On the premiere of the 18th season of “American Idol,” Lionel Richie basically got dad-mad as he gave returning contestant Nick Merico a verbal slap-down. His sin? The 23-year-old who starred in the Nickelodeon teen-bait sitcom “Every Witch Way,” tossed away his golden ticket that he earned last year. He said on camera before his second try-out that he backed out of going to Hollywood because “some personal things went down” and “I had to figure out a lot of things.”
While fellow judges Luke Bryan and Katy Perry were a bit miffed about him not seizing the opportunity of a lifetime, but they gladly listened to him once more as he played the piano and sang the Lauren Daigle tune, “You Say.”
True, he did tell Lionel and fellow judges Luke Bryan, who labeled him a “Hunkasaurus Rex” at his first audition, and Katy Perry, who flirted a bit with him last year, “You guys were so kind to me and I’m so grateful for your second opportunity.”
But a scowling Lionel was having none of it. It was one thing for Luke to declare loudly, “You abandoned us” and to have Katy warn him, “You better not ghost us,” after she accused Nick of acting as if he thought he was too good for the show. But they obviously wanted to trust this talented dreamy guy who hails from Woodland Hills, California, with his Elvis Presley eyes and ear-pleasing crooning.
Lionel, however, was determined the kid would have to pay a price for a chance at a second ticket. Namely, being read the riot act on camera. He told him, “All right, Nick. We have a problem. OK, a big problem, honestly. Namely, I don’t like you. For some weird reason, it’s not sitting well with me. I don’t like your attitude. I don’t like your voice. I don’t think you are going to make it in Hollywood.” Then he explains why he is saying all this: “I want you to understand what it feels like when people don’t adore you.”
39% of fans who answered our poll said Nick was too full of himself and was lucky to get a second chance after wasting his first. Others were more sympathetic, with 16% saying it took guts for him to come back and that Lionel should have taken a kinder approach.
Meanwhile, 20% thought Lionel’s lecture rightfully put some fear into Nick and perhaps taught him he can’t slide by on charm alone. And 19% felt the judges all along seemed ready to give him ticket No. 2 but wanted him to know he need to dial down the arrogance.
Just 3% said they were glad that Nick was allowed back because he was one of their favorites from last year’s crop. But another 3% also said he didn’t deserve his second chance and that his audition this time wasn’t as impressive. In any case, it will be interesting to chart Nick’s progress or non-progress this season and see if he can bring the goods. And if you missed his second audition, you can watch it in the video clip above.