American Idol 12 Audition Preview – Thoughts and Recap!

Since I did not EVEN HAVE TO LEAVE THE COMFORT OF MY LIVING ROOM TO WATCH (Thank you FOX screening room) Here is my review of the American Idol special preview that screened in theaters across the country tonight.

Did you go? Season 4’s Bo Bice and Anthony Federov and Season 11’s Jessica Sanchez and Colton Dixon were there!

The preview features 45 minutes of select auditions from New York City and Chicago which are excerpts from next week’s 4 hour premiere (NYC on Wed, Chi-town on Thurs.)

My overall thoughts: Nicki Minaj is going to definitely be the break out star. She’s not only opinionated, but a total chatterbox. And with her quirky style, crazy outfits, and random ways, it’s hard to pay attention to anybody else.  No wonder Mariah is a little miffed. Nicki is CONSTANTLY pulling focus.  Poor Mariah is destined to be the Paula of the table, but without Forever Your Girl’s charming loopiness.  The preview spent much of the time exploring the many personalities of Nicki Minaj. Can you say Sybil? One thing–she totally gets that she’s there to entertain. I found her amusing, but her shtick may get old.  The gifs should be hilarious though. She’s a girl of a thousand faces. The Mariah gifs are  destined to be of the singer constantly side-eyeing her nemesis. Keith is an astute judge. He’s got a lot of insight, and a real ear for vocal quality.  I expect him to make his quiet mark. And Randy is…Well. he’s Randy.  He finds Nicki pretty amusing. He’s also, once again, taken on the A-hole mantle for the audition phase.

The talent featuring tonight was middling. And that’s all I’ll say. They are–wisely probably–saving the really good stuff for next week. The preview was more about showcasing the new judges, and giving fans a little taste of the talent, that includes, good singers, sob stories and joke contestants.

Here’s my review, done in live blog style…

American Idol winner, Phillip Phillips walks out on to a bare stage. He takes out his guitar and begins to perform an acoustic version of his ubiquitous hit, “Home.”  This is how the American Idol 12 preview begins. Phillip’s performance morphs into his video and then on to a montage of American Idol winners and alums, featuring their accomplishments that include multiple music awards, an Oscar and an appearance on Glee!  It makes sense that Idol would emphasize the post-Idol careers of their alums. The 11 year old show may have The Voice nipping at their heels, but so far the aging talent competition is the only show that can boast successful graduates.

Next the judges are introduced. Randy Jackson returns. Keith Urban, Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey are the newbies.

Glimpses of the hopefuls. First A very young looking boy wearing an oxygen mask. He doesn’t expect to live beyond 35 years old!

“Your range is better than Mariah’s!” says Nicki to a hopeful. “This is what I deal with when I come into my job,” rsnarks Mariah.

Tenna Torres – 28 – Queens New York – “You’ve Got a Friend” – The singer has been listening to Mariah since she was 5 years old. She attended “camp Mariah” as a child–whatever THAT is. Mariah is so glad to have an alumni there. She gives her a big hug. The judges look blissful listening to her! She has a very pretty, soulful voice. “If we can have somebody like this come out of Idol 12, I would be personally very proud,” says Mariah.  “We’re all sitting in awe, says Nicki, talking over Mariah. Oops. Keith says her style has a lot of patience.” Tenna leaves the audition room and then bursts into tears.

Nicki seemed to particularly fall for a big haired African American boy with a quirky style and big soulful voice. She gave him some snaps!

James Bae – Long Island, NY – Age 15 – “One Last Lonely Girl” by Justin Bieber – He wants to be the next You Tube sensation like just like Justin. The young singer has an Asia accent and very little experience outside of the confines of his bedroom. He tries to bring a character to his performances. Oh dear. Unfortunately he’s more William Hung, than Psy. “I like you a lot James, do you have a girlfriend?” Negatory. James announces that he  would like to do a “collide” some day with Nicki. uhm, I think he means COLLABORATION. Mariah suggests he DJs.  Actually, not a bad idea. “The whole package isn’t quite there,” says Keith diplomatically. “I wanted to be a NASCAR driver, but it wasn’t quite there,” says Randy, pulling no punches. He’s the most forthright–telling the kid he sucks. “I WANTED TO BE A BUS DRIVER,” says Nicki. apropos of..well nothing. James looks sad. Nicki tells him that he’s special, just not for singing.

