Thursday, January 17, 2013

American Idol 12: New York Auditions

Hello world. I'm back!!! After a nice long break from this blog to enjoy some personal life and winter hibernation, I'm ready to dust off my typing skills (what little I have) and forge ahead with some new posts here.

And what could bring me out of hibernation? Well, only one of two topics: David Archuleta or American Idol. Since David is still in Chile serving as a missionary for the LDS church, it must be Idol time.

When the new judges for this season were announced, I was a little skeptical. Nicki Minaj? Mariah Carey? Really? Two divas? I like Keith Urban as a performer, but can he judge? I wasn't sure if I really wanted to endure another season of weird judges. I've decided to give them a chance and see what might happen.

So, last night was the airing of the first audition rounds show. This show they were in New York.

The show started out with a nice nod to the success of last seasons winner, Phillip Phillips. Contrary to what Jimmy Iovine and last years judges thought about Phillip, his first single, "Home" has gone triple platinum. Everywhere you turn, someone is incorporating that song into the program. I'm really happy for Phillip. He and Colton were my favorites last year. I feel that both will have great careers too. Colton is going into Christian music with his debut album releasing next week.

I like the montage of the contestants of past seasons. Glad to see David Archuleta included in there, even though it was only a couple seconds. Ryan tells us that "History has shown us that an Idol can do anything. Together they have sold more than 200 million records and scored 371 #1 hits.  Nice job Idol alum.

Time for a little hype of the judges.
Randy Jackson- 100 million records sold as producer and artist.
Keith Urban- 14 #1 songs, 5 platinum and multi-platinum  albums, and 4 grammys.
Nicki Minaj- first female artist to have 7 singles on the Hot 100 at the same time.
Mariah Carey- unprecedented 5 octave range, 200 million records sold.

Now, let's get to some of the contestants. Well, maybe not yet.
I like the new set. Nicki is wearing a long white blond wig and carrying a drum major hat. Odd.
Mariah says she didn't know they were allowed to bring accessories; she would have brought her dog along. Our first argument ensues while our first contestant enters, singing his own Idol judges version of "We Will Rock You."

Michael Buonopane- 27- Saugus, MA- sings a strange collection of radio hits while providing a running commentary.  NO from all the judges.  Michael compliments Mariah's "All I Want for Christmas" on his way out, triggering another argument between Mariah and Nicki.

We're back from break and Nicki and Mariah are arguing about a quote from "Mean Girls." Keith is losing it between the girls.

Tenna Torres- 28- Queens, NY
Tenna is a big Mariah fan. She even attended Camp Mariah when she was a kid and sang for Mariah when she was 13. She brought photos to trigger Mariah's memory. She sings "You've got a Friend" and does a good job. It is definitely sung in a "Mariah" style.  Yes X 4. On to Hollywood. Yes from me.

Montage of 3 unidentified singers, 2 males and 1 female, all going on to Hollywood.  Didn't show enough of them to have an opinion.

James Bae- 15- Long Island
He is a rap and pop singer who is inspired by Justin Bieber. He sings a Bieber song and is actually much worse than Bieber. (No, I am not a fan of Bieber.) Randy can only stare out the window. Nicki tries to be nice and not hurt his feelings. Keith doesn't know what to say except "the whole package doesn't work for me." Mariah asks if he has ever considered being a DJ. Randy says singing is "not your thing. I wanted to be a Nascar driver, but it wasn't my thing. Nicki calls him over and tells him he is brave and hugs.

Christina "Isbelle"- 21- Duluth, GA-
Her story is that she struggled with her weight in high school. Weighed 200lbs but lost 50 lbs before college.  She belts out "SummerTime" like an old pro. Turns out she is going to Berkeley College of Music. YES X4. On to Hollywood.

Evan Ruggiero- 21- Old Bridge, NJ
Was a dancer for 17 yrs. Discovered singing when cast in a musical in school. Diagnosed with bone cancer at 19. Lost leg to cancer. Says he is a "one legged tap dancer."  Sings Jason Mraz's "I'm Yours" but not really well. Randy asks if he wants to sing something with his guitar so he does Bon Jovi's "Wanted Dead or Alive." Much better. Everyone agrees he is not quite ready but he shouldn't be discouraged and should come back next year.  He sounds positive and hopes he has encouraged others to go for their dreams.  I would have put him through.

