It's ladies night on "American Idol" and things are getting a little weird.

No, not just because we're down to a very unconventional all-female Top 5, but because Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj actually interacted for the first time in weeks. Really.

Quick. Someone alert the media!

Yes, the two judges got into a little tiff over Kree Harrison's first performance of the evening -- a tiff that prompted Nicki to blurt, "Simmer down, sir!"

Sir?

But it was just a brief flare-up and, moments later, Nicki actually had some very nice things to say about her fellow panelist.

Yeah, we told you it was a weird night.

Adding to the strangeness was the fact that the judges were overly benevolent at times, heaping way too much praise on performances that weren't truly worthy of it and rising to their feet more times than Catholic churchgoers.

Another oddity: "Idol" mentor Jimmy Iovine, who normally reserves his dismissive snark for results-show night, instead tossed in comments after the judges had their say. We gave an Ebert-like thumbs-down to the format, so basically fast-forwarded through his segments. (Iovine, however, did have a nice line when he remarked that it was good to see Mariah and Nicki "communicating").

As for the actual contestants, they were required to sing one song from the year they were born, and another from a major vocal diva.

Here's how it went down:

Round 1: Songs from the Year They Were Born

-- Candice Glover (Paula Abdul's "Straight Up"): What's this? A Paula Abdul song? Does Candice think she's still on the judging panel? This is a jazzy version of the tune made famous by Simon Cowell's favorite sparring partner. It starts off rather slow and picks up some steam as Candice throws in some sweet runs. Keith Urban certainly likes it. "I never realized that song is such a great song," he says. (Oh, is that a Paula diss?) He compares her vocal to a wink from across a bar. (Nice). Nicki Minaj corrects Keith, claiming the song has always been great and that it makes her happy. Randy Jackson says Candice is in the zone (and gives a shout-out to Paula). Mariah Carey calls the song choice and arrangement "genius."

-- Janelle Arthur (Vince Gill's "When I Call Your Name"): Janelle says this was the song that made her stop crying as a baby. She's breaking out the guitar for Gill's mellow tune. It's a lovely performance (and she looks lovely), but will it fire up the voters? Nicki says to her "beautiful little marshmallow" that her voice sound "pretty and angelic," and that she should keep playing guitar. Randy says Janelle is in her comfort zone, calling the performance "beautiful and honest." Mariah thinks it sounded authentic ("I believed you"), but Keith breaks up the Janelle party. The country expert says that when Gill sings the song, it's all about pure emotion and you really feel it. But he didn't feel the "heartbreak of that song" from Janelle. He also disagrees with Nicki about the guitar, saying Janelle didn't need it at all.

-- Kree Harrison (The Black Crowes' "She Talks to Angels"): Kree, who was a damn cute baby, says she doesn't think people will expect her to sing this song and "that's exciting." Right about now, we're envisioning a Kree-Candice finale. That works for us. Kree, it seems, can sing just about anything. Once again, so smooth and confident and natural. She owns it. Says Randy, "I love your voice from Note 1." Mariah liked it, too, but believes that Kree didn't totally lose herself in the song (that she was too worried about "performing"). Keith actually agrees with Mariah, suggesting that the TV camera may have distracted her just a bit. But Nicki disagrees with them, deeming it the best performance so far. And then we get a historic moment as Mariah tries to step in and explain what she meant. "I disagree with your disagreement," she says, and Nicki responds by snapping, "Simmer down, sir" It's the first exchange in weeks between the two judging divas, who usually don't even make eye contact.

-- Angie Miller (The Prentenders' "I'll Stand By You"): Who knew? Angie was a chubby little sumo baby. That didn't last. A Massachusetts native, she dedicates the song to Boston, which brings a little more emotion to the moment than it would have had. I'm a big fan of this song, and Angie (who is back on the piano) gives it some dramatic flair, but it's not the best I've heard. It's even a little pitchy. Still, all the judges, except Nicki, give Angie a standing O. "It was a beautiful dedication, says Mariah, who tells Angie that she could learn something from the Pretenders' Chrissie Hynde, who is a "perfect combination of toughness and vulnerability." Keith says Angie has a voice that makes him want to cry. Nicki again says Angie should stick always to the piano, and Randy calls it a great song choice.

