Lauren Mink receives "golden ticket" to Hollywood on American Idol for the second time. (Photo from americanidol.com)
On her 26th birthday, Lauren Mink received one present that will be hard to top — an American Idol “golden ticket” to Hollywood.
The Winchester native first gained attention when she was featured on Idol in January 2012.
Though Mink was eliminated from the competition in the first round in Hollywood last season, she wasn’t discouraged from continuing to perform, and eventually decided, with some encouragement, to audition again this season.
“I finally got on their website, and I was like, “Oh, I wonder when the auditions are. If there’s one that’s a good time and a good location, I might go. And it happened that Charlotte was on my birthday.” Mink said. “I’m not one that believes in signs all that much, but that’s a pretty big one.”
Mink made the decision to try again, with one goal on her mind.
“At the end of last season, after my last episode that everybody saw, I just kept thinking, ‘I don’t want to be one of those people that goes back, and just keeps going back.’ There’s some people that I’ve talked to that have auditioned multiple times. I didn’t know if I wanted to be one of those [people].” Mink said. “But I definitely wanted a second shot. I liked how far that I got last year, but I kind of went into it this year saying, ‘My goal is to make it one step past where I did last year.’”
So, Mink traveled to Charlotte with her mom and sister, thinking that if nothing else, the trip would be a “fun, out-of-town birthday” celebration.
Mink was particularly excited to audition knowing that Keith Urban had joined the show as a judge this season.
“I was really pumped. I’ve always thought, ‘Why don’t they have someone from each genre on there anyway?’…There’s always been so many country people on there, but no country judge. I was really excited that there was a country judge this year, and plus, it’s Keith Urban,” Mink said. “Everyone kept asking me ‘What did Keith Urban say?’ and I said, ‘You know, once he said my name in that Australian accent, I really don’t remember much else.’ I just know that my name sounded good in his accent.”
Even with a country judge on the panel and her experience on the show last year, Mink still felt pre-performance jitters, she said.
“Going into it knowing what to expect, I thought maybe I’d be a little less nervous — not at all.”
Despite her nerves, Mink was given a golden ticket, for the second time, even gaining praise from judges Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj.
“I sang Janis Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart.” It’s one of my favorite songs to do with my band, and I just thought, ‘I’m going to go in there and do something I’m really comfortable with and really show off my range and country-rock style,” Mink said. “As soon as I said I [was] going to sing that, Mariah Carey was like, “I’m so excited you’re singing that song, I’ve been wanting someone to sing that.”
Carey also paid Mink a big compliment after she sang for the judges.
“It will go down in my journal as one of the best days ever because Mariah Carey said that I look like I was a super-star already. That’s definitely one for the books,” Mink said.
Though Carey was complimentary, Mink wasn’t so sure what Minaj thought of her during the audition.
“The entire time I’m singing, Nicki Minaj is just staring at me with no expression. And I’m like, ‘She’s going to tear me up…she’s staring at me like I’m straight from the country, with my cowboy boots and all,’” Mink said. “She had no expression on her face. So, I get done singing and she just kind of stares at me, still no emotion, and she goes, ‘I like you. From your boots to your dress to your hair, you look like you weren’t up there auditioning, but like you were up there with your band.’”
With a sense of relief that Minaj didn’t tear into her, Mink will head to Hollywood for the next round of auditions.
“My goal going in this year is to make it past the first round. If I make it past that, it’s going to be awesome, I’m just going to kind of go one step at a time.”
Check out Mink’s Facebook page to keep up with her American Idol journey and her local performance schedule.
More stories about Lauren Mink:
Winchester’s Lauren Mink given golden ticket, ‘second chance’ on ‘American Idol’
Winchester singer gets ‘American Idol’s’ coveted golden ticket to Hollywood
Mink knew ‘Idol’ audition was good when her singing gave J-Lo ‘goosies’
Mink performs during ‘Hollywood Week,’ but show ends before announcing results
Mink cut from ‘American Idol,’ will keep singing, pursuing dream