Tuesday, January 30

AI Birmingham Auditions

Tonight we have 11,000 people (more than auditioned in all cities together for Season 1, I learned last weekend on Idol Rewind!) gathered in the city home to Ruben, Bo, and Taylor! Yet only 20 of these advance to Hollywood...

The no's, briefly:
Erica Skye (19, AL) sang "Unchained Melody" country style
Diana Walker (27, very large gal) "Saving All My Love for You"
Margaret something-or-other, the one in the Big Bird shirt

The yes's:

Katie Bernard (19, FL, #24710) has a very high, childish talking voice but sings with a full, lower voice. Her "A House is Not a Home" leads Randy & Paula to put her through, despite Paula's hesitation that she's a young newlywed who should focus on her marriage instead of chasing fame.

Tatiana McConnico (17, GA, #15167) attends a performing arts high school, which makes me expect her to actually have talent... and she does! I don't know the song she did but it was soul and good.

Bernard Willams, II (26, local, #12729) sings "Rock with You" and is very good. We're getting a lot of fairly attractive, R&B/pop style guys this year. Paula says no because she thought he was off key, but the guys heard what I did and he advances.

There are very short clips of 3 girls advancing, one named Nellie Mae? We don't get to hear them sing at all though.

Jamie Lynn Ward (16, NC, #23028) has a story worse than Kellie Pickler's and is also a blond from a tiny town in NC. Hmm. She sings "Reflection" and is a bit nasal but has potential. The story: her dad caught her step-mom cheating ("in the act") and shot her, then himself. He survived and is now paralyzed. Jamie and her father live with Jamie's grandmother, who takes care of them. Randy & Paula say yes and she advances.

Last on Day 1 is Chris Sligh, the curly-haired guy from the promos (missed his age but he's from Greenville, SC, #2?994). He has a hilarious dry sense of humor. He says people tell him he looks like Jack Osborne but he looks in the mirror and sees... Christina Aguilera! (He's chubby and has dark, curly hair.) Later when asked why he's here he says that he wants to make David Hasselhoff cry again! (referencing the shot of him in the audience after Taylor's win last year.) He sings "Kiss from a Rose" and has a very good voice, plus he's very passionate about singing and really puts his all into it. Ok, this is the first person that I really *want* to make Top 12. I love his voice and really enjoy his personality. Hope I don't jinx him!

15 or 16 made it through on Day 1 and we saw 6 of them; not too bad. However, not only do we not see Paula on Day 2, we don't see anyone advance! There were only 4 or 5 (making a grand total of 20 from Birmingham), and we got another very short montage of the golden ticket excitement, but no singing.

The no's, if anyone cares:
Victoria Watson (18, FL, 6-foot long hair) who I thought sang "You Raise Me Up" well enough to advance, but she doesn't (advance).

Lakia, who thanks the judges even though they criticize her, as do many more in a montage we're shown - or, at least it's edited to appear that way! The point being that most southerners are polite instead of brash & argumentative.

Nicole G. (17, OK, has team of supporters in pink shirts) sings "Something to Talk About" but is nasal & old-fashioned; they say she's not ready.

And Brandy Patterson, this year's murderer of "Like a Virgin." She's not horrible, but is bad, and blames the wood floor. She apparently really amuses Simon so he lets her try again on the carpet. Alrighty then.

Next stop: LA!

Grease - Top 12 (or is it?)

Air date Jan. 28. Opens with fun group number (and was it just me, or was Austin's solo shorter than the other guys & his mic not working right?!). Jason and whichever Sandy was wearing peach or pink (I didn't tape it so couldn't go back & check) stood out to me (positively).

Olivia Newton-John is guesting on the "panel" (they're not calling them judges) this week.

So, they're bringing contestants out in pairs gender-wise, so first up are two guys. Everyone gets a short video bio clip, a dumb nickname that's supposed to make them easier to remember (but instead we now have a name *and* a nickname to remember), & then they perform.

First is Derek Keeling (26, WV) whom they're calling "Wholesome Danny." He sings "Crazy Little Thing Called Love." He reminds me slightly of John Stamos in his face. Anyway, he sings ok, but not great.

