New York Auditions
Original Air Date: Jan 16, 2013
Patricia Morris Buckley — Sr. Staff Writer
It’s hard to imagine how this show has lasted to see a 12th season. Surely the novelty is gone, and there has been a small decline in the audience. But Idol continues to dominate the singing competition slot of reality TV.
And – more importantly – it still produces the biggest stars. Which is probably why the show started with Phil Phillips (last year’s winner) opening with a brief rendition of his big hit “Home.” Just in case we needed that reminder.
Of course, the show has had quite a turnover of judges with Randy Jackson the only staple of the panel (I wonder how many zeros are on his paycheck now!). New this year are diva Mariah Carey, country star Keith Urban (aka Mr. Nicole Kidman) and the Lady Gaga imitator Nicki Minaj.
And that’s what we all really tuned in for – to get a peep at how the judges are going to handle their new powers. Will they be sharp and critical a la Simon or warm and sweet like Paula. What we got was the beginning of a cat fight.
Right away, tension rolled off Nicki as she threw a barb Mariah’s way before the first contestant stepped in. It escalated from there and if the preview for Thursday’s show is to be believed, it gets worse. Nicki also tried to dominate the judging comments. She swung from giving constructive criticism to consoling terrible contestants. The problem is, she didn’t let the other judges talk much. It was like she saw this as a turf war and meant to go on the offensive from the get-go.
It got much worse when she started talking a British accent (many different ones, as a matter of fact). I like her candor and warmth, but she has got to let the other judges do their job as well.
Randy decided to go further with his “voice of truth” act from last season and tell contestants if they were terrible. He did not mince words. It seemed a bit rude but also sounded more like the voice of reason.
We heard very little from Keith this episode, mostly because everyone else jockeying for the top dog position drowned him out. But what he did say sounded intelligent and on the money.
At the end of the two-day Big Apple audition, Mariah said she thought they gelled as a judging team. Not sure how she came to that conclusion, but I doubt anyone believed it, especially Nicki.
Meanwhile, we did see a few contestants that could do well in Hollywood and perhaps even further on. Check out how the contestants did below.
Contestant: Michael Buonopan- 27- Shuttle driver
Song: He doesn’t do a straight audition but mimics going through various radio stations.
Impression: He’s just doing it to get on TV.
Verdict: All Nos.
Contestant: Tina Torres – 28 – model
Song: “You’ve Got a Friend”
Backstory: She attended Camp Mariah and sang for Mariah as a kid – and has the photos to prove it (which Mariah almost stole from her – I’m sure those photos are very precious to her).
Impression: She over sings, but it’s clear she has chops. She’s one to watch.
Verdict: 4 yeses
Contestant: James Bae – 15
Song: “One Less Lonely Girl”
Backstory: He’s a geek and oblivious to it. The producers set him and his huge glasses up to be an object of laughter.
Impression: He’s monotone and can’t begin to sing a tune.
Verdict: Randy said, “don’t sing.” Along with 4 nos Nicki gives the poor puppy dog a hug and a kiss.
Contestant: Christina “Isabelle” – 21– student
Backstory: She was overweight as a kid and in high school, but has lost 50 lbs.
Impression: She has a powerful voice. She needs to learn nuances, but the voice is there.
Verdict: Keith loved the humanity in her voice. 4 yeses.
Contestant: Evan Ruggiero – 21—student and tap dancer
Song: “I’m Yours” and “Wanted Dead or Alive” (the later on the guitar)
Backstory: He aspired to be a Broadway dancer, but was diagnosed with bone cancer and lost one leg.
Impression: It’s hard to tell if he has a good voice from this staccato song.
Verdict: He’s not great, but good. All nos.
Contestant: Jessica Kartalis –19 (nominated by her mother)
Song: An original song with her guitar
Backstory: Her mother nominated her (a new twist this year) and Randy surprises her in a coffee shop where she’s performing for friends, then invites her to sing for the judges.
Impression: She sounded great until she started playing guitar, then her pitch took a nosedive. Should have left the guitar at home.
Verdict: They said she’s close, but she got 4 nos.
Contestant: Shira Gavrielov –23– singer from Israel
Backstory: Had a No. 1 hit in Israel, where her father is also a musician. She just moved to New York.
Impression: She blasts it too much, but the chops are there.
Verdict: 4 yeses without any discussion.
Contestant: Frankie Ford
Song: “Sweet Dreams”
Backstory: Adopted, poor and sings on a subway for coins.
Impression: He almost quit halfway through, but gathered his nerves and starts again. It’s a good thing because he’s got a solid voice. Not sure how he’ll do with the intense pressures of Hollywood Week.
Verdict: 4 yeses (just so they could say “Frankie goes to Hollywood”?)
Contestant: Benjamin Gaisey – 21
Song: Two love songs
Impression: He’s wearing red vinyl Michael Jackson Halloween costume that no longer closes (and makes funny noise) and a curly wig. He’s barely able to carry a tune.
Verdict: 4 nos.
Contestant: Rozanna Shindelman —21—medical billing assistant
Backstory: Parents think she’s wonderful. Too bad.
Impression: She’s delusional and should only sing for her parents.
Verdict: Judges outright tell her she’s bad. 4 nos.
During a clip of other rejects, you know someone is bad when Keith asks, “What others skills and talent do you have?”
Contestant: Sarah Restuccio – 17 – student/farmer
Song: “Mama’s Song” (and a rap of “Superbass”)
Backstory: She’s from a blueberry farm and likes to drive a four-wheeler like Skylar from last season
Impression: She doesn’t have a lot of polish, but she has a beautiful tone.
Verdict: Mariah called her “a complete package.” 4 yeses.
Contestant: Albert Chang – 25- receptionist in medical office, although he really doesn’t speak English well.
Song: “Phantom of the Opera”
Impression: He’s tone deaf. His falsetto is a scary and funny at the same time.
Verdict: 4 nos.
Contestant: Angela Miller -18
Song: “Mama Knows Best”
Backstory: She has serious hearing problems, with a loss of 40 percent in one ear and 20 percent in the other.
Impression: She’s got a really nice voice. Very poppy. She might have a real chance.
Verdict: They called her one of the best of the day. 4 yeses.
Contestant: Brett Holt – 28 – liquor store clerk
Song: “When I Fall in Love”
Backstory: He’s a huge fan of the show. He’s auditioned seven times.
Impression: He’s not terrible. (It is terrible of the producers to show his fantasies of the judges loving him vs. reality.)
Verdict: 4 nos.
Contestant: Gurpeet Singh Sarin – 22 – college student
Song: “You’re All I Need”
Backstory: He has a different turban for every outfit. His friends call him the turbanator.
Impression: I’m not sure if he’s really good. His first song sounded fine, but the Indian song he followed with that sounded off pitch.
Verdict: Nicki says he has a good voice, but not good enough. But he gets 3 yeses (Keith said his voice is too light).
Contestant: Ashlee Feliciano –20 — student
Song: “Put Your Records On”
Backstory: Her family fosters and adopts medically complex children. She helps out and is very open of her love of her family.
Impression: Wow! She can really, really sing. She’s got a serious chance. She was my favorite of the episode.
Verdict: 4 yeses.
All and all, 41 contestants are packing their bags for California. Next up, Chicago.
What did you think of the new judges? Do you think the Mariah-Nicki feud is real or manufactured? Do you think we saw a potential winner this episode? Give us your TwoCents…