The pool of male hopefuls had been whittled to 43 by the start of the episode, following an individual and a group round, and more than half of those were eliminated after Thursday's show. After every eight auditions, the judges revealed who would move on in the competition and who would be eliminated.
If it's feedback the contestants were seeking, they needed to look no further than Minaj. Her fellow panelists — Mariah Carey, Randy Jackson and Keith Urban — were more tempered in their criticisms, but to say Minaj didn't sugarcoat her critiques would be an understatement. Let's review some of her more quotable comments:
Paul Jolley: The fragile, softspoken Jolley was shaking like a leaf when he came out for his performance. "I'm so nervous. I want this so bad," he told the judges. "I'll hold it together, I promise." And he did, with a strong take on Carrie Underwood's "Blown Away." Though he eventually advanced, Minaj cautioned Paul to rethink his demeanor. "You walked out so defeated, and that really irritated me. It's such a turnoff," an exasperated Minaj told him. "Just give us one minute of professionalism."
Matheus Fernandes: When introducing himself to the judges before his performance, the diminutive Fernandes quipped, "I'm 22, not 10." Though Fernandes' short stature has been his signature characteristic throughout the competition thus far, it apparently got to be too much for Minaj. "Every time you performed, you were sort of making reference to your height. Sometimes things can go from being inspiring to becoming and wanting a pity party," she told Fernandes flatly. "You don't have to milk that ever again. Be you, be great and just rest in your talent after today." But unfortunately, he won't get the chance to, as he was eliminated.
Papa Peachez: After telling Peachez Wednesday night that he was becoming "too complacent" in the competition, Minaj really pulled out all the stops after he offered his take on Lady Gaga's "You and I." "Remember what I told you yesterday?" she asked him. "I'm pretty sure that flame is now completely burnt out. I'm so disappointed. ... I can't believe you allowed this competition to just suck that amazing quality out of you." While being interviewed after his inevitable elimination, Papa Peachez told the producers he didn't think Idol was for him because he didn't feel comfortable singing other people's songs. He'll have plenty of time on his hands now to go back to writing his own music!
Charlie Askew: Finally, somebody Nicki actually liked! The quirky, fittingly named Askew performed Gotye's "Somebody I Used to Know" after a long introduction about his years-long attachment to a girl. After he stopped singing, Minaj gushed, "I am obsessed with you. Today you became an artist in my eyes. You have this quirky thing that is so odd that it's right." Perhaps she and Askew are kindred spirits? He expressed mutual admiration for the rapper and admitted, "I glorify weirdness."
By the end of the night, 28 guys from the original 43 remained — and host Ryan Seacrest explained that an additional eight will be eliminated next Thursday when the show concludes the girls edition of the Hollywood round.
So, what do you think? Has Nicki taken Simon Cowell's place as the mean judge on Idol? Sound off below!
American Idol returns next Wednesday at 8/7c.