Candice Glover performs "I Who Have Nothing" on "American Idol," March 13, 2013

Candice Glover performs “I Who Have Nothing” on “American Idol,” March 13, 2013*“American Idol” began with just three judges taking their seats.

Keith Urban, Randy Jackson and Mariah Carey were on hand for the evening’s first performance by Curtis Finch Jr., while Nicki Minaj was just arriving to the studio.

Host Ryan Seacrest explained that Minaj was “stuck in traffic” on the 405 and kept the show moving until she arrived. He announced that the top 10 had to perform songs immortalized by previous “Idol” winners.

Curtis – who performed Fantasia’s “Believe”- told E! news: ”During the performance, Nicki was backstage.” He added that he almost ran into her as he stepped off stage: ”It was literally like, ‘Step, step, step, curtain, Nicki. And she was like, “Good job today.” ‘ To see her backstage was comforting.”

Ryan Seacrest sits in Nicki Minaj's vacant seat, March 13, 2013

Ryan Seacrest sits in Nicki Minaj’s vacant seat, March 13, 2013

Some of the other contestants noted Nicki has fallen foul of LA’s notoriously bad traffic before.

Paul Jolley said: ”It’s not the first time and probably not the last. But I’m OK with it. I love Nicki.”

Burnell Taylor, who sang Westlife’s “Flying Without Wings,” on the show feels Nicki has earned the right to be late if she chooses: ”I mean, when you look that good, you have to be late.”

Devin Velez came up with some possible solutions to get the “Starships” rapper to the studios on time: ”Maybe we could get her a helicopter. Or some tennis shoes, so she can run.”

Amber Holcomb listens to the judges after performing "A Moment Like This" on "American Idol," March 13, 2013

Amber Holcomb listens to the judges after performing “A Moment Like This” on “American Idol,” March 13, 2013

Meanwhile, Candice Glover and Amber Holcomb continued to impress the judges and the audience. Candice belted “I Who Have Nothing,” which Jordin Sparks famously sang en route to her Season 6 win in 2007.

Nicki, who had returned by this time sporting a hoodie and sunglasses, demanded that “I Who Have Nothing” should be retired from the show after Glover’s knockout version.

Holcomb took on Kelly Clarkson’s victory song “A Moment Like This” from season one. Urban was in “awe,” while Minaj said it was “the best performance of the night.”

Louisiana’s Taylor is also in it to win it. After his take on Ruben Studdard’s “Flying Without Wings,” Urban said he loved his “Burnell-isms,” as does Minaj who said she likes the “twists” as well, while Jackson said Taylor was “in the zone,” and Carey got “emotional.”

Watch the performances below.