Two hours Wednesday and two hours last night, and American Idol is back in full force and isn’t even thinking about wining and dining us, I guess. It’s like, um, Mom & Dad split up and Dad’s dating someone new and she’s telling us how we should dress and to do our homework and we never asked for a new Mommy …we’re confused and this show Mariah-Minaj-Urban judging panel is different and YOU CAN’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO! YOU’RE NOT MY AMERICAN IDOL! I need some Idol therapy. I need to brought along slowly, like, maybe with a shorter 1-hour season premier and maybe some clips of J-Lo saying “good bye” or maybe J-Lo and Steven Tyler making a little video together and telling us, hey, it’s not my fault and they just grew apart and just because they’re not with American Idol anymore, it doesn’t mean they love us any less.
We’re in denial, people. With two hours to fill, I need to get to know the new judges. I can’t just accept them falling from the sky and hitting the ground running. I need to see them struggling with the judging and critiquing and, in a way, help them learn their way around the audition rounds. But, luckily my love for American Idol, and Ryan Seacrest, is unconditional and I’m willing to push forward through these bumpy first days and we’ll just agree to never talk about Simon, Paula, J-Lo, or Steven.
So off to Chicago, we go, but first …a question? Is it even possible anymore for American Idol to find someone like Kelly Clarkson or Carrie Underwood? Like, let’s say Carrie Underwood herself walked through the door, would it be possible to explode to that level of fame from this modern Idol platform? Kelly Clarkson is kinda fat, now, but she wasn’t back then. She looked like “the girl next door” and had charisma and a HUGE voice, so she blew up. But was that complete dumb luck and those two were destined for greatness anyway, or was it a perfect storm of the Idol phenomena and how new and how big it was, or were they that talented they were destined to be major recording stars with or without Idol. My guess is, it was mostly the Idol launching pad.
Oh, well. You can never go back. I miss 2004. I really do. Let’s talk auditions…
Mackenzie Wasner, a little Country girl who got her feet wet singing with her Dad, started the night. Mariah said there’s something magic there, and Nikki Minaj says someone like Mackenzie only walks in a room not very often. Four quick yes’s including a “superstar ‘yes’” from Nikki Minaj, and she’s off to Hollywood and she’s a name and face worth remembering. Mark it down in your journal, folks.
Kiara Lanier sang for President Obama, idolizes Mariah Carey for being multi-race or something and girl …could …sing. The judges were amazed by her “control.”
Stephanie Schimel, a blond bombshell, sang “Dream a Little Dream” in a smokey Joss Stone type voice and everyone loved it, except for Nikki Minaj who said, “nothing jumped at me.” First, it’s “nothing jumps out at me”, and second …Nikki Minaj might hate white people. It’s early. I’m watching her.
The bad were bad, like Melissa Bush, from Grand Rapids, Michigan, who sported a pink Elvis-esque jump suit and was predictably awful. Or Ninja-Turtle-Rapper-Dancer Kevin Nabity …it was a shocker he sucked, even though he picked the perfect song in BNL’s “One Week” …and of course I’m being sarcastic. Later in the show Iaisha Cotton butchered something by Ashanti after some spazztic dance moves and all I could think about was, hey, whatever happened to Ashanti? Didn’t she have that hit song with Fat Joe. And what happened to Fat Joe? What was I talking about? There were alotta broken hearts in Chicago on Day 1.
“This is my first ‘real job.’” -Mariah
Gabe Brown was the first “rocker” from the small-town feature where the bus rolls into some small towns and brings back marginal singers to audition in the big city. Mariah finally got some screen time by suggesting he stop shouting and maybe try something controlled – he’s going to be really annoying, real quick.
Isabelle Parell, all of 15 years old, delivered a smokey version of “Baby It’s Cold Outside” and effortlessly charmed Keith Urban into playing along and singing it as a duet with her. That’s a tough move. Mostly a move like that would be obnoxious and I’d hate the person who tried it, but I liked Isabelle, anyway. Mariah picked up on that and said Isabelle is very natural and vulnerable, and everyone went along …except Randy. This must be his contractual “one dissent” against Mariah.
Nikki Minaj wanted to sleep with Griffin Peterson, and she might get another shot when she sees him in Hollywood, and maybe further, because he had something really cool going on with his voice. And Griffin’s Mom got to steal a kiss from Ryan, a kiss that’s on her “bucket list.”
