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Backstage at American Idol: The Real Scoop on Nicki Minaj's Late Arrival

American Idol, Top Ten Michael Becker/FOX
A hoodie-sporting Nicki Minaj may have shown up late to American Idol's top 10 performance show tonight, but it turns out she wasn't quite as tardy as it appeared to viewers at home.
 
Backstage after the two-hour show, Curtis Finch Jr.—who was first up to sing and thus missed out on an on-air critique from Nicki, who was, according to Ryan Seacrest, stuck in L.A. traffic—told us that Minaj actually caught at least part of his rendition of Fantasia's "Believe."
 
Just not from her seat at the judging table.

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"During the performance, she was backstage," he revealed. And that's where he almost literally ran into her as he made his exit after performing. "It was literally like, 'step, step, step, curtain, Nicki,'" he said. "And she was like, 'Good job today.'"
 
The singer was relieved to find her there, and to get some feedback, even if it wasn't on air. "To see her backstage," he said, "was comforting."

Still, the Idol wannabes weren't exactly surprised Minaj was a tad tardy. "It's not the first [time] and probably not the last," said Paul Jolley with a laugh, explaining that the judge had previously been late to some Hollywood Week performances. "Bu I'm OK with it. I love Nicki."
 
So, clearly, does Burnell Taylor, who impressed the judges with a cover of Westlife's "Flying Without Wings" tonight. "I mean, when you look that good," he said of the hip-hop superstar, "you have to be late!"
 
Devin Velez, whose take on Carrie Underwood's "Temporary Home" didn't quite wow the judging panel, had an idea to help keep Minaj from getting snarled in LA's notoriously bad traffic again. "Maybe we could get [her] a helicopter," he suggested. "Or some tennis shoes, so she can run!"

Check out American Idol's all-time greatest hits

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