Welcome folks! Here we are for season nine!
There was definitely some talent out of Boston, though many of the 31 singers who made it to Hollywood were from New York or elsewhere. We’ll see if New England can break its futility streak soon enough.
After the requisite beginning, including the “news” of Paula Abdul’s departure, we start with Janet, who is clearly godawful without having to hear her sing. But she is sure excitable. Of course, when we do finally hear “Pocketful of Sunshine,” we found only darkness — and a muffin top!
Maddy Curtis, 16, has several siblings with Down’s Syndrome. Tears alert! “I’ve been watching the show since I was eight,” she said. (Time flies!) She does “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen. At least she doesn’t sound at all like Jason Castro. She’s a bit raw but there is potential. And she seems sweet in a genuine way.
Pat Ford is a “deluded” one, the type producers love. Full of (holla!) spice, Pat is energetic and positively awful doing Britney Spears’ “Womanizer.” “Stop singing forever,” Randy said. “I’m going to see you next season,” Pat told the judges after he was canned. “That’s going to be special,” said Simon, who won’t actually be there if they bring Pat back.
Ryan notes that the woman are hot this season (or the producers simply snuffed out any decent guys in the early rounds and focused on the women.) Jennifer Hirsh from Manhattan did a bit of jazz and was enchanting. Claire Fuller from Philadelphia goes all Mr. Big and Miss Wonderful. Jess Wolfe from New York is a bit old-fashioned but pretty darn good.
Check out the nice guy Italian-American bartender Amadeo Diricco from Rhode Island. He’s someone who we’ve never quite seen before. And he has some serious blues chops. “I feel like I’m home with my cousin,” said Kara DioGuardi. ”In a strange way, it was my favorite audition of the day,” Simon said. I hope this guy goes far.
Derek Hilton, a Bellingham MA landscaper, is very very nasal. Way too nasal. Like the hair. Deluded, too. After the break, Mere Doyle, anime freak, screams Janis Joplin. And I mean screams. She’s rejected but didn’t go without a fight. Yawn.
Luke Shaffer, a waiter from New York, is a bit theatrical but not bad. I presume since he’s a New York City waiter, he’s probably a struggling actor. Benjamin Bright, an elementary music teacher from Rome NY is cute and has a sweet voice.
Grouchy Smart Ass Clark Kent, err… Andrew Fenlon (unemployed musician) … finally makes it to the audition room. He hated waiting around, he said. He’s quite amusing with his obnoxious statements. He’s not bad but he’s so unlikable, it’s hard to imagine anyone wanting to watch him. “Are you angry?” Kara said. “Just from waiting,” Andrew said. “For you to have a bad attitude kind of pisses me off,” Kara said. “I don’t like you AT ALL.”
“You have very bad energy,” Simon said. Kind of the oppositve of Amadeo. Simon is the only one who says yes. He’s bemused by the guy. As Kara said, “You need a spanking!” She also said he’s like Simon, minus the charm.
Ryan notes the many students of music in Boston, especially Berkeley School of Music. Two examples: Bill Bloom, a music teacher and Michael Ryan, a college student, are over the top. Ashley Rodriguez is pretty and is a decent singer to boot. “Very sultry,” Kara said. “You may have IT,” Simon said. She’s clearly someone the producers will pimp out in Hollywood.
Tyler Grady, the Nazareth, Pa. drummer who broke his wrists falling out of a tree, sexed it up with “Let’s Get It On.” The women loved him. He is vibrant, packed with personality. “You have good taste,” Simon said. “This is an audition I will remember.” (And he often say he quickly forgets 99% of them.)
Bo Bice is doing a Moe’s ad! Good for him!
Back story time! Lisa Olivero is a waitress with no singing background. She really needs singing lessons. She has some potential but went for too difficult of a song (Mariah Carey!) Then a bunch of wack jobs on day two. Mike Davis, an actor, entertains on a “Codzilla” boat on the water, doing all sorts of whirls and turns. He does a pretty good “Yesterday.”
9:20 p.m.: sob story time part two! Katie Stevens has a grandmother with Alzheimer’s. “She’s not going to remember me for much longer so I want her to see me succeed in my dream before she forgets who I am,” Katie said. Sniff. She takes the Idol auditon staple “At Last” and blows it out. She could use a little work in the image department but she has skills. “For 16 to be able to sing like that is amazing,” Kara said.
Joshua Blaylock, 28, from New York, is on the other end of the age limit. He does a decent version of Rascal Flatts even with a couple of bum notes. I like this guy and the judges do feel a warmth about him. Simon first castigates him: “That voice would have been great if you were 14… no presence, no power, no originality. Unfortunately, Joshua, forgettable.” Joshua admits he needs to be more assertive. When Randy tells him to say, “Shut up Simon!” He says “Shut up Simon–please!” He ultimately gets a yes – even from Simon! Simon is clearly getting a little soft, eh?
A couple of lousy singers open the next segment, including bad country dude and clueless quiet Asian guy. That leads to sob story #3 of the night. Justin Williams got cancer while serving a mission in Spain when he was 20. “It’s an interesting, humbling experience,” he said. He is now cancer free. (They don’t identify what cancer–given his age, it’s probably testicular.) He’s a vocal coach all the way from Utah. He has personality and charm. You can tell immediately he’s off to Hollywood. Victoria uses the word “nice” plenty of times. “I’m going to remember you,” Kara said.
The second-to-last break: Norberto Guerrero of Reading PA mauls Cascada. Looks like someone threw a skinned cat on his head. And he swallowed the rest of the cat.
Next! Bosa Mora, whose parents are from Nigeria, gets a bit of back story. He’s decent. I’m not sure how far he’d get in Hollywood. Victoria gets combative with Simon and his eye rolling. Simon says no. Victoria says yes. “Based on the voice,” Kara said, “I have to say yes.” Randy gives him the ticket.
Final break and final contestant. Long Island native Leah Lorenti, 22, who grew up in church and couldn’t listen to secular music. She’s adorable. Obviously being the last one we see tonight, she’s good, too. Great tone and vocal control. Yowza! She could use a bit more stage presence but that didn’t hurt Carrie or Jordin. “One of the best I’ve seen in Boston,” Randy said.
Random observations: New sign in the back, which no longer includes ALL the winners. It simply features Kris Allen. I also noticed that they are more willing to show the booms, the camera people and the production staff. Stunning Boston harbor backdrop.
Victoria Beckham looks more like Scary Spice. Or Plastique Spice. Or Keep Away From Me Spice. Bleh…
And I saw the promo for Atlanta. Holly Hardin, the Rockmart, GA gal I met at the auditions and was on “America’s Got Talent,” shows up for a millisecond. I figured she’d make it to the judges.