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In the world's ultimate talent search - where the eyes of a nation are upon the best undiscovered singers in the country, where the audience has the power to make or break you, and where a million-dollar recording contract is on the line, there is only one rule: If you can sing it, bring it.

Recaps by Chico Alexander, Jason Block, Don Harpwood & Gordon Pepper, GSNN
Host Ryan Seacrest
Judges Simon Cowell
Kara dioGuardi
Randy Jackson
Creator Simon Fuller (based upon "Pop Idol")
EP Ken Warwick
Cecile Frot-Coutaz
Simon Fuller
Packager 19 TV & FremantleMedia North America
Origins CBS Television City, Los Angeles
Web americanidol.com
Airs 8p Tues & Wed, Fox
Available In High-Definition Where AvailableStreaming Online

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Auditions: Boston
January 12

May 20, 2009. Some may argue that two stars were born that night. One publicly voted upon, the other, just the better singer. But in any case, the real drama didn’t begin until AFTERWARDS. Paula Abdul tweeted her walking papers, and named to her chair, a number of guest judges until... we arrive at Ellen De Generes, probably the biggest American Idol fan currently not writing for GSNN.

I hope she knows what she’s getting into, because it’s about to start all over again, and there’s gonna be hell up in here. Now, the supermogul, the superproducer, the superscribe, and the superfan are on a quest to answer one key question. A question answered by eight others in the last eight years.


They all had to start somewhere, and we start in...

Gillette Stadium

Tonight’s guest judge: the one they call Posh. She’s also called fashionista, author, entrepreneur, and… Mrs. David Beckham, Victoria Beckham.

We start with 9000 people braving the summer storm. I hear that wrecks your voice. Case in point, Janet McNamara (26; Somerville, MA; accountant). Now, many people hone their craft with the aid of a mentor or a teacher, or some people just have a trick ear. She honed her craft on… “Karaoke Revolution: American Idol.” The Wii version, it looks like. This can only end one way. By turning Natasha Bedingfield’s “Pocketful of Sunshine” into a pocketful of nightmares.

That was a start. Maybe Maddy Curtis (16; Bluemont, VA; HS student) can steer us right. If it means anything, the sun’s out. Back to Maddy, though. She’s the ninth of 12. Her big brother has Down’s, and she’s always looked out for him. The parents adopted two more such children to be companions to said big brother. She’ll be putting her own twist on “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen. As soon as she stops being starstruck. She sounds a lot older than 16. She’s got a mature voice, but the overall tone of it is sterile. Simon says she’s got a little soul. Randy really likes her. Victoria says it’s beautiful, and Kara agrees that the vulnerability can only help her. So she has the honor of being the first person of season 9 to SWEEP the board.

That news leads the room to dance… or just one person… Pat Ford (17; Derry, NH; HS student). He does one thing particularly well… the “Holla”. His selection: “Womanizer” by Britney. Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhjesus. You, you you. Out, out out. At least he gets hugs.

Jennifer Hirsh (22; Manhattan, NY; receptionist), Claire Fuller (22; Philadelphia, PA; college student), and Jess Wolfe (24; Brooklyn, NY; booking agent) all strike gold, proving the women are going to dominate the audition. Will the men show up? That’s up to Amodeo DiRicco (28; Johnston, RI; bartender), who can’t describe his family. Well... I can. A lot like my family. A lot of interesting characters, a lot of heart, sit, stay, eat, all of that. This is his foot in the door. Hope you don’t get foot-in-mouth with “Hoochie Coochie Man” by Muddy Waters. He’s got a lot of heart. He’s got a lot of voice. Victoria says she’s powerful. Kara feels at home with him. Randy likes his personality. Simon says that he’s sincere. He’s got good energy… and he’s got a golden ticket.

I can only hope that Derek Hilton (19; Bellingham; landscaper) can match that energy. He got into music as a spirituality thing. So that energy thing… probably not. He wants to sing “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word” by Elton John, but the judges stop him so they can get to know him. THEN he sings… and the judges just stop him. They know enough.

Before the sun comes out, two inches of rain falls upon the contestants, one of which didn’t have an umbrella. Was that going to stop Mere Doyle (24; Walpole; retail)? Nope. She’s an anime freak, even going so far as to cosplay as both Yuna from FFX and Naruto. Mary, as an anime freak, I have to say... you’re making the rest of us look bad, keep it at the con. She takes “Little Piece of My Heart” by Janis Joplin, and we say… Iie. See, that’s Japanese for “no.” We’re still looking for the Japanese words for “headache-inducing”, “shouty”, “rubbish”, and “vomit.” Sayonara, sister.

Next is a group… Not until 2011. It’s three contestants: Luke Shaffer (24; NYC; waiter)… he’s in. Benjamin Bright (25; Rome, NY; elementary school teacher)… he’s in. The third? Andrew Fenlon (25; unemployed musician), who just had one thing on his mind… getting his audition over and done with. Seriously, he’s been waiting since 10. And it’s 6. And he’s just getting in to sing “House of the Rising Sun” by Muse. And it’s all up in his nose. And he sounds tense. From the waiting, probably. Kara seems to have a big problem with his vocal complaints. Some people would wait years for their one shot. You couldn’t wait a few hours? … WHAT THE HELL’S WRONG WITH YOU?

