American Idol Season 14 New York Auditions

22 01 2015

1385015_10154925704030601_1985407597453397698_nKeith Urban could not be part of the judges’ panel so Adam Lambert was his substitute. He was a great mentor so I look forward to hearing him judge.

Bethpage’s Sal Valentinetti has a huge personality. He sings Sinatra. It’s decent. Harry thinks he is talented but not for Idol. Adam thinks the Idol viewing audience would love him. Jennifer and Adam are yes votes; Harry is a no.

J. None brought Mr. Crispy (an old stuffed bear) into his audition to give him comfort and he turned into G-rated Ted with Jennifer Lopez courtesy of Harry. J. None is a 24-year-old amusement park performer from Orlando (I am betting you it is Disney). He does a good job with “My Prerogative” by Bobby Brown. Harry channels his critique through Mr. Crispy that he liked him the minute he saw him and thought he sang very well. Jennifer agreed with Mr. Crispy. Mr. Crispy flirted with Adam saying he was so friggin’ handsome and Adam had a great comeback–“I’m really not into bears.” Adam thought he had a good pocket and groove. All three vote yes.

Jax came with a touching story about her father who was a first responder on 9/11. I expected the audition to suck and was so happy to be proven wrong. She is a true artist with a lovely rendition of “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” by the Beatles. She has one of those awesome unique voices. I was completely captivated. She said, “Not to kiss butt,” but she voted for Adam. Harry thought it sounded strong and lovely. Jennifer said she was shy and confident at the same time and Harry shouted “Shonfident!” Adam was drawn in immediately. He felt her energy was warm, grounded, and earthy. She is through to Hollywood with three confident yeses. Her mom planted a kiss on Ryan right on the lips.

Street performer Johnny Arco was arrested for playing violin in the subway system and giving attitude to the cops. He hails from Bushwick, NY. He decides to sing a Radiohead song. He is interesting. Harry thinks he is super talented but that Idol is not the right venue. Jennifer and Adam agree. It is a no for him but at least he got some exposure.

A self-described glamorous subway performer, (and I saw a Bedford Ave stop (I lived on Bedford Ave after I was born), Najah Lewis can make 300 in about 3 hours. She did “Payphone” by Maroon 5 (which is my ringtone). Her voice was very affective but if I closed my eyes I did liked it better. Harry was captivated. Adam felt she did things that were inventive and interesting. She goes through.

In a collage of blonde ambition, Maddie Walker returns to Idol having auditioned last year. She is a bit more polished this year I think. Courtney Zahn did well and got a fashion seal of approval from JLo. Jackie Ness did a great job too. Three is a charm and they all get tickets.

His father is in the cast of Stomp. His mother was the first black woman to win Miss Mississippi. His mother embarrasses him by announcing on television that her son is still a virgin. Qaasim Middleton sings “Sir Duke” by Stevie Wonder. He mixes his voice with sound effects and it so cool. He has such an upbeat personality and great look as well. Harry compliments him on his craft and going to school to work on it is impressive. Adam enjoyed his falsetto and scatting. He is going to Hollywood.

Bridgette Guerrette is a retail associate from Latham, NY. She tries to tackle Alanis Morissette’s “Uninvited“. I did not like it at all. Adam says no to Idol but the keep working on it. Jennifer doesn’t feel like Idol is right for her and also says no. Two no responses do Harry did not need anything.

Harry decides he wants to hear Adam do his audition over do they can enjoy it. Adam indulged them. They edited it to cut between the original audition and the present and he sounds even better now.

Adam Ezegelian, age 20, is a toy designer. He is from Wantagh, NY. He brought caricatures he drew of Harry, Jennifer and Keith but made one up of Adam Lambert on the way to the audition. He sings “Born to Be Wild” by Steppenwolf, a song Adam Lambert covered on Idol (and I still have that single in my ITunes). Adam is a character but I don’t think it was a good audition. Adam Lambert asks him to sing one more thing and he sings “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz. I preferred this song. It is still rough around the edges. Harry thinks he is great. Jennifer wasn’t sold with the first song but liked the second. Three yeses.

Katherine Winston is an 18-year-old musician from Lenox, Massachusetts. She makes it through.

Travis Findlay is a star in the making. He is a music producer. Life circumstances did not allow him to go to Berklee College of Music. He is 20 years old and from Baldwin, NY. He sang Rhianna’s “Stay“. Goosebumps but he has to not do so many runs. Some were less successful than others. He also has a great memorable look about him. Harry said he is so talented. Jennifer said he was a star. The audition was pretty but not perfect but he has that indescribable something else that they often get asked but can never really answer. Adam thinks this is the type of show that is made for him. He thinks he can do very well on the show. Ticket to Hollywood!

Benjamin Farmer, a 20-year-old sales associate from Cincinnati, OH sang “Proud Mary”. He was sharp, flat and changing keys. He starts off a montage of other Idol hopefuls that stood out for the wrong reasons.

Arianna (aka Yanni G) is a 23-year-old cover band singer from Newington, CT, who did “the cup song” where she used a Solo cup to bang out a rhythm, and sang Anna Kendrick’s “When I’m Gone.” She has a nice voice but the cup was distracting. Jennifer thought her voice was sweet but she did not get to hear what she is capable of doing because of the cup. Nick Fradiani, age 28, a musician from Guilford, CT is also auditioning. He sings “In Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel. Yanni G goes over to the side and you can tell by her face she is unhappy about the critique and maybe worried Nick will go through and not herself. I think Nick has artistry. He is taking a song and changing its arrangement. Yanni G sang the song exactly like the original song and brought a cup gimmick thinking it would be the thing that would get the judges to remember her. But in the end her love and support shines through when he gets the ticket to Hollywood and she does not.

Hollywood Anderson, age 22, is a busker from NY, NY. He sings an original composition. Goosebumps!!!!! Jennifer says, while the young man is singing, that she has goosies and wants to record this song tomorrow. Adam was grooving. Adam said there were so many dimensions to what he just did. It was so interesting and emotional to listen to. Harry said unquestionably the best audition that day, the best audition of the last 2 days, and possibly from the last 4 cities. He shares that he moved to New York 2 years ago and just learned to play this past year when he was given the guitar at Covenant House by Norm Lotz. And Norm gets to go inside to meet the judges. Hollywood is given a ticket to….Hollywood. I am moved by his gratitude for the chance and I am in tears. Jennifer is too.