Can we talk about “bucket lists” really quick? Unless you’re old, like really old …maybe a senior citizen or maybe over the age of 65, you can’t have a “bucket list”. When you hit 65 years of age, you’re suddenly dealing with the fact you’re getting closer to “kicking the bucket.” So you make a “bucket list.” But lately I’ve heard people in their 30s, 40s, and 50s saying they’re checking things off their “bucket list.” When you’re young, it’s just called a “list.”
Curtis Finch Jr. impressed the judges, but didn’t impress me. Yes, he had a gorgeous and soulful voice that would leave ‘em fainting in the aisles of his church, but he doesn’t have a chance at winning Idol. Idol is due for another R&B winner or finalist, but this guy won’t be it.
Mariah liked an auditioner also named Mariah because we’re learning, if Mariah sees something that looks like her, or is a picture of herself, or even has her name …she likes it. The not-famous Mariah is a recovering Anorexic, and she was awesome with a slowed-down and soulful version of “Let it Be.” I don’t know how old she is, but she sang it like a veteran of stage and song. I hope the stress of the the Idol spotlight doesn’t become too much for her.
Adopted Brandy Neelly overcame, um, “being adopted” by her loving Aunt and Uncle, to, um, be here singing on TV.
The judges liked Josh Holiday and his somewhat smokey and R&B style and his voice …he had a Robin Thicke thing going on.
Andrew Jones had a huge 70s era soulful voice goin’ on, and he was part of a rapid fire sequence of “yes” votes that also included Clifton Duffin, who’d never sang for his parents and I was certain we were about to hear a disaster, but the cat could sing. And his Mom stood in the wings looking so proud …awwwww, what a nice Idol moment.
Back for another shot was Johnny Keyser, who we remember loved himself a whole helluva lot more than anyone else did. And he wasn’t humbled at all by the experience of being booted last year, and he looked even more in love with himself, but he’s lucky these are all new judges so they didn’t immediately send him packing. I would have booted him …but perseverance paid off and he got a ticket to Hollywood, with Mariah even going so far as to call him a “star” with “star quality.”
But the best of the worst and weirdest was street-performer and magician Kez Ban, who actually could sing, but she was such a bizzaro with her odd haircut and manly moves, and she didn’t even want to win, I don’t know what to make of her. However, the judges loved her and I’ll admit, she was different enough without being over-the-top (she seemed genuinely odd), so they gave her a ticket to Hollywood, which is all she said she wanted. She even said, “I don’t want to win, a cute little 17-year-old should win.”
And the final performer of the night was stuttering Lazaro Arbos and his story and what he struggles with was heart breaking. But in a crazy, unexplainable phenomenon, when he sings …no stuttering. Incredible. Keith Urban cut right to the chase and said, “you should just sing all the time” and I’m sure that would be just as difficult for people as hearing him stutter. I’m soooo glad they gave him a yellow ticket and we ended the night on that note.
From where I’m sitting, it looks like Mariah Carey wants to quit and Nikki Manaj really doesn’t want to be there, either, but luckily they’re all making $20-million-plus, so we’ll have them through May. I know ratings are down, but this show still delivers and it pulls me in.
I think we also learned that Nikki Minaj is really funny, and that really surprised me. We also learned she pushes her “jokes” too far (ie British accent, eye-rolling, crazy eyes). But Nikki Minaj has been a pleasant surprise. Which is a complete contrast to Mariah who isn’t a “pleasant surprise.” Heck, she’s barely “pleasant.” And what we’re really learning is American Idol absolutely needed Nikki Minaj to run the show …everyone else is a dud. Nikki is running the auditions and I can’t imagine how lost the others would be without her taking the lead.
I also learned that, ya know what, I could do without Randy Jackson. I think he’d be gone but he was able to rope in his friend Mariah Carey, but truly …we don’t need him. Fox was smart, however, to have four judges because one of these four is going to quit, I predict. It will be good for headlines and American Idol press.
Who’s sick of Nikki Minaj’s British accent?
What do we think about Keith Urban getting to skip town?
Oh, and Nikki had better seriously watch how she talks to Mariah …she did far too much talking loud and giving Mariah “the hand” for my liking. Remember …we love Mariah Carey, here. That’s the rules.
That’s enough for this week. Make sure you’re keeping good notes in your American Idol journal and update your singer chart, and I’ll see you next week at the Charlotte auditions..