UPDATE: Added a recap and screen caps!
American Idol Through the Years – VIDEO
David Cook Montage – VIDEO
The biggest Season ever kicks off in Arizona ¦after the break.
- Tuan Nguyen, Spring Valley, CA – Age 20 Cashier, The Way You Make Me Feel by Michael Jackson – NO – VIDEO
- Emily Wynne-Hughes, Los Angeles – Age 21 Barracuda by Heart – YES – VIDEO
- Randy Madden ‘ Moorpark, CA ‘ Age 28 – Living on a Prayer by Bon Jovi – NO – VIDEO
- JB Ahfua – Taylorsville UT Age 16 – YES – “Flying Without Wings” by Ruben Studdard – VIDEO
- Michael Gurr ‘ Meza, AZ – Age 17 – Starts With Goodbye by Carrie Underwood – NO – VIDEO
- Aundre Xray Caraway ‘ Phoenix AZ – Age 20 ‘ Cactus Baby – NO – VIDEO
- Arianna Afsar – San Diego, CA – Age 16, “Put Your Records On” by Corrine Bailey Rae – YES – VIDEO
- Elijah Scarlett ‘ Phoenix, AZ – Age 22 – “My First, My Last, My Everything” by Barry White – NO – VIDEO
- Lea Marie Golde ‘ Los Angeles ‘ Age 16 – Every Time We Touch by Cascada – NO – VIDEO
- Stevie Wright ‘ Phelen, CA ‘ Age 16 – At Last by Etta James – YES – VIDEO
- Michael Sarver ‘ Jasper, TX – Age 27 – Thank You by Boyz II Men – YES – VIDEO
- Katrina Bikini Girl Darrell – Chino Hills, Ca – Age 20 – Vision of Love by Mariah Carey – YES – VIDEO
- Eric Sexual Chocolate Thomas ‘ Phoenix AZ – Age 17 – Ribbon in the Sky by Stevie Wonder – NO – VIDEO
- Brianna Quijada ‘ Tempe, AZ ‘ Age 22 ‘ Lets Hear it For the Boy by Denise Williams – YES – VIDEO
- Deanna Brown – Louisville KY – Age 25 ‘ Sittin on the Dock of the Bay by Otis Redding – YES – VIDEO
- Cody Sheldon – Detroit MI ‘ Age 17 – Wonderful World by James Morrison – YES – VIDEO
- Alex Wagner Trugman – Studio City, CA ‘ Age 19 – Baby Come to Me by James Ingram – YES – VIDEO
- Scott MacIntyre – Scottsdale, AZ – Age 22 – “And So It Goes” by Billy Joel – YES – VIDEO
The new-and-improved Idol isnt pissing me off so far. As promised, the producers have ratcheted back the cruelty, and the crap auditions are dispatched with pretty quickly in favor of highlighting the good singers. Even the backstories arent overbearing’ well except for blind singer, Scott Macintyre, who is teased throughout the episode.
Kara DioGuardi is as advertised, shes feisty and opinionated and not afraid to mix it up a little bit. So far, she hasnt had the opportunity to add much to the panel, but I like what I see so far. The true test of how well she fits in will be clearer during the unedited live shows. Right now, shes like another guest judge’ albiet one you hope comes back the following week.
Having said all that, I not jumping with joy over the talent so far. No one has really caught my attention yet.
More recap after the JUMP…
The episode begins with a quote from asshat record producer David Foster In life, the microphone passes your lips but once ¦you had better be ready to sing. That little bit of obvious advice segues into a very nostalgic montage of past Idol seasons. Nice way to open the season ¦ Next, is another montage featuring David Cook winning the crown (and we get to see that viral video of the crying Archuleta fans). So far, I liking the emphasis on past contestants.
A montage of current contestants is next, each declaring that theyre the next American Idol. The music swells. So far, the message is aspirational and upbeat. But can it last?
Ryan Seacrest introduces the Phoenix episode from in front of a green screen the Grand Canyon. Look, theres Arizona homie Jordin Sparks reving up the crowd. Ryan tells us that 10, 000 kids showed up to audition. Next, is a little bio about new Idol judge Kara DioGuardi‘ songwriter, producer, singer ¦yada yada. Honestly, I looking forward to that boring and predictable judges panel receiving an injection of new blood. And right off the bat, Kara seems smart, feisty and opinionated. This should be good.
First up ¦ click thumbs for larger photos
Tuan Nguyen, Spring Valley, CA – Age 20 – Cashier – The Way You Make Me Feel by Michael Jackson – NO – Tuan has a crazy-ass afro, which he constantly plays with. Heres his bright idea for an audition: He sings Michael Jackson while tap dancing. He also thinks adding high school drill-team moves to his performance will make him more marketable. Alrighty, then. At first, he thinks they like it, and then his face falls when he realizes hes being laughed at. Sads.