American Idol Season 13 Rush Week Boys’ Night

21 02 2014

LogoThe judges had a difficult time deciding on the 10 contestants that would be given the opportunity to perform for America’s votes this evening. They finally finished in the dressing room before the show started.

First Pick

Caleb Johnson (from Asheville–did I mention my sister lives there? Yes I have!) He sings, “Stay With Me” by Faces. The thing he needs to work on is closing his eyes while he is singing. Chris Daughtry says that he does not want Caleb’s intense face to distract them and to smile.” Caleb sings again, this time smiling. Chris adds, “Okay, halfway.” Adam Lambert hears that he wants to be “subtle over-the-topness” and laughs. I think Caleb looks great, sounds fabulous and he definitely improved with his eye-closing issues. He had the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand. He was in command! Keith said it was “killer dude.” He has soul, a cool thing in his voice that a person is just born with. There are some things you can’t learn. It was the perfect song and a great way to start the show. Jennifer said it was amazing, a real rockstarish, the real deal. “It’s your time.” Harry said it will be tough for the guys following him. It was a strong way to start the show and congratulations.

Second Pick

CJ Harris. He defines himself as country soul. His guitar and voice were self-taught. Chris Daughtry said he was having a hard time following the guitar pattern, that it distracted from his amazing vocals and to ditch it. It would free him up to sell the song. He sang, “Shelter” by Ray LaMontagne. CJ ditches Chris’ suggestion to ditch the guitar. I’m not a guitar expert so I can’t comment on his guitar skills. I thought he slayed the song. He did a fantastic job and I like his new look, too. Jennifer said he makes her smile. She said he makes her feel so many things which is a beautiful thing. Harry said he was a great talent. He advised him to watch his intonation. Harry thought he had a tendency to sing really sharp. He felt like he was singing to him and that he was going to shelter him. Keith said it was a great mix of Dobie Gray and Jonny Lang blended in to this package that was so original.

Third Pick

Emmanuel Zidor. He tells Randy Jackson that he has been “humming since the womb and singing since 5.” He wants to sing “Best of My Love” by The Emotions. The rehearsal clips looked rough. I was entertained by his performance and I love his positivity but he has a lot of work to do. I would put him in the middle of my pack. I am also glad he did not try for the falsetto that bombed in rehearsals. Harry said it was so much fun. It reminded him of the performers in New Orleans–happy, infectious energy. He recommended the same advice he gave to everyone else: “Stay in your lane.” Keith said, “I agree with Harry.” Harry said, “That’s my girl right there.” And things got awkward. I wonder if they are trying to capture the Adam Levine/Blake Shelton bromance vibe? Keith advised him to watch his adrenaline level because he was singing above the note; rein it in. Jennifer said, “I Zi-dore you. You belong on a stage.” She said it was not the best song for him. Then she asks him to sing a little bit of “I’m Going Down” and he does. That’s cheating a bit, Jennifer.

Fourth Pick

Sam Woolf. He was just accepted to Berklee College of Music (Boston, MA). He sings, “Babylon” by David Gray. Michael Orland, the vocal coach, says that he is doing a lot of eye closing and looking down which can look like insecurity. I think he is nervous but he listened to the advice and I like when the contestants do that. I could hear his voice on the radio right now. I would even consider buying his record. He did a tremendous job. My favorite so far of the night. He has really won me over during the last two performances. Keith said, “The people like you Sam.” His voice is money. His tone is great. It was a good song for him. His performance will get better and better. Jennifer said he has a sweet quality. She hopes he can gain small degrees of confidence as the show goes on.

Fifth Pick

George Lovett. He chooses “Grenade” by Bruno Mars. Adam helped him with some stage movement. He was very nervous. I did not like this song as a ballad. It sounded like he was dragging a bit behind the band. His voice cracked a few times. His pitch was rough at times. Jennifer said it was really good but he needs to control the runs; there were just too many. Harry said it was easy to come so invested that you can sing yourself right off the microphone. His passion spun out of control. Harry has heard him sing better (and Harry gets boo #2 for the Idol season). Keith said song choice is crucial and that this song did not play to his strengths.

Sixth Pick

Dexter Roberts sings “This Ole Boy” by Craig Morgan. I like his makeover. I have no reference to compare this to, but I did find it enjoyable. Harry said there were good things about what he did. Keith said he was the real deal, a fully fledged country boy from Alabama. He was fun and easy to watch. He agreed with Harry about him needing to find out what separates him from all the country voices that sound just like him. Jennifer said it was easy in a cool way. She remarked that if he was nervous she did not see it. For American Idol, he did his thing.

Seventh Pick

Alex Preston. YAY!!! He plays 11-12 instruments? Whoa. He sang, “Volcano” by Damien Rice. His challenge is also making eye contact. I could tell during his performance that he was really trying to apply the lessons he learned during the workshop. I LOVE IT. It was better than the original. My new favorite performance of the night. He has such a unique sound among the boys. Keith said it was the best song choice of the night and a good performance. Jennifer said it had such a groove that was different than anything else. He is in his own lane. If he stays there, he could go very far. Harry said music is a religion to Alex. He said his favorite part was that he ended on the “9” and that Alex knew what he meant. Ryan asked for Harry to explain and he did with Alex’s assistance.

Eighth Pick

Malcolm Allen singing “Comin’ From Where I’m From” by Anthony Hamilton. I have never heard that song before. I think he still needs a lot of work on his stage presence. The stage swallows him up. He sings well, but there are some really talented guys in the mix this year. Jennifer said he has a great voice. She wanted his physical performance to hit her more. She said she should have gotten goosies on that–to hear the pain that is in that song. She needs him to bring his heart and soul to it next time. Harry said he is a good run singer, but the danger is singing in the exact same run over and over and over; it was the same five notes and he needs to sing it in tune which elicits boo number three for Harry. Keith said–oops he ran out of time to talk. He felt like he was at the Grammy’s. He told Malcolm he needed to make artistic choices and gave him a suggestion on how that could have worked.

Ninth Pick

Ben Briley (aka “Gumbo”) I LOVE his makeover. He is singing “Soulshine” by The Allman Brothers Band. He also tends to close his eyes while he is singing. I really liked it. My judgment of him getting through over Neco Starr might have been premature and incorrect. I really truly enjoyed that. Harry said Ben seemed to like it and thought he (that he thought Ben thought) nailed it. It was a great job and was interesting. Keith said he has a great voice which was better than his guitar playing. Keith thought it was the first shredder solo on Idol. Jennifer commented that some people come alive when they are on stage versus in the rehearsal which is a sign of a true performer.

