updated 04/17/2013 AT 10:25 PM ET
•originally published 04/17/2013 AT 11:05 PM ET
America got its first glimpse of American Idol’s first all-female top five Wednesday night, but it was two other women – Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj – who briefly stole the show with their unexpected verbal catfight.
The tense exchange happened when they were critiquing Kree Harrison, who had just performed her first song of the night, “She Talks to Angels” by The Black Crowes.
Mariah liked the performance and said, “You can sing anything and I love to hear you sing.” But she felt like Kree might have been trying too hard to perform: “My favorite Kree moments are when you are lost in a song and just don’t care,” she added.
Fellow judge Keith Urban agreed with Mariah’s critique, but Nicki did not – and things went downhill from there.
“I disagree with Keith and Mariah,” Nicki declared in her faux British accent. “That was the best performance of the night.”
“I wasn’t saying she was awkward,” Mariah said as the two talked over each other. “You don’t really disagree with me.”
“No, I do,” shot back Nicki. “And I’ll explain.”
Mariah started to speak again, but Nicki shut her down: “Simmer down, sir,” she said.
Unlike the judges, the all-girl top five get along harmoniously and generally earned praise for their two performances each Tuesday night, first for a song from the year of their birth, and later for a song from their favorite diva.
Candice Glover kicked off the show and set the bar high with a super-confident, slowed-down version of former judge Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up.”