Emily Wynne-Hughes, Los Angeles – Age 21 Barracuda by Heart – YES – Emilys mom was a singer too (and she looks just like her). Emily sings in an all girl band and is covered in tattoos. Shes also got a pretty decent voice. Paula predicts shell be Top 5 (!!!) and that shell do well in the competition. Hm. I wouldnt speak so soon, Paula. Emily admits that her bandmates don’t know shes auditioning (I dont believe it) and that if she makes it, they wont be able to go on a European tour. But shes chipper. When she wins a big contract, shes going to bring her band along, just like Chris Daughtry did (Uhm, no he didn’t. None of his old band members passed the audition). Its 4 yeses for Emily.
Randy Madden ‘ Moorpark, CA ‘ Age 28 ‘ Sales – Living on a Prayer by Bon Jovi – NO – VIDEO – Randy is a desk jockey who dreams of being a Rock Star. And hey, why not? Hes got the do rag, the heavy metal bling and and a shirt thats buttoned down to there. So what if he doesnt have a band, or any experience. His music–it comes from La Corazon, he says. Thats all that matters, right? EEP. And he cries at the drop of a hat. He wants somebody to tell him that hes great. He just wants to be looooved. Well, hes not getting any love from the judges panel. His faux rocker act does not go over. Simon calls it wimpy. Randy thinks adding OTT hand gestures will help. It doesnt. He starts crying again. Simon rolls his eyes, and calls Randy a drama queen. Paula tells him to join a band. Everyone says no, but not before Paula and Simon start arguing.
JB Ahfua – Taylorsville UT – Age 16 – “Flying Without Wings” by Ruben Studdard – YES – Simon tells JB that he needs to loosen up, but he has a very good voice. Indeed, JB has one of those big, soulful voices that used to dominate the Idol competition. It’s like Idol retro! He gets 4 yeses, and outside with Ryan, he says hes happy, because now he can help his struggling family. Backstory just around the corner!
Michael Gurr ‘ Meza, AZ – Age 17 – Starts With Goodbye by Carrie Underwood – NO – Michael was sooo nervous. I was waiting for him to barf. That would have been entertaining. Way more entertaining than his crappy audition. In one of the few cruel moments of this feel-good episode, Kara eggs Michael on when he says he knows one of her songs. Really, he just needed to stop singing Stat.
Next, is a montage of singers butchering the classics, including a super-scary rendition of Tears for Fears Mad World. Nothing to see here
Aundre Xray Caraway ‘ Phoenix AZ – Age 20 ‘ Cactus Baby – NO – Oh that Xray. Hes so wacky! He calls Kara, Carla. Hes very caffeinated. He dances like a trained seal. He cant be serious. Its a No.
Arianna Afsar – San Diego, CA – Age 16, “Put Your Records On” by Corrine Bailey Rae – YES – Arianna Asfar is a teen do-gooder. She started an organization that entertains in nursing homes. Paula thinks shes adorable. Shes also got a decent voice, and good taste in music. Its 4 yeses for Arianna.
Day One ends (What Funnn!) and now were on to Day Two ¦
Elijah Scarlett ‘ Phoenix, AZ – Age 22 ‘ My First, My Last, My Everything by Barry White – NO – Deep, deep voiced Elijah gives the term basso profundo an entirely new meaning. He sounds like a 45 record slowed down to 16, (for those of you who remember record players. Sigh.) Hes probably awesome singing bass in the chorus, but his solo singing is pretty atrocious. Simon says its like something out of a horror movie.
Lea Marie Golde ‘ Los Angeles ‘ Age 16 – Every Time We Touch by Cascada – NO – Teen queen Lea Marie thinks shes the next Taylor Swift. Or something. Shes very bubbly-annoyingly so– and immediately begins gushing to Kara that shes her biggest fan. Uh, are we sure we want to go there after the Paula Goodspeed fiasco? Lea is a budding songwriter/singer and she hands Kara a huge pink notebook filled with her tunes. She describes herself as a cross between Hilary Duff and Madonna. Hm. Shes not a great singer, but shes better than Taylor Swift, thats for sure. They say no. Kara tells her to keep working on her songwriting. Simon glares like he just ate a bad clam.
Stevie Wright ‘ Phelen, CA ‘ Age 16 – At Last by Etta James – YES – This Stevie Nicks’ namesake is young, but shes a great singer. She seems older than 16, but not in an annoyingly precocious way. Shes definitely gifted, and for the first time tonight, my ears perk up. Simon warns her off being too nice. You were born wid it, girl. Says Randy. You got it, says Kara. Paula compares her to Kelly Clarkson. Cue the Stevie Nicks music as she celebrates her golden ticket with her family.
