Wednesday, January 16, 2013

AI Season 12- New York Auditions

We open with a shot of an old-style microphone and an empty stage. A guy with his face in the shadows walks on with a guitar and an amp. Aha, it's Phil Phillips, who has done very well for a late season winner. There's an artsy montage with Home playing in the background- finally, a winner's single that made all of The Powers That Be (TPTB) dreams come true.

So, we begin anew, the ignoring of Taylor Hicks.

Ryan Seacrest, in voice-over, reminds us that Randy is the only other returning veteran, and that he'll be joined this year by Keith Urban (Tom Cruise's replacement), Nikki Minaj (who gives me the shudders), and Mariah Carey (the singer that fully 65% of the auditioning girls, and about 15% of the boys, want to be).

aaaaand, here we go: This. Is. American. Idol.

We get long shots of the usual hopefuls, fools, and freaks- nothing new here.

New York Day 1:

Keith Urban is wee. Mariah Carey's boobs aren't.

Randy's wearing a black and white bowling shirt. Keith is dressed to disappear. Mariah has a pompadour and a tight pink dress. Nikki looks like a demented majorette in a blonde Barbie wig. Mariah and Nikki immediately start chipping at each other, but the patter feels rehearsed.

Season 12's first auditioner bursts in with a terrible Queen improv, and then segues into a narration of his own universe, which is far less charming than he thinks it is. The judges usher him right back out without letting him sing. Maybe this season will be okay after all.

Nikki Minaj has a horribly nasal voice, but if this whole music career thing doesn't work out for her, she can go pro as an Eye Roller. She has that down pat.

Tenna Torres is 28. When she was 13 she attended Camp Mariah, a singing camp for kids. It's Tenna's most treasured memory. She glides in on impossibly long legs, wearing a shirt that exposes her lacy bra, and announces their previous acquaintence to Mariah, who, even with photographic proof, does not convincingly pretend to remember. She sings You've Got a Friend, a song that most emphatically does not need the Mariah Treatment. The judges are wowed. Sigh.

We get a quick montage of people who also got the judges' approval, though we're not allowed to hear any of them sing. Also nothing new.

Next up is this year's William Hung, who is so happy to be there he declares that (and this is an exact quote): If I died yesterday, it would be a miracle. James Bae is also a Justin Beiber fan, which is probably all we need to know about him. We didn't get to hear the previous good singers, but we're stuck with this kid's entire song, though we do get Mariah saying the word: sin-ger. I'll give it to Minaj here- she lets him down gently, and with a hug.

Christina Isabelle looks a little like Trisha Yearwood, and she has a weight loss story. She sings Summertime with absolutely no depth in her voice, and she seems only to hit the general neighborhood of the melody. But the judges heard something that I didn't. Christina gushes about going to the Berkley College of Music. After she leaves, Mariah snoots that she didn't go to no music college, she went to the bleeping college of life. Be that as it may, most music school students don't marry Tommy Motola, so it evens out.

Evan is 19. He was a dancer and a musical theater aficionado. And then he got cancer, followed by surgeries, chemo, a recurrence of cancer, and a leg amputation. We're going for the jugular with this year's sob-stories. I'd be more sympathetic if Evan didn't do everything but wear neon signs pointing at his shiny artificial leg as he walks in front of the judges, wearing shorts. He has a guitar slung across his back, but it stays there while he sings Jason Mraz's I'm Yours, which is a really hard song to do a capela. The judges take pity on him and ask him to sing something else. This time he uses the guitar and sings Dead or Alive. It's much better- Keith Urban actually joins in. I would let him through on that performance alone, so of course the judges send him home. I have to say that I'm surprised after that buildup. Evan is surprised too. And not particularly pleased.

Ryan seems to have more front hair than usual- perhaps he has a teeny little Man Weave, which he has styled a la TinTin. He also has the beginnings of a teeny little spare tire- our Ryan is growing up.

Ah- here's a new wrinkle in the audition process: Jessica Kartalis's mother's video plea for an audition actually worked. Randy surprised her at a small club appearance with an invitation to sing for the judges. Jessica appears to be stunned. She's calmer, all blonde and denim and guitar, as she walks in. When they ask her to sing one of her original songs, she proves that she can sing. Unfortunately, she also proves that she cannot sing and play at the same time. She bobbles her own song at least three times. Nikki and Mariah let her down gently, but Jessica blew it, pure and simple.

The judge banter feels strained and awkward and I miss JLo's GOOSIES. I'd say that I miss Steven Tyler's leering at the underage girls, but that would be a lie.

Commercial Break: yes indeed, I am intrigued by The Following

Back  to the contestants, who come from everywhere, including Xanadu.

