Here we go again!! Welcome back American Idol enthusiasts and addicts of the world! I’m sure some of you are just like me. Every year you want to but you just can’t quit watching this crazy show. This year with Paula’s exit tested us, but now hearing that Simon will be leaving after this season? This might be the final nail in the coffin folks! Let’s journey down this road once more for old time’s sake and let’s see if I can improve my record of picking the grand prize winner. After last year’s shenanigans, my record added a notch to the Loss column as I am 6 and 2 on picking the winner. But no fear, I was very excited that Adam lost!
Usually, in my opening blogs of the season I go on and on about Off-Season Idol news. But, this year, I had the opportunity to post some of this stuff last week. So, if you would like to catch up, check out my Idol Preview Article on Paula Abdul’s exit, Ellen Degeneres’s arrival, my “I told you so” lecture on Adam Lambert’s antics, and a welcome Rule Change back to the Top 24 format this year. Also, if you hadn’t heard about Simon’s plan after leaving Idol yet, check out my article from yesterday!
Those who have followed my blogs season after season, know that I easily tire of the audition process. It’s just more of the same stuff every year. But, it feels like an essential part of the format as we need to build relationships with some of the talent. But the bad ones? Yeah, every once in awhile I get a little chuckle. But lots of it is all been there, done that. Usually for the 2 hour opener I am patient with it and am able to stomach the entire episode. But, I warn you now, you may see me subtly deteriorate before your eyes over the 3 weeks and 6 episodes of auditions!
Okay, all the pleasantries are out of the way. We may as well get down to business! Victoria Beckham is the guest judge that replaced Paula in Boston while they searched for her replacement last summer (Ellen doesn’t join until the Hollywood rounds). You may remember her as Posh Spice from the Spice Girls. Or you may just know her, as a contestant referred to her, as David Beckham’s wife! ahhh good times. She didn’t add much to the show, but she was the SUPPORTIVE judge that filled the gap where Paula would normally be. Let’s highlight the talent and then maybe mention a few stand-outs from the bad.
- Maddy Curtis – 16 – They didn’t waste any time bringing us the “very special” story. Maddy is 9 of 12 kids and her closest sibling has down syndrome. The family ended up adopting 2 more children with down syndrome as well. Now, I don’t want to say anything negative about this. The family seemed very sweet and the kids were very cute. But, you always know when you get these stories, the contestant is getting that yellow ticket! She sang Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” which hit a sales spike 2 seasons ago when Jason Castro sang the Jeff Buckley version on Idol. Gotta love that song, and Maddy nailed it. Kara talked about her being an old soul, and instantly I asked myself “is Paula’s soul inhabiting Kara now that Miss Abdul has left the building??” And Randy was up to his old schtick “You came in here and I was like ‘I dunno how you’re gonna be dawg..’ and man you blew the roof off! WHAAAAT?????” Okay, that’s not what he said, but it was something like that. Maddy was good. I always get concerned with the 16 year olds. She may have been practicing that one song for 16 years and doesn’t know how to sing anything else. We’ll know in time!
- They did a montage of 3 Other girls that got in:
Jennifer Hirsh – 22 – Did a jazzy version of “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead” from the Wizard of Oz. You know you’re good when you can sell that one in an Idol audition!
Claire Fuller – 23 – From Philly (representin!) sang some Mr. Big’s “To Be With You”. I’m already a fan. Anyone that does a 90′s Monster Ballad and is from Philly is alright in my book!
Jess Wolfe – 23 – From Brooklyn singing the tried and true “People Get Ready”. I wasn’t feeling it as much as the judges were. Thought she had a little too much opera vibrato to her voice. But what do I know? I only heard 2 lines of a song!
- Amadeo Dirrico – 28 – Rhode Island – Amadeo was your classic Italian Guy. I already know who Snooki and The Situation from the Jersey Shore will be rooting for! All kidding aside, I do want to go over his house and try some of their home Italian cooking! It looked fantastic. I agree with the judges that this guy’s personality was very, to borrow from Paula (whom I already miss), infectious! It seems like he has a voice, but I didn’t hear much of it in his rendition of Muddy Waters “Hoochie Coochie Man”. But I could hear the potential of a good voice. And, even if it’s not there, hey he’ll be entertaining in Hollywood and maybe even in the Semi-finals.
- They showed a trio doing a rendition of Matt Nathanson’s “Come on Get Higher” in the waiting room with a couple guitars and some great harmonies. But then they only showed 2 make it to Hollywood. Both sounding really good:
Luke Shaffer – 24 – New York. He sang “Fall for You” by Secondhand Serenade. Good tune, great voice. Need a good red headed guy to join the ranks to make us forget about Season 3′s Jon Stevens. I still have nightmares about that dude!
Benjamin Bright – 25 – New York. He sang some Beatles “All My Lovin’” and was also pretty good. We’ll see how these guys do in the next round!
- Ashley Rodriguez – 21 – Well, we know she’s going to do well. Kara found her “PACKAGE ARTIST” for the year. Even though I rolled my eyes at Kara, I did think Ashley’s version of Alicia Keys’ “If I Ain’t Got You” was smokin! She has top 12 written all over her. But we have 3 weeks of auditions to get through so I won’t get carried away just yet! But Randy how many yes’s do you give her? “200 bazillion million quadrillion trillion duuuuuuuuhhhh illion YES!!!” Really dude? I mean really? Paula and Simon are the 2 original judges to leave the show and Randy stays behind as the LEGACY? What is wrong with this picture!?
