After months of waiting and several major changes to the show and judges panel, it’s time for season 9 of American Idol to get started in earnest tonight. We begin the search for America’s next Idol tonight in Boston with the help of guest judge, Posh Spice…errr, Victoria Beckham.
The question on everyone’s lips: will Boston help season 9 off to a wicked awesome or wicked awful start? Watch along with me tonight as we get our first glimpse at the Idol hopefuls, judges’ panel without Paula, and Simon’s last round of American Idol auditions. Be sure to follow along with me here and in 140 character quips on Twitter.
This is my first night covering Idol and there aren’t any easy Paula Abdul jokes to make, so please be kind and patient. Luckily, auditions usually take care of the jokes in it’s own right. And if you want to know a little something on who’ll be sharing your Idol journey all season, please read my personal intro.
It’s Idol time and we are still rehashing what a shocker last season’s Idol finale was. How much do you think Kris Allen hates that photo/video of his mouth agape? After embarassing Kris Allen, we get a little intro to the behind the scene drama with Paula leaving, Ellen joining, and our celebrity guest judges. Joining us tonight, as you know, will be Victoria Beckham. After a five minute intro, with some already tear-jerking moments (the cop! the father who wants to provide for his special need child! the Southern girl who feels trapped!) we get to rainy Boston-Town. And here we go, let’s find the next American Idol.
9,000 dripping wet folks showed up to audition for Idol in Boston and hopefully at least one of them says wicked and is wearing a Red Sox cap or all my Boston stereotypes will be shattered.
First up is Janet who says she’s only been ‘singing well for two years’ thanks to practice via the American Idol video-game. This bodes poorly. Not only for jumpy, muffin-top bearing Janet, but for all of us.
Thankfully Janet does say wicked awesome and my life is complete. While the American Idol game apparently tells Janet that she is great and destined for stardom, the game is lying. Janet is in fact possibly the most tone deaf person who ever thought she could sing. So, those of you singing along to American Idol the video game and getting through to Hollywood, let me tell you this: THAT VIDEO GAME IS A BIG FAT LIAR. (Please do not audition for Idol, without inquiring humans who love you if you are tone deaf.)
Next up is our first sob story, 16 year old Maddy Curtis who is the 9th of 12 kids, including several siblings with special needs. Please say this kid can sing and they’re not just making me cry for no reason. Maddy seems like a sweetheart and she chooses “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen to audition, a song that should come with a “Grab Tissues NOW” warning in it’s own right. Thankfully, Maddy can sing and she has a bit of soul with a raw edge to it. Given the opportunity and rigors of American Idol she could improve greatly. All the judges love Maddy’s soulful style and thought her nerves were adorable. Simon is especially impressed that she’s not annoying. She gets four yeses and is heading to Hollywood. She further wins the judges (and America) over by thanking them and saying what a pleasure it was singing for them as she exits.
Then there’s emo guy in the holding room and some bad dancing courtesy of Pat Ford, who will regret his two minutes on Idol for the rest of his life. Either that or he will remix it and put it on loop on YouTube, because Pat seems slightly deluded about his own fabulousness. Pat offers a choreographed, toneless rendition of Womanizer by Britney Spears.
Pat thinks he did awesome and tells Simon that “he’s even sassier in person than he was on TV.” He then dubs him “Sassy Simon.” (Thank you Pat, I will be using that all season.) Randy offers the back-handed compliment of “I bet you have a lot of friends.” (And hopefully you don’t sing for them.) Actually, I wasn’t far off… as Randy tells Pat, “I love you, let’s hang out, but stop singing forever.” Youch.
Then a montage of ladies from Boston who we’ll be hearing from again including Jennifer Hirsch’s jazzy goodness, Claire Fuller, a gorgeous gal who does a break down on Mr. Big’s “Be With You” (which I owned on cassette single in 5th grade, until I played it so much it broke), and Jess Wolfe. You’ll be seeing all three of these ladies and hopefully a full rendition of Mr. Big in Hollywood.
To continue with tonight’s stereotypes … Amadeo Diricco and his huge effusive Italian family who gather around Mama’s table every week, drinking home made wine and busting each other’s chops. Hopefully Amadeo can actually sing and his chops would have been busted by said family if he could not. He’ll be auditioning with Muddy Waters “Hoochie Coochie Man” which gets initial giggles from the judges (“ahaha he said coochie”) until Amadeo busts out in a soulful rendition which would not sound out of place in the best Southern Gospel choirs. He is bluesy, soulful, and full of personality and passion. Simon gives the ultimate compliment telling Amadeo he just gave his favorite audition of the day and he even likes his energy. After such ringing endorsements, Amadeo gets a round of yeses from the judges, tackled and strangled by his six cousins and brothers…mussing up Ryan’s flawless hair. Congrats Amadeo (and your big old Italian family, who we’d like to have dinner with) you’re the first man to make it through to Hollywood.
