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American Idol
Season 13
Fox 8p ET Wed/Thurs

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It's the talent competition you've watched all your life, but never quite like this! One thing still remains: if you can sing it, bring it.

Recaps by Chico Alexander, GSNN

Host Ryan Seacrest
Judges Harry Connick Jr.
Jennifer Lopez
Keith Urban
Mentor Randy Jackson
Musical Drector Rickey Minor
Announcer Mark Thompson
Creator Simon Fuller (based upon "Pop Idol")
EP Per Blankens
Jesse Ignjatovic
Evan Prager
Cecile Frot-Coutaz
Simon Fuller
Trish Kinane
David Hill
Packager 19 Productions
FremantleMedia North America
Origins CBS Television City; Los Angeles
Web americanidol.com
Airs 8p ET Wed & Thurs, Fox
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Auditions: Boston/Austin Season 13
January 15
"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 American Idol.

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 - singer/songwriter/performer/producer/elevated fanboy Harry Connick Jr.

So who wants it?

BOSTON
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 quickly.

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 another show.

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 to Hollywood.

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 to...

AUSTIN
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... says no.

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 way.

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 nose already.

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 golden ticket.

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 americanidol.com