Auditions – New York City

UPDATE: Added screencaps, click on the jump.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the two-hour audition is  too much.   Unfortunately, I think FOX is going to milk Idol for all it can.   Besides  Idol and  24, the network’s ratings are in the dumper.   According to this article  from TV Week, “The network intends to air at least 45 hours of Idol-matching and possibly exceeding the hours logged in the 2006 season”.   I love the show, but there really really is  such a thing as too much of a good thing…

This week’s shows have dropped the whole freaks-on-parade flavah that made watching last week’s  auditions feel like a dirty experience.   I’m relieved.   However,  as I said last night, I’m still not terribly impressed with the talent, even as a few of the “bad” auditions make me chuckle.   The thrill is gone?   I hope not…

The presence of guest judges  is questionable in itself, but Carol Bayer Sager?   Nobody under 40 even knows who she is.   Who owed who what favor that resulted in Sager getting the guest host gig?   And like Jewel before her, she  added nothing.   Actually, she said very little, and I suspect her heavily botoxed face  is what really kept her from speaking much.   Seriously.    Randy, Paula and Simon have this whole chemistry thing  going on.   Plopping in a guest judge is pointless.  

Check out Paula Abdul rockin’ the school-girl look.   Maybe she’s tryin’ to catch some jailbait.   Heh.

Ian Benardo 25, Bronx, NY    – Ian was on Nigel Lythgoe’s show So You Think You Can Dance. There  is a little bit of cross promotion going on here, fo’ sho’.   Regardless, Ian makes me laugh.   These are the kind of  “bad” auditions I like–where the contestant is clearly in on the joke.   Lines that made me chuckle: “That’s not my phone, That’s yours”,   Simon says, “It’s just rubbish”   To Simon: “Who says that word…who are you…I want to see your working visa.”   And, “Hollywood is NJ with celebrities”   Gloooria, Cwalling Gloooria… Good times.

Sarah  Burgess  19, East Palestine OH   – Sarah has big-time daddy issues.   She says that her parents don’t know she’s auditioning in New York.   She starts crying.   Her dad doesn’t understand her.   She seems to feel that succeeding  on American Idol  will solve all of  her effed-up family issues.    She starts crying in front of the judges before she even starts singing.  The judges are all “awwww”.  She begins to sing, and she’s pretty mediocre. But the judges feel bad for her.   Simon, “I like you…I  think you are a try-er”   Simon’s ringing endorsement is, “You don’t have a bad voice.” Randy says, “You have a different kind of tone…I like that you want to be different.”   Carol  wants to help Sarah stick it to her father.  Paula is “proud” of Sarah.    So, Sarah is advanced because: 1. She’s pretty.   2. The daddy backstory will make awesome Hollywood fodder.  Afterward she calls her dad.   She starts crying.   He asks “Who is this?”   I know it’s bad, but I laugh out loud.   Her dad–and I know it’s really her dad, because he speaks  a perfect Eastern Ohio dialect–seems completely unconcerned that she’s in New York auditioning.   Imagine that.

Fania  Tsakalakos 26, Astoria NY –   Ryan’s voice-over mentions Season 4 Greek contestant Constantine Maroulis.   By the way, I have a really good Constantine story.   I’m not going to tell it right now, though.   Maybe later. Heh.   I digress.   Yes, Fania is  from New Jersey via Athens Greece.    She sings one of those horrid 80’s hits–“Africa” by Toto–reminding me why I don’t miss the 80’s.   She  begins clapping like she’s about to  break out  some  Greek folk dancing.  As Simon  says, her singing is “appalling”.   He doesn’t like her dancing much either.    

Ashanti Johnson 28, Cambria Heights NY –  Ashanti has been to Hollywood twice.   She’s 28 and this is her last chance.   She’s lost weight.   She sings Minnie Riperton’s  “Loving You”.   It’s over the top and pitchy.   When the judges reject her, she starts begging  Simon to change his mind.   She launches into  a huge speech.   It’s cut to  a Soap Opera theme, and damn if it all doesn’t work.   Ashanti may have missed her chance on Idol, but  I think the NYC Soap Opera  world is calling.


