Thursday, January 31

AI7 Auditions - Miami (1/30/08)

Miami had over 10,000 auditioners; that seems to be the 'magic' number this year. Miami has fewer people advance to Hollywood than Omaha did, but the talent is more impressive, IMO anyway....

Robbie Carrico, 25, FL (73070) is Top 24. I knew his backstory from spoilers and was actually surprised Ryan tells the audience in narration, at least part of it: Robbie the Rocker used to be in a boy band! (He also dated Britney, but I understand why that wasn't mentioned!) The guy's already hated online by many as a poser, and I wasn't prepared to like him... but I do. Potentially a lot. ;-) He sings "Simple Man" and is very good. Seems to have a nice (polite, mature) personality. And definitely a sense of humor, shared by his family who cover him in Silly String when he emerges with the coveted Golden Ticket.

Ghaleb Emachah, 27, FL (71352) is originally from Venezuela. He plays guitar, piano, and harmonica and sings "gypsy music." I thought he was ok; Simon said he'd like him if he (Simon) were drunk. Randy & Paula put him through.

Next are BFF's Brittany Wescott (76599) and Corliss Smith (75918), both 20 & from FL. Corliss is first and sings "Take 5" to Randy. Brittany follows with "My Guy," to Simon per the judges' suggestion. I think Brittany has a very pretty voice, though Corliss is maybe a better singer? Anyway both are advanced and there is a hugfest.

Suzanne Toon, 21, FL (76501) attended a performing arts school. She also got pregnant at 18 and had her daughter Madison at 19 (Madison's father did not stay so Suzanne is a single mom). Suzanne says she hasn't sung in 3 years. "I Can't Make You Love Me" - she's good, and her voice has an interesting/different tone.

Next we get a clip of Jasmine Trias (of whom we had more than enough during her own season, "thank you") and are told that her album went Platinum in the Philippines. Our next contestant is also Filipino: Ramiele Malubay, 19, FL (74854) & T24. Sings (ok, belts) "Natural Woman" and has potential though the high notes stretch her. Simon says she doesn't sound contemporary enough and thinks Randy & Paula only like her because she's short & cute (which she is), and she advances. End of Day 1.

First on Day 2 is Syesha Mercado, 20, FL (67235) - another T24. Syesha was a finalist on the (too short-lived) competition show "The One" so we know she can sing... she does "Think (Freedom)" and is belty but good. We also get family clippage of her w/her father who just got out of rehab after struggling with drugs & alcohol "for years."

Natashia Blach, 29, CO (68639) sings "At Last." She is very good also.

Our last good singer in Miami is Ilsy Lorena Pinot, 29, FL, RT50. I don't know the song she sang but she's good enough.

There are very short clips of 3 guys who advance. Then several folks who don't.

Not advancing but worth mentioning is Julie Dubela, 16, who was in the Top 20 on American Juniors several years ago. She has a good voice which comes out in parts of "Me & Bobby McGee," but she also over-performs and is annoying. When Simon tells her she's precocious, she haughtily asks, "what does that mean?" and the judges giggle. Simon encouraged her (honestly) to pursue acting and she got upset. The judges labeled her over-indulged, which is probably true, though not her fault.

Last is another annoying no (this one a guy all in white). In total 17 advance from Miami. We were shown auditions of 9, which is over half - wow! Plus we were shown 1/8 of the Top 24! Ending with the usual end montage (though it has more repeats of those we've already seen than normal)... and next stop, Atlanta!

Tuesday, January 29

AI7 Omaha Auditions (1/29/08)

For the first ever Omaha auditions, we have 10,000 people. Paula's plane is delayed so we start with just Simon & Randy (she arrives between Jason & Rachel). (I'm still just listing the people who advance, though I also have notes on some who didn't so if you have questions, please ask!)

Jason Rich, 21, IA (35192) works part-time on his girlfriend's father's farm. He sings "When You Say Nothing At All," or, rather, tries to, but keeps saying nothing at all because he forgets the words. They are *very* generous in giving him several tries & he eventually gets enough out to judge. He has a nice, somewhat country sounding voice.

Rachel Wicker, 23, MO (25548) is an arm-wrestling tomboy. Simon doesn't accept her challenge, nor does he care for her song "Don't Tell Me to Stop Loving You," but Randy & Paula do.

For some reason Ryan and Paula switch places for one audition, though they switch back before all the judges give their answers. Samantha Sidley, 22, CA (37491) is RT50. She is shy or lacks self-confidence (fidgets while singing, which Ryan points out but Paula says it doesn't matter because - all together, now - "It's a Singing Contest") but sings "Don't Know Why" very well and advance with 4 yesses.