Shira Gravelov is an Israeli one-hit-wonder. She is very tall, very thin, and she wears very short shorts. For some reason, all of the judges like her, and then Keith spills product placed Coke on Nikki, which is way more interesting than anything Shira did.

The final auditioner of NYC Day 1 is Frankie Ford, a 24 year old subway busker with the kind of sob-story we've come to expect from final auditioners. He starts out with Annie Lennox, singing is a register that is far to high for his voice. He stops, apologizes, and begins again, in a lower key. This is better. Much much better. All four judges say yes, and Frankie babbles on and on and on.

NYC Day 2: Randy is dressed like a French sailor in a blue striped knit shirt and a navy velvet jacket with epaulets. Keith is grizzled in purple and black plaid. Mariah is in an off-the-shoulder, short, tight, black dress, and very soft and pretty hair. Nikki is wearing a neon yellow and pink wig, a white jacket with poofy sleeves, startling cleavage, blue leggings, and purple booties. I assume she glows in the dark.

Chunky Benjamin is wearing a squeaky red plastic suit and a terrible curly wig. He sings like a guy in a terrible wig whose red plastic suit has its own mike squeak squeaking with every movement. Benjamin moves a lot, especially in the pelvic region. Keith hides under the table, Nikki tries to let him down easily, and Mariah cuts through the crap and sends him packing. Yay Mariah! Boo Producers for wasting our time.

Roseanne is 21 and pale, with long dark hair and vacant blue eyes. She's wearing a tight white dress with narrow black horizontal stripes. Her mother and father adore her and get Goosies when she sings. Roseanne announces that she has not sung in front of anyone but her parents. It would have been a good idea for Roseanne to get a second opinion, or twelve, before auditioning.

We now get the sore loser montage, the crying montage, the angry montage, and the bleeped out swearing montage. More wasted time.

Sarah, 17, is a brown-haired New Jersey farm girl. We get clips of chickens, four-wheelers, blueberries, and compound bows. Sarah says she's country through and through, and to prove it, she sings a Carrie Underwood song, which is usually a mistake. Luckily, Sarah has the best voice we've heard so far tonight. And then she raps one of Nikki Minaj's "songs", and evidently she does it so well that the idiot judges (except Nikki, who is enchanted) are dumbfounded and confused and now don't know whether Sarah knows what kind of artist she wants to be. Listen, I hate rap, but the fact that Sarah can do it does not negate her ability to carry a tune. Sheesh. If nothing else, we learn that, as with Judge Judy, no one talks over Nikki Minaj.

Albert Chang is next. Albert Chang has no talent, and I hate what this show does with people who have no talent, so I'm not going to talk about him any more.

Nikki adopts a bad English accent to reject a string of terrible singers. Mariah ends up doing it too. I have no idea why.

18 year old Angela is partially deaf. Mariah worries that Angela won't be able to sing well, not being able to hear and all. Since I live with a partially deaf person who carries a tune better than I ever will, I know that this is not a worry. Angela proves my point. Her voice doesn't appeal to me, but it's good enough for 4 yesses.

This next segment is confusing. We hear one note from a guy who Ryan declares has the best voice of the night, and we see wildly applauding judges. And then suddenly, all flashback-like, Ryan is back to interviewing goofy looking Brett, whose striped shirt is nearly as long as a dress. Brett says that he's American Idol's biggest fan, but he misses every single trivia question that Ryan throws at him. By the time Brett says that this is his 7th audition and this year is his year to make it, I know what is happening, and it pisses me off. We waste 10 full minutes with this nonsense before pitiful Brett is sent home.

I figure we're in for another nasty one with Gurprett, AKA The Turbinator. He comes in with his scraggly beard, wearing a lavender turban which matches his lavender plaid shirt. He declares that all of his outfits have matching turbans, and I sigh. But it turns out that he has a perfectly pleasant voice, and enough of the judges agree with me to send him through.

The last New York auditioner is Ashlee, 20, whose family fosters and adopts kids with special medical needs. Her mother looks ill to me, but no one says anything about that. Ashlee is dressed like a normal person in jeans, a blue tank and a cute white jacket. Ashlee herself is adorable. She sings Corrine Bailey Rae's Put Your Records On with a whole lot more embroidery than necessary, but it's obvious that Ashlee has real talent. Finally.

Ryan informs us that 41 New York auditioners are being sent to Hollywood. In two hours, we saw 8 of them. EIGHT! Which may be a dismal new record for this show. On the other hand, it's no surprise that we spend more time with the terrible singers than with the good ones. The biggest surprise tonight? I don't hate Nikki Minaj. Go figure.

Tomorrow: Chicago.

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