Tenth Pick

Spencer Lloyd to the delight of all the teenage girls in the room. He sings, “Love Don’t Die” by The Fray. He asked for advice about whether to use the guitar or not with the performance. Randy said for him to sing with it. Adam Lambert and vocal coach Melissa Garcia said without the guitar. The song started off rough with a lot of notes out of key. Midway through though I felt he found a groove. Being a worship leader, I know he can get a crowd going and this crowd was going, going, gone. Keith said that song choice is important and this was not his best vocal performance tonight. Jennifer said he moved the crowd and that when he is up there, he is a star. Harry said the song, “Say Something” was his strong suit; this was not. He reminds Spencer to stick to what he knows. This was not good (and Harry was booed again). He told Spencer that singing ballads is good.





American Idol Rush Week Girls’ Night

19 02 2014

I’m very upset. I don’t understand some of the judges picks. But let’s start with what we have before I go on a rant.

I like the new stage and the new feel. Jennifer Lopez looked stunning tonight. Harry and Keith are also looking great. Only 10 people will sing based on who impressed the judges saw during dress rehearsal and 5 will be going home. This year Randy Jackson will be the mentor and conduct workshops. He wants to see the contestants learn from their experiences the prior week. The workshops bring together vocal coaches, musical director Rickey Minor, stylists, movement coaches, and….spiritual advisors (?????) Billy and Julie Mauldin. Well, okay, but what if we have atheists among the group? Also coming to share wisdom with the contestants are Adam Lambert and Chris Daughtry.

First pick

Majesty Rose York: Adam Lambert happens to be her favorite American Idol. She sings “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. Adam thinks it is the perfect song; it fits her personality and style. I thought the guitar is more like a crutch for her right now as I watched her performance. I think she would have done better without it. Her clapping was out of time with the audience (or vice versa) and it was distracting. She ditched the guitar finally towards the end of the song. The vocals were great though. Jennifer thought her voice was amazing. The whole place was on their feet and it was a very good start. Harry said she did a fantastic job. Keith said she has this breezy thing about her and had good vocal range.

Second pick

Kristen O’Connor sings “Turning Tables” by Adele. Chris Daughtry said he got chills on her first note. He offered her some great practical advice regarding stage presence. As I listened, I heard weird breaks in her phrasing and that she ran out of breath (it seemed). But there was nice control in her voice towards the end. Harry thought it was a really powerful performance. Keith said she has killer range but the breathing issues were likely from nerves. However, she got control of it halfway through. Jennifer felt she had the most special tone to her voice. She could hear her recording records tomorrow. The timing was off with the band but about halfway through she locked in and got it together.

Third pick

Briana Oakley. “Warrior” by Demi Lovato. Vocal coach Antonio Sol said that in her movement she was either not feeling it or seeing it coming through from within herself. I think she is still having connection problems. I used to be a big fan of her voice, but there are times where there are issues but then she shows a good stretch for a little while. It was inconsistent. The part I had issues with made me want to close up my ears. Keith loved the clarity in her tone and compared it to Irene Cara. The last quarter of the song she found the voice. He reminded her that she cannot be smiling when she is talking about being a warrior. Jennifer said she looked scared. She had the sound of a young Whitney Houston. The thing that has to come together is the performance quality and the connection to what she is singing. Harry said the high notes are not triple axels. She did a fine job but to be wary of it (the high notes) just because they get applause.

Fourth pick

Jena Irene (that’s GINA, not JENNA). She wants to sing “Paint It Black” by The Rolling Stones. Chris Daughtry said she has to work on her confidence. There were moments where she was questioning everything she was doing. Oh poor Randy. He pronounced her name incorrectly. She is a rocker girl!!! I loved it. She had a very powerful voice. It seems she took Chris’ advice. I think she almost sounds like Ann Wilson from “Heart.” At this point, this is my favorite of the night. Jennifer said it was sultry and one of her favorites. Harry asked her in one sentence what the song was about and she replied, “Darkness.” Keith said she was one of his favorites since the audition cities. He likes how she holds the microphone stand.

Fifth Pick

Bria Anai. She hopes to get some styling advice. Adam said there was a lot of arm pumping going on. She sang Melanie Fiona’s “Wrong Side of a Love Song.” I had goosebumps. The last note was rough in her lower range but otherwise I thought it was fantastic. Harry, however, thought it sounded like she was shouting, but otherwise was fantastic. Keith said to try not to overshoot the runway, but she still has the lips (a reference to her signature style). Jennifer said she had “star” written all over her. She needs to work on staying in control.

Sixth Pick

Marrialle Sellars: Let my rant begin. WHAT do the judges find SOOOO fascinating about this girl? I have yet to see any performance that I have liked. More talented singers have been sent home because she took this spot. She decides to sing “Roar” by Katy Perry and I do not even like what I hear in rehearsals. Adam tells her to slow it down (too frantic). He told her she has the goods but she needs to learn how to take her time. I do not see it. I don’t know how she keeps getting picked over and over. I did not think she deserved the spot in the top 15. I really dislike this song. It is totally off key and amateurish. It is my least favorite vocal so far of the night. Keith said her voice and ability to perform are much better than what they saw tonight. It was not the right song to shine on. It was not the best tempo. “It was karaoke baby.” (The first “baby” of the evening I believe). Jennifer wished she would have brought her guitar out. This was not the best showcase of who she is. She let the crowd get away from her a little bit and it affected her performance. Harry said her intonation needs working on (the ability to stay in tune). She must start singing in the pocket. He wished she would have brought her guitar and wished she showed more of the “superstar” that he knows she is. (REALLY????? SUPERSTAR????? WHEN HAS SHE EVER DEMONSTRATED SUPERSTAR ON ANY OF THE PERFORMANCES WE’VE SEEN????)

Seventh Pick

Jessica Meuse wants to sing “Drink A Beer” by Luke Bryan. Chris Daughtry felt her voice was better than her guitar playing and wanted her to step away from it and challenge herself. However, she opts for the guitar. For me, sometimes she sounds like Stevie Nicks. She is in the middle for me in terms of where I like her. However, it was very nice to hear something soft instead of going big. Jennifer said she was nervous; however, the soft and the heart she connects to. She loves her country tone. Harry said she brings something different to the table that is fresh and exciting. Technically she needs to watch for intonation, too. She goes sharp (per Harry maybe nerves). He wanted to feel what she was singing about, but again it may be nerves. He felt there was a wall between them. Keith said he was going to root for someone from Slapout, Alabama. There was, however, a disconnection between lyrics and the facial expressions.

