American Idol Season 12 New York Auditions

17 01 2013

AmericanIdolLogoSeason 12 got underway on Wednesday night with the New York auditions (actually Newark, NJ). Randy Jackson, resident dawg, was joined by Mariah Carey, Keith Urban and Nicki Minaj. They had a good rhythm about them. Randy had an easier time saying, “Don’t ever sing again”, while the others were more kind, “It’s no for now.”

First up was Michael Buonopane with “We Will Rock You” by Queen. He had a big personality but is not a good singer. Nicki asked, “Are you going to sing?” Nicki is a no, but Mariah is a yes? Mariah needs to be more discriminating. Is this the beginning of the diva battle? I would have said, “No way, no how.”

Average singer Tenna Torres was up next. She had previously attended Camp Mariah and had pictures to prove it. Of COURSE Mariah remembers her (probably not). Tenna sings Carole King’s, “You’ve Got A Friend.” She makes it through to Hollywood. I thought her voice was a bit shrilly, but if she works a little on that, it could be very pleasant.


Tenna Torres

James Bae came in, a Justin Bieber wannabe who Mariah felt might be better suited as a DJ. Randy is quite explicit in his no and Mariah laughs at Randy.

The quite promising Christina “Isabelle” Pasqualone sang “Summertime.” I love, love, love her voice. However, I laughed at her remark to Mariah, “I want to bring that great music back” (referring to Mariah’s music from the early 1990’s). Does this mean Christina (or does she go by Isabelle) mean that now Mariah is NOT singing great music? I’m sure she did not, but when one is nervous, funny stuff does come out of one’s mouth.


Christina “Isabelle” Pasqualone

Inspiring dancer, singer, actor Evan Ruggiero came in. He should have started with “Wanted Dead or Alive” by Bon Jovi versus “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz. He brought in the guitar but didn’t use it until they asked him to sing a different song. Maybe Nigel Lythgoe should let him try out for So You Think You Can Dance if he is tapping. His story of his battle through osteosarcoma and holding onto his dream should help some people.

Jessica Kartalis‘ mother nominated her for an invitation to come sing in front of the judges. When Randy delivered the number to her and I heard her singing then, I knew this was not going to be a good thing. She did not sound good in that place of business. She tried to play an original song on her guitar and sing and it was a disaster. She has some nice tones in there, but I agree with the judges that she needs a year or two to mature and decide what kind of singer she wants to be.


Jessica Kartalis

Shira Gavrielov had a number one hit in Israel. I like her voice. A few notes were on the borderline of being shrieking but overall I like her look and sound. Nicki loves her.


Shira Gavrielov

Frankie Ford is a bundle of energy from Brooklyn (my hometown). He was adopted at age 2 and his adopted mother is his rock. He sings on a train for work and has a lot of drive. You can tell he will absorb everything that he learns in Hollywood and he is put through. The obvious puns of “Frankie Goes to Hollywood” ensue. And at this point, it was the end of day one.


Frankie Ford

Benjamin Gaisey, who I like to call Rubberband Man, dressed in plastic with a Cee Lo Green-like wig was just horrible. His squeaky suit sounded better than he did. But he does make you laugh. Perhaps he should consider going into comedy.


Benjamin Gaisey

Rozanna Shindelman suffers from delusional-parent-syndrome. You know–the ones who are not honest with their children and make them think they are better whatevers than they are. That was really bad. “No for today.” Seriously? That was being kind. I think it will be a “no” forever.

Blueberry farmer Sarah Restuccio, who looks like she could be Natalie Portman’s cousin, did Carrie Underwood’s “Mama’s Song“, which was okay. I was more blown away with her rendition of Nicki Minaj’s “Super Bass.”


Sarah Restuccio

Albert Chang needs to meet my schoolmate, Franc D’Ambrosio, the longest running phantom on Broadway to see how that song is done right. Rozanna sang better than he did and that is saying something. See my school mate Franc below:


Albert Chang

The best for me of all the New York auditions is Angela Miller. Angela suffers from a percentage of hearing loss in both of her ears but sings still like an angel singing “Mamma Knows Best” by Jessie J. She gets four yeses.


Angela Miller

Brett Holt claims to be the biggest American Idol fan but does not get Ryan’s trivia questions all correct. He sang “When I Fall In Love” for the judges this time, having auditioned 7 times previously.

Gurpreet Singh Sarin, now nicknamed the Turbanator, has 40-50 different color-coordinated turbans that he wears. He is a smooth talker. He is not the best singer, but good enough for a try at the grueling Hollywood week. Keith Urban is the only “no” on the panel.


