"We all change. When you
think about it, we are all different people, all through
our lives. And that's ok, that's good, you gotta keep
moving. So long as you remember all the people that you
used to be."
-Matt Smith as The Doctor, "Doctor Who"
The best thing we can say
about this season: Nicki Minaj is in no way involved.
It's the world's
longest-running talent competition currently, where
thousands audition for a once-in-a-lifetime chance at
superstardom. From that bank, a few will be chosen to
perform for the votes of millions. In the end, a
million-dollar recording contract and the title of
But if you think you know
this long-running reality competition... Think again.
The differences begin
when you walk in to meet the judges. You will stop at
The Chamber, a one-man holding room where you have to
wait for a green light to enter. Once it goes on, so do
you. Then you will meet the judges - country powerhouse
Keith Urban, back for his second season; triple threat
Jennifer Lopez, returning after a one-season absence;
and a new judge -
Harry Connick Jr.
So who wants it?
Auditions: Gillette Stadium
Callbacks: Boston Marriott Copley Place
The road to AI13 glory
begins at the home of the New England Patriots. It's
Harry's first gig as a full-fledged judge, and he
decides that, whatever judge he ends up becoming, he has
to remain honest. If that means sending someone home in
tears, then so be it.
Troy Durden (29; Boston;
club singer) is our first victim of season 13, and he
says that he's 100 on a scale of one to 10. He's all
about the fight, and his first combo: performing "Over
the Rainbow" while twerking. Not at the same time at
first. Here's my problem with this song. It's a good
song, and a good vocal, but you know something? So was
the other 142 times it was done. Troy is doing nothing
to stand out from the pack, and he's hiding behind all
of the runs. He's got a good tone, but he needs to do
something that will make him stand out. The judges have
NO problem sending him true
"It is a longshot... but
it just might twerk." BOOOOO!
Sam Woolf (17; Bradenton,
FL; student) lived with his mom most of his life... when
he moved in with his dad, who had depression issues...
when he moved in with his grandpa. He's actually no
stranger to performing, as he goes into one of his go-tos,
"Lego House" by Ed Sheeran. Keith says it reminds him of
an auction, especially with the breakdown right before
the chorus, because it's a fast moving song. Overall, he
does the song justice, and the judges give him a pass on
the song, and a fail on the fact that he's got a
treble-clef tattoo on his arm and he's 17, and now
Harry's daughter wants one.
Joining him: Ethan
Thompson (Whitefish, MT), Lindsey Pedicone (Kennett
Square, PA), and Jillian Jensen (Rochester, MA).
Boston's on a hot streak.
Meanwhile, Taylor Hildack
(19; Westfield, MA; jazz vocalist/student) is freakin'
hyped to be here. She's going to sing Carrie's "Before
He Cheats". That's very un-jazz vocalist of her. And
almost effected. Like she's trying to do by the judges
when she should be doing by herself. It's good, but I'd
rather hear more Taylor and less Carrie. Jen thought it
was strong, but Keith thought it was limited. Harry says
it's good, but not great. It's a 2-1 split... for NO.
Welcome to season 13, the bar is raised.
Stephanie Hanvey (16;
Howell, NJ; lifeguard) is a quintessential Jersey Girl,
who LOVES Jennifer Lopez. She would love to follow in
her footsteps, and she would LOVE to see a Jersey girl
win this. Her first at-bat: "Price Tag" by Jessie J.
She's a little too green for this room. Keith agrees,
saying that the singing needs work, but she's a born
performer. Harry likes her composure. Jennifer thought
it was emotionally lacking. Keith says yes. Jennifer
says... yes. Harry makes it three.
Can lightning strike
twice with Morgan Deplitch (15; Somerset, MA; student)
with Grace Potter's "Paris (Ooh La La)"? It was a little
bit under, and a bit shouty, but perhaps a bigger
problem, as Harry would point out, is singing songs that
are "age appropriate". He wants to hear something that a
16-year-old would sing. Keith wasn't bothered. But then
again, he's Australian. But still, a sweep comes
Someone wake James Earl
(22; Norwich, CT; burger flipper), up, he's next. "The
music industry sucks, man." Making friends in the line,
I see. But the panel seems to love him. Will he still
feel the love after singing an original music? He's got
like three different voices going on right now and none
of them were there. He does have jokes, but that's
Out of the break,
Jacqueline Verna (18; West Chester, PA; student) kills
it.... dead, at least in Harry's eyes. "I'm not as taken
by the smoke and mirrors of pentatonics as these two."
Yes, she's got a good voice. She doesn't need to hide
it. Come back next year. Meanwhile, we know what Harry's
going to be... Inside baseball.
Austin Percario (17;
Warren, NJ; student) is the son of a stage mom. Enough
said. He's going to do what's best for him, and if he's
going to Holllywood, he's not bringing mom. And
immediately the judges want to meet her. This isn't
awkward, not one bit! He's going to dazzle us with
"Titanium" by David Guetta featuring Sia. It's always
sketchy when a man sings a woman's song, but on Austin,
it works, even though the transition from the voice to
the falsetto is a bit skittish. Keith compares it to
"Justin Bieber at 5am." It's three yeses from the panel,
and no one's happier than mom. If she only knew.