Idol has a new feature this season. People are asked to nominate someone who might not feel that they should audition. Randy heads out to Staten Island to invite a young lady nominated by her mom.
Jessica Kartalis- 19- Staten Island
Randy asks her to sing an original song. She is nervous and this does not go well. Wrong key when guitar joins in. They tell her she was close but to come back next year.  (Hey, she really didn't want to be there this year. Why would she come back next year.)  I don't think it was fair for them to ask her to sing an original song when they normally frown on original material for auditions.

We get a montage of contestants from other countries as an intro for our next singer.
Shira Gavrielov- 23- Israel/ Brooklyn
Dad is a composer and Shira had an album out in Israel as a teen with a #1 hit song at 17. Her voice is ok but I feel her diction is pretty choppy. YES X4. Very small yes from me.

Frankie Ford- 24- Brooklyn, NY
Adopted as a child. Sings on the trains for extra money. Says he is doing what he needs to survive. Keith says he played on the trains in Australia when he was starting out. Frankie performs "Sweet Dreams" he is nervous and messes up at first but starts over and is really good. He says he'll do whatever it takes to succeed. He'll give 110%. Mariah says he has an inner glow. Nicki says he is different but there is something special about him. YES X4. And a yes from me too.

Day 2 in NY arrives and today Nicki is wearing a short wig of bright yellow, orange and pink. Scary!
We beginning with Nicki and Mariah bickering again and Keith saying "I'm in a good place."
Benjamin Gaisey- 27- Sinking Springs, PA
This guy is wearing a red plastic suit that squeaks when he moves and a terrible curly wig. His singing is as tacky as the suit.  Go away please.

Rozanna Shildelman- 21- Staten Island, NY
"I'm really nervous. I don't sing in front of people, only my parents."  and that is because only your parents would actually listen to that. NO. Randy said it was really bad, and I agree.

We get a quick montage of "NO's" and unhappy rejects.

Sarah Restuccio- 17- Hammonton, NJ the "Blueberry capital of the world." She is a farm girl and grew up on country music. Sings "Mama's Song" by Carrie Underwood. Nice enough voice but song is too hard to follow without music. Praises from Nicki and Mariah but Keith isn't too sure. Randy asks for another song and Sarah blasts out some awful noise I understand is Nicki's "Super Bass." Keith is even more confused and so am I. Somehow she gets YES X4 and is headed to Hollywood. I'm not sure why.

Albert Chang- 25- Queens, NY
I know this will be a disaster before he even sings. We hear a few very painful lines of "Phantom of the Opera."  Keith and Mariah are stunned. Randy and Nicki are laughing.  Randy- "You are not right for this." Nicki says she is nervous and starts talking in a British accent.

Montage of Nicki giving critiques with a British accent and Mariah chiming in.

Angela Miller- 18- Beverly, MA
Her story is she has had hearing problems all her life.  She has 40 % loss in left ear and 20% in right ear. "Mama Knows Best" by Jesse James. This is really good. Nice voice and pretty girl. The judges love her. YES X4 and I agree.

Now we have a cruel dream sequence about our next disaster, I mean contestant, who claims to be Idol's biggest fan. (I doubt that.)
Brett Holt-28- Willow Grove, PA
He can't correctly answer all of Ryan's Idol trivia questions and he can't sing. This is his 7th time to audition. Mariah suggests that "It's better to move on." And so I will too.

Gurpreet Singh Sarin- 22- North Potomac, MD
Now this is an interesting guy decked out in a lavender and black turban to match his shirt. He says his friends call him "the Turbanator." (I'm certainly glad he said it first otherwise, Idol would probably be offending a lot of people.) Gurpreet says he has 40 or 50 turbans to match different outfits. He is definitely an interesting character, but he also has a decent voice. Keith says you, but the rest of the panel says yes and so do I. Gurpreet tells Nicki he has a marigold yellow turban that matches her hair. LOL

Ashlee Feliciano- 20- East Hartford, CT
Ashlee's story is that for the past 10 years, her family has adopted and fostered medically complex children. Her parents are very inspirational. Ashlee has a nice voice. The judges give her high compliments, then Randy asks her to bring in her family so they can meet them before the vote.  YES X4. I agree.

And that's it for New York. Ryan tells us 41 contestants received golden tickets to Hollywood. We heard 11 if you count the three that weren't named. I really wish we could see more of the Yes's and much fewer No's.

Next stop, Chicago. 

My favorites: Gurpreet, Angela Miller, and Ashlee Feliciano.

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