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.

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!