- Tyler Grady – 19 - Nazareth, PA. Besides this guy liking to climb trees for a living, resulting in his shattered wrists with titanium plates, I really liked him. He had a very retro style to him, he’s a drummer aspiring to be a front man and he has a way with the ladies. He sang a very good rendition of Marvin’s “Let’s Get it On” right to Kara and Victoria and melted them right on the spot. Smart dude. I think he has top 12 potential as well. I’m sure we’ll get a chance to vote on him!
Gotta love the history lesson they gave us on The Boston Tea Party and the Revolutionary War. Who says Idol isn’t trying to reach the youth of America?
- Mike Davis – 18 – The Codzilla Speedboat guy. They definitely need one of these true Boston people to crack into the Live shows. He was another guy with a good personality. I thought his version of “Yesterday” by The Beatles got better as it went on but it had its off moments. The highlight of this audition was the judges just getting up and walking away after they voted. Okay, guys, now you’ve done it all! Good one!
- Katie Stevens – 16 – from Middlebury, Connecticut. Here was the other Feel Good/Sad story of the night. Katie is really close to her Portuguese grandmother who has Alzheimer’s. She wants her grandmother to know she is making her dreams come true before she forgets who Katie is. (I may or may not have gotten a little welled up in the eyes. I’ll never tell!) She did an amazing job on “At Last”. Extremely great soulful performance, especially at 16. Again, is she a one trick pony? We’ll see. But it was sweet to see her telling her grandmother on the phone that she won! Even Mr. Seacrest got caught up in the tears!
- Joshua Blaylock – 28 – New York. Sang “Broken Road” by Rascal Flatts. It was okay, but there were definitely a few flat notes in there. The judges thought his voice didn’t match his age. But he definitely won over the judges and the audience with his extremely nice personality. It was hysterical watching him try to be assertive and mean. Maybe American will like him enough to vote him through a couple rounds. But even if they don’t, it still felt right sending the boyish Man to Hollywood!
- Justin Williams – 27 – from Utah. Ooh the girls are gonna love this guy! He certainly has a “look” to him! Add on top of that that he is a cancer survivor from 7 years ago. He went through 6 months of chemo and is now living cancer free. He sang the very fitting “Feeling Good”. And I will say it, much much much better than Adam Lambert’s Cabaret version of it from last season. This dude has a crazy range and you add his extreme good looks (I’m allowed to say it without everyone questioning if I’m straight now. I’m married!) this guy is a package deal! I was shocked the judges didn’t rave about him more. But, again, what do I know?? Just that I said a man is really good looking and have said nothing about any of the women in the competition yet! (yep, maybe you should start questioning again!)
- Bosa Mora – 22 from Ohio – His parents are from Nigeria but raised their two children in the states. You gotta give this guy some props for singing some Classic Country! He sang George Strait’s “You Look So Good in Love”. The ladies thought he did a very emotional performance. Simon thought it was boring. I was just shocked that this dude was singing country! Plus, I have been brushing up on my George Strait recently, because I’m taking my wife to see him later this month. Should be a good time! Bosa? He has potential, but I’ll hold out until I see more.
- Leah Larenti – 22 – Medford, New York – Leah is one of those people that loves music but likes to cry about it a lot too because she wants people to understand how much music means to her. It’s okay, Simon understands! And, after I heard her sing, I became a believer too. Her version of “Blue Skies” was a crazy bluesy good time. She has quite a voice! I’ll look forward to hearing what else she has to sing in subsequent rounds, but they definitely saved a good one for last!
So 32 total made it from Boston. Pretty good, we almost saw half of them still even after day 2.
The Bad Ones
Of course they showed us many of these. There was the peppy jumpy first contestant, the “DIVA” who thought she was better than all of the contestants in previous seasons, and the Anime lover (Simon’s comment about not being able to fly to the moon and then reconsidering was a good time). But here were a few that I’d like to call out because I got a good chuckle out of them.
- Pat Ford – 17 – It was so overdone but when he kept yelling “hollllaaaaaa!!!” How can you not laugh? Especially when the editing showed no one else in the waiting room laughing. Then he sings Britney Spears with full-on dancing? And then he calls Simon Sassy! And then Randy tries to console him by calling him “a great hang?” Whaaaat? Gotta love this stuff. Keep trying that new lingo Randy! Once you’re live, you’ll be saying the same thing after every contestant, every….single…night!
- Derek Hilton – “The Nature Walk Guy” – Obviously he was an awful singer, but you gotta love how he said he admires Chris Brown’s ability to “Touch Young Kids”. This was probably filmed before Chris Brown’s domestic violence with Rihanna was made public, but this guy turned Chris Brown into a pervert! And if you think I’m immature for thinking it, did you see Randy and Simon laughing? But yeah, the audition was hysterical. There were literally 20 different voices during that performance!
- Norberto Guerrero – 18 – The guy that sang “Everytime We Touch” and forgot the words while he was dancing around the room. But it was the look that made this hysterical. The long black hair, the beard, the flashy vest. Truly one of Reading, PA’s finest! Simon’s “Singing like that with a beard…made it even more strange.” had me laughing uncontrollably! Is it wrong to laugh at others’ misery?
- Andrew Fennlon – We have to bring up the moody guy that waited all day because the producers of Idol would want us to. His audition was definitely not good enough to make it. But his attitude during the whole process was insane. You just have to wonder how exaggerated that was.