Eighth Pick

Emily Piriz. She decides to sing “Paris (Ooh La La)” by Grace Potter. This shows me that she does not learn from others’ mistakes. Randy calls her out on it too reminding her that he is not sure the judges are going to like that song. Adam says she has to start the song more aggressively. The chorus is the punch line. The song will only work if she sings it like a rock star. She sang it well but I felt weird watching it on stage but I am not sure exactly why. Perhaps it is because it is not a song for the Idol audience. Harry asked her to say the first two lines of the song (which she does) and he says he understands she is not interested in the storyline (based on what she said during the interview). He asks her now that she is 18 does she really want to be singing that kind of song? Keith said to Harry, “It’s a touchy subject, Harry.” Harry responds, “Literally!” Keith said one of the things is this–about standing in front of the mirror for hours to bring out the rock chick. He gets that but a real artistry is through expression. It is not about standing in front of the mirror and pretending to be anyone or tapping into anything. Jennifer said she did very well. She liked it and that it was the most relaxed performance thus far. She loves her and hopes she is in the top 5. Ryan said to Emily that “Harry is in Daddy mode there.”

Ninth Pick

MK Nobilette. Her challenge is to stay connected to the song. She chooses “All of Me” by John Legend. Her lower range is rough. I liked her voice about 75% of the time. She had the emotional connection to the song so took those words and her challenge to hear. Keith said it was the perfect song choice. Jennifer said it was making people feel something. It was true sentiment and she loved it so much. Harry said she was an elegant, articulate singer. The defeatist attitude he saw during Hollywood week was gone. She belonged here.

Tenth Pick

Malaya Watson. Adam loves her runway style and Chris says her voice is stupid (good). I had goosebumps. She sang “Hard Times” by Ray Charles. It was the best performance of the night. She has such a personality for such a young woman. Jennifer says the second “baby” of the night. Jennifer said she is one of those powerhouse singers and is amazing. Harry wants to eat a donut (it was so sweet). He looks forward to watching her settle.

Neco or Ben?

Ben. I’m shocked.

Rest of My Rant

Final part of my rant. How can these judges put through Marrialle Sellars time after time after time and not see the talent in Jillian Jensen is so much more? I just don’t get it. It is the same thing I felt about Savion Wright being cut. I will say a prayer that she is one of the judges’ wild card picks. The comeback kid!!!!





So You Think You Can Dance — America’s Top 20 Revealed

12 06 2011

Vegas Hell week is over. Of the 31 dancers that remain, America’s Top 20 will be chosen. I loved having the all-stars last year. It immediately elevated the dance contestants to a higher level, but having only 10 of them go through was difficult. Some gifted dancers, like Ryan Ramirez, did not make the cut, but surely if there had been a top 20, she would have. A decision was made to bring together the best of both worlds: Have a top 20 and when it whittles down to the top 10, bring in the all-stars. I LOVE IT! Tonight they combine 2 shows into one, grouping the announcement of what dancers have made the cut into their dancing styles. Some of these dancers we’ve seen on screen before; some are new to us. After they were announced we would get to see the group dance.

Ricky Jamie auditioned in Salt Lake but this is the first time he has really been featured. He has been dancing since he was 9. He has great height and lines. He is confident that his answer will be a yes, and it is. Miranda Maleski then took the long walk to hear her fate. Nigel plays with her heartstrings, doing the bait and switch to pretend like she is leaving, but she is also in the top 20. One of my early favorites, Melanie Moore, from my sister’s former town of Marietta, Georgia, also joins the top 20. I look forward to her enchanting us with her pixie dust. Abigail Ruiz and Kate Linetka would not be part of this year’s competition. The Mallory sisters started this journey together and then walked together to receive the news of their fate: Sasha would be the one moving forward. I’ve known of Sasha since September of 2010 when I saw her performing with the Adam Lambert tour.

Melanie, Miranda, Ricky and Sasha then took the stage to dance a routine choreographed by Stacey Tookey to the song, “In This Shirt” by The Irrepressibles. In the champagne-colored outfits, they glided about the floor in an ethereal way. They all partnered well together, each being there for the other for some intricate movement. Since no one goes home tonight, there are no critiques, just praise.

Contemporary

Melanie, Miranda, Ricky and Sasha perform Stacey Tookey's routine

Back to the green mile, Chris Koehl of Texas has taken this trip before in season 7. Mary Murphy delivers the good news that he will be a part of season 8. Tadd Gadduang (from the Salt Lake auditions, who reminded me of Dominic) and Wadi Jones will be joining him. Virgil “Lil’O” Gadson, however, did not make it through, although Nigel complimented him on his wonderful personality; perhaps next year. Drace Reed was also eliminated. Robert Taylor (the Woo man) was not feeling confident about his chances to make it to the top 20. Being 30, this was his last year to try out. Bryce “Professor Lock” Johnson also wondered if there would be room for him. It was “Woo” versus “Indubitably.Robert, who previously auditioned in season 3 for American Idol, was in and Bryce was out.

Chris, Robert, Tadd and Wadi took to the stage to perform a routine by Dave Scott to the song “Everyday (Coolin’) by Swizz Beatz featuring Eve. Robert almost looked with Twitch with the red glasses on. I’ll have to say that Tadd had the best moves, but Robert’s personality stood out. The boys got swagga.

HipHop

Chris, Robert, Tadd and Wadi performed Dave Scott's hip-hop.

Ballrooms dancers are up next and out of everyone that made it to Vegas only 2 survived: Iveta Lukosiute and Lenny Progue. My guess is that both of them would make it as it is a male/female partnership. Mary delivers the news straight-up to Lenny: He was too weak in his other styles. Would 10-dance World Champion Iveta be in? This is her last year to compete in this competition. Mary Murphy is very emotional delivering the news to Iveta and it did not look like she would make it either. Iveta makes it!

They brought in Pasha to dance with Iveta, dancing to a Jason Gilkison routine to the song, “Ven a Bailar (On the Floor)” by Jennifer Lopez featuring Pitbull. She looked stunning as Pasha expertly guided her along the dance floor, in a paso doble complete with skirt-yanking-turned-cape. While Iveta showed us why she is a world champion, I still adore Pasha and Anya’s partnership. It’s hard to build chemistry with someone you’ve just met. When Iveta is described as a 10-dance World Champion, it is not that she won 10 different competitions, but rather is the champion in all the different ballroom dances.