Your next Idol and his crazed cousins?
Next up is Derek, who claims he’s a very spiritual dude — which the Idol editors let us know by playing Enya. The intro alone has me reaching for my ear plugs. Derek auditions with Elton John’s “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word to Say” with a nasal affectation that has the judges in schoolgirl stitches. Kara can’t even watch Derek sing and the judges make fun of Derek’s schizophrenic vocals. Or as Simon says, as only Simon can, “There were like 20 of you in there, and they were all terrible.” But don’t worry Enya lovers of America, Derek will continue on. Leaving us by saying it’s a bummer “he can’t touch America in a completely different way.” Sounds like the judges did us a solid by not letting Derek anywhere near America.
Cue the montage of crying people who’ve just had their dreams crushed on camera.
Up next is Mere a nerdy Anime girl, who came prepared with her own costume changes, but no umbrella for the deluge that awaited Boston auditioners. I suspect she’ll be joining that montage of folks who just had their dreams crushed on camera. Mere has decided to audition with Janis Joplin’s “Another Piece of My Heart,” which is a ballsy choice. And while Mere sings with the passion and power of Janis, she can’t sing anywhere close to on key. The judges tell Mere she’s not made for Idol and she doesn’t take the news too well. “But everyone says I can sing. Everyone! Not just my family.” Sorry Mere, it’d be passable for karaoke, but not for Idol.
A mini montage of decent singers is next…and let us not forget, while these seem of no consequence, it was one of these brief clips that introduced us to Kris Allen last season. Luke Shaffer, who is some seriously cute indie eye candy, is certainly hoping he’s this season’s Kris Allen… only 20 seconds on camera, but it’s enough to make Kara and Posh a little giddy. Luke is followed by sweet bubble gum Benjamin, who looks like a puppy dog and has some pitch problems, but the judges smile and send them both through to the next round.
Next up for day one of Boston is frustrated, anxious, bespectacled emo sulker Andrew Fenlon, who has a nasty attitude that could rival Simon. And Simon tells him as much. “Stop being a smart ass or you can just leave.” This is a dude who gets by on his looks and clearly not on his charming personality. While Andrew’s voice gets better as he sings, his delivery of The House of the Rising Sun (one of my favorite songs of all time) is about as interesting as watching paint dry. Posh says, you have a nasty attitude and not enough talent to back it up, she even calls him hideous. Andrew gets three no’s, but Simon says “yes.” Simon says Andrew and his smarmy attitude is growing on him and Kara says that Andrew needs a spanking — and she means it in a toddler having a tantrum way, not a sexy one.
Next up in Boston auditions the promise of lots of Berklee College grads, which apparently actually means just lots of unnecessary vocal runs by musical theater majors. Until we get to meet Ashley Rodriguez, who looks like a star and hopefully sings like one…Berklee wouldn’t let her in if she couldn’t, right? Right! She tackles an Alicia Keys song with aplomb, which is saying something indeed. In fact she sounds a bit like Alicia herself, she goes between breathy and powerful — with a voice that could cover jazz, pop, or r&b. The ladies love Ashley, saying she was the most impressive audition of the day. Simon says, “some people have it. And Ashley, you may have ‘it.'” Clearly, this girl is made for Idol and is heading straight for Hollywood. No sob story, just some serious pipes.
After Ashley is Tyler Grady who has two broken wrists after falling from a tree, which is a problem because he’s a drummer. Who…guess what, dreams of being a front man. He has a very sexy 70s look and he keeps that going by singing “Let’s Get It On.” Just check out this sexy point and smile he’s giving Kara and Posh:
I wouldn’t look at Posh like that Tyler, Becks can probably kick your ass…especially with the broken wrists. While Tyler has the full look and a some swagger to his voice, I’m not sure he would impress if he wasn’t so darn cute. I’m just not sure he has the vocal chops to make it through to Idol. But maybe I’m wrong, even Simon and Randy loved him… it’s four for four for Tyler, who is Hollywood bound. Don’t break your wrists again jumping for joy Tyler!
Day one of Boston auditions results in 17 Golden Tickets and the one man in America who is angry that Kara wants to spank him. With the intro of Day Two of Idol comes a history lesson on Boston, complete with Randy and Simon as redcoats.
