Fox’s “American Idol” returned last night for the start of its ninth season, and while they can rotate judges and air this show right after Simon Cowell announced he is leaving the show, they can’t change the fact that the talent or lack thereof ultimately drives this thing. Last night was no exception, as we had to endure the first of seven or eight episodes of those initial auditions, showing us the very polarizing best and worst of the lot.
The first auditions were in Boston, and along with Cowell, the other judges were the returning Randy Jackson and Kara DioGuardi, with Victoria Beckham, a.k.a. Posh Spice, as a guest judge. As we do each season at this time, we’ll try to briefly summarize by separating the best and the worst.
16 year old Maddy Curtis, who is one of nine kids, sang Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” and it was quite brilliant for someone that young. She seemed like a very sweet person too and Simon even said one of the reasons he liked her was that, unlike others her age, she was “not annoying.”……they rifled through a trio of talented women, with Jennifer Hirsch doing a weird scatty version of “Ding Dong the Wicked Witch is Dead”, followed by Claire Fuller and Jess Wolfe, who I don’t remember much about but they were okay…..the first dude they let through was Amadeo DaRocco, who they set up by showing him having Italian Sunday dinner with his family. Amadeo is 28 and this was his first attempt at something like this. You had to believe he as going to suck, but thankfully he did an awesome version of Muddy Waters’ “Hoochy Coochy Man.” He wasn’t the type Simon usually likes, but Simon declared him best of the day, and Kara tried to bond with him by acting Italian. Please Kara, give it a rest…..then they showed three guys with guitars in the holding room singing together and sounding amazing, and two of them that they showed had excellent auditions–Luke Shaffer and Benjamin Bright…..24 year old Ashley Rodriguez sang Alicia Keys’ “If I Ain’t Got You” and while I thought it was just okay, the judges were tripping over themselves to say how amazing she was…..Tyler Grady, 19, is a drummer in a rock band who desperately wants to be a front man. Dude fell out of a tree recently, breaking both of his wrists and putting his drumming career on hold. But lucky for him, he can sing, and his version of Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” was maybe my favorite audition so far. Of course, Simon asked what we all wanted to ask…why was he up in a tree? His answer was something akin to “I’ve always loved climbing trees.” Um, okay dude….unless you are part monkey, that should have stopped when you turned 12 or so…..Mike Davis, 18, sang The Beatles “Yesterday” and was okay, good enough to get through but barely…..16 year old Katie Stevens, who helps take care of her grandma with Alzheimer’s, was awesome, and Josh Blaylock, 28, was good enough to earn three votes, while Cowell declared him “forgettable.”…..27 year old Justin Williams, who survived cancer about 7 or 8 years ago, was excellent, showing really effective vocal dynamics…..Bosa Mora, 18, whose parents came to the States from Nigeria for school, and wound up staying and having like 10 kids, was really talented and, mark my words, will go very far despite Simon calling him “boring”…..and finally, Leah Laurenti, 22, sang a cool version of “Blue Sky” and made it through.
The first contestant of the night was Janet McNamara, who practiced for this audition by playing the “American Idol” video game. Uh-oh. Janet was like a real life cartoon character herself, and psyches herself up by looking in the mirror and saying “you’re awesome.” Good lord. She was horrible, but even more horrible because she thought she was so great…..Pat Ford, 17, who sang “Womanizer,” was also horrible, but I don’t remember much about him…..Derek, a kid with really bad acne, was very spiritual and very bad, doing a weird vocal thing with “Sorry Seems To Be the Hardest Word”…..after a medley of duds, they showed Mary Doyle, 24, another real life cartoon character who took on Janis Joplin, something that almost automatically sets you up for failure. Mary could not believe that all four judges did not like her, saying that familiar refrain, “But everyone thinks I’m good”……Andrew Fenlon, a wiseass who was bitter because he had to wait several hours for this audition, was boring and not a very good singer, but he was good for ratings. That’s because while one of the judges accurately declared that Andrew had “bad energy,” Kara in particular came right out and said she didn’t like him, but she was downright angry about it. Well, something was not right with Andrew, but I think something was not right with Kara as well…..Lisa Olivero, 24, sang Mariah Carey’s “Vision of Love” and was very shouty and annoying, and surprised that she was not going to Hollywood. She was easy on the eyes, however, and as they showed her slowly walking out, Randy’s eyes were bulging out of his head and he and Simon did everything but shout, “Nice ass!”……the last of the worst was 18 year old Norberto Guerrero, who Simon said looked like he was wearing LaToya Jackson’s clothes. Ouch!
So episode 1 is in the books! Tonight it continues, but thankfully only for one hour. What did you think of last night’s performances? Let me now in the space below and we will be back tomorrow! Thanks for reading…..