Ballroom

Iveta finishes performing Jason Gilkison's routine.

Jazz dancers were highlighted next. Clarice Ordaz and Bridget Krouse were nervously awaiting their fate. Clarice received good news; Bridget was sent home as was someone named Tae Kwon. Another one of my favorites, Marko Germar, is the young man who was shot in the shoulder, the bullet still embedded inside. We will be seeing him in our top 20. Missy Morelli and Jordan Casanova (another of my early favorites) are the little vixens vying for our attention of their seductive prowess. Could the top 20 handle both of them? Yes we can!

Performing a dance choreographed by Sonya Tayeh to the song “Vanguardian” by Steed Lord, Clarice, Jordan, Marko and Missy took the stage. By Sonya’s standards, this was pretty tame, but was still fierce. Sonya’s describes her dance style as “combat jazz.” They all made her proud and had Tyce on his feet.

Jazz

Clarice, Jordan, Marko and Missy perform Sonya Tayeh's routine.

Broadway/Tap dancers were the next group. Although he auditioned in Atlanta, Nick Young was not one of the featured dancers, so we have not learned much about him. He is from Wisconsin and played sports in high school. Back in the early 2000’s, he toured with Kenny Rogers Christmas show as an actor/singer. Jesse LeProtto was one of my early favorites, reminding me a great deal of Evan’s dancing, but with a little bit more attitude, which actually bothered the judges. Jesse knows he is good and I feel sometimes that is not a bad thing. He also has a great sense of humor, saying that hip-hop was the dance he excelled in. He is in, as was Nick.

Nick and Jesse came together on stage to perform Christopher Scott’s immensely entertaining routine to Nina Simone’s “Funkier Than A Mosquito’s Tweeter.” It showcased the dancer’s fun personalities and their mad skills as tappers. If I had to choose who the better tapper was Nick would have the edge. Jesse hams it up with the audience which brings a smile to my face. Nigel tells us that 4 of the girls are also tappers. He also said, “This warmed the cockles of my heart.”

Contemporary dancers were last. Caitlynn Lawson auditioned in Salt Lake City but was not one of the featured dancers on that show. She hails from Washington State and is a senior in high school. A bit of a tomboy, she likes to fish, camp and go four-wheeling with her family. She kind of reminds me of Lacy Schwimmer around the eyes. She sails into the top 20. Ashley Rich would also be joining her. With only one spot left for the girls, Ryan Ramirez found herself in a similar predicament as last year. Alexa Anderson waited nervously along with her. Only one of them would be moving on. However, they would have to wait as Mitchell Kelly’s fate would be determined next. Mitchell auditioned in Atlanta, but again was not a featured dancer on that show. Chicago, Illinois is his hometown, and started dancing relatively late at the age of 15. He receives a “yes” from the judges. Alexander Fost and Jeremiah Hughes were vying for the last spot for the males. Alexander receives the last spot. Would it be Alexa or Ryan? Both young ladies are very emotional. Ryan receives that coveted last spot.

Travis Wall has become a choreographer who has moved me to goosebumps and tears. He was on season 2 of “So You Think You Can Dance” and came in second, proving that you do not actually have to win on this show to become successful. “Moth’s Wings” by Passion Pit played while Alexander, Ashley, Caitlynn, Mitchell and Ryan took the stage. The dance was celebratory, soft and spiritful, floating and fluid. While everyone should be commended on a job well done, my eye was particular drawn to Ryan. All the judges were on their feet clapping for this one. Cat loves Travis’ bow tie.

Contemporary2

Alexander, Ashley, Caitlynn, Mitchell and Ryan dance to Travis Wall's routine

But wait, that is not it. The audience is to be treated to three more routines. The 10 guys perform to a routine by Christopher Scott, where he mixes hip-hop with contemporary and pulls it off. The song is “Velocity” by Nathan Lanier. It was reminding me for some reason of The Matrix when all the infected versions of Agent Smith come out of the doors (ha, I wrote that about The Matrix before Nigel said the same thing in his critique). I have a harder time finding small faults with a large group, so for me, bravo to all of them for a job well done. Interesting comment from Nigel when he says that “this show doesn’t favor the boys all the time” (reference to American Idol).

The routine for the top 10 girls was done by Sonya Tayeh. Her theme is to “make a geisha girl creepy and twisted and excited.” Sonya is the perfect mama cub who pushes her pups to work hard but at the end of the day is the one hooting and hollering in the crowd in thunderous support and pride. The song is Pop Drop and Roll by Chonique Sneed and Lisette Bustamante. The timing and precision of the girls are flawless. Mary needs a bigger Hot Tamale Train. Lil’C has words for Sonya for the acronym of her hand which moves Nigel to come over and hug him.

After commercial, Nigel says that next week 2 dancers will go home, one male and one female. This year, we will be allowed up to 50 votes on-line for our favorite dancer.

The top 20 then performs to a Tyce Diorio routine to the song “Little Bird” by Annie Lennox. Some of Tyce’s routines have also made me cry in the past, but tonight it is about celebration and being upbeat. The show closes out without any comments but the pictures and names of this season’s SYTYCD.

Tyce

All the contestants perform Tyce's number

Good luck to all the contestants next week!





So You Think You Can Dance — Salt Lake City, NY, LA

8 06 2011

After watching these auditions, there seems no end to the talent still out there. Most of the people picked have contemporary or hip-hop backgrounds; very few ballroom dancers have been seen.

Salt Lake City

Robin Antin from the Pussycat Dolls (and sister of famed hair stylist Jonathan Antin), Mary Murphy and Nigel Lythgoe served as judges for this segment of the trip. I found Robin annoying with her constant talking about the Pussycat Dolls and if this or that contestant would work for her group. This is not about them; this is about THIS show.

First to perform are a pair of steppers, Devon McCullough and Micah Clark from SLC. They were in-sync with a very difficult routine. During choreography, however, only Devon made it through to Vegas.

Chyna Lee Smith from Pocatello, Idaho, had overflowing enthusiasm and a long list of SYTYCD alumni with whom she has worked: Matt, Natalie, Brandon, and Allison Hooker did the choreography for her audition. She comes from a dancing family, her mother having danced with the Osmond’s. She’ll be one to look for during the Vegas auditions.

