American Idol Season 12 Chicago Auditions

18 01 2013

AmericanIdolLogoA lot of great talent blew through the windy city during the Chicago auditions. The little skit at the beginning was cute where the person on the phone thought their friend got through but she did not. It was a nice change of pace, but I wondered how much it was staged or actors were involved. And the rivalry between the divas, Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey continued to evolve, while Keith Urban felt like a scratching post. Meow. Nicki, while having some constructive comments, also left me thinking “what is she on tonight?” Nicki giving contestants nicknames is also going to get old real quick.

With her father playing piano for Vince Gill, Mackenzie Wasner, age 17, got a lot of experience on stage because Vince would let her perform. She had a beautiful voice but I felt her vocal range was limited from what I heard. There was no “wow” factor for me. I felt like I was listening to some Joan Baez.


Mackenzie Wasner

It was a quick “no” from the judges for Austin Earles who massacred Mariah’s song, “Fantasy.” If you are going to Mariah, especially in front of her, you have to try at the very least not to insult her.

Coming off a birthday fundraiser for Barack Obama, Kiara Lanier came in confidently and performed “The Prayer” by Celine Dion. The best part was that Nicki Minaj was talking, talking, talking, and Kiara said, “Could I say something?” Then she turns to Mariah Carey to share she was a huge fan, and which point Nicki quickly shut up. Keith Urban said she sounded a little like Aaron Neville. I thought it was good, but it was a little bit off-key and her vibrato cracks at times (maybe nerves?).


Kiara Lanier

Nicki was not “wowed” by Stephanie Schimel who sang “Dream A Little Dream Of Me” by The Mamas and the Papas. Once the other judges put her through, Nicki said she said “no” because she was wearing purple eye shadow like her and felt they have a rivalry going on. WHAT????????? Nicki is beginning to act like Paula.


Stephanie Schmiel

If you have to wear a costume to your singing audition, it is 99.99% likely you are not going to be able to sing well. Melissa Bush sang “Downtown” by Petula Clark. I hope she is a better massage therapist. Then Nicki leaves her with the comment, “You’ll always be my bush?” WHAT??????????????


Melissa Bush

Gabe Brown brought his rock-and-roll/best-of-Jack-Black imitation and cookies! This led me to wonder if they have official taste-testers for the judges. Nicki said she would call him “Curly” because of his hair I imagine. He is a really funny guy, but I did not appreciate the loudness of his voice which made the song “Give Me Shelter” border on a screamfest. I think if he dials it down a little bit, he could represent the rock-and-roll crowd well.


Gabe Brown

Computer animator/dancer Kevin Nabity ruined “One Week” by Barenaked Ladies and then went on to “Come Sail Away” by Styx. This is “not for you probably.” Probably? Randy Jackson was more to the point: “Let the singing go.”


Kevin Nabity

Isabelle Parell, age 15, was channeling Mandy Moore’s character from the movie, A Walk To Remember. She asked for someone to sing a duet with her to “Baby It’s Cold Outside” and both Keith and Mariah were happy to help. I like her personality but I would like to see more range from her. It was a “no” from Randy without any further explanation, but she is through to Hollywood.


Isabelle Parell

At this point, Keith Urban had to leave for a Vegas concert, leaving Randy Jackson to referee between the ladies.

Griffin Peterson is very good-looking but he has just an average voice. Nicki has nicknamed him, “Grrr.” He sang “Washed By The Water” by Need to Breathe. Meanwhile outside, we discover where he gets his flirting genes from–his mother. Ryan fulfilled a bucket-list request for her for a kiss (on the cheek). Randy said “no” as well to him, but Mariah and Nicki found common ground for a yes.


Griffin Peterson

I love Curtis Finch, Jr. He is a tutor at a private school in St. Louis. He sang, “God is Able” by Smokie Norful, who coincidentally Randy Jackson spoke to the night before. Testify! I got goosebumps! You know what that means. Nicki has nicknamed him “Finchy.” Curtis asked if his friend could meet Mariah because it would “change her life” and they were happy to accommodate. There was finally a nice moment between Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey where Nicki complimented her and she said “thank you.”


Curtis Finch

I liked Mariah Pulice‘s audition with “Let It Be” by The Beatles. Mariah Carey said the name is now the 62nd most popular name. I checked that statistic and it is more like 98th in 2011. It was 78th in 2008 (which was the best year for the name). I also liked that Mariah Pulice shook the judges’ hands and thanked them for giving her a chance.