Well, if it’s any consolation, Kara offers a spanking. If only she weren’t a married woman.

Boston’s home to many conservatories. Will any of them deliver? Not Bill Bloom or Michael Ryan, but perhaps Ashley Rodriguez (21; college student)? She sings “If I Ain’t Got You” by Alicia Keys. The song suits her, and her voice suits the song. Kara says that she brought her own personality and that she’s very marketable. Victoria says that she looks her. Simon says she has it. Randy makes up numbers again. Here’s one number that matters: four. The number of yeses.

There’s one more contestant today: Tyler Grady (19; Nazareth, PA; college student), who shattered both of his wrists falling out of a tree before coming. He’s a drummer, so that’s pretty much suicide. All he can do now is sing, and he does with “Let’s Get It On”. He’s got a little blue-eyed soul in him. The ladies wanted him to continue. Randy and Simon? Are they even here? Heh. Randy likes the “Morrison stance” and Simon thinks he’s going to remember this. A SWEEP ends the day. Joining him, 17 other lucky souls. They have no idea what’s going to happen next. Heh.


The ladies arrive on time. The guys... fashionably late. After a brief history lesson, we meet Lisa Olivero (24; Billerica; waitress), who calls singing “a spiritual experience”. She idolizes Christina Aguilera and Mariah Carey. She’s going into a room with two people who’ve worked with both of them. She sings “Vision of Love” by Mariah… and it turns into a vision of flatness. She’s at least charming... and she has a butt for DAYS. DAMN!

Ryan Keane (26; Waterbury, CT; unemployed) gets burned by the “Ring of Fire”. Mike Davis (18; actor) works on a speedboat, the Codzilla. The judges want to go out on the boat after this. He goes with “Yesterday” by the Beatles. Honestly, I’ve heard better. But Mike’s pretty good for a starter. He’s an early story teller, confident, not obnoxious, in tune, a nice dude. Kara says he was touching. Simon just says yes and leaves Mike with… the ladies… Randy says no. So the ladies are going to decide this. Just to add on to this, no one has gotten through today… until NOW. And he might’ve gotten a date with Kara, too. Maybe.

1p in Day 2, and we meet Katie Stevens (16; Middlebury, CT; HS student), who grew up in a big Portuguese family, particularly her grandmother. She doesn’t speak English, and she has Alzheimer’s. But she loves to hear Katie sing. She’s a very pretty person and she has a very pretty voice with a very pretty piano playing. Will that all come together in the toughest room in America, though? That would be a yes with “At Last” by Etta James. Simon thought the song was hard, but she pulled it off. Victoria says that she has a great stage presence. Hope that holds in Hollywood, because you’re going.

For Joshua Blalock (28; NYC; business development manager), it’s literally the end of the line. He has one shot, and he uses it with “Broken Road” by Rascal Flatts. Victoria says it’s nice. Simon thought he would’ve sounded better if he was 14. That, and he’s forgettable. He tries to break into an assertive mode… and that gets him through to the next round… He’s gonna be great. He is great. He is somebody. Yeah, we’ll see.

At 3:09, we see the live auditions of a group of people who just freeze up.

“No deal.” Wrong show, cowboy.

Justin Williams (27; Sandy, UT; music coach) is next. Seven years ago, he was serving a mission in Spain and had discovered that he had cancer. He’s been cancer free ever since his treatment, and victory today will be vindication. He sings “Feeling Good” by Michael Buble. A little too showboaty, but he’s got the range for the piece. He wants to be the pop-soul crooner. I can see that. Victoria says that the girls are going to like him. Kara will remember him. All together… four yeses. That’s a PASS. That will be TWICE he beats the odds.

Norberto Guerrero has way too much product on his head and way too much English on his pitch. He said Michael Jackson inspired him... We can see that.

Victoria? “He’s white Janet!”

Next, Bosa Mora (22; Cleveland, OH; college graduate) and his family are concentratged on the American Dream. His family all came over freom Nigeria. He wants to show off his shining light. He does so with George Strait’s “You Look So Good In Love”. Simon thought it boring. Victoria thought it was heartfelt, while Simon rolls his eyes. Simon says no. V says yes. Kara says yes. Randy… gives him another shot. Use it well.

Time to wrap up the time in New England. Leah Laurenti (22; Medford, NY; unemployed) says growing up in Long Island was painfully strict. She couldn’t listen to secular music, but she thought that it was natural and in her blood, so how could it be bad? She doesn’t want to settle. She sings “Blue Skies”. She has a real jazzy voice, almost Diana Krall-ish, if Diana Krall was a mezzo-soprano. I wouldn’t have done the run on the end, but that’s her. She’s crowned the best of the day by the panel, and she gets the final golden ticket in Boston. In total, the trip to Boston resulted in 32 places in the Hollywood Round.

And we’re just getting started. Next time, the road to Nokia Theatre LA Live in May goes through Atlanta. Gordon goes down to the dirty south to clean up our act.

For more info on the Boston auditions, and to see this episode in its entirety, go to www.americanidol.com.