Nicki Minaj is arguably the most sensational part of American Idol’s 12th season. From minute one, she walked in ready to spar with the Queen Diva (Mariah Carey’s persona is too grand for just one of those titles), providing minutes upon minutes (oh my) of entertainment in the form of a battle of the egos. But the beauty of Minaj’s presence on the panel isn’t her proclivity for word play, or her sweet-talking baby voice, and especially not her faux British accent (that thing needs to go far, far away because it’s only been two days and I think Mariah is starting to catch it). The real crown jewel of Minaj’s judging persona is her face and all the wonderful, ultra-communicative expressions it and its flawless makeup relay.
Nicki’s expressions are worth about a million words a piece, but we’re going to translate them into something a little simpler.
Minaj is just warming up here. Upon first meeting Mariah, Nicki prepares for her first on-camera eyeroll. To quote some of her most beloved lyrics, her expression here says “You a stupid hoe, you a, you a stupid ho” with a touch of listlessness.
The Sarcastic Laugh
When Nicki encounters Mariah’s first super fan who offers Mariah photos from their first meeting years ago, she is not amused. This sideways laugh laid over clear annoyance screams: “What is going on? Whatever floats your boat, Mariah.”
The “My Virgin Eyes!” Look
After a contestant clad in a red plastic jump suit does a pelvic thrust in her general direction, Nicki is stunned speechless. This expression says, “Where is my Idol contract does it say I have to deal with this horny little weirdo?”
This look comes out when Nicki is royally miffed, and when the pelvic-thruster continued his sexual nonsense, Nicki moved from shock to this move which says, “I can and will have my security team cuff you and throw you out onto 59th Street. Buh-bye.”
The Self-Assured Loon
When Mariah and Nicki really start going at it in Chicago, even Keith starts to jump on the “Nicki is crazy” bandwagon. Nicki’s response? This face that says, “Yeah, I’m crazy, boo. Are you scared? Because you should be.”
The Daaaaaaaaamn, Boy
Idol was kind enough to send all of Chicago’s most attractive males in succession, and poor Nicki almost lost her mind. This is just one of many expressions that says little more than, “Yes, please.”
The Regretful Dirty Jokester
After having fun at the expense of a young girl whose last name is synonymous with a euphemism for body hair down there, Nicki made this super pout. “Sorry, Bush, for making fun of your terrible singing voice and comparing your last name, handed down from your parents, to a lady’s hoo-ha. Even though I’m being mean, this face says ‘I’m sorry’ so it’s okay!”
The Silent Judgement
After hearing a girl so awful we could barely tell what song she was singing even after she told us what it was, Nicki lost it. She turned directly to the camera with this look, as if to say, “This counts as my response to her singing, right? I’m not actually supposed to judge this nonsense, because this is all you people are getting.”