Austin Miller (30), "Hot Danny" (ok that one's easy to remember!), says he was chubby as a kid, and then we see some of his modeling shots. He sings "Mony, Mony" - why, Austin, why?! (I detest that song, not for itself but for the 'added lyrics' that enter my mind even at mention of the title). Well, I still think he's very talented & he used the stage well (his stage experience shows), but he tries waaaaay too hard & ends up being way OTT in his performance. Bummer.

The first girl is Allis Shultz (19, TN), "Baby Sandy." She sings "I Love Rock & Roll" & is decent; what I notice most is that her voice stayed steady as she was coming down the stairs, which shows talent.

Kate Rockwell (22, OH), is "Serious Sandy." We're told she's a waitress and in her clip she says she brings "complexity" to the role. She sings "All By Myself," and I think her look is perfect for Sandy. She has a very strong voice and hits an 11-second (says host Billy Bush) glory note!

Now for the twist... wild cards! Surprise, surprise. They've brought back 2 contestants who got lots of screen time and had nice stories, but they didn't make it through the Academy for a reason...

Matt Nolan (22, NY) is "2nd Chance Danny." He sings "Pretty Woman" and definitely has a weaker voice than the other 2 guys that have sung so far tonight.

Ashley Anderson (21, TN/NY) is dubbed "Emotional Sandy." She seems very nervous and sings "Still the One," except in this case she's 'still the one' who should go back home. Interesting twist, but not much meat to it IMO.

Jason Celeya (31, UT) is "Boy Band Danny." In his clip we find out he's Mormon and a former teacher; he was in "Altar Boys" in New York and says his strength is his dancing ability. He sings George Michael's "Faith" and really doesn't have that strong of a voice (he sings technically well, he just doesn't project much). The panel says he's "too pop" (which for Idol fans is hilariously ironic!).

Max Crumm (21, AZ/CA) is the youngest guy here and is, not surprisingly, called "Slacker Danny." In his clip he says he's a black sheep and has been fired from many jobs. He sings "Summer of '69" and has so much (at least seemingly) natural talent... he uses the stage well, gives a great performance, and the crowd loves him. So far he's the one to beat!

Laura Osnes (20, MN), "Small-town Sandy," just left a local production of Grease as Sandy to come to this show. She's also newly engaged. She sings "Why Do Fools Fall in Love?" and really has a great vocal style.

Kathleen Monteleone (23, OR), "Spiritual Sandy," is a married art teacher who leads worship in her church. After that build-up, she sings "Suddenly I See," which prominently features some questionable (to some, including me) language in the chorus. She's a great performer, in stage presence and acting ability. I can understand that she wants to show that she's willing to do some things people (in the business) might not expect her to, but at this point I really don't think it's necessary and it comes across to me as just a bad example, so I can't support her.

Kevin Greene (22, NY), is "Bellhop Danny." In his clip he says he's just a regular guy who wants to make his family proud. He sings "Walking in Memphis" (which I love) and he has a beautiful voice (his face isn't bad either). However, I don't think he's really right for this part.

Chad Doreck (27, CA) is "Ambitious Danny." He's a soccer coach and has a band, but says "all" his friends are now on Broadway and he feels left behind. Perhaps not for long. He sings "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" and is great! I would call his performance 2nd only to Max, and the crowd response seems to indicate they agree.

Juliana Hansen (23, CA), "Rock Chick Sandy" (hee!), works as an office temp and is in a band. She sings "The First Cut is the Deepest," very well, and I still adore her! She made a very good transition from the softer to stronger parts vocally.

Rounding out the night is Ashley Spencer (21, OH), "Ballerina Sandy." She sings "It's In His Kiss" well, but I'm not 'wowed' at all. I'll put her third behind Kate & Juliana.

There's another group number, this time "We Go Together." They get to do a lot of pairs dancing in this and it's just a blast to watch (which I do many times since I taped it!).

Lastly the panel is asked to give their favorites... David says Derek and Ashley S; Kathleen says Austin and Allie; Jim says Chad and Kate; and Olivia refuses to pick (cop out!). My favorites are Max (then Chad & Austin) and Juliana (then Kate). I voted a bit for all 5, mostly for Juliana because I think she needs it the most. But I expect the wild cards to go first, if people are voting at all based on talent.

