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

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

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.

StephanieSchmiel

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

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

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.”

KevinNabity

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

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

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.”

CurtisFinch

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.

MariahPulice

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

Brandy Neely

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

Josh

Josh Holiday

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

Courtney

Courtney Williams

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

AndrewJones

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

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

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.”

JohnnyKeyser

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

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.

AshleyCurry

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

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.