Thursday, 31 January 2013

San Antonio and Long Beach Auditions

A Tale of Two Cities

San Antonio, Texas | Long Beach, California

Now we should be seeing lots of big hats. Presumably Tate Stevens won't be auditioning. But no Country stuff at all. Must be a different part of Texas - or no candidates in Stetsons were interesting enough. Tonight we see another three who make the Top 40 - who do you think they'll be?

Vincent Powell looks like the guy who used to do Halifax Building Society adverts. He is getting on a bit but can sing well. He made Hollywood Week last year and looked a lot more than a year younger, blaming Randy supping on a cup of Coke for putting him off. I wonder how he'd manage a few thousand people doing something other than listening at a concert? He's got a nice attitude and is pleasant enough so we