season. New judges in superstar Mariah Carey, country
crooner Keith Urban, and live-action cartoon Nicki Minaj.
And other twists and turns along the way that are way
too complex to mention here and now. But now that
Phillip Phillips is blowing up pop radio, it's time to
find his successor. It's the song that will never end.
It's American Idol... season 12.
We begin with the reigning
Idol singing his hit single, "Home", the single that propelled him to
the crown last year. Will lightning strike again? We'll find out in
about four months. Right now, let's go searching for this year's flavor
of the month...
NEW YORK CITY
AUDITIONS: Prudential Center - Newark, NJ
CALLBACKS: Jazz at Lincoln Center
... and our search stars
with glam shots of the judges. I'm beginning to think that Clay Aiken
was right. Can we get to the singing already?
We start with a step from
Michael Buonopane (Saugus, MA; 27; shuttle driver). Of course we would
know this if the judges just shut up already... Geez, he's trying to
make an entrance here with "We Will Rock You". And then he just loses
it. Thanks for the entertainment. Exit's that way.
Meanwhile, we have a big fan
and an alumnus of Camp Mariah in Tenna Torres (28; Queens, NY;
promotional model), singing "You've Got a Friend" by Carol Kane. And
immediately she does WAY TOO MUCH WITH IT. But she actually does sound
decent once you get past the vocal origami. Four yeses, and we have our
first golden ticket of season 12.
NYC continues to deliver.
James Bae (15, Long Island, NY, student) wants to be just like Justin
Bieber. He says that America wants a character. He sings "One Less
Lonely Girl" by Biebs... And it's the moment you're waiting for ...
we're about to rip into a child. Or maybe James is gonna get him some
Nicki or something... In any event. NO.
Pasqualone (21; Duluth, GA; student) was born in Boston, raised in
Atlanta, and now lives in NYC. She says that she struggled with her
weight. Since she decided to do something about it, she is 50 pounds
lighter. But is she heavy where it counts? She sings "Summertime" from
"Porgy & Bess". That, by the way, would be a "yes". Judges, agree with
me. Right now. Do it... Did we mention she's an alum of Berklee? Okay,
that's a yes!
Next up, a triple threat
who's shooting for Broadway. When he was 19, he was diagnosed with
osteosarcoma bone cancer. After 16 months of chemo and surgery, the
cancer came back... and the end result... his leg was amputated in a
life-saving operation. Meet Evan Ruggiero (21; Old Bridge, NJ; college
student/tap dancer), who sings "I'm Yours" by Jason Mraz. Definitely
sounds Broadway with a hint of overexaggeration. Then he decides to play
the guitar with "Wanted Dead or Alive". The season's an hour old, and we
have this year's "Hot Guy With Guitar". Or DO WE? The judges don't see
who he is. They say no, as Mariah promises to see him next year.
This season on AI, we turn
the casting couch to America, as "star scouts" nominate their own Idols
for consideration. To that end, Randy has gone to Staten Island to see
Jessica Rose Kartalis (19; Staten Island, NY; student/receptionist) and
invite her to the callback. She doesn't want to label herself, but she
wants to be pushed to the right direction. We could have this season's
"Hot Girl With Guitar". OR DO WE? Nicki doesn't think she's ready now,
but maybe next year. The other judges... agree.
Shira Gavrielov (23;
Brooklyn; singer/songwriter) is originally from Israel, where she grew
up in a musical house. In fact, and she's the first AI wannabe to freely
admit to this... she had a single out at 17 reach #1 in Israel. Can she
get on the American stage with "Valerie" by Amy Winehouse? She sounds
like a piano-friendly club vibe. Nicki thinks that she has it. It's a
That brings us to another
Brooklynite, Frankie Ford (24; retail/busker), who found out that he was
adopted at 8. He spends his days as an artist singing on the train after
dreams of the business fell through. He sings the Eurythmics...
eventually... "Sweet Dreams". Second time out is pitch perfect, but he
needs to choose between the rock vibe and the soul vibe. Yes, yes, yes,
DAY 2 is just as beautiful
as Day 1 was. 27-year-old Benjamin Gaisey (Sinking Spring, PA; sales
consultant) thinks he's a ladies' man. And in he comes with an MJ
pleather Thriller jacket and a really bad wig. He sings two Babyface-penned
songs for two female judges. And it's two nasally, two flat, two much
for this writer to handle.
Make that three. "What part
of it was terrible?" Chico's answer: "Beginning. Middle. End."
Rozanna Shindelman (21;
Staten Island; medical billing/student) lives with her parents, who are
very supportive of her talent. Let's see if that support pays off. She
sings "To Know Him Is To Love Him" by the Teddy Bears. Very. VERY.
Screechy. It's a no.
And it gets worse. It always
gets worse. How worse? On a scale of one to "get that bleeping camera
out of my bleeping face", it's a Mariah Carey lookalike.
Sarah Restuccio (17;
Hammonton, NJ; student/farmer) is from the Blueberry Capital of the
World. She likes shooting her arrow, riding her ATV, and listening to
country music. And her gran is an opera singer. She's singing "Mama's
Song" by Carrie Underwood. Props for taking on an Idol's song and being
JUST GOOD ENOUGH to deliver on potential. And then she goes into "Superbass"...
Okay, that's enough. You're through. Just... stop. We'll see you in
Albert Chang (25; Regal
Park, Queens; receptionist)... he likes to sing. He was in chorus.
Today, he's on his own with "The Phantom Of The Opera". Hit the hook.
Angela Miller (18; Beverly,
MA; food services) has 40 percent hearing loss in her left ear and 20 in
her right. She'll try "Mamma Knows Best" by Jessie J. And Angela knows
herself best. Very impressive, very soulful, and very animated. It's a
yes all around. Also in... these guys! Cue montage! Okay, no.
Brett Holt (28; Willow
Grove, PA; liquor store clerk) is a huge AI fan. Just so happens Ryan
has American Idol trivia cards. Anyway, he's auditioned seven times.
Number eight... "When I Fall In Love" by Nat "King" Cole. And this
audition ended before it begun, and there's no moonlight kisses in your
Gupree Singh Sarin (22,
North Potomac, MD; college student), aka the Turbanator for his many
many MANY color-coded turbans. He's never met a celebrity. Meet four. He
hopes to translate his background in Indian classical music into a
golden ticket with "Sunday Morning" by Maroon 5. Mariah likes light
singing. Keith thinks it's too light. But still... he's going to
HOLLYWOOD! Three to one, Keith dissenting.
Getting close to the end
with Ashlee Feliciano (20; East Hartford, CT; student), one of many
children, but only one of three biologicals. Her parents decided to
adopt medically-complicated fosters/adoptions for the last 10 years.
That's one of the best families I've ever heard. But it's about her
rendition of Corinne Bailey Rae's "Put Your Records On"... which, by the
way, is about as pure as it gets. After we get the family in, it's a
yes, bringing the total from NYC to 41.
The auditions continue in
Chicago next time.
"What are we talking about
up here?" I don't know, Randy... I just don't know...