Gurpreet Singh Sarin

Last to sing was Ashlee Feliciano with an uplifting family story. They adopt medically complex children. She sang Corinne Bailey Rae’s, “Put Your Records On.” It was good. But she has a certain light that radiates from her that makes me remember her more.


Ashlee Feliciano

What We Learned About Our Judges

Nicki Minaj once wanted to be a city bus driver. When she is nervous, her British accent comes out. She is also trying to be the dominant force on the judges’ panel. Keith did some busking in his life. He also has a good sense of humor, suggesting Ben Gaisey (Rubberband Man) looked like Tom Jones. Randy Jackson once wanted to be a NASCAR driver. Mariah can say a word or two in French and Hebrew much to Nicki’s apparent annoyance. And while not a judge, Ryan Seacrest has been exhausted now for 10 years and he should never try to do Bollywood dancing.


Mariah Carey, Keith Urban, Nicki Minaj, and Randy Jackson

Forty-one contestants are going to Hollywood from New York. Thursday night: Chicago auditions!

American Idol Season 12 Preview

8 01 2013

AmericanIdolLogoI got a chance to sit down and watch a 45-minute preview of the highlights from the New York and Chicago auditions of season 12 of American Idol which will begin on Wednesday, January 16, 2013 8 ET/7 Central with the New York auditions (actually Newark, NJ) and Thursday, January 17, 2013 8 ET/7 Central with the Chicago auditions.

I have been curious about the dynamic of the new judges and if there was any untapped talent left in America with all these singing competitions. I can reveal no specifics of names or whether or not they were voted through other than those things already released by Fox Broadcasting to the public at large. One New York contestant who attended Camp Mariah gave me goosebumps. There were several contestants like that; however, that occurred last year and those people did not make it through Hollywood week. Throughout the screener, there were some really talented people, and as always, there were some misses. The one young man, Lazaro Arbos, has an intense stutter. His story tears at your heartstrings without being exploitive. Although he got some of the lyrics wrong, his voice…wow, his voice. He hails from the Chicago auditions so be sure to tune in Thursday to see that.

As a side note, someone got their bucket-list wish fulfilled from Ryan Seacrest.

Some of the attraction of the show is to watch the judges bicker among themselves. Randy seemed to be the realist while the others were getting comfortable saying “no” to the contestants. As with Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler that will become easier with time. There are times when Keith Urban could not get a word in sitting between Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj. He has a quiet positive energy that I really like. Randy Jackson, of course, is the veteran of the show, the “resident dawg” and we know what to expect from him. While the interactions were respectful from what I viewed, there is a diva struggle between Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey. Nicki is going to have to learn how to channel her opinion into short, concise sound bites and stop drooling over every good-looking male contestant, wondering out loud if they have a girlfriend or not. Mariah needs to stop doing the diva hair flip.


This is what the schedule looks like for the season:

(Other audition cities were: Charlotte, North Carolina; Long Beach, California; New Orleans, Louisiana; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; and San Antonio, Texas)

Wednesday, January 16: New York auditions (2-hour show)
Thursday, January 17: Chicago auditions (2-hour show)

Wednesday, January 23: Auditions (2-hour show)
Thursday, January 24: Auditions (1-hour show)

Wednesday, January 30: Auditions (2-hour show)
Thursday, January 31: Auditions (1-hour show)

Wednesday, February 6: Hollywood week, part 1 (2-hour show)
Thursday, February 7: Hollywood week, part 2 (1-hour show)

Wednesday, February 13: Hollywood week, part 3 (2-hour show)
Thursday, February 14: Hollywood week, part 4 — top 40 announced (1-hour show)

Wednesday, February 20: Las Vegas Top 10 male singers perform (2-hour show)
Thursday, February 21: Las Vegas Top 10 female singers perform (2-hour show)

Wednesday, February 27: Las Vegas Remaining Top 10 male singers perform (2-hour show)
Thursday, February 28: Las Vegas Remaining Top 10 female singers perform (2-hour show)

The judges will pick the top 10 males and top 10 females here. Then live-voting begins:

Tuesday, March 5: Top 10 Male semifinalists perform in Las Vegas (2-hour show)
Wednesday: March 6: Top 10 Female semifinalists perform in Las Vegas (2-hour show)
Thursday: March 7: Results Show–Top 10 finalists announced in Los Angeles

Wednesday, March 13: The Top 10 Perform (2-hour show)
Thursday, March 14: Results Show

Going back to the original top 10 format will mean that the show ends May 8-9, two weeks earlier than they normally do, so there must be some twists along the way. It will be an interesting journey.  Will you be watching?

Thanks again to Fox Broadcasting and the FOX VIP program for the privilege of seeing the preview.