Kaitlyn Jackson (15;
Norwich, NY; student) wrote a song called "Another
Angel" for her grandfather. The facts are these: as an
opening act for Mark Wills, she heard her grandfather
having a heart attack that day. The day after she wrote
this song, her grandfather passed away the day. He's
listening now and enjoying the given talent she was
blessed. She's smart, she's got heart, and she's going
Keith London (21;
Hazleton, PA; handyman) works on several odd-jobs.
Student loans are hitting him hard, so he's decided to
take a shot at the bigs with "Roar" by Katy Perry. See
above comment on Austin Percario. He arranged the song
and performed it to work for him. Jennifer thought that
he made the song better. Keith says he knows who he is.
Harry isn't moved, saying it was okay. Keith & Jennifer
give him the pass. Harry... not so much. But since all
you need is two..
Sam Atherton (23;
Taunton, MA; unemployed) says that he has this in the
bag. He's been paying the guitar for 10 years, but can't
think of why he loves it. He says he's going to blow the
judges away. Meaning, of course... he's going to tank.
He wants to sing three. The first is... an original
entitled "Love Doesn't Last Forever". We'll save you the
other two songs. GET OUT.
But most of the singers
are only here for one reason... Hi, J-Lo.
Perhaps nothing says
Boston strong than our next singer hopeful, Shanon
Wilson (24; Houston; student), an R&B singer AND a
defensive tackle (C-Note: Ryan Seacrest himself was an
offensive lineman out of Dunwoody HS in Dunwoody, GA...
at five feet nuthin'... please don't hurt yourself).
Hopefully Shannon will sack the judges with a
performance of "I Want You" by Luke James. He's got the
note that shook the heavens early. I'm hoping that he
doesn't peak too early. "I want you." Jennifer says that
the feeling is mutual, and he's on his way.
On the other end of the
spectrum, we have Stephanie Petronelli (22; West
Bridgewater, MA; cheerleader), a cheerleader for the New
England Patriots. She will be singing "Paris (Ooh La
La)". This is more suited to her age group, but her
voice is a little bit on the raw side for it. Harry
thought it was coming from the top half and not so much
from her diaphragm. Jennifer thought she had more soul
than she looks. Keith thought somewhere in the middle.
It's up to Keith to break the deadlock. ... He does. And
she's trading in her pompons for a golden ticket. And
here's why her voice was so raspy... because she and the
rest of the Patriot cheerleaders are ... screaming.
From the Northeast, we go
Auditions: Frank Erwin Center
Callbacks: Austin Convention Center
... the second city in
our audition tour. We kick off our south-by-southwest
tryouts with Durann Cree (17; Austin; student) and
Carrie Underwood's "Cupid's Got a Shotgun". A very
lovely tone, but Harry thought she was "a big fish in a
little pond". Jennifer says yes. Harry says no. Keith...
It's a 50/50 split on
golden tickets afterwards. Which side will we see Savion
Wright (21; Jasper, TX; student) fall on? He is
diagnosed with ADHD, but music, according to his mother,
saved his life. His guitar is his medicine. Now let's
hear him heal on an original. He's got a mean guitar
finger. Normally, we'd chase originals out of the door,
but this one felt right on him. He's got a good presence
on him. And we have this season's first fake-out... and
it's from the judges. Ha.
Terrica Curry (North
Little Rock, AR) says she won't leave without a fight.
Neither will Justin Fira (Corpus Christi, TX) or Shelby
Comey (Mason, TX). They won't have to. They're on their
But what about Madelyn
Patterson (22; Jackson, GA; hairdresser)? She's going
"Up to the Mountain". She has a gospel tone to her, and
she's very dynamic. Harry wants to hear a little
something else... Jennifer and Keith beg to differ.
"Some people on this panel are very easily impressed by
licks." True. But it gets her gold.
Viviana Villalon (19;
Mission, TX; student) sings "Love Somebody" by Maroon 5
on the ukulele. Savannah Young (17; Odessa, TX;
lifeguard) sings "Toxic" on the acoustic, as does Ben
Boone (22; Pineville, LA; student) with "Too Close" by
Alex Clare. And three golden tickets go out the door,
just like that.
Will Malcolm Allen (21;
Wrightsville, AR; deli grocer) make it four with his air
guitar on "Superstition" by Stevie Wonder? He's got a
good instrument, and he has an even better instrument
tattooed onto his arm. Jennifer gives him a triple-yes.
Our next singer... is a
little starstruck with Jennifer right about now. And
Harry's just looking... Just looking. Anyway, here's
Rolando Guerrero (21; Bastrop, TX; server/host) with
"Hold It Don't Drop It". I wish he'd drop it out of his
Now not many people know
Harry Connick Jr.'s full name. All we know for sure
is... he's the guy you just Googled. Munfarid Zaidi (19,
Sugar Land, TX by way of Pakistan; student) doesn't need
Google. He has Wikipedia for that. He's singing "Crazy
for You" by Adele. And he's actually really good at
hitting the range for it. Harry may have to deliver on
his gentlemen's agreement to hold Munfarid like a baby
while singing something else. "No One" by Alicia Keys.
This is somewhere between phenomenal and awkward, but
it's enough to get him a trip back to holding with a
And while we're
recovering from Munfarid, we learn that Keith's new
album "Fuse" is #1 in THREE countries, Canada,
Australia, and ...'murica. Yeah, that's a cradlin'.
GOLDEN TICKET TALLY: 46.
We're back with more from
Austin tomorrow. Remember to keep Austin weird, and
support local & independent music.
For more information on the contestants,
or to watch this episode in its entirety, go to