Mariah Pulice

And at this point, the show goes into the day 2 auditions. Keith Urban is back but not between the ladies!

Although I am not a particular fan of country music, Brandy Neely, age 17, sang with a lot of power to the Hank Williams’ song, “Your Cheatin’ Heart.” She is very confident.


Brandy Neely

I also like Josh Holiday. He sang “Back At One” by Brian McKnight. I liked his runs.


Josh Holiday

Courtney Williams is also a very nice singer and was put through with four yeses.


Courtney Williams

Andrew Jones sang “Knock on Wood” by Amii Stewart. I have not heard that song in a long time and enjoyed it.


Andrew Jones

I thought a looming disaster was about to happen with Clifton Duffin whose parents have never heard him sing before. A secret squirrel. He sang “Superstar” by Luther Vandross, his mother’s favorite song. Ryan sneaked the parents in and his mother became very tearful at hearing the beauty of her son’s singing. Mariah cried. Keith Urban said he got all teary-eyed seeing his mother cry. Theme music plays, “Secrets” by OneRepublic (I’m not joking).


Clifton Duffin

Ieisha Cotton is a professional dancer who dances better than sings. She tried Ashanti’s “Thank You”. Mariah tells her stay with her dancing. Then Mariah claimed to be distracted by Nicki when Nicki asked her for a yes or no and Mariah said “yes.” When Ieisha comes out, she informs her family, “They said I’d be better off dancing….so hopefully I can make it on next year.” WHAT???? What part of stay with dancing means you can make it on next year. Try out for “So You Think You Can Dance” instead (but her dancing was not that great either).


Ieisha Cotton

What planet the judges on when they gave four yeses to return contestant Johnny Keyser I just don’t know. I did not think it was good enough anymore for the level of competition that they have in season 12. Nicki says to Mariah, “You’re dismissed.”


Johnny Keyser

The most unique act of both the New York and Chicago auditions was Kez Ban (pronounced Bahn) Sauerbier. She is a street performer and has recently started doing fire performance. Keith made a funny comment about “old flames” when he asked her if she was seeing anyone. She is different and I LIKE HER A LOT, especially when she sang her original song. I’ll remember her. She is in total shock that she made it through because she is quirky. Randy loves her.


Kez Ban Sauerbier

A montage is played of Les Miserables–those who did not make it through. I blame the people in their lives who never told them they did not sing well.

A lot of time was wasted on Ashley Curry, a delusional college student who attends St. Mary’s University in Minnesota studying musical theater. I guess any college will take your money and find ways to keep it. She has a twin and apparently singing is the only thing that separates the two of them. The look the twin gave Ashley in the holding room was more of, “Girl, you are going to crash and burn” even if her words are encouraging. I think the twin is the smarter one. Ashley ruined “Mamma Knows Best” by Jessie J. Randy was laughing the whole time. She asks to sing it again because she sang it in the wrong key and it is done in the SAME DAMN KEY. The judges cannot keep their laughter contained anymore. Mariah actually got up to try to contain herself and went to look out the window. Randy tells her someone should have told you before (that she cannot sing). Security walks her off as she tries to sing it a third time. Her sister says, “She’ll never stop singing (then a pause)….ever.” Mom reinforces her AGAIN, “It is for you.” Ashley blames the judges’ response on them being tired. Sweetie–I was not tired. I listened to it twice, once on one day and again on another, and you need to move on to a different career. Perhaps your acting is better. Please don’t contribute to noise pollution.


Ashley Curry

Last was a story about Lazaro Arbos. He has been stuttering since the age of 6 when he and his family lived in Cuba. When they moved here when Lazaro was age 10, the stuttering got worse. He has had a lot of therapy but has never improved. I think that he should seek out a speech therapist that specializes in stuttering. He sang, “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon and Garfunkel. A few of his words were wrong, “I will leave me down” instead of “I will lay me down” but it is okay. He has to be nervous and indeed after the song he is sweating quite a bit. I was curious why people who stutter while speaking do not stutter while singing. This is what I found: “The reason for not stuttering while singing is the prolonging of the syllables.”


Lazaro Arbos

Forty-seven contestants in total are through from Chicago to Hollywood. Next week is Charlotte, North Carolina, the site of the breaking story about the feud between Nicki and Mariah.