Elizabeth Erkert, 19, IL (36166) sings "I Heard It Through the Grapevine." We don't see her full audition, but we do see her later saying she'll prove Simon wrong; she *will* be "America's Next Top Model...oops!" ;-)

Denise Jackson, 17, WI (36387?) sings a song I don't know but I love her voice & presentation.

Michael Sanflippo, 19, IL (28505) has shaggy blond hair and sings a Stevie Wonder song. Love his voice!!

Angelica Puente, 17, WI (33642) has a sob story about being estranged from her overly strict father. After she sings "Power of Love" and advances, Ryan calls her dad and he's all, "She's always been my Idol... I love you." Awwwww (not really).

Now they show clips of Chris Daughtry singing and talk about how wonderfully successful he is. And how that success has caused lots of other rockers to come audition (right, because before Season 5 Idol didn't have rockers. None at all. Especially not 2 in the top 8 of the same season or anything!). And they show clips of said rockers, but we know that some are from other cities because we've already seen them. However, there is at least one here in Omaha...

David Cook, 24, OK (36214) is RT24. He says he watched Chris's audition hoping to find some strategy he can use. It wasn't fashion-wise, because he has a multi-colored mohawk and wears an argyle sweater vest. Regardless, he sings "Living on a Prayer" 100 times better than Jordin, and easily advances. I could like this guy! He describes himself as vocally "versatile" and "personable."

Last shown is Leo Marlowe, 23, IA (35790) who tells us his mom always says, "I raised the perfect homecoming queen, it just wasn't one of my daughters." Interesting intro; the judges laugh. He sings "A Song for You" and is much better than the set-up led me to expect.

That was 9 of the 19 total we're told advanced to Hollywood. I counted 9 more in the end montage so there's one who didn't get shown at. all. (Unless it was the dude yelling "Goodbye" at the very end, but I doubt it.) Also out of these 18 we were shown, there were 3 blacks and maybe 1 more minority, but by far the majority are Caucasian. This is Omaha, but still, seems a bit lopsided.

Oh well - next up, Miami!!

Wednesday, January 23

AI7 Charleston Auditions (1/23/08)

Over 10,000 audition, and 23 advance. We are shown a whopping 4 of those 23. (They're getting worse at this as the shows air!)

First shown, and last shown, is Oliver, whose wife went into labor so they went to the hospital and baby Emma Grace was born. Oliver came back on Day 2 & auditioned at the end of the day with "Get Here," but wasn't quite good enough. The judges got to meet the baby though.

Siblings Michelle (26, #54204) and Jeffery (24, 54203) Lampkin, SC, are the first to go through. They sing a duet of "I'm Your Angel." Jeffery is very good, and a riot! Michelle got a no from Randy but both advance.

Amy Flynn, 16, TN (56598) is captain of her dance team and in STARS, a group that teaches abstinence. She proceeds to give a speech to Simon. She sings "Reflection" and is good, but her personality will grate (and Simon tells her this, to her utter surprise!). Paula loved her (not a surprise).

Last on Day 1, and the last good audition we're shown, is London Weidberg, 24, SC (56662), whose father died of cancer 3 years ago. She sings "Good Morning, Heartache" and is decent. Simon said she doesn't have anything unique, and we never actually see whether he said yes or no, but the other 2 say yes so she's in.

RT50 who auditioned in Charleston: Well, I guess Lisa Aukerman is the only one we know for sure. And that puppy they showed in last night's preview was nowhere to be seen! :-(

Tuesday, January 22

AI7 San Diego Auditions (1/22/08)

Over 12,000 people auditioned in San Diego. 31 advanced. Of those, we were only shown 6!

Tetiana Ostapowych, 24, CA (9535) sang "Someone to Watch Over Me." Another blond with a decent voice.

Perrie Cataldo, 27, AZ (9764) is a single dad whose son is pretty adorable. Sang "I'll Make Love to You" and the judges loved him.

Michael Johns, 28, CA (474) is on the RT50 and it's clear why! Sings an Otis Redding song called "I've Been Loving You Too Long" and is definitely the best male singer we've heard so far. He also has an Australian accent (moved to the US 10 yrs ago) and isn't hard on the eyes. If he makes it to the top 24 I'll be very surprised if he's not voted into the finals.