Thursday, January 25

AI "New York" Auditions

Also known as East Rutherford, NJ, auditions. Also known as "New Yor, New Yor."

We see guesses from various people in line as to how many people are there, but we're never told the correct answer! (Unless I missed it?) It's a lot, anyway.

We have a guest judge: Carol Bayer-Sager, award-winning songwriter. Who greatly resembles Joan Collins.

And our first auditioned is a familiar face: Ian, who also tried out for So You Think You Can Dance last summer (complete with his chinchilla boa, because he wants people to know he has money, he says). He can't (dance), nor can he sing, nor is he a "superstar" as he claims. But he is funny when he argues that, saying "you can ask my family, my friend [yes, singular], or one of my therapists...."

The first actual singer is Sarah Burgess (#8279), a 19-year old from Ohio who, we are told, lied to her parents and said that she was staying overnight at a friend's house because her father doesn't want her to pursue singing. I don't know why, because she's really good. She sings "Call Me" and I think with some vocal coaching she could be awesome. She advances, crying, and then Ryan helps her call her father, who sounds supportive enough on the phone. But everyone is still sniffling (what?).

Constantine is mentioned because there is a tall Greek woman auditioning in New York, where he did. Um, ok, but I'm not complaining. She's not very good though.

Next is Ashanti Johnson, 28, who has made it to Hollywood *twice* before! She says she's lost weight and worked very hard for this, but sings "Loving You" and is just ok. She gets very upset and dramatic when she doesn't get through.

This year's BFF are Amanda Coluccio (#2122) and Antonella Barba (#2123), both 19. Amanda, who has some vocal training, goes first with "Crazy." She's good enough to advance. Then Antonella, who's had no training, sings... what, I didn't write down (gasp!). But she's very, very good! And very pretty (and very tall). I like the tone of her voice & her vocal style; she could go far.

A guy named Clifton Biddle plays the harmonica and sings a ZZ Top song. Alrighty then.

Last on Day 1 is Kia Thornton, 27 and from NJ (#12378). She sings "Ain't No Way" (Aretha) and is great! As soon as Simon started complimenting her she got very emotional, saying something about always watching and believing/respecting everything he says. She is humbly grateful to all of them as she easily gets 4 yesses and advances.

Day 2 starts without Simon, but we still have Carol so that's 3.

First up is Jenry (like Henry, with a J!) Bejarano, an extremely attractive and mature looking 16-year old black guy who was adopted "into a Bolivian household" (in New York) at age one (#6315). He gets backstory, pictures of his family, etc. He sings "I'd Give Anything to Fall in Love" and is very good. They put him through but Randy advises him to "stay humble."

Nakia Claiborne sings "Dancing in the Street" & a slower song but fails to impress. Making a very bad impression is Sarah Goldberg, who admits to never having sung before and expects them to teach her. She goes on, and on, and wastes much of my time. Lastly in this bad stretch is Antonio Torres, Jr., who is 47 years old and sings "New Yor, New Yor." Just like that.

And Simon is back, in time for the best girl on Day 2 IMO. Jory Steinberg (25, CA, #804) is a cute gal who grew up in Canada and met the Queen. She said that like it was because she lived in Canada that she got to do that. Um, ok. She sings "Chains" and is very good. Could make Top 24.

Porcelana Patino (27, NY, #4173) is an "AI Soldier" as she has been militantly preparing for this audition. She's spent over a year losing weight and working on other things... She has a rocker chick look and a brash attitude, not to mention a physique that proves her claim. She sings Mary J. Blige's "Love without a Limit" and is good enough to advance. She seems surprised! So she's not too cocky, I guess!

There is a montage of the judges mispronouncing peoples' names, then somewhat of a Simon look-alike who sings very high soprano on Kelly's "Before Your Love." He's interesting, but not right for AI.

