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AUTHOR: Adam Graham, MTV.com

Photo: Imeh Akpanudosen/ Getty Images

They snipped at each other over drum major helmets, “beauty lighting” and even “Mean Girls,” and you get the impression that if someone would have told them they were both great, they would have fought about that, too.

Wednesday’s “American Idol” premiere delivered the drama that had been promised between new judges Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj, with the two headstrong divas clashing early and often over the course of the two-hour premiere.

These were not knock-down, drag-out battles, mind you. This was just a case of two big egos. Maybe they’re best friends and the feud is all for the cameras, but they do seem to genuinely be annoyed with one another, like when Mariah objected to Nicki bringing a drum major helmet to the first day of rehearsal.

“I was gonna bring my dog. We can have accessories? I didn’t know that was allowed,” Mariah sniffed. “But that’s the last thing I’m gonna say.”

“Beauty” Lighting

It was not the last thing she said. Later, the subject of the audition room’s lighting came up. “Mariah, is this beauty lighting?” Nicki asked her co-star. “Do I consider it beauty lighting?” Mariah asked. “I already did that for you on ‘Up Out My Face,’ ” Carey said, referring to the video the pair made together in 2010. “Oh, we’re gonna start?” Nicki quipped, to which Carey replied, “You know you looked great in that video. You know you did!” There was such a chill in the air that it’s surprising Randy Jackson and Keith Urban weren’t wearing parkas.

“Mean Girls”

When “Mean Girls” came up, after Carey quoted one of the film’s lines, the two argued over who was the bigger fan of the movie — a battle that Carey clearly won. “OK, who says, ‘I want to lose 3 pounds’? Which character?” Carey asked Nicki. “Um, not Lindsay [Lohan], the other one, with the blond hair,” Nicki responded. “What’s her name?” Carey asked, even though she already knew the answer and she knew Nicki didn’t. (It was Regina George, played by Rachel McAdams.) “You know something, Mariah?” Nicki asked rhetorically. “I just want to know!” Carey laughed.

Finally, Agreement

So we know who the bigger “Mean Girls” fan is. But who’s the better judge?

Nicki drove a lot of the discussion from the judges on Wednesday, and was especially animated when talking about Sarah Restuccio, a 17-year-old who lives on a farm in Hammonton, New Jersey. Urban seemed frustrated that Restuccio performed both a Carrie Underwood song (“Mama’s Song”) and a Nicki Minaj song (“Super Bass”), but Nicki correctly argued that genre lines do not define people’s tastes the way they once did. “She’s every little girl!” Nicki argued. “There are so many girls that identify with her that come from wherever she is, maybe they live on a farm, and they sing ‘Super Bass.’ Hello! I don’t think her doing ‘Super Bass’ means that she wants to be a rapper, I think she’s just a regular girl having fun. Keith is saying she has to choose one. No, she doesn’t have to choose anything! Everybody told me my whole life I had to choose. Everybody’s always giving me, ‘Choose! Choose! Choose! Who are you?’ You are who you are and you can be exactly that person.” (For the record, Carey agreed with Minaj’s assessment.)

British Bonding

Wednesday’s episode also found both Minaj and Carey frequently slipping into faux-British accents, in an effort to amuse, well, themselves. Minaj’s British accent is well known, thanks to her Roman character, but Carey’s was relatively new to the public’s ears. Minaj broke into her British voice when dismissing contestant Albert Chang — after telling the gag auditioner his range was “better than Mariah’s” — when she told him, “I don’t feel starpower” in her best Simon Cowell voice. “I am a little bit nervous, so when I’m nervous, the British accent comes out,” Minaj said. Carey followed her lead, putting on her own British accent and arguing, “We’re not going to do the British thing, we can’t. ‘Cause then you’re going to make me do it! I can’t, I can’t.” And suddenly it was like they were two old chums again.

By the end of the episode, which covered the two-day New York auditions, Nicki said she felt like the panel was getting along. “I feel like we gel well,” she said, to which Mariah said, “I agree.” But as she was leaving the auditions, Nicki told the “Idol” cameras, “I had to strangle one of the divas on the panel, but I won’t tell you who.” They’re not one big happy family, not yet.

What did you think of Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj on the “American Idol” premiere? Let us know in the comments!

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