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Auditions: New York (or "Hollywood is Only New Jersey with Celebrities") - January 24

It's the city that never sleeps, and Idol slept on it since season 3. Now we're going to see what the Block's side of America can do. Welcome... to New York City!

Well, technically, we're in Jersey, but what the hell... How many people showed up at Continental Airlines Arena? Try a capacity crowd of 20,000.

Joining our three intrepid judges is legendary songwriter Carole Bayer Sager. Her 40-year career as a singer and songwriter has earned her a Grammy, an Oscar, a Tony, a few Golden Globes, and my brother's favorite song of all time, "Arthur's Theme (The Best That You Can Do)".

First up, Ian Benardo (25, Bronx), the self-billed "ultimate New Yorker". He was actually on season 2 of "So You Think You Can Dance" (C-Note: read Pierre's synop if you don't believe me). "Anyone who sees me dance says 'Ian, you are fantastic.' And I say.... 'Thank you, I know.'"

Really...

His weapon of choice: "Gloria" by Laura Brannigan. With all due respect to Jason and Gordon and Anthony and Aaron, if this is the best New York has to offer... God help New York. Simon? "This was a very hammy, bad audition for you as something you aspire to be, which obviously isn't a singer. It's not funny. You're not good at anything. It's just rubbish."

SECURITY!

And that's the end of... umm.. guy.

Sarah Burgess (19; East Palestine, OH) never told her parents that she was auditioning. Not only that, they're dead set against it. She and her dad are butting heads over everything. "If you go, I'm not helping you with school." Time to prove your parents wrong with "Call Me." Simon likes her for just doing this, although she's not the best singer. Randy also likes her for being different. Carole wants to see the look on dad's face. Paula's proud. I think it's across the board...

Sarah Burgess - GOING TO HOLLYWOOD

And Ryan's standing by with the RAZR... Sarah called Dad up... and he surprisingly approves.

Have we found Constantine's female counterpart in Fania Maria Tsakoulakos (26, Astoria), a background dancer. She's looking for an ethnic pop rock sound. She sings "Africa" by Toto. And I can safely say that Constantine Maroulis she ain't. It's a no.

Next, a return tripper Ashanti Johnson (28; Cambria Heights). She's gone on to the Hollywood Round twice. She sings "Lovin' You". And now we know why she made it through to Hollywood the first two times. Simon calls it effected. Randy calls it old-fashioned. There will be no third golden ticket this time round... but a suggestion that she try out for Broadway. Even a soap-opera style tirade won't change their mind...

Nope... doesn't happen... Ugh, talk about desperate.

And after everyone wakes up, the judges need someone to get excited about. Amanda Coluccio (19; Holmdel, NJ) and Antonella Barba (19; Point Pleasant, NJ)... best friends... we're pretty much talking the quality of Paris and Nicole... three years ago. They also love the water... First up, Amanda... and Antonella. They both go in at the same time. After a really bad duet, Amanda tries "Crazy" by Patsy Cline. She projects, but I wish she'd sing the song straight. But it's enough to get a pass from Randy, although she didn't go like "this is who I am." Simon doesn't care one way or another, so he puts her through for shiggles. Carole and Randy like it, so...

Amanda Coluccio - GOING TO HOLLYWOOD

And Antonella with "Free/Sail On" by Chante Moore? "I think you were better than your friend."

Antonella Barba - ALSO GOING TO HOLLYWOOD

How long will their relationship last in Hollywood? Stay tuned.

Clifton Biddle (24; Newcastle, DE) is your average Joe who can saw on the harp. He likes to sing, so here he is. He sings "Tush" by ZZ Top. Yeah, this is beginning to feel like a reality show here. It wasn't good, but it was loud.

But did New York contain a decent guy?

We wouldn't find out today. Kia Thornton (27; Englewood, NJ) sings "Ain't No Way" by Aretha Franklin... That was incredibly bombastic. But they all agree that she can sing. Carole says that she doesn't need to oversing. Paula agrees. Four yeses...

Kia Thornton - GOING TO HOLLYWOOD

Saving the best for last... although she showed zero emotion. Will day two be just as exciting?

Day 2 begins... without Cowell. So yeah, it's Randy, Paula, and Carole. First up, Jenry Bejarano (16; Rotterdam), who was adopted into a Bolivian household. His mother pushed him into auditioning. Today, he's singing "I'd Give Anything to Fall in Love" by the late great Gerald Levert. Starting today on a high note... literally. Very robust, emotional. Carole says yes. Randy says he's confident. Paula says yes.