Rachel Zevita, 18, is an opera student (#6008). She's an interesting mix - dressing Bohemian style, she sings first rock in an angry, rough voice (Jeff Buckley's "Eternal Life," which is ok), then "Get Here" with a softer tone, and finally at Randy's request some opera. Simon says "you're all coming to Hollywood." Could be one to watch.

Ryan is having a 'fiesta' in the contestants' waiting room. Which leads to a montage of "All Night Long."

Chris Richardson, 22 from VA (#8963), sings "A Song for You." He rushes the phrasing but has a great voice and style. Plus he slightly resembles Justin Timblerlake. He advances.

Nick Pedro, 25 (#10377) made it to Hollywood last year but dropped out after he totally couldn't learn the words to "Build Me Up, Buttercup" for the group round. He says he'd never had vocal training before but has been working this past year. He sings "Fly Me to the Moon" and is very good! He gets 4 yesses and promises he won't let them down this time. After he leaves the room Paula tells Carol that they all really liked him last year & were rooting for him so were disappointed that he failed then, and hopeful for him now.

Lastly Isadora, a clairvoyant, is... well, just bizarre.

And that ends New Yor [tm Antonio]. 35 advance, of which we saw 10. And I think this is the end of the 2-hour audition shows; yay!!

Wednesday, January 24

AI Memphis Auditions

Tonight's one-hour episode highlights the Memphis auditions where over 16,000 contestants showed up. (As opposed to Minneapolis' 10,000 and Seattle's 9000, each getting two-hour episodes. Huh?!)

Frank Byers, 12-year old cheerleading coach (#55191) is first up and first down. I liked his version of "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," but the judges said it was too OTT (over the top) & that he wasn't ready.

After a few more rejections (all deserved IMO) we get the guy from the previews: Jason "Sundance" Head, 27, (#53450) is the son of musician Roy Head (he had a hit song in 1965 called "Treat Her Right"). He's also married and his wife was expecting their first child around Christmas. Anyway, he sings "Stormy Monday" and is amazing. I'm really surprised that Simon didn't have any criticism of his "look," because his goatee & hair are scruffy and he's overweight and wearing a non-flattering shirt. Maybe he figures he's more blues than pop so it doesn't matter?? Regardless, I now have my first Top 12 prediction.

Wandera Hitchye is a red-haired black gal with a nice voice, but she is sent home because she's not unique, at least vocally. She's very upset.

Danielle McCullough is a blond 18-year old (#53485) with a rough, bluesy voice. She sings "Baby I Love You" (by Aretha Franklin) and is very good. I really, really love her voice! Randy said no (huh?!) but Simon & Paula put her through. Thus ends Memphis, Day 1.

Day 2 starts with one of Paula's "biggest fans," who doesn't have the biggest talent. We also get Janita Burks, who really, really needs to look up "conservative" and "innocent" because that's how she described her look, which... well, we got more look than anyone wanted, and I'll leave it at that, 'k?

Sean Michel (#55502) is from Arizona and admits to being compared visually to, among others, Fidel Castro (hmm, could it be the long - and I mean long - hair and beard, and khaki outfit?). he sings "God's Gonna Cut You Down," a Johnny Cash song with which I'm unfamiliar. He has a good voice and advances. Later I checked out his myspace page, and I am now a fan!! He is a Christian and has a band, and I really like their style of music (reminds me of Jacobstone). I hope he makes it through Hollywood but I won't hold my breath. (Did anyone catch how old he is? I'd guess late 20's.)

Melinda Doolittle is next (#57073), a 28-year old professional background singer who is rather shy and admits she enjoys just being in the background, but wants to make herself do more things individually. Good thing, as she is awesome!! She sings "For Once In My Life" and has a lot of confidence while singing, a nice tone and style... I was bordering on chills. The judges raved that this is one of the best initial auditions - ever. They tell her to work on her confidence and if she does? Definite Top 12.

A skinny black guy says he sounds like Elvis. He doesn't, but his mangling of "Burning Love" inspires a montage of the song, which is actually funny for a change! (Most of them are boring wastes of time IMO.)