4 responses

19 01 2013

Oh Lazaro stole my heart!! My kids and I couldn’t fathom why he would have no friends . It was such a sad tale! I’m rooting for him. Meanwhile my girls were immediately fan girls for Griffin Peterson and googling him 🙂 Charlotte should be interesting! My hometown ! I really intended to take my adult friend with autism to that event but missed it sadly. He dreams if being a Star and never gives up. He’s not a great singer but a delightfully quirky man ( with a story) just looking for his moment to shine!! One day it will happen for him, but it won’t be center stage on this show . I tell him to never stop dreaming big 🙂


19 01 2013

Angie: Thank you for stopping by and taking time to leave a comment. I have a son with autism that is pretty severe on the spectrum. Lazaro’s story made me cry. Lazaro’s story did make me cry. My son has no friends either. My husband and I are his playmates. He is now 17. Charlotte is your hometown? My sister lives about 2 hours from there in Asheville. Beautiful area of the country.


19 01 2013
Angie Curry Saint

My friend Dave has high functioning autism. He is 46. Some of his family rejects him but we consider him like family. He was growing up in a time when people had no clue about autism. He has faced abuse and rejection but never ever have I seen him discouraged or downtrodden. He has the childlike purity and goodness of a young boy but the ability to drive which makes for lots of FUN as you can imagine. The misunderstandings continue though, but he does have a circle of people who understand him and enjoy him. There are enough stories right there in his life that I often think I need to figure out a way to TELL IT. He loves trains, and firefighters and of course always tried to become a firefighter. His love of trains led him to the train stations and train museum in Salisbury, NC often. Once , in a misunderstanding, he was caught “touching a train” and guess what? The Museum had him thrown in the back of a hot police car for hours and not allowed to come back to the place that he loves so passionately. It was just WRONG. We’ve often thought about making tshirts with his picture on it and marching up there and taking him back. It can’t even be legal to forbid him from the place. If anyone respects TRAINS, it is him! His amazing knowledge of facts astounds me. There was a time when he was studied at Duke but now that funding has been cut. I describe Dave as a mix between Forest Gump, Mr Rogers, Rain man and Gomer Pyle. He has so much to offer the world, I really wish someone would give him a job.Once he had a job at a pizza place but a fellow employee would throw pizza pans at his head and abuse him but Dave didnt tell anyone! For now, he seeks out purpose for himself by helping in his neighbor’s yards etc. He knows the area fire stations all by their numbers and visits them regularly. I wish they’d give him a little job, even if it was just sweeping the floor. Anything to just BELONG. Well, I’m blessed by Dave and happy to say he BELONGS with us. I love seeing my youngest daughter interact with him. They actually relate to each other perfectly and play like companions. She will never be the same and now has a big heart for people with differences. We can’t imagine life without Dave. This was the first think I read in your blog I am just getting started here, so I can’t wait to go read more about your journey, I will read it all!
We are in Charlotte, the land of Home Sweet “HOMELAND”, our favorite show!! Dave also aspires to act so I try desperately to get him on as an extra on anything filming in the region but nothing ever happens. (Except ONCE) I invited him to the set of a small independent film to be an extra. He hung around waiting for a long time and struck up a playful banter with the lead actor. Thank God for a Director who saw this, and had the eyes to see that Dave was more than just a prop or an inconvenience. In fact, he stopped what they were doing,plopped Dave in the middle of a scene and turned the camera on him! I coached the lead actor on the side and gave him prompts and clues on how to work with Dave and they rolled the cameras. In a completely unscripted moment, Dave got his moment to shine, held an amazing conversation, perfectly improvised alongside the wonderful Lead actor. By the end of his take, we were in tears and marveled at what we saw. Time stood still, Dave’s dream came true. Sure some people didnt like the interruption of their strict schedule,but it was magical for those who had eyes to see it. The angry ones walked off set at this disruption. Dave had fun, we cried. He just looked at us all happy, unable to recognize or feel what we felt but that was okay. I want more of those moments for Dave. He does have his weaknesses, but mostly with regard to his ability to read people and emotions. He never ever wants to get in trouble and he always wants to do what others tell him to do (that can be dangerous). So if you want to see his little movie debut, you can watch it here. We have LOTS of nicknames for Dave. In this case we called him the One Take Wonder because he masterfully performed an unscripted scene and it was kept just as it was and as random as it was =) Thank you again for this blog. I cannot wait to read more!!! and how he felt about it


20 01 2013

Angie: Thank you for sharing your journey and Dave’s. I will check out the videos later today after I run my errand. I bet you would like the book, “The Speed of Dark” by Elizabeth Moon. She has an adult child with autism and the book is a fictional story but it is a story that makes you think.


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