Sarah Restuccio – Age 17 – Hammonton, NJ – Mama’s Song by Carrie Underwood – This pretty brunette is kind of a Carrie clone, with a touch of soul. Nicki says, “You have a beautiful tone, I feel like you could be a humongous country star.” “I agree, I think you have a beautiful voice,” says Mariah, “I felt like you could make a great album. I see a complete package.” Randy says he wants to hear one more song. OMG she launches into Nicki’s “Super Bass.” As if THIS WASN’T SCRIPTED! She adlibs raps to Nicki, who responds. She raps! She sings country! She’s cute! Nicki notes that it’s two different moments, but perfect. Nobody does that! Country singer, Keith finally speaks, “When you sang the first song, I didn’t quite feel it from you,” he says, “Then you sang Nicki’s song–a totally different part of your personality.” Very astute Keith! Sarah definitely had more charisma while rapping the second song. Keith isn’t sure who she is. But Nicki is bullish, insisting there are lots of girls who live on farms who like Super Bass. The boys will like her because she’s pretty and girls will identify with her. Mariah’s eyes were practically rolling out of her head at this point. “If she really likes to sing country songs, she can try to find one that fits into her…” Whoops! Nicki cuts Mariah right off! Nicki is totally sold on this girl and doesn’t think pigeon-holing her style is important at all. Everyone says yes anyway…

Ashlee Feliceano – “Put Your Records On” – Her backstory? She comes from a big adoptive family. There are 3 biological children, and 4 kids who are biologically and medically challenged. Ashlee is very involved with their care.  She cries as she talks about her parents. She’s got a pretty voice, but  nothing super special. “So pretty,” says Nicki, “I’m so inspired by you.” Mariah says, “I think it was really nice. The potential is great. You should be proud of yourself.” Keith says, “Your lower register has the most beautiful nasal tone.” Then Randy drags in the family. You knew that was coming! The judges fawn over them, and talk about what a great family they are. In their presence (even Ryan is in the room)  All the judges say yes.

After the audition, Nicki says, “I feel like we gel well…in a weird crazy way!” Mariah replies, “I agree…” Hm.

Stephanie Schimel – 20 – Milwaukee, WI – “I think you’re pretty, I thought your voice was pretty, but nothing jumped at me,” says Nicki to a pretty blonde singer, whom we don’t hear sing. “I don’t think you feel like a star.” But the rest of the panel like her and all say yes. Nicki says NO. Stephanie isn’t hurt, “I don’t like you any less. I take critique as a good thing.” Nicki proceeds to make absolutely no sense, “We are wearing the same color eye shadow today. We are having a rivalry today, that’s why I said no.” WHAT?!?! says Randy. “But now that your’e through to Hollywood…” Randy cuts Nicki off,  “What kind of Junior high are we in now?” “Exactly,” eye rolls Mariah. EVERYBODY IS TALKING OVER EACH OTHER. Shoots back to Mariah, Nicki says, “You shouldn’t have a comment on that.”  Stephanie puts her hands over her face. Randy shoos her out of the room before things get even crazier.

Next, it’s a montage of Nicki and Mariah cat fights, with poor Keith in the middle. The montage music? “Stuck in the Middle with You.” Heh.

“I wasn’t talking to you,” Nicki says at one point. “It was the way that you said it!” Mariah shoots back.

“I have a thought, Nicki excuse me!” says Mariah.

“I don’t want to make anyone upset here,” says Mariah. “SURE YOU DO,” says Keith. Nicki, who is going to be ENDLESSLY GIFABLE makes faces at the other end of the table.

Keith smacks  his head, over and over on the table, “I swear I feel like a scratching post.”

We’re in Chicago now. Keith had to leave early to make a concert in Las Vegas. Randy is planted between Mariah and Nicki. He’s in charge of keeping the girls in line. “Listen,” he says, “Nobody gets hurt. Let’s come out and have fun.”

“AYE AYE CAPTAIN!” says Nicki.

A montage of hot boys are next, and Nicki LIKES.

“We waited all day for you.”

“I see you licking your lips, playboy, what’s really good?”

“Do you have a girlfriend?”