Last is Phil Stacy (#51815), 28, tall, and bald (what is it w/bald guys the past couple years?) whose wife phoned him at 4 am announcing the birth of their 2nd child. He sings "My Girl(s)" and is good enough to advance with Randy & Paula's votes. His voice & style are different and he has a nice smile; he reminds me of someone but I can't figure out who.

Of the 22 advancing in Memphis we saw 5, in one hour. Nice and succinct. Tomorrow we're back to 2 hours, but hopefully some of the New Yorkers will be entertaining....

Tuesday, January 23

Grease Academy

Tonight we finally get to see Grease Academy, the singing/dancing/acting 'boot camp' the contestants are put through before being whittled down to, first, the top 24, then the top 12 who'll perform 'live' for the viewers' votes! It is quite intense; Day 1 is 14 hours of classes, training, practicing, critiquing, and scoping out the competition.

On the afternoon of Day 2 the contestants have 2 hours to learn a 'new' (to them) 50's song, then they have a "Sudden death sing-off" where everyone stands in the gym and sings at the same time. David Ian will then walk around the room and touch the shoulder of those being cut, who must then immediately leave the room & the Academy. Hoo!

Many eliminated here are not familiar faces, but the ones that previously got a good amount of screentime are Jacqueline Petzel, 19 (poor dancing), Matt Carpenter, 22 (I think he was the guy of the 'couple' that got through causing his girl to dump him), Vince Ortiz, 20, and Dominic, 42 (nice but too old).

The remaining 24 then have 48 hours to prepare for their "showcase," a performance for a house full of critics and celebrities (we're shown Jai Rodriguez, who's done some Broadway, plus Marisa Winokur, Marilu Henner, Jeff Conaway, and Barry Bostwick, who've all been in Grease either on Broadway or in the movie). The showcase will consist of an ensemble number opening and then small groups performing "pop numbers chosen to mimic the emotions of Danny & Sandy." In these groups each contestant sings a solo & there's also some harmonizing; a few have a little dancing as well.

"I'll Be There" is done by Kate Rockwell, 22 (I don't think we've seen much of her yet), Juliana Hansen, 23 (redhead; I think she's adorable, but she admits she's less trained), Ashley Anderson, 21 (also adorable, I think she has the best Sandy-type personality, at least the naivete), and Laura Osnes, 20 (who?).

"Crying" - Reed Prescott, 30, Max Crumm, 21 (the one w/long hair whose 'look' has been criticized, but the 3 judges say he could be the most talented contestant there), Derek Keeling, 26 (great voice, and I like his personality/look), and Nathaniel Flatt, 25 (ah, the awesome Hispanic - I believe - dancer I caught a glimpse of last week - he's listed as "a dancer" so it makes sense that he's so good!).

"Complicated" - Kelli LaValle, 17 (she's gotten a lot of airtime & in this ep is shown getting her daily 3 hrs of tutoring since she's still in high school), Kathleen Monteleone, 23 (a blond we haven't seen much of before), Alexandra Fassler, 19 (another "who?"), and Sara Darling, 25 (another new face).

"Jailhouse Rock" - George Pellegrino, 29 (I love his 'look' for Danny - rather cocky - but he seems to have a weaker voice than others), Matt Nolan (the very untrained guy who's gotten tons of screentime; he's shown much improved after just a few suggestions from David), Nick Dalton, 26 (has a good look for Danny), and Chad Doreck, 27 (I like his look/personality very well for Danny - he seems a bit cocky - but his voice is weaker than others).

"I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" - Austin Miller, 30 (my fave guy; voiceover says he's "making it look easy" during rehearsal!), Kevin Greene, 22 (haven't seen him before; has a really nice voice), Steve Calakos, 20 (his hair scares me!), and Jason Celeya, 31 (he, Chad & George are called "the trio" as they've become good friends & practice together; Jason has a unique look & could bring a different/good feel to Danny).

and lastly "True Colors" - Ashley Spencer, 21 (probably the best female singer I've seen, & maybe the best dancer, but could be too 'polished'?), Cara Hille, 21 (my early favorite but less trained than others; she & Ashley are also new BFF), Lexi Rhoades, 20 (the black gal w/very good voice & confident stage presence), and Allie Shultz, 18 (another blond we've not seen).

