‘American Idol’ is back and in full swing. Get ready for a season of new judges, hidden talent — and a lot of tone deaf contestants. Sounds like fun, right, HollywoodLifers?
The twelfth season of American Idol kicked off Jan. 16, and with it came new judges Nicki Minaj, Keith Urban, Mariah Carey, and the beginning of weeks worth of drama. I wonder if Ryan Seacrest and Randy Jackson know what they’re in for?
The two-night premiere started with my personal favorite part of the whole show: the auditions. Let’s take a look at the judges, America’s next stars and some people we’d rather forget.
Who Was Terrible
The auditions are all about separating the good from the bad — and there were plenty of ‘em in New York City.
Fifteen-year-old James Bae admitted he sings in his room in preparation for his sure-to-be filled concert halls. This Bielieber attempted to sing Justin Bieber‘s “One Less Lonely Girl,” but the outcome reminded me less of the Biebs and more so of former Idol auditioner William Hung. Although the judges broke James’s heart with four no’s, he claims he wasn’t disappointed because “in the end, Nicki Minaj kissed me.” So really, the day wasn’t a total waste, right?
Self-proclaimed ladies man Benjamin Gaisey squeaked with every step he took. No it wasn’t his voice — it was the plastic, red jumpsuit he wore to his audition. As if that wasn’t enough, Benjamin wore a wonderfully horrible Tom Jones-inspired wig, too. After performing a weird mash up of love songs to Nicki and Mariah, he got a resounding no. Was he a serious contender? No way. Was he entertaining? Heck yes.
Queens native Albert Chang works in a medical office, but he has dreams of being a singer. And they will remain just that — dreams. The 25 year old sang/mumbled a disturbingly high-pitched version of “Phantom of the Opera.” I was confused, scared and horribly entertained. Let’s just say it was hard for both Nicki and me to keep the laughs contained.
Who Impressed Me
But not to despair. Not everybody was completely and utterly tone deaf. There were some rays of hope!
Doting Mariah fan Tenna Torres didn’t just bring her voice to the auditions; she also brought photos of her and Mariah taken at a camp she attended as a child. Tenna rocked the entire panel with Carole King‘s “You’ve Got a Friend” and got four yes’s. Solid start to the night.
Christina Isabelle strolled in with a voice I will never forget. After her rockin’ performance of “Summertime,” she took a sigh of relief and said, “I can’t believe I just did that!” Me neither! With the power of Christina Aguilera and the soft tone of Norah Jones, Christina is someone to look out for. Nicki even said, “I think you’re going to go really far in this competition.” Agreed.
So we all know American Idol uncovers hidden talents, but did you know it saves foreign superstars? Former Israeli pop singer Shira Gavrielov released her first CD at 17, had a No. 1 hit in Israel and got four yeses from the American Idol judges. Looks like second chances do exist!
Brooklyn native Frankie Ford went from singing for quarters on the train to singing for some of America’s biggest stars in one day. With a round of yes’s from the judges, Frankie got his golden ticket. And just like that, “Frankie goes to Hollywood.”
Country and Jersey aren’t two words I normally associate together, but 17-year-old blueberry farmer Sarah Restuccio made me reconsider. Sarah rocked both Carrie Underwood‘s “Mama’s Song” and Idol judge Nicki’s “Super Bass.” I think there is a new meaning to “Jersey girls.”
The Turbanator has come. No, this isn’t a bad Arnold Schwarzenegger movie, it’s the nickname of Idol-hopeful Gurpreet Singh Sarin, who matches his colorful turban to his outfit. Gurpreet showed off his classical Indian musical training and got a golden ticket in the process. Look out for him and one of his 40 turbans in Hollywood.
Smooth, soul singer Ashlee Feliciano inspired Nicki — and trust me, that’s hard to do. Not only was her family’s back story of adopting and fostering medically complex children inspiring, but also her voice was noteworthy. As Ashlee sang Corinne Bailey Rae‘s “Put Your Records On,” it was hard for me to remember the show has a full season to go and can’t just end right here with her.
Hearing-impaired Angela Miller was another of my personal favorites of the night. Angela has suffered hearing problems her whole life and even has 40-percent hearing loss in one ear — but trust me, you’d never know it. She belted out “Mamma Knows Best” and provoked smiles from all four judges — and myself.
Did Nicki Minaj & Mariah Carey Get Along?
Let’s be honest: We all were dying to see the battle of the divas, and Nicki and Mariah did not disappoint. From making faces at each other, calling each other unpleasant names and arguing over who is more fabulous, let’s just say no one wanted to be in Keith’s seat!
Notoriously divalicious Mariah made it clear it was still all about her. “I’d rather look at pictures of myself,” Mimi said she flipped through pictures of her and a contestant from a music camp. Nicki responded appropriately with rolled eyes.
But Mariah wasn’t the only diva on set, as Nicki seemed to have forgotten she wasn’t Kate Middleton. From time to time, she switched into a British accent for no reason at all. Mariah quickly attempted to put Nicki in place saying, “We’re not going to do the British thing.” Oh, but we did, Mariah.
Although Keith joined Randy on the bland bandwagon, Nicki and Mariah made sure to make up for the guys’ boringness.
Overall my personal favorite moment was when Mariah called Nicki out for not knowing a quote from Mean Girls. Oh the horror.
Is the next Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood or Phillip Phillips among one of the 41 contestants from NYC who made it through to Hollywood? Can we count on Nicki and Mariah to keep us entertained all season? Guess we’ll have to wait to see!
– Caitlin Miller
More American Idol News on HollywoodLife.com:
- ‘American Idol’ 2013: Season 12 May Be The Best Ever
- Mariah Carey Officially An ‘American Idol’ Judge For $18 Million
- ‘American Idol’ Premiere Preview — The Judges Go Down To Georgie