Next up, fabricated rivalry between “best friends” Amanda and Antonella.

Amanda  Coluccio  19, Holmdel NJ – The judges ask if she’d like to bring her “best friend”   Amanda in to her audition.   Amanda and Antonella attempt to sing together.   Simon calls it a “mess”.   Antonella steps off to the side while Amanda performs Patsy Cline’s “Crazy”.   She’s a little off-pitch but has a nice, strong tone.   The judges put her through to Hollywood, but not enthusiastically.

Antonella Barba 19,  Point Pleasant NJ  – The deal is, Amanda is trained, but Antonella is not. Antonella sings “Free” and the first thing Simon says is, “I think you were better than your friend”.   They also seem to prefer her look–taller and thinner. She’s good–but I’m not convinced she’s better than her friend.   I think the “best friends” are being set up for some  Hollywood reality hi-jinks…

Clifton  Biddle 24, New Castle DE –  He’s a simple man who doesn’t want his talent going to waste.   He pronounces  ZZ Top’s “Tush” with a short u. He sings it that way too.   Clifton whips out the harmonica, and suddenly I think we’re being set up for another Taylor  Hicks snark-fest–which I expect to become a regular feature this season.   But  no, Clifton blows some rudimentary harp, and Randy inexplicably compares him to John Popper.   Clifton’s ZZ Top is also lacking. When the judges all pass, Clifton says,  “I got shut down like an F-150.”

Next, a montage of “bad”  auditions…yada yada yada…

Kia Thorton 27, Englewood NJ   –   She sings Aretha Franklin’s  “Ain’t no Way”. It’s very shouty, but the judges seem to like it–although they suggest she not  oversing.    After they put her through to Hollywood, she has a minor meltdown.




Day Two

Simon is a no-show in the morning.   He’s apparently hung-over.

Jenry  Bejarano  16, Rotterdam NY – His Bolivian mom who adopted him when he was 1 encouraged him to try out for American Idol. He’s only 16 but looks older.   He’s a very handsome kid.  Jenry sings “I’d  Give  Anything to Fall in Love”.   Paula looks like she’s going to have a stroke.   I can’t believe they still play up the Pauler-likes-the-boys deal considering the Corey Clark scandal.   Jenry has a nice tone and is very confident.   The judges pass him through to Hollywood.


Nakia  Claiborne  24, Scottsburg, VA – This one is kinda sad.   Although  she oversings the first song (“Dancing in the Streets”), and is pitchy on her second (“Dreamin’ of You”), she’s at least as  good as some of the other contestants the judges have let through.   However, Nakia doesn’t  have “the look”.  She’s short, she’s stout, and she’s badly dressed.   After the judges reject her, she starts begging, and it’s not a pretty sight.


Sarah Goldberg 20 New York, NY  –   She comes skipping into the room wearing a cowboy hat.  That’s the first sign that something may be  “off”.    She sings Selena’s “Dreaming of You”.   She’s horrible, but remarkably, afterward,  she admits that she can’t sing.   Then she launches into a rant that becomes crazier and more nonsensical by the minute.   She says, “I really love to sing…even if I don’t sing, I can be the next AI…you can teach me how to sing.”   She compares herself to Paris Hilton.   When Randy reminds her that Paris Hilton isn’t AI material, Sarah gets this sort of Glenn Close I-will-not-be-ignored look in her eyes.  When she says, “I  can be the only American Idol who has never sung before, ” and she appears dead serious–well, all bets are off.   She’s wacky.   Where are the nurses with her meds?

Simon Finally Arrives. Whoopee.