It was fun to watch Annie Gratton, of Phoenix, Arizona, with her father, Francois Gratton. I dare say that the father performed better than the daughter when they danced together at Nigel’s request, but Annie is going to Vegas; dad can’t meet the 30-year-old cut-off.

Tadd Gadduang reminds me of the playfulness of Dominic Sandoval. He performed his hip-hop routine to classical music. He was straight through to Vegas.

Samantha Miller many have lost some of her memories, but her muscle memory is still there. She was put through to choreography but was told to come back and audition next year.

Day two of Salt Lake City discovered the talents of Chase Thomas from Provo Utah. Performing a contemporary routine, he showed a lot of strength. His lines were not the cleanest, but he did okay. This is the young man whose former girlfriend cheated on him, but found someone else and is now happily married. He is through to Vegas.

I am not sure what I make of the Brittany/Ringo Starr thing. If her father was just acting, then no harm, but he was demented and has delusions thinking he is Ringo Starr, then that was wrong to have exploited him.

New York Auditions

From my birthplace, Brooklyn, Jason Gilkison, Mary Murphy and Nigel Lythgoe were judging this set of performers. I was introduced to a new term: Whaackin. It is a style of dance that came into prominence around the 70s in predominantly gay club scene. It draws from modern jazz, funk, soul and ballet to name a few. It also has distinct elements of vogueing and locking as well. Samara “Princess Lockeroo” Cohen from Brooklyn brought this unique style of dance to life and got a ticket straight to Vegas.

Performing a contemporary/lyrical dance was Brandon Jones from New Brunswick, NJ. He had great height and strength. He was given a ticket to Vegas.

Brian Henry from Brooklyn was an odd dude. Performing an energetic and aggressive krump dance, he looked angry. However, when he said it was his “praise dance” and that he “krumped for Christ” I did not know how to understand that. After choreography, he was given a ticket to Vegas.

Our Irish step-dancer, Mary Kate Sheehan, also from Brooklyn, was up next. She made great use of the stage and made step-dancing look easy and graceful. She was sent to choreography and then earned her ticket to Vegas.

Virgil “Lil’O” Gadson from Philadelphia was also given a ticket to Vegas.

Day 2 of the Brooklyn auditions brought out dance styles other than contemporary and hip-hop. Jess LeProtto from Little Falls, New Jersey performed a cute jazz routine. He reminded me of Evan. After choreography, we will be seeing more of him in Vegas.

One of the few contestants we’ve seen performing a Latin dance, after only 3 years of ballroom experience, Kristen Dobson impressed Mary Murphy. Jason gave her some constructive criticism about her performance. We’ll be seeing her in Vegas after showing her abilities in the choreography session.

The “Woo” Man, 30-year-old Robert Taylor, Jr., of Brooklyn, was a lot of fun in his hip-hop routine. He was not as tight as others we have seen, but he was given a ticket to Vegas.

Los Angeles auditions

Tyce DiOrio, Mary Murphy and Nigel Lythgoe were the judges for this last on-the-road auditioning segment.

Jordan Casanova of Chino Hills, CA, was a sexy spitfire. She said she “turns into something else on stage.” Indeed she did and earned the first ticket to Vegas.

Derion “DC” Chapman of Reseda, CA, reminded Nygel of Twitch, who was in the audience. He was given a ticket straight to Vegas.

Having tried out many seasons in the past, Arielle Coker of Los Angeles wowed all the judges with the improvements she had made. We will be seeing her in Vegas.

Hero McRae, hailing from Japan, was crazy good with her hip-hop routine which was rewarded with a ticket to Vegas.

The last day of on-the-road auditions brought us such potential as Alexis Mason, sister of Season 5 winner Jeanine Mason). Patty Anne Miller, a style consultant, also of Los Angeles, did a fabulous hip-hop routine. She had received a full scholarship for drumming to Berkeley School of Music and had graduated. Both received tickets to Vegas.

The last audition was for sisters Sasha and Natalia Mallory from Bakersfield, CA. Sasha had previously been a dancer on Adam Lambert’s tour. Nigel was surprised at the dancing that came from Natalia because of her weight. Nigel has a short memory (Donyelle Jones, 3rd place winner in season 2). They were sent to choreography and both sent through to Vegas.

Vegas week is grueling and only the strong (and those who avoid injuries) survive. I hope some of my favorites will be there.





My American Idol Finale Trip — The Final Chapter

3 06 2011

Glicel and I retired to our room after the American Idol finale on Wednesday night. I had already received a phone call from my Twitter buddy, Robert Burnett, who is currently directing episodes of Femme Fatales on Cinemax. Having missed our dinner reservations for LA Market by Kerry Simon (a Gordon Ramsay restaurant, where Nona Sivley was now working, winner of Hell’s Kitchen Season 8), I had booked a reservation for 9 p.m. on May 25th after the Idol finale. Rob would meet us there.

After seeing that the menu did not have a dish with vegetables with nuts, I opted for the bricked organic chicken with organic farro, braised beet greens and citrus jus.

Chicken

My chicken dish.

Glicel had the special-recipe meatloaf with mashed potatoes.

Meatloaf

Secret recipe meatloaf

Rob had grilled beef tenderloin with Yukon au gratin, onion, smoked bacon and red wine jus.

Tenderloin

Beef tenderloin

Ryan was our server. We each gave a little sample of our dish. I was a little disappointed when I took some chicken off the bone and it was a big pile of fat. There was not much of the chicken, but when I did actually get the chicken, it did melt in my mouth. However, after tasting the beef tenderloin, I had wished I had ordered that.

Glicel has a S’mores fettish right now, so we indulged. We reached consensus that there was no beating the original.

Smores

Upscale S'mores

My friend’s son wanted to go into filmmaking (surprise to me because I thought he wanted to be a musician) and she asked Rob a lot of questions. Rob was kind enough to offer his advice. The time went by very quickly; he had an early morning call so we parted ways.

Rob Glicel and me

Rob Burnett, Glicel, and me.

Texas is hotter than Hades right now (reached 100 degrees today). Even with the heat on (yes we turned on the heater in our room), I was still cold so the hotel was kind enough to bring me up a blanket. I went to the business center to find it had closed but they had a few computers outside the actual room. I used the opportunity to post on Twitter and Facebook and to print out our boarding passes for our flight home. On the way back up the elevator, I met two radio station personalities from Houston. I was trying to find a few of these people during the trip, and here they are in my elevator. I took the opportunity to explain who I was and when the Idols came into town, if they were interviewing them, I would love the opportunity to ask them questions or just say hello. They gave me their business cards and told me to contact them. They seemed to know me, or at least know my name, which was odd, but I had done a lot of promotional marketing for our April Rock Autism event benefitting my son’s school, “Including Kids”, so it is possible they remembered it from an email I sent. Hope lives that I will get to meet James Durbin soon.

