02/21/2013 AT 11:00 PM ET
The judges have their own euphemisms when they don’t like a performance – it’s usually easy to read between the lines: If they compliment a singer on his shoes, he won’t advance. On Thursday, Nicki Minaj actually told a contestant, “Kudos to you for being really freshly, nicely groomed.” They might as well have had a stagehand pull him offstage with an oversized vaudeville hook.
After several weeks of good behavior by the judges, Thursday’s episode showed a spark of life when Nicki – who was wearing her very best Jan Brady wig – began rolling her eyes whenever Randy Jackson spoke. At one point, Ryan Seacrest even tried to get them to kiss and make up. There was talk about lipstick, and Mariah Carey did her best to look at anything other than the awkward air kiss that followed.
But the theatrics did not eclipse some solid singers – and a few performances that just weren’t good enough for the competition.