Last on Day 1 is Samanta Musa, 20, CA (7848). She & her sister both think Simon is hot; I'll try not to hold that against her, as I *adore* her voice! She sings "Until You Come Back to Me" and I get a bit of a country/southern rock vibe (a la Wynonna or Bonnie Raitt). LOVE.

The one I kind-of wish would've been put through is Blake Bushnack, 22, on his 11th audition! Best remembered for wearing a Statue of Liberty costume in S5, Blake's mother is obsessed with the show and probably much of the reason for his obsession. However, he can actually sing! His "Stand By Me" isn't mindblowing, but it's at least as good as several other contestants they've put through (and better than a couple, like Kayla Hatfield, IMO). Oh well... there's always next year!

Now the much promoted David Archuleta, 16, UT (11394), RT50. We learn that he suffered from vocal paralysis (one of his vocal cords was partially paralyzed) and didn't want to risk surgery but has mostly recovered. We don't learn (at least not yet, and maybe not ever from the show itself) that he's a former Star Search winner. He sings "Waiting for the World to Change" and there are glimpses of greatness, with a side of nerves (he flubbed some words). The judges love him (as do many young female fans, rumored to already be starting the "Arch Angels" fan group!). A shoe-in for the finals if he makes Top 24.

Lastly we have Carly (Hennessy) Smithson, 23, CA (175), also RT50. Carly & her hubby own a tattoo shop, and it shows (though more on him than her). She is from Ireland and after she advanced to Hollywood in Season 5 she found out her Visa wasn't coming soon enough so she was disqualified. For some reason she's very nervous, and Simon said she actually sounded better 2 years ago. She over-embellished "I'm Every Woman" and I haven't dug up her previous audition but I might just agree (not that it was aired). Anyway, she's in easily.

Thursday, January 17

AI7 Dallas Auditions (1/16/08)

Dallas saw over 13,000 try out, with a total of 24 advancing to Hollywood. There hasn't been an audition stop in Dallas since Season 1 (where they found Kelly). And one hopeful didn't make it to her audition because she went into labor! She named the baby - a boy - "Idol."

First up is Jessica Brown, 24, TX (24576). She basically says she was a meth addict in college and heard "Jesus, Take the Wheel" as she was starting rehab so it was a very important & special song to her. Now she's a wife and SAHM of 2. She sang "I'll Stand by You" and was pretty good. Simon said she made the song interesting. Advances with 3 yesses.

Alaina Whitaker
, 16, OK (12709) sings Faith Hill's "Stronger." She has a great voice and IMO is the best we've seen so far! She has long blond hair & looks a little bit like Carrie Underwood (are we sensing a theme here?). She's Rumored Top 50.

One I kind-of wish had gotten through is 19-year old Bruce Dickson, who made a promise with his dad's encouragement to wait for "the one" and not even kiss a girl until his wedding day. He's built up as one you expect to be really bad, but I thought he was pretty good (on "Ain't No Sunshine") except for some strange phrasing & being a bit shouty. Oh well; I'm sure he would've gotten much ridicule.

Pia "Zpia" Easley, 24, IL (19948): "I've Got to Use My Imagination" Pia is a black gal with very short hair (& a mini mohawk) who says she's a model and background singer. She sings confidently and has a good, soulful voice. Simon likes her a lot.

Up next is Brandon Green, 21, MS (19450), another RT50. He has collected his fingernails (that he "peels" off) in a Ziploc bag for years and shows them to Ryan. Alrighty then. He wants to be a positive influence on others if he wins. He sings "Rich Girl," an interesting choice. He's decent; Simon thinks he's forgettable so he advances with 2 votes.

Kayla (or Kayla Dawn) Hatfield, 24, TX (24697) lives on a horse farm and has 2 children. When she was 18 she was in a serious car accident and her face was severely scarred, though it has healed well. She has an incredibly positive outlook on life and is so "happy" that Simon says he wants to be her for one hour a day. She shouts & growls her way through "Piece of My Heart" but there are glimpses of a good voice in there. Simon says yes right away; Paula says no but Randy puts her through.

Last on Day 1 is Kady Malloy, 18, TX (16874), yet another blond. She does vocal impersonations & demonstrates a spot-on Britney. She starts "Before He Cheats" but the judges stop her in favor of doing something to show her own voice better. She chooses "Unchained Melody" so of course Simon loves her; he says she's the best they've seen so far (I think this was the first audition city).

Ryan says Kady & "11 others" made it through on Day 1. The montage shows the remaining 6 of these 11.

Day 2 starts with the Bad, and seems to continue with more bad, until...