Jenry Bejarano - GOING TO HOLLYWOOD

But are they ready for Nakia Claiborne (24; Scottsburg, VA), who says she sounds like Shirley Caesar? Let's see... "Dancin' in the Streets" by Martha and the Vandellas.  She certainly has the energy for it. Paula calls her infectious. Nakia brings it down with Selena's "Dreaming Of You". Nasal intonation... and all over the place. She needs to do the allegro songs all the time if she's going to pass, so... no. Nakia's on her way out...

Sarah Goldberg (20) might need a tissue as she too tries "Dreaming of You". Yeah, Selena's actually rolling around in her grave. "Listen... I'm not a singer."

AGREED!

And she's not above venting her grievances out in public either. Sorry you think they're rude, but you know what... that's the nature of the beast.

Too bad Simon missed Sarah. Speaking of, there's the happy little monster right now.

Antonio Torres Jr. (47; Brooklyn) is the first to face the wrath of Cowell on "New York, New York." Or, should we say "New Yor, New Yor".

And the second? Jory Steinberg (25; Santa Monica, CA), who was born in Ottawa, where she met a few prime ministers, a few princes, and the Queen of England. She sings "Chains" by Tina Arena. That's a number I haven't heard in a while... and it's just right for Jory's voice. And it's different. Simon calls it terrific. Paula says it's professional. Carole thinks she's on her way. Carole says yes. Randy says yes. Paula says yes. Simon says yes. "Four yeses. You're through."

Jory Steinberg - GOING TO HOLLYWOOD

Meanwhile, Porcelana Patino (27, Elmhurst) is the militant Idol, having gone through self-imposed training camp. She sings "Love No Limit" by Mary J. She's got the moves and the attitude, but the voice is a little rough. Carole calls her unique. Randy agrees. And Paula says yes. Simon says yes, but he's not hugging her.

Porcelana Patino - GOING TO HOLLYWOOD

What's in a name? Well, if you're Christopher Henry (20; Plymouth, MA)... not much. But he looks like George Michael... or Simon Cowell. He tries "Before Your Love". If you're a male... and you sing a female's song... and you sound LIKE that female... That's scary. "You should be singing in a dress and stilettos."

And isn't it interesting how Paula and Simon can say the exact same thing in so many words ... and fight about it. Go figure.

Rachel Zevita (20) goes to school for opera. If they find out she's here, she loses her scholarship. She sings "Eternal Life" by Jeff Buckley. It's a little rough, but once she gets to the public domain "Get Here", it's scary. And opera? Yeah, that's her lifeblood... Three different things, three different moods, which one are you? Carole says yes. Randy says yes. Paula says yes... "You're all coming to Hollywood."

Rachel Zevita - ALL COMING TO HOLLYWOOD

"The south has had a lockdown on the American Idol. This year, it's New York."

And in the city that never sleeps, here's an "All Night Long" montage.

Next, Christopher Richardson (22; Chesapeake, VA), singing "A Song For You" by Donny Hathaway. Carole... says yes. Randy says he looks and sounds like Justin Timberlake. Paula says yes. Simon says he could surprise.

Chris Richardson - GOING TO HOLLYWOOD

It's a beautiful day outside. Inside, though... not so much. What would haoppen to Nicholas Pedro (25; Taunton, MA), a man who "bowed out honorably" last year about "Buttercup"... he couldn't get the lyrics. He's back for redemption with "Fly Me To The Moon". This is why he got to the Hollywood round. Carole says he's wonderful. Randy and Paula agree. Simon would've agreed as well...

Nicholas Pedro - GOING BACK TO HOLLYWOOD

Will his redemption trip be total? Find out...

And now, the moment we've all been waiting for. It's time to meet ... Isadora, a clairvoyant for a living. She sounds like Pat Benatar, Stevie Nicks, Janis Joplin, AND Led Zepplin. Ladies and gentlemen... Julie Isadora Furman (26)... singing "Lady Marmalade."

Judges? "What normally happens when you perform in public?"

"I get arrested."

And now we know why.

"On that note, I'm going home." Me too, Simon. New York sends 35 people through to the next round. Next week, the city of Idols host the next round of auditions as Idol takes the 205 by storm.  Birmingham is the next stop.

 

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