Michael Sarver ‘ Jasper, TX – Age 27 ‘ Roughneck – Thank You by Boyz II Men ‘ YES ‘ Manly man Michael Sarver works as a roughneck on an oil rig, the 5th most dangerous job in the world he says. But dont let that fool you. What he really wants to do is croon Boyz II Men tunes. See, hes really a sensitive guy! Hes got a nice, soulful voice. He gets 4 yeses, and Simon tells him hes got the likability factor. Ryan inexplicably calls him Jeremy when he leaves the judges room. Wha?
A mini-montage of bad singers. Wow, the crappy auditions are really few and far between in this episode…
Katrina Bikini Girl Darrell – Chino Hills, Ca – Age 20 – Vision of Love by Mariah Carey – YES – …except for Bikini Girl! Actually, Katrina, the famous bikini girl from the AI commercials, isnt that terrible a singer, until she tries to hit some glory notes at the end of the song. Of course, the whole thing’ hot chick who shows up to audition is put though by Randy and Simon despite craptastic vocals’ reeks of a setup. Most hilarious moment: Ryan looking like he might get cooties from Katrina when she tries to kiss him.
Its Kara with a short a, yall. Of course, Simon never gets it right ¦
Eric Sexual Chocolate Thomas ‘ Phoenix AZ – Age 17 – Ribbon in the Sky by Stevie Wonder – NO – Hes perfect for Idol. Eric already has the big ass tattoo across his back a la Chris Daughtry. The awkwardly phrased sexual chocolate is his eye catching message, and he swears the ladies love it! I cant imagine they love the singing, though. Nasal and out of tune, its a no all around. It turns out Eric wins anyway, his mom said shed buy him a car if he didnt make it.
Brianna Quijada ‘ Tempe, AZ ‘ Age 22 ‘ Bartender – Lets Hear it For the Boy by Denise Williams – YES – Simon Cowell declares, These people are so boring, right before Brianna breezes into the room. Shes all chirpy personality, and Simon seems to like it. If this is his idea of a contestant whos not boring I not impressed. Shes an OK singer, until she throws in some funky runs. Yikes. Randy and Kara say no. But Paula, and Simon’ who is on a mission to save AI from boring contestants (!??!) says yes.
Deanna Brown – Louisville KY – Age 25 ‘ Sittin on the Dock of the Bay by Otis Redding – YES – Is it just me, or does Deannas speaking voice sound eerily like Kellie Pickler? Her singing voice sure doesnt. Not everyone is going to go for Deannas nasal, vibrato-y tone, but I like her unique sound. Although the judges really like her, I think her sound is a little too off-beat to make it very far.
Cody Sheldon – Detroit MI ‘ Age 17 – Wonderful World by James Morrison – YES – Cue the horror movie music for Cody who likes to make them in his spare time. Efforts to make this kid look scary are pretty hopeless’ despite his avowed dark side, he appears extremely sweet. He also has really good taste in music. I liked his song choice better than his vocals, which arent anything special. The judges all say yes, and he leaves the judges chambers to greet his super-excited friends and family.
A montage of Simon asking clueless contestants which countries theyll be popular in (California ¦Europe ¦Atlanta) set up the next contestant ¦
Alex Wagner Thugman – Studio City, CA ‘ Age 19 – Baby Come to Me by James Ingram – YES – ¦Who picks the most obscure and hard to pronounce countries imaginable. Either Alex’ who tells jokes that are so bad they might be good–is in on the joke or hes not. I not quite sure which. You just came out of the closet. Simon mis-reads off his sheet. Nooo! He used to practice singing in the closet. Oh, thats better! Not. Randy loves his weird tone and congratulates him for singing in pitch. Give the guy a medal! Simon says he cant do well in this competition (hes right). Everyone else says yes, just to piss Simon off, I think.
Cant have an episode without a montage of bad singers butchering a song hand-picked by the producers for super-hilarious effect! The song for Phoenix is Bon Jovis Dead or Alive. Yipee!
Scott MacIntyre – Scottsdale, AZ – Age 22 – “And So It Goes” by Billy Joel – YES – Scott has been blind since birth, and we get the whole big backstory about his Triumph! Over! Diversity! He taught himself to play piano, he skis, he graduated college at 19–he wants to be an inspiration to all. Well thats nice. But can he sing? He has one of those pristine, technically perfect voices, kinda like Josh Groban. And his demeanor is kind and laidback. Awesome backstory + awesome vocal chops + sweet humble guy = the fan groups are forming already. Hes not going to be my favorite, so I already envisioning the hate mail. Heh. Awesomely awkward moment: Seacrest tries to give Scott a high five. Good stuff!
Twenty-seven golden tickets were given out in Phoenix. Tomorrow ¦on to Kansas City, MO.