“Is that a hole in your pants?” Says the boy, “Why you looking?” Nicki was just getting warmed up for…

Griffin Peterson – 22 – “Wash by the Water” by Need to Breathe – A very good looking white guy. “Do you have a nickname?” asks Nicki, “Because I don’t really think Griffin when I see you. What about ‘Grrrrr” she suggests. Then she asks him if he has a girlfriend. He doesn’t. “I don’t discriminate! We’re all equal!” I’m not sure what Nicki means there.  Randy is laughing. “The single life,” side-eyes Mariah. Nicki thinks he looks and feels like a star, but Randy didn’t get it. He thought the voice was just barely below average. “Are you freaking kidding me!” exclaims Nicki. There’s Mariah, laughing and eye-rolling. “Those girls…They’re coming to his concert!” says Nicki. “I do HAVE to say yes to that,” says Mariah.  She sees Nicki’s point of view, because the dude has a handsome face. She thinks he has potential. Randy says he could be like a new Bieber. “Bieber doesn’t do that to me!” says Nicki. Randy continues to laugh. He says no.  I’m with Randy on this one. The girls say yes. His mom wants to kiss Ryan Seacrest. It’s on her bucket list.  She does, with Dad’s permission.

Kevin Nabity – 25 – Polk City, IA – “One Week” by Bare Naked Ladies – He loves Ninja Turtles and martial arts. I smell a joke contestant! His dancing consists of awkward jumping and somersaults. He’s confident, but doesn’t want to come off as cocky! He says this while we watch him klutzily drop ninja sticks in the water. His singing is captioned, including gibberish. and finally just question marks. The captioners use what looks like other languages and numbers. I laughed out loud. “SOLD” says Randy, imitating an auctioneer. “You aren’t seriously insinuating that you don’t like Kevin, are you?” says Nicki, sounding serious. “Kevin just tried to sell me an old moterbike, which I don’t want,” says Randy.  “Kev, maybe you can wow them with something else!” chirps Nicki. He suggest “Come Sail Away.” BINGO! “Oh yeah,” says Keith. Nicki slips into a British accent “Aw do you want woh-tah” she asks when, after Kev slaughters the song, he says his voice is dry. It’s a very big no for Kev.

Next, it’s a montage of the judges saying no. Tears and hugs all around.

OK.  Last audition! Oh, it’s the stutter kid! from the promo.

Lazaro Arbos – 21 – Arbos, FL – “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon and Garfunkel – His Cuban parents, in Spanish, explain that his extreme stuttering began when he was 6 years old and never improved. I’m talking EXTREME stutter. It takes him several seconds to get one word out. When the family moved to the US when Lazzaro was 10, his stutter got much worse. He’s a very solitary fellow as a result.  Lazaro sings beautifully, in a clear sweet tone without a trace of stutter (which is not unusual)  ‘Just sing all the time!” says Keith. “Your story is very inspiring,” says Nicki. “I think you brought a really great vibe into the room.” Keith says, “I love your tone, I love the way you sing, I love that you did that song, It’s one of my favorites. It just elicits so much emotion.” Lazaro is crying through his critique. “I love you so much,” he says to Mariah after she compliments his voice. All together, they say YES.

46 Idols breezed through the windy city!

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mj santilli

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Founder and editor of, home of the awesomest fan community on the net. I love cheesy singing shows of all kinds, whether reality or scripted.I adore American Idol, but also love The Voice, Glee, X Factor and more!
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  • Lexie O’Neill

    Thanks!  I’ll be watching next week…

  • guinness 416

    “AYE AYE CAPTAIN!” says Nicki.

    Ha!  I’m looking forward to seeing Ms Minaj.

  • James M.

    Griffin Peterson

    Oh dear God XD.

    Nicki sounds really entertaining. Don’t know how I feel about her seemingly interrupting Mariah all the time. I feel like Mariah’s gonna have a lot of difficulty getting a word in edgewise. Hope that’s not the case.

    TBH, I’m really saving my opinion on the new judges for the live performance episodes. I remember how awesome J. Lo and Steven seemed during the Season 10 auditions, then they fell flat.

    Nicki does sound REALLY entertaining. I wanna hear this “AYE AYE CAPTAIN”. And I’m looking forward to the Sarah Restuccio audition.

  • Kesia Monteith

    “tells him that he’s special, just not for singing.”


  • fantoo1

    Thank you for the recap! Looking forward to the actual show. It sounds like a lot of people love Nicki. I wish others would give her a chance.

  • yoshirox10

    I was at the NY screening and it was a lot of fun.  There was a clear divide between Mariah and Nicki fans in the audience.  They were getting very riled up whenever there was a fight between them.  I like the new judging panel, but there’s a bit too much emphasis on them and not on the contestants.

    Side note:  Camp Mariah is just a camp ground, nothing musical.  I know a lot of elementary schools take multi-day field trips there.  I went in 5th grade.