Kyle Ensley, 21, OK (20929) is presented as a political candidate (with some cute editing stuff). A junior at Oklahoma State, he's double majoring in International Business and Political Science. Kyle is wearing a light yellow shirt with a red tie and has curly hair and glasses. He lists qualities that a good candidate should possess and says he wants to be a good role model - "Elect Me as your next American Idol!" - and we're all classifying him as the typical nerd who thinks he can sing. When he starts Queen's "Somebody to Love" we find out that he's right! He has a good voice with decent control & confidence. Simon asks him to promise he won't do what Clay did in doing "weird things" with his hair and wearing a red jacket, and he promises. Randy says no but Kyle advances as Paula gives in and says yes. I like this one and look forward to seeing what else he has up his sleeve!

Next through is one of my favorites from RT50, Colton Swon, 18, OK (21757). He's in a band w/his brother and plays guitar (pronounced "git-tar"), drums, and bass. He could be a tween favorite with his cute face and spiky hair. He sings "Boondocks" by Little Big Town (I hadn't heard of them before this week) and has a good Southern Rock sound. He tries to fool his parents that he didn't get through & even got the judges to say mean things as he was walking back into the hallway.

Another guy from the RT50, Drew Poppelreiter, 24, MS (16216) is a farmer who gets a big background clip w/his family. He sings "Check Yes or No" and has a deep country voice. Simon says no (because "it's not my thing" - yet he *adored* the blond female country singer!!) but he advances with the other two judges' votes.

The last to advance is Nina Shaw, 24, from Kelly's hometown of Burleson, TX (19679). She's a tall black gal wearing a yellow flower in her hair. She sings "Run to You" which is just ok & then part of another, jazzier song. Simon says too cabaret but she advances with 2/3.

The last auditioner gets a lot of airtime. Renaldo Capuz is a 44-year old Asian man wearing a white, feathery hat and cape-like jacket. His hat has Simon's name and he praises Simon before, during and after his song ("You're a great person, Simon"). He sings an original called "We're Brothers Forever" and Randy and Simon encourage him to repeat the chorus about 10 times. He's not a terrible singer but is very shouty. Still, could have a little William Hung style popularity potential.

The ending montage shows another 5 who advance, including a white guy w/very long dreadlocks who has to be Jason Castro from RT50. But that leaves 3 of the 24 that we were never shown at all, even briefly. One may be Michael Preston, listed in RT50 as auditioning here. Aaron Sanders is also listed and I believe he may be the tall black guy in the post-Day 1 montage who said "I'm a Star."

And in the preview for next Tuesday's San Diego stop we see David Archuleta, one of the rumored frontrunners.

So far I'm happy with the audition shows and excited for what the season may hold. I'm also ready for a break for a few days though!

Tuesday, January 15

Idol Season 7 Premiere - Philly Auditions (1/15/08)

And we're off! Again this year over 100,000 people auditioned. First up is Philadelphia, where we're told the "biggest crowd ever" showed up.

I will say that, at least for the first half hour, Idol did much better than last year at showing decent singers. In fact, of the first 10 shown, half made it through! I'll only list those that got through, though I have detailed notes (as usual) so if you have questions/comments about anyone else let me know!

*I'll also post a warning that if you don't want to know who's rumored to be in the Top 50, stop reading! I will mention them as they are shown auditioning (tonight there are a few...).

Joey Catalono, 19, NJ (#82270) has lost over 200 pounds. He sings Maroon 5's "Sunday Morning" and is decent. Yesses from all 3 judges.

Melanie Nyema, 26, CA (87970) sang backup for Taylor Hicks. "Unwritten" is ok. She gets through with 2 votes.

Junot Joyner (a guy), 25, MD (89586): "I Guess that's Why They Call It the Blues."

Jose Candelaria, 23, NJ (81135) sings "Unbreak My Heart" in Spanish.

Jonathan Baines, 17, DE (81879) sings a song I don't know but he's good. I'm told it's "A Little More You" by Little Big Town. He's also extremely tall.

During a segment on "family support," we get very short clips of 5 people advancing (& several others that don't). Among these 5 is a girl I recognize from the rumored Top 50 list (which I'll be abbreviating "RTop50"): Amy Davis, from Indiana! She has a guitar so I'm assuming she played it for her audition. I really hope we get to see her audition, maybe in something like last year's "The Best of the Rest" audition show.

Last to advance on Day 1 is Angela Martin, 26, IL (87531). She has a little girl with Retts Syndrome and wants to make enough money performing so that she can get her the best medical care possible (yes, our first sob story, of many, I'm sure). Fortunately she can sing; she does "Signed, Sealed, Delivered." Simon tells her to lose her wedding band singer habits & she'll do well.

