIFE!"

There was also Gurpreet Singh Sarin, who we want to see more of just because he has the nickname "The Turbanator," thanks to his turbans to match every outfit.

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