After deliberation, the judges call folks to the front of the stage in pairs or threes to announce who's "Not Danny/Sandy" and who's "The One That We Want." Those advancing to the live show are:

Girls: Ashley S, Kate, Laura, Kathleen, Allie, and Juliana (yay!).
Guys: Derek, Jason, Chad, max, Kevin, and Austin (yay!!).

I'm disappointed for Ashley A (though she seems to take it well), Nathaniel (well, I'm more disappointed we didn't see more of him), Cara, Matt (though I agree he wasn't ready), and Nick. I'm looking forward to seeing how they format the live shows as far as letting us see contestants' all-around talents. And hopefully they'll start pairing them up so we can see who has chemistry as a couple.

Bios & such are up at the official site. Next week's show is 2 hours starting at 7 EST, with guest judge Olivia Newton John, and "a twist". Bring it on!

Sunday, January 21

AI - Seattle Auditions

Of the 9000 who tried out in Seattle, an inappropriately large percentage seem strange. Most of the bad auditions are drawn out way too long and aren't really worth mentioning. The "I Shot the Sheriff" guy is back, this time dressed as Uncle Sam singing "God Bless America." On Day 2 we get this years pair of geeky new BFF, Kenneth and Jonathon. A Taylor Hicks wannabe. And a red-haired guy who thinks he can sing like Freddie Mercury (and is so, so wrong). However, there is also quite a bit of actual talent!

The first shown advancing is 21-year old Tommy Daniels (#81045). He mentions having auditioned in 2004 and 2005; third try seems to be the charm as his "Arms of a Woman" wins him a golden ticket. He has a nice voice and a tiny cute dog; unfortunately he also has a criminal record so we may not be seeing him for long.

Another small dog owner, Melissa Stavros (#79236), tries "I Turn to You" and is decent until she gets to the high parts. She and her dog are sent home.

Next is 25-year old Blake Lewis, a guy with spiky hair who says he's a champion beatboxer. Randy asks him to do some, which he does. Apparently he also plays guitar, dances, and writes songs (check out his myspace, he's really good! though his photos remind me of SYTYCD's Travis). He sings Seal's "Crazy" and though I'd have preferred a straighter singing, he 'does his thing' and that's enough. This guy is getting some buzz; I wouldn't be surprised to see him in the top 24.

Now we have our first siblings of the season; two Indian teens whose dad is a classical musician. First to perform is 19-year old Shyamali (#80202). She sings "Summertime" and has a beautiful voice, and a beautiful face. Simon said she's nothing unique but Randy & Paula love her, as do I. Her 17-year old brother, Sanjaya (#80203), says his musical idol is Stevie Wonder. He sings "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" and is also amazing! So they both advance to Hollywood. Simon liked Sanjaya's voice better, and perhaps he is the better singer, though Shyamali definitely has more of 'the look' (unless he gets a haircut, Sanjaya will totally own the nickname Mowgli!). They both seem like nice kids as well, each wanting to be the best but not wanting to admit it in front of the other!

The last contestant on Day 1 in Seattle is Rudy Cardenas, a 28-year old Venezuelan who now lives in LA (#59576). He sings "Open Arms" and Simon cuts him off as soon as he reaches the high part (and reaches it he does, loudly but very well!). I don't know what Simon didn't like, but Randy and Paula (and I) sail him through to Hollywood. A little web research shows him to be in a male jazz vocal group called m-pact that has performed internationally.

7 advanced on Day 1 (we saw 5). Of the 8 advancing on Day 2 we only see 2...

Anna Kearns is 20 years old and 6' 4" tall (#78163). She's a waitress. She sings "Respect" a bit shouty, but is decent.

Lastly there is Jordin Sparks, a 16-year old girl from Arizona with curly hair and a dark, pretty complexion (#80066). She sings "Because You Loved Me" and again is maybe a bit belty, but very good with a nice, strong voice. Her dad Felipe played in the NFL for the Giants & I heard elsewhere that she was on America's Most Talented Kid. With reason. I like her and predict top 45 at least.

That's it for Seattle! Next week: Memphis. And please, use the "other door"!!