He also says, after hearing her family/friends screaming in joy w/her outside the door, that he doesn't understand the US custom of celebrating for someone you know when they get good news. He says he couldn't be happy for someone else in this way, and he's completely serious. Which seems strange, and sad.

Moving on to Day 2...

Kristy Lee Cook, 23, OR (77610) gets a long background clip which meshes w/her being in the RTop50! She lives in a log cabin & does lots of sports; she also buys & trains horses, one of which she sold for the $ to travel to audition. She sings "Amazing Grace" excellently; she has nice control and a country tone to her voice. (edited to add: there is some controversy surrounding a music video of hers with a Confederate flag in the background.)

Beth Stalker, 28, MI (84173) is a SAHM who sings in clubs at night and recorded an album of "Sunday school songs" when she was 4. "Bewitched, Bothered, & Bewildered." Simon says no because he doesn't think she'll stand out enough so she advances w/2 votes.

Chris Watson, 20, DE (86697) has big dreams: he wants to be a "legend" whose albums are around for 30 or 40 years. He sings Uncle Kracker's "Follow Me" and is good; he also has a good look (Simon agrees). Simon also said he has a good recording voice, and Randy told him not to be afraid to take chances because he can "really sing."

Lastly we have Brooke White, 24, CA (88122) who's another RTop50. She works as a nanny, is married, and admits to never having seen an R-rated movie. She sings Corrine Bailey Ray's "Like A Star" and is good (I like her MySpace music even better - and strangely I'm as excited that she apparantly knows Clay's former backup Jacob Luttrell as that she knows James Taylor [whom it says it currently online also; how bizarre is that?! Gotta love the internet!]). The judges really like her and Simon jokes that they'll "bring her over to the dark side."

At the end we get the normal ultra-short clips of the rest of the 29 total who advance (though somehow I count 30, so I must have someone in twice). I like to make notes of these folk for later when there are people in the Top 24, for instance, that have never been mentioned or featured on the show before, so we can go back & say Yep, they really were there!

Tomorrow - Dallas!

If anyone knows what Jonathan sang please let me know. :)

Tuesday, January 8

More AI7 Spoilers

Apparently has branched out into Idol news. ;-) They've got a great run-down on the large number of 'quarterfinalists' (my term for those rumored to be in the Top 50) who are "professional singers" &/or have major industry contacts/experience. Like Melinda and Brandon from last season, or even Paris Bennett whose Grandma was famous... or even last year's winner Jordin, some might say (though surprisingly I've not seen her name mentioned alongside Melinda & Brandon), since she toured with Michael W. Smith. I don't care... I just want good talent!

Tuesday, January 1

Current Media from Past Idols

A few recent things from the Idol world I've been enjoying, holiday and other...

George and Mandisa sing Christmas music (thanks mj for the videos!!).

Elliott's 8-track CD "Sounds of the Season." Includes a great version of "This Christmas" which I adore (and which Ruben did waaaaaay too slowly, but then that's Ruben for ya). I can't find clips on Amazon, etc., but I got mine for $6.99 at Target.

Constantine's independently produced album. Soooooo good!! And a good mix style-wise. My favorite (as it really highlights his vocals) is So Long.

And a final congrats to Chris Daughtry for having the #1 selling album of 2007! So much for needing to win to succeed...

Season 7 Spoilers

Hey there everyone! Only 14 more days, so in the meantime if you're as anxious for new Idol contestants as I am, check out some spoilers! (Stop reading now if you don't want to know!)

As "Hollywood Week" has already taken place, there are names floating around of the supposed Top 50. With photos and music samples for several. Here's the latest from mj's blog! (She also has weekly Billboard #'s, Idol Headlines, and Appearances for Idol alums if you're interested.)

There will be some familiar faces (those who've tried out before, and a gal named Syesha who was on the too short-lived "The One") as well as relatives of past Idols, like Fantasia's brother. Supposedly the contestants are allowed to play instruments this year - yay! But rumor also has it that the beloved group numbers are no longer - that was always my very favorite part of Hollywood Week, so I'm majorly bummed there! Who could forget (or top?) last year's Quartet of Awesomeness (Blake, Chris S, Rudy Cardenas [*sniff*], and Tom Lowe doing "How Deep Is Your Love")? It's always fun to see how several of the finalists seem to hook up for these groups.

Also Fox has preview photos up from each audition city. Look closely & see if you can spot a former Idol finalist! ;-)