Jory Steinberg 25, Santa Monica CA –   She’s originally from Ottawa, Canada and has met many foreign dignitaries, leading me to believe that her parents may be politicians or ambassadors.   Her backstory isn’t mentioned, however.   She definitely has the polished manner of someone who is well-born.   She sings  “Chains”. She has an extremely powerful upper register and a great sense of pitch.   The judges enthusiastically advance her to Hollywood.   Simon says, “Why can’t they all be like that.”   Simon,  American Idol would not  be the phenomenon it is  if all the contestants were merely great singers, now would it?

Porcelana Patino  27, Elmhurst NY – She prepared for the auditions like a soldier. She’s exercised and dieted away 20 pounds.  She looks a little crazy.   I wonder whether she can actually sing.   She’s not bad.   The judges, mostly impressed with her dedication, put her through to Hollywood.   Porcelana advances to the judges table. She wants a group hug.   Simon’s like, “nooo thanks.”

Pointless montage of the judges mispronouncing contestant names.   Olivia Newton John is sitting at the judges table during one of the clips. Oops.

Christopher Henry 20, Plymouth MA – Supposedly, he looks like Simon Cowell.   I don’t see the resemblance.   He sings Kelly Clarkson’s  “Before Your Love”  in a  strange, girlish voice.   He  belts out shattering  Sam Harris-like high notes that are painfully off pitch.   Simon pulls out a bit he used often last year (angering Gladd in the process).  He tells Christopher,  “You should be singing in a dress and stilettos.”   When Paula tries to give  Christopher advice, Simon cuts her off.   They start arguing.    Paula calls Simon an A-hole and the conversation becomes the battle of the kindergartners:  “I’m Not”–“You are”–“I’m Not”.   Christopher tries to get a word in edgewise, but his audition is effectively over.

Rachel  Zevita  18, New York,  NY –   She’s blowing off something she calls “Opera School” to audition in New York.    Rachel sings Jeff Buckley’s “Eternal Life” which is a most excellent choice.   She doesn’t have the  best vocals, but she’s interesting.   They ask her  to sing something else, and she performs a more conventional, “Get Here if You Can”. I don’t like it as much, though.    It’s obvious she’s  trained  when she sings a little opera.  Each song is completely different.   Simon asks Rachel an interesting question, “Who do you want to be?”   She says, “A  singer-songwriter and a rock star.” Carol and Paula like her.   Randy says yes reluctantly.   Simon says, “You’re all coming to Hollywood.”   I like this one–she has potential. She’s very different  from the Pink Pony Princesses that wind up doing well on this show.   Therefore, she won’t make it past Hollywood, I predict.   ‘Tis a pity.

Next, is a montage of contestants butchering Lionel Richie’s “All Night Long”.

Christopher Richardson 22,  Chesapeak VA – Christopher sings a “Leon Russell song, interpreted by Donny Hathaway.”   Well, I’m impressed that he knows the genealogy of a “Song for You”.   His interpretation features way too much melisma.   But, Christopher has definitely got the pretty-boy look.   Oh yeah.   The girlies are gonna like this one.  Simon says, “You are possibly somebody who could surprise us in the next rounds.”   Paula says, “The  girls are gonna love him.”  There ya go. Watch this one…

And now, it’s time for one more Bad Singer Montage…

Nicholas Pedro 25, Taunton MA  – Nick quit last year.   I remember this.   It was during the group round.   He couldn’t remember his lyrics, told the judges he quit, and walked out.   He’s back this year to redeem himself.    Nick sings a  lovely  “Fly Me to the Moon”, though he mixes up the words a bit.   The judges give him another shot.   America just loves a good  redemption story. They really do. This is another one to watch, sez I.

Oh, YAY.   House next week at 9, instead of a 2-hour Idol!

Julie “Isadora” Furman  26, New York, NY     She sucks.  I’m tired.  Who  cares. I’m done.  Good night.

A whopping 35 contestants are advanced to Hollywood from New York City.

Up Tuesday:   Burmingham, AL

About mj santilli 34830 Articles
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!