First up for day two is Lisa Olivera, a 24 year old waitress who says that singing is a spiritual experience. That bodes either incredibly well or very very poorly. Lisa walks in with confidence and an outfit that has Simon’s eyes popping out of their sockets. She chooses to go with Vision of Love by Mariah Carey, which is basically a death sentence to every singer who does not have Mariah’s 8 octave range. Yes, we have all tried to sing along to this in our basement, but you should not, I repeat, NOT do it on camera. And definitely not in front of Simon Cowell. Ouch, this is not going to be pretty at all. Randy says it was terrible and Kara just says, “Lisa, Lisa those high notes.” Simon says she walked in with the confidence of a star, but that he knew on note one she was not. “I couldn’t sit through that again sweetie…” though he’d happily watch her walk away in leggings.
Cue montage of goofy Boston accents. It never gets old.
Up next is Mike, who looks like he’s spent lots of weekend cheering on the Sox. He’s got the accent and gregarious personality that Boston is best known for. Surprisingly he chooses the sweet “Yesterday” by the Beatles. But can he sing? Yes, no sour notes, but nothing extraordinary about it either. It’s a bad song choice on Mike’s behalf, but given the right choice I bet he could shine. Simon says yes, Randy says no, his voice wasn’t that good. (And I agree.) But the boys leave it up to the girls, who would say yes to Mike’s adorable smile and big personality whether he could sing or not. And I’m correct, Mike is the first audition-er to get the golden ticket on Day Two of Boston auditions.
Up next is 16 year old Katie Stevens, who if we’re to believe the promo hype may have the best voice we’ve ever heard on Idol. And…and…a sob story! She takes care of her Alzheimer suffering Portuguese grandma. Grab the tissues guys, you are going to need them. “She won’t remember me for much longer, so I want her to see me succeed before she doesn’t know who I am.” SOB. Luckily, those tears will be sopped up with Katie’s incredible voice. She tackles at last, a hard hard song, and her voice has power, a hazy sexiness, great control, and a bawdiness that harkens to old-school jazz vocalists. She, clearly, makes it through to Hollywood. Remember this face America, you’ll be seeing it again:
After the young nubile Katie is Joshua, who at the elderly age of 28 is at his last American Idol auditions. His voice is pleasant enough but there’s no personality to it. Joshua sounds like he sings in his church choir and that the old ladies in the congregation love him. Randy says he could see Joshua in a new ground that does “Spandau Ballet” songs. Joshua is the epitome of a nice guy, even when the judges ask him to be mean. If the guy isn’t genuinely angry about the Spandau Ballet shout-out he doesn’t have the capacity to be angry. Surprisingly and based on his nice guy charm, Joshua is sent through by all four judges to Hollywood.
Alright, so these auditions have been pleasant enough….but who else here misses Paula and her bumbling? Everything thus far has been on cue, expected, and save some early train wrecks, rather run of the mill. Hopefully one of the celebrity guest judges will bring the crazy or personality. Posh, while fashionable, seems a wee bit, dull.
Next up is Justin Williams, who is another one of tonight’s sob stories. Seven years ago Justin was diagnosed with cancer. Justin, who is now cancer free, is a serious looker. And you can see Kara and Posh about fanning himself when he sings a Buble tune with a soft and sexy swagger. Victoria says, “you have a nice voice and I think the girls are going to like you.” And Victoria is correct. The ladies are going to love Justin. He gets four yeses, a golden ticket, and probably a fan site in the next 30 minutes or so from some smitten Idol fan.
Back on the crazy train in a big way with Norberto, who’s wearing a sequined vest, leather gloves, and what I sincerely hope is a permed mullet wig and a gigantic diamond. Norberto looks like a bearded lady, Simon says he looks like LaToya Jackson, which is surprisingly spot on. In case you’re the planning type, I recommend this as your Halloween costume this October:
Tell me it’s not perfect. …Cause if you’re not claiming it, I totally am!
Up next is a young man named Bosa, who despite a forgettable appearance, has quite a lovely voice. Simon says it perfectly, “good, but boring.” Simon says no, but the other three judges say yes, but that he has to work on his personality … and wardrobe choice. Jeans and polo shirt, not the most memorable outfit for an audition. Norberto won’t be making American Idol, but he will be remembered. Bosa might make American Idol, but unless something changes he won’t be remembered.
Our time in Boston is almost done and we have one audition left, Leah Laurenti. Leah could either be amazing or awful, but it will be one or the other, I guarantee you. Leah tackles “Blue Skies” and she leans more towards amazing. She has a soulful, strong voice, and interesting phrasing — though she struggles with pitch at some of the highest notes. Randy thinks that Leah is one of the best he’s seen in Boston and she gets four yeses and hopefully some much needed self-esteem.
Along with Leah 31 people will be leaving Boston and heading to Hollywood.
So there you have it America, our first audition without Paula Abdul, but enough of a glamourous sequined train wreck in Norberto to almost make up for her absence.
So what do you think, Idol faithful? Who was the best and worst of Boston?