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American Idol Recap: 5 Ladies Survive Sudden Death, Nicki Minaj Cries

Zoanette Johnson, American Idol Michael Becker/FOX

It was another round of sudden death! (Cue the fire show behind Ryan Seacrest.)

The American Idol judges and contestants were back at the Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas to watch 10 of the female semifinalists perform, before five were sent home packing.

So let's get straight into it.

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Melinda Ademi, 19, came back for a second shot after not making the cut in 2010. The New Yorker sang Jessie J's "Nobody's Perfect," and got mixed reviews from the judges. "What a great way to start the show," Keith Urban told her. "I just think you have so much raw talent and so much potential." However, Nicki Minaj, along with Randy Jackson and Mariah Carey believed nerves got the best of her. "It didn't have enough moments to make you sail through with me," Randy said. 

Another returning competitor, Candice Glover, was sent home last year during the Vegas rounds, but she was determined to make a change this time around, and she did. After showing off her powerhouse vocals to Aretha Franklin's "Natural Woman," Keith told her, "Baby that was beautiful," and sang to her, "You're a natural singer..." See what he did there? Nicki admitted that it "boggles my brain" why she got cut, but Randy thought this was a more seasoned singer this time through.

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Fifteen-year-old Juliana Chahayed used her unique and Jewel-like voice to Demi Lovato's "Skyscraper." Urban felt that she struggled with pitch a lot of the time and understood that her nervousness could be to blame, but added, "There's a purity about the tone in your voice that I love." Randy loved the honesty in her voice and her delivery, while Mariah noted that Juliana had "angelic quality."

Meanwhile, Jett Hermano went to the piano and sang a ballad version of Rihanna's "Only Girl," which Keith thought "brought out the sexiness in the song." Nicki liked what she did, "but I thought it was going to climax to something, but I never felt that."

Cristabel Clack continued to wow the judges, this time with her rendition of Alicia Keys' "No One," and her "soul, croaky, cool" voice, as Keith put it, was loved by all of the panel, however Nicki thought that her rasp got a little out of control tonight. 

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Make way for Aubrey Cleland. The stunning 19-year-old was brave enough to take on Beyoncé's hit "Sweet Dreams," but slowed it down. "I am obsessed with you," Nicki told her. "For the first time somebody came out here looking like a current artist, sounding like one, feeling like one. You're gorgeous, you're beautiful…I was blown away."

Randy felt the same way, and mentioned that during Hollywood week, he told someone, "I would sign her right now." Mariah added, "I think you're limitless"

Rachel Hale gave a spunky performance to "Nothing but the Water" by Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. Afterward, Nicki had to ask, "Where did this burst of crazy confidence come from?" Rachel's answer? "I've been praying a lot." That seemed to work in her favor, because the judges enjoyed what she did. 

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Breanna Steer, who lost her home to Hurricane Isaac, brought out her inner diva to "Bust Your Windows" by Jazmine Sullivan. "I love that song, despite it's violent nature," Keith, who had never heard the tune before, told her. "You were believable, you had your swag on it...you giving me sexy on a stick right now," Nicki added, and Randy felt that the "song was perfect for you."

Country girl Janelle Arthur sang "Just a Kiss" by Lady Antebellum, and unfortunately fell flat with the judges. They weren't happy with her song choice because of the "limiting melody" which they felt didn't give Janelle a chance to "soar." Nicki told her, "Don't do that again, you don't have to try hard." Mariah added, "I am definitely a fan…maybe it wasn't the best song choice, but I'm rooting for you."

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And then suddenly you felt like you were at a Broadway show. Zoanette Johnson took a risk singing The Lion King's "Circle of Life," and it was a great move. She received a standing ovation from the crowd and the judges."I love that I have no clue what you're gonna do, and sometimes I think you do too…Kudos to the queen of the jungle," Keith told her.

"Who gon' check you boo? You just served it," Nicki stated, and began tearing up when mentioning how proud she was of the Liberian native for overcoming the obstacles she's faced and getting to where she's at now. Randy and Mariah both noted her "spirit," with Carey saying, "It's almost like your spirit is too big to be contained."

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After deliberation, the judges announced the five that would move forward with the competition.

Congratulations to Zoanette, Aubrey, Janelle, Candice and Breanna. 

Tomorrow night, it's all about the fellas, with 10 guys fighting for the same position. 

Do you agree with the decisions made tonight? Sound off in the comments!

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