Tuesday, January 16

AI Season 6 Premiere - Minneapolis

It's back!!!!!! :)

We begin Season 6 with clips of some of Idol's past successes, including Kelly's Grammy and Jennifer Hudson's "Oscar buzz." (She *did* win the Golden Globe last night, but I'm sure this was pretaped. Regardless, Congrats Jen!!!!!!!) That was kind of nice.

The first round of auditions shown is Minneapolis, with guest judge Jewel. This starts very poorly by lingering on the first reject's (one of many blond Jessicas to come, I'm sure) shock and tears. And lingering. And more lingering.

Jesse Holloway does not do Gary, Indiana, proud. Another guy comes dressed as a patriotic boxer and sings well in Italian, but not in English.

The first good audition shown is 16-year old Denise Jackson from Madison (#13405). Backstory: crack baby but no physical defects; rather, she was born with the "gift" of singing. And she's right! She sings Jennifer Holliday's (and now Jennifer Hudson's!) "And I am Telling You I'm Not Going" with confidence, and a not-quite-Paris-Hilton style though I'm sure they'll be compared.

Next is Colombian girl Perla Meneses, 25, who now lives in Florida after coming to the US when she was 15 with just her guitar and the clothes on her back, or something like that (#31572). A pretty girl, she's shown flirting with Ryan before her audition, and calls herself "the American dream." She sang Blondie's "Call Me," and shouldn't have. She mentioned Shakira and Randy requested she do a bit of "Hips Don't Lie," which she sang much better; well enough to advance. I wouldn't have minded if she didn't.

Next we get Jewel's best line of the night, directed toward a Johnny Cash wannabe who destroys "Folsom Prison Blues." She asked him if he was serious or trying to be funny? Hee! (He was, of course, serious. Seriously bad, but serious.)

Finally a guy who advances, deservedly: Jarrod Fowler, 27, from Arizona; a really tall bald guy who's in the US Navy. He sings "God Bless the Broken Road" fairly well; I like his voice and personality so far. Randy & Jewel comment that he was "pitchy" and did too much vocal embellishment. If he lasts long he will undoubtedly be nicknamed Josh Gracin 2.0 just because he's a military guy doing country. {shrug} There are worse things to be called.

Vocal teacher Steven Horst sings Aerosmith poorly and is told by a meaner, less gentle Randy that he should get a new job.

Then we see Michele Steingas, blond, 19, from MN, who has been shown advancing in ads (#33020). She also does country: Deana Carter's "If This Is Love." She's ok.

Dayna Dooley explains that she didn't advance in Pasadena so her boss brought her here to audition again. She sings Chaka Khan poorly and is sent to fetch her boss, who defends her saying she's having an off day. The judges ask what he's heard her sing; she faces him and sings a bit of "Fever," which she does very well. Unfortunately she can't always sing to the boss and is sent home.

16-year old Matt Sato from MN (#25077) explains that his parents can't afford to be there because all his musical activities (like show choir) cost too much. He sings "California Dreamin'" and is rough but has a nice voice and IMO some potential for growth in a competition like this. Of course he's shown tearfully calling his mom after he advances.

Rachel Jenkins, 21, works at her parents' body shop (#33062). She is also in the Army Reserves, and her husband has been in Iraq since December, 2005 (they got married that October). She sings "His Eye Is On the Sparrow" a tad off-key, but I love the tone of her voice. She advances and is my favorite from tonight's show, both vocally and personality-wise.

Another strong vocalist is 19-year old Sarah Krueger from WI. She has long, curly hair and is pretty and self-confident. She sings "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" very well; her voice is pretty and she has a good range. I predict she'll make is at least to the top 45.

The last female shown is this year's "Idol's biggest fan," proven by the tattoo she has based on a heart Ace Young drew for her. Alrighty then. She says she has a degree in vocal performance, but you wouldn't know it from listening to her. Next...

and last, is 20-year old Josh Flom from MN, one of many I'm sure we'll see this season who say they are rockers inspired by Chris Daughtry. He sings Fuel's "Bad Day" and has a very growly, somewhat put-on sounding voice. Simon is concerned he's too one-dimensional and challenges him to come back in 15 minutes with an Abba song. There is cute footage of him running around looking for someone who can teach him an Abba song, and he does a decent job of singing the chorus to "Dancing Queen," but the vocal sound is exactly the same. The judges encourage him to stay with his band rather than pursuing a solo career. He seems like a nice guy and is cute, and they feel bad for him, but he's just not right for Idol. He takes it ok (i.e. doesn't cuss them out or argue, much) but is obviously heartbroken.