-- Amber Holcomb (Mariah Carey's version of Badfinger's "Without You"): Amber says she's kind of nervous singing this in front of Mariah, but she's ready to take on the challenge. It feels a little drowsy until she starts hitting those big glory notes. Then, she goes into "wow" territory. Again, the judges -- except for Nicki -- leap to their feet, and an excited Keith blurts that we've got an "Amber alert" in effect and immediately regrets saying it. Nicki actually gives a compliment to Mariah by telling Amber that Carey's version of the song is embedded in her head and that Amber didn't quite bring the same kind of emotion to the early low part of the song. "There was no feeling," she says. Still, Randy gives "mad props" to Amber for even attempting the song in front of Mariah. As for Mariah, herself, she applauded some of the choices/changes Amber made.

Round 2: Divas

Candice Glover (Mariah Carey & Whitney Houston's "When You Believe"): Another song, another run at Mariah. So now we're wondering: Why didn't "Idol" think of doing a Mariah theme night (instead of someone like Burt Bacharach?) Just saying. Anyway, we're only seconds into the song and I already think Candice is doing a better job than Amber a few minutes before. As usual, there's some real muscularity to her notes. Very impressive. Says Nicki, "That is how you do a Mariah Carey-Whitney Houston song. ... You just tore that song up. "That's the best vocal of the night," Randy insists. "You've got one of the best voices in the known world." Mariah tells Candice, "Personally, I think you can sing anything in front of anybody, anywhere." Keith says he loved watching Mariah watch Candice. "It was like a sister supporting every moment of that song. It was so beautiful."

Janelle Arthur (Dolly Parton's "Dumb Blonde"): This is the first wobbly performance of the night. It's certainly not Lazaro Arbos bad. Not close. But it just sounds a little off. Is it because Janelle is roaming all over the place? She brings some flair (and a little "whoop!") at the end, but it's a little late. Randy says it was a case of performance eclipsing the vocal. Mariah sort of agrees with Mariah (We think). Country boy Keith doesn't think it was the best Dolly Parton song she could have done. Nicki says Janelle is still an adorable marshmallow, but, she might be packing her bags on Thursday.

-- Kree Harrison (Celine Dion's "Have You Ever Been in Love"): Like we've said, Kree can sing anything, but why this? This song is a snoozer. A lovely and effortless sounding snoozer, but still a snoozer. Mariah, however, calls it a "smart choice." (We disagree). Keith says he's looking forward to the "poise and elegance" Kree will bring to the country music world. Nicki tells Kree, "You're not country. You're worldly. You're iconic." And she compares her to Adele and Celine Dion. Randy seconds that emotion.

-- Angie Miller (Beyonce's "Halo"): Angie doing Beyonce? We didn't see that one coming. Angie is certainly solid here, but she doesn't have that dramatic power that "B" does. Still, Keith calls it a Top 3 performance and Nicki says Beyonce will be impressed. Randy (Surprise) says Angie is "in it to win it." Mariah praises the clarity in Angie's voice.

-- Amber Holcolmb (Barbra Streisand's "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?"): Despite having one of the best voices in the competition, Amber, at times, has had trouble connecting with voters. So she could really us a big performance in the pimp spot. And she delivers one with this surprising song choice. Her tone is really beautiful. She caresses every note. A little slice of Heaven. The judges are up before she even finishes. "It was simply perfection," Nicki says. Randy says that was the most difficult song of the season to do and he compares Amber to a "young Rhianna with this giant voice. ... So current, so modern, so the thing for right now. Mariah simply calls it "classic and elegant" and urges America to get out the vote for Amber. Keith just adds to the praise.