It was 2-3 a.m. once again before I fell asleep and was up at about 7 a.m. We decided to go back to LA Market for breakfast where we opted for the buffet. We inquired if Nona was working, but we were told she would not be in until the afternoon. After breakfast, I ran down to the business center to post on Twitter and Facebook and mail off some things to home that would exceed the liquid limits on the airplane ride home. I also stopped in the gift shop where my new friend was excited to share her news: She was able to go to the finale herself and she smuggled in a camera. Her pictures were fantastic. We left in our taxi around 10:15 or so for our 12:45 flight home. I expressed my exuberant thanks to the taxi driver for the more peaceful ride to the airport.

Tired campers

A Rob-Burnett-inspired photo

Hallway

I pictured a big wheel and two ghosts.

We went and checked out some areas of the hotel we had no time to explore.

Pool

And it was heated.

Nokia

Nokia from the pool-eye's view.

Marriott

The opposite corner's view

Our flight was just a few minutes late. Although my itinerary said Glicel and I were sitting together, the boarding passes indicated we were not. Instead, I got to sit to this inspiring 20-something-year-old named Donnell. He is a hip-hop music producer who had been in LA for a few months, and was just now returning home to Atlanta. We talked music for awhile and I let him listen to some of Houston’s local talent that I had on my IPod. Our discussions turned more philosophical and I was in awe at his wisdom, an old soul. I don’t think I ever did this in my life with someone I met on the plane, but I gave him my email address and asked him to keep in touch. I have met some wonderful people in my lifetime on a plane, even held the hand of a woman an entire flight who was going to her grandbaby’s funeral. The life stories I have heard have enriched my life. I normally thank them for sharing and wish them a wonderful life, but Donnell was different. He actually emailed me on Sunday and I was tickled. We plan to keep in touch. We had a very bumpy ride into and out of Phoenix, the kind of turbulence that makes your stomach drop. This turbulence was NOTHING compared to a flight from New Orleans to Houston when there were tornado warnings out in the area of the Houston airport. That was the scariest flight I ever took.

The next segment of our flight was both booked solid and late arriving (for us to even board). They asked people who were in loading zones 3, 4, and 5 for boarding to step forward and check their bags so they could get the plane boarded quickly so we could take off as soon as possible. Only five stepped forward. We were rewarded with an upgrade to zone 2 boarding. Because people did not listen to the airline personnel, when they tried to bring their luggage on board, it was packed, so they had to go back out of the plane to check their bags, causing a further delay in the flight. I let out a heavy sigh. If people do not cooperate voluntarily to a direction or suggestion that will ultimately make things better for all, everyone else suffers.

Glicel and I did sit together this flight, but our attention was directed to the young mother flying with her 2-month-old child. The baby was wonderful through the flight. She was on a one-way flight from Phoenix to Houston to live closer to home. As we were close to landing in Houston, she informed us of a family member serving in the armed forces and was stationed in Korea and also had had a baby. She was missing him. I thanked her for his service, noting that the families of those serving in the military deserve our gratitude as well. With Memorial Day around the corner, I shared that my father-in-law, would be turning 90 on that Saturday, had served in World War II on the naval vessel Daniel T. Griffin in the Pacific campaign. My father was in the Navy during the Korean War, but I believe he was stationed in Europe and did not see any actual fighting. Glicel and I helped her get out of her seat and get her baby fastened safely into stroller in the jetway. As we parted, I gave her a big hug. I do hug people all the time. It’s the only way I can let out all of the emotion I feel inside sometimes.

We arrived about an hour late, but Glicel’s husband was there to pick us up at baggage claim. Somebody in that area was having a serious flatus problem; I had to hold my breath until we got outside. When I got home, I realized the only one who missed me was my golden retriever.

What a whirlwind trip it was! We encountered a few hiccups, but overall I had the time of my life. The trip turned out exactly the way the trip was meant to turn out. Los Angeles’ weather was a glorious reprieve from the oppressive Texas heat. We left our sign for James Durbin at Nokia; I can always hope that someone may have given it to him, particularly because of the nature of the sign (with all the autism ribbons on it). The recorded Idol finale will never be erased from my DVR; all I have to do is replay it, and it will take me right there again.

Many thanks to be given: To Fox Broadcasting for not only developing the program, but for offering this as a prize within our group. To my local station, Fox 26 Houston, for the recommendation to be a part of this wonderful VIP program. To the JW Marriott LA Live staff. To Jessica and Scott who helped to make this adventure even more fun. To Rob for coming out to dinner with us even though he was likely tired. To US Airways for getting us from point A to point C in one piece and for the friendliness of their employees. To my friend, Glicel, who accompanied me. To my husband for working it out so I could go. To my sweet Patrick who did not give my husband any trouble while I was gone. To my friends for putting up with me during those weeks between winning and going. And to anybody whose name I did not catch, thank you as well.





American Idol Finale — Day 2, Part B: The Show

1 06 2011

Although the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles seats 7100, the theater seems very intimate with a good view from every chair. This was my ticket:

Ticket

My ticket for American Idol Finale

And I was seated about where I have the dot on the chart:

Nokia

Sat in the blue section, right side, where the dot is.

We entered about 3:45 p.m. The production staff was on stage. I thought maybe Comfort from So You Think You Can Dance might have been one of the choreographers on the stage, too, but we were too far away for me to make a positive identification. I had forgotten binoculars! Those WERE allowed into the theater. Bicycles were practicing behind them, which immediately brought Arcade Fire’s Grammy performance to mind. To my right in the mezzanine section was a sign for one of the contestants with battery-operated lights. I immediately realized the poor choice I made in the color selection of the sign for James. The cameras would never see it. To our left in the LOGE section was a group of young ladies holding up individual-letter balloons that spelled out S C O T T Y. Very creative.

I got to meet some more Fox people who were sitting around us. Everyone was so wonderful. I hope my excitement did not get on their nerves.

Corey is the warm-up guy for American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance. He sounds like Ryan Seacrest. Before the show began, they introduced the judges: Randy Jackson, then Jennifer Lopez who was in a stunning gown, and then Steven Tyler. Then we were live.