  • Kariann Hart

    The Season 12 Premiere Screening was awesome!  There were folks addicted to Idol like I am, and also casual fans. We waited in line about 1 1/2 hours, but it went by quickly. I happen to be in line with 16 year-old  Aprille  who tried out in Season 10. She and her Mom gave me some information I didn’t know. Someone asked her to sing, and she broke out in song! Cool! She has a really nice voice, is a sweet young lady, and will be trying out again this coming year. There also was a young lady named  Kari Lynn who has gone far in this year’s competition. She got a lot of attention and was interviewed.

    I was disappointed at first because they presented everything we have already seen on TV (and here), plus threw in a few commercials. If you watched, then you know what a terrific voice  Lazaro Arbos that stutters has.   There was footage of Phillip which has been on TV. We were shown footage from Teena Torres, Ashlee (large family), Stephanie, and Griffin Peterson (as MJ has mentioned). I was most impressed Sarah Restuccio who has a terrific voice. For her second song she sang Nicki’s Rap song, “Super Bass.” WOW! I will be shocked if she’s not in the TOP 20 girls!

    Mariah’s dress was just so-so; however, Nicki looked very fashionable. Nicki will be on a fashion watch list each week. I did get the impression that the two gals didn’t get along that well; however, they adore Keith!! Who doesn’t? Randy is what he always has been but is in a “leadership” role. They showed a few of the bad auditions and the judges reactions. Some were very funny!

    My biggest surprise was how good Nicki is in judging – and very funny! Now, these are edited clips. If the judges are as good as they are in these clips, Idol Season 12 will be a success! Fox News interviewed people and they provided popcorn, water and pop for us. When leaving, we were given a green “American Idol” tee-shirt or hat! I really enjoyed the evening and socializing with other Idol fans. The Idol staff for the Detroit showing were very nice. Now, I really am energized for the premiere of Season 12!!

  • briguyx

    A success? From what MJ wrote, it sounds like Nicki was speaking in tongues!

  • Jake Williams

    Queen Nicki for the win.

  • Bug Menot

     I was going to suggest Griffin Peterson’s nickname might be Peter Griffin (from The Family Guy). Then I saw this:

    “Griffin Peterson was the true founder of Quahog as seen in “Peter’s Progress”. He fell in love and married Lady Redbush after an exile set forth by King Stewart III. Between the exile and his marriage to Redbush, he married a woman named Meg, who he shot following his reunion with Redbush. Peter Griffin is one of his reincarnations”


    btw, what is meant by “biologically challenged”? Does that mean the children are separated from their biological parents?

  • Bug Menot

     I was going to suggest Griffin Peterson’s nickname might be Peter Griffin (from The Family Guy). Then I saw this:

    “Griffin Peterson was the true founder of Quahog as seen in “Peter’s Progress”. He fell in love and married Lady Redbush after an exile set forth by King Stewart III. Between the exile and his marriage to Redbush, he married a woman named Meg, who he shot following his reunion with Redbush. Peter Griffin is one of his reincarnations”


    btw, what is meant by “biologically challenged”? Does that mean the children are separated from their biological parents?

  • blackberryharvest

    All the different bloggers(Lyndsey, Brian, etc) have shared your views-they say Nicki will be the breakout star and that she is very entertaining. It gives me hope that she will prove all the haters wrong and that she will bring fun to the panel along with new blood and life to the show.

  • geekygirl

    Didn’t see this, but loved the review MJ, I could see it thru your eyes.  Nicki sounds like she spontaneously combusts with energy and comments and if she calls it like it is I am all for that.  She and Keith sound like what the show needs -honesty!!!

    However, as the daughter of a conversation ninja, I hope they can reign it in on the live shows to let others have a say. My brother and I have a family joke that we are amazed we ever learned to talk!  Interupters, no matter how clever, start making everyone uncomfortable.  Don’t want to ruin her spontaneity, but maybe count to, say, 5 before she launches?  It could get old really quickly on live shows if it becomes just the Nicki Minaj critique panel.

  • Li Wright

    “Nicki sounds really entertaining. Don’t know how I feel about her seemingly interrupting Mariah all the time. I feel like Mariah’s gonna have a lot of difficulty getting a word in edgewise. Hope that’s not the case.”^^ You don’t have to hog the table and say a lot to get your point across, and more and more it seems about the judges not the talent.  I am much more interested in WHAT JIMMY IO says than what the judges say!
    And yes I agree with MJ….Mariah was supposed to be the ONLY girl at the table and she has to share it with Nikki….what a downer….I KNOW Jlo wouldn’t be there if SHE had to share the table with another woman LOL.