And that's it for Minneapolis! 17 contestants advanced, of which we were shown 7 (that's 41% for any other math geeks). Eh, not bad I guess. Tomorrow is Seattle, and from what I'm hearing we'll pretty much have 2 hours of bad, but strange (which is more entertaining than just bad) auditions. Oh well; better than no Idol at all!

Please leave comments & tell me what you thought of the show! :)

Sunday, January 14

Grease - Episode 2 (NY Auditions)

It's week 2, and the New York auditions. As the previews showed, there seems to be more talent here, understandably!

Another blond hopeful Sandy, Ashley is a newlywed from Nashville. Her voice cracked on the high part but they let her redo and it was good! So she's through. I think she has potential (that's my opinion for most of tonight's, noone I hate, and didn't really see enough to love anyone, yet). I also liked the redhead, Juliana, and maybe the black gal, Lexi.

The 2 big dramas centered around the very untrained, unfinished "jock" Matt Nolan, and the other Matt, who started the episode & auditions as part of a (shaky) couple with Sarah. I thought she was a better singer & neither were great dancers, but he goes to the academy and she does not, storming out of the theater and, likely, his life. Ah, the price of fame. ;-) The other Matt advances as well; he could have potential also.

Far beyond "potential" is someone I actually recognize after watching for a while, and being told that he starred as Link in the Broadway Across America tour of Hairspray (which we saw a couple years ago) - Austin Miller! He's very pretty, sings very well, dances the routine easily, and doesn't seem too cocky. So far the only guy I'm really rooting for. (Not that he needs it as much as an unknown, though, which may come into play later.) Here's an interview; he used to have a website but it may have been taken down while he's on this show.

The Academy looks to be loads of fun. Of course between now & then we have 4 hours of Idol to watch (& blog)! (And 2 more hours of 24...) Should be a great week!!

Monday, January 8

Grease: You're The One That I Want

Whew; been a while! Life & stuff. But I'm back! Happy New Year! Only 8 more days til Idol, but we got a nice warm-up in the Grease show Sunday night. I'd have liked to have seen more of the dancing, but hopefully that'll come later.

I love the musical & many of the songs; those who don't will get really sick of the show fast! & there are a few obvious take-offs from Idol. But, I think it'll work, and it's fairly short (6-8 wks?). So...

Not going to recap, just highlights. Not much to say about Chicago - only 7 advanced to "Grease Academy." Only one that stood out to me was Kelli, the 17-year old who sang "Good Morning, Baltimore." I like her voice.

LA was much better. One who didn't get past the singing but I think deserves mention was Vincent, the 17-year old who sang a Queen song. I think he should've gotten through though he probably wouldn't have gotten the part; great voice & a lot of potential though!

Of the ones still in, Kara is definitely my favorite. 21, brunette, real cute gal. I liked Rebecca's voice (blond pharmacy gal) but the dancing killed her. And Patricia... I love Patricia! She was the heavy-set gal w/the great attitude (not Sunshine, the younger, less confident heavy-set gal). Really great personality, *amazing* vocal ability, & I think she could've done the dancing. Obviously not the "look" they wanted but I think she should've gotten further.

Guys... hard to tell so far! In the dancing part there was a skinny Hispanic (I think) guy on the far right of one of the groups who was awesome, but I don't think we've heard him sing yet. Another whose name I don't know, the very last guy who sang in LA, is good, but I'm not sure about his attitude/personality, could be on the cocky side. We'll see.

So, no favorites yet - well, just Kara. Looking forward to seeing the NY segment next week; looked like we'll see a lot of major talent there. Ooh, it'll probably be up against the premier of 24! Not good. But hey, that's what VCR's are for....