Benefitting greatly from on-line voting this year, the vote for Scotty versus Lauren brought in a record 122 million votes. Decked-out in white, reminiscent of the David vs. David year, Lauren and Scotty took the stage. The group performed the Lady Gaga song, “Born This Way” and it sounded great in the theater.

During the commercial break, people were going in and out from the audience. Corey asked everyone to get up on their feet, especially towards the end of a song.

Coming into the theater on the orchestra level was a bald guy with a spiked costume. My friend was yelling to me that was James Durbin, but I was looking at the bald guy saying “no it’s not.” (She was looking in a different place). I had to ask Scott and Jessica with whom James was singing (Judas Priest)

Another thing I noticed when I watched it back on DVR was when they were making note of someone in the audience, like Adam Lambert or David Cook, it would not show up on the screens at Nokia (unless I totally missed it because there was so much going on).

Next up was Jacob Lusk with Gladys Knight and Kirk Franklin of Fort Worth, singing “I Smile.”

Casey Abrams and Jack Black were up next singing “Fat Bottomed Girls.” When they were head-to-head at the end of the song, I really expected Casey to kiss him, like his JLo move earlier in the season, although probably not as soft. What you missed on camera was Casey mauling Jack Black with a giant bear hug. I could see Casey pursuing a career in comedy (I mean that as a compliment).

The girls were up next with a medley of Beyonce songs. It sounded good in the audience; however, after I returned home and listened to it on DVR, it did not sound so wonderful. It gave me some perspective though on why the judges think everything sounds fantastic. Also the crowd was going bonkers, but on TV, the sound of the crowd was sort of muted. It reminded me of the voice-sensitive microphones they use for news broadcasts where you can hear the voice of the reporter, but the background noise is muffled out.

Houston-girl Beyonce looked and sounded fabulous. I remember saying that she must have been glued in tight for that dress and I worried for her for a wardrobe malfunction. Once she took center-stage, she was so awesome she made the girls look like amateurs.  Beyonce is a goddess.  That is all.

At this point, I was very surprised how slowly time was passing which was a good thing for me. I also felt sorry for my seat-neighbors hoping I hadn’t ruptured their eardrums with my high-octave screeching and apologize to anyone sitting behind me about my dancing. I was in the zone.

During the commercial breaks, Ryan or Corey (I really could not tell their voices apart) engaged the audience members, threw them T-shirts, and other things like that.

I was expecting Haley to sing with Lady Gaga, so I was very surprised to see Mr. Tony Bennett. Then TLC was up, but I did not recognize them at first either.

When “Live Like You’re Dying” was announced (misheard for the real song title “Like You Were Dying), I thought, “Cool, Scotty is going to be singing with Kris Allen.” Embarrassing how little country music I know. It was Tim McGraw.

Another commercial and then more bad singing which was then reprieved by Marc Anthony singing “Aguanile” by Hector Lavoe, with Jennifer Lopez dancing and Sheila E in the house. My friend Glicel later explained the song. It was about black magic and calling out the evil spirits, which would explain the JLo booty shaking.  

Another shocking guest star appearance was Tom Jones after a medley of his superhits by the boys.  

After this I had what I’d like to call my Disney-overwhelm moment. To understand, back in the late 1990’s I went on another girls’ trip with a friend, her sister, and her friend to Disney. I had so many years at that point of caregiving and throwing myself into my son’s treatment program. I was working 40-60 hours a week for my employer, working 40-60 hours a week with him and running him to occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech therapy in between. The first night we were at Disneyworld, seeing the fireworks, hearing the music, not believing that I was actually having this fun time that I desperately needed with these wonderful friends, the flood gates to my emotions just opened up and I found myself sobbing. Having gotten only 6 hours of sleep between Monday and Wednesday, being there, hearing the music, getting a break from my son, my eyes began to well up with unexpected tears. Since I was not anticipating having this moment, I did not wear waterproof mascara. The fear of having raccoon eyes quickly quelled my emotional overload.

While the stage was being set up for Lady Gaga, Ford did their tribute with the teachers. Three cheers for them. Our teachers in this nation deserve some recognition. Not only did the school get money, but the teachers got a car. Then we learned Scotty and Lauren could have a Ford car of their choice and consensus around where we were sitting was that Scotty would get a pick-up truck–I’m thinking F-150.

Lady Gaga is a terrific performer, but the simulated sex and jumping off the edge of a cliff with Mark Kanemura (from So You Think You Can Dance) in the song “The Edge of Glory” were not something for young kids’ eyes. Although the age limit was no one under 6 allowed, there were some kids younger than 6 in that crowd. At home, you have the choice as a parent to turn off the television; attending a concert that you trust is family-friendly, she should have had the good sense to modify her act. When Adam Lambert was touring Indonesia, he was asked to tone down the concert and he respectfully did. It goes back to the age-old argument that yes, you have first amendment rights and a right to creative expression, but you have to use that right with responsibility. It was nice to see Clarence Clemmons, however.

Lauren sang a great duet with Carrie Underwood “Before He Cheats” and just like Beyonce, the star shined. However, I give her major props for trying to keep up especially with her vocal cords problem.

After more “youngest contestant” jokes, Beyonce performed yet again. I could never get enough Beyonce.

During the commercial, they emphasized to the audience to make sure the aisles were clear. The Spiderman performance required very precise movements and they wanted to ensure the safety of both the acrobats and the audience. When Bono and the Edge and Reeve Carney (the guy who sings in the play on Broadway) took the stage, I slapped my head and feigned fainting. When I got home and watched the performance on playback, wouldn’t you know that there was some idiot in the audience who thought the rules did not apply to her and tried to touch one of the acrobats when he came down into the audience.

After another commercial break, Steven Tyler came on and performed “Dream On.” It was too short; I was left wanting more.

Coming back from another commercial break, Scotty was named the winner. As he broke down and cried, my heart again welled up with tears. Scotty and Lauren were both very humble and very down-to-earth kids; if James could not win, then either of them would have been the next best thing.

There were congratulations to the band and then the crew with the show signing off. I wanted to stay in the audience as long as possible (until we were kicked out) but Glicel wanted to get t-shirts before they sold out, so out we went.

After obtaining t-shirts, we exited the Nokia and saw a bunch of lights and excitement over at the Fox tent, so we went to investigate. However, too many people were smoking, and I could not tolerate it, so we went back to the hotel.

Next up: The rest of Day 2 and Day 3