  • hillstreetblooz

    imo just seems to me that as the faces at the judges table got browner, the heartburn and fear bubbling up concerning these ‘change’ increased exponentially… I’ve no doubt Idol is going to survive, and thrive with these ‘changes’… those not inclined to watch the show due to  ‘changes’ – oh well, ta-ta and toodles, it’s a free country, no one is going to beg or force anyone to do what they don’t want to do… Idol will keep rolling along, and I’m pretty darn excited to see what this season’s edition will look like.

  • elliegrll

    There’s always going to be more emphasis on the judges during the audition stages, that’s just the format of the show.  Simon made a name for himself based on how he controlled the auditions.  He was the leader of the panel, the one given the final say, and the other two judges seemed to react based on what he had to say.  

    Until we get to know the contestants more during Hollywood week, the judges are the focus.

  • Landon Cox

    I signed up to go to the DC one – but let’s be real it is in Virginia and I don’t really leave the District on a weekday – but I had to go look at apartments last night :(

    Did anyone get to ask some good questions? Like will the judges stop being mouthpieces for the producers this year?

  • GinaBallerina

    MJ, Camp Mariah is a part of the Fresh Air Fund, a charity that Mariah heavily supports.  It allows children who live in the inner city to attend camp in the countryside and experience nature and, well, fresh air.  Mariah has been very generous with the Fresh Air Fund over the years, so they named a camp after her years ago. 

    Yes, I am a HUGE Mariah fan.  I will try not to drive everyone crazy this season!  I’m just sooo excited! : )

  • hillstreetblooz

    Same here – HUGE Mariah fan from the wayback, lol… Yep, she has been a longtime sponsor in the Fresh Air Fund, there are tons of pictures and articles on the net about her “Camp Mariah endeavor, along with various stories from children who’ve benefitted from her generosity… She and Nicki will bring an interesting, ah, dynamic for sure to the show this year… I’m ready to get the Idol party started.

  • sumidol

    I watched this last night and Nicki was wonderful!  I was thinking, oh no, its going to get dirty in there but Nicki is this bright beautiful creature, she is hilarious, kind to the contestants, witty, gives great critique and truthful.  Idol was so smart to put her on and yes Mariah fades in comparison, anyone would through no fault of Nicki, she is a star for sure.  Keith was so sweet and gave good critiques also and what a sweetheart for sure, this is going to be a fun panel and fun to watch

  • Dennis

     I can tell your other posts that your all about Mariah and anti Nicki but honestly the shows not going to die because Nicki’s on there and God forbid this show has a more urban audience watching. lol

  • Dennis

    imo just seems to me that as the faces at the judges table got browner,
    the heartburn and fear bubbling up in some longtime ‘concerned’ fans of
    the show increased exponentially

    Quoted for truth and accuracy. lol

  • GinaBallerina

    Hey!  Awesome to find a lamb here.  I know there are tons of us out there but I don’t often encounter any!  Happy watching next week, it’s going to be so exciting.

  • cheese1

    So for those who saw the premiere/preview – does Randy do the Mariah name-dropping thing when she’s actually sitting right there beside him?  I kind of hope he does 

    I’m curious to see how the new judges interact with each other, but I’m also confident that, regardless of whether I think this is a good judging panel or not, I will be fast forwarding through them by the time the live shows start. For me, the show is only watchable if I cut it down to 45 minutes or an hour. I might stop and watch if I see a really good Nicki face, lol. 

  • sumidol

    He did not do that last night, after the first city they went to they all congratulated each other, saying they meshed or something to that effect, they felt great chemistry then the next city they started showing the tension between Nicki and Mariah but for the most part they got along and there was great back and forth going on, very enjoyable but Nicki really was awesome, I am older woman and had misgivings too but I was wowed by her, by the whole panel actually.  They seem caring and all about the contestants so its going to be a good season I do believe

  • elliegrll

    it may get old fast.

    Do you mean that the demo will get old fast?  It seems that that is an issue that they are trying to address.

    I’m not sure how the show attracting an “urban” audience is extreme.  I would say that for the past few years that the evidence is showing that the audience for the show isn’t as diverse as it was during the first few seasons.  I’d also point out that the ratings for the show have gone down during that time, including last year’s huge drop among total and younger viewers.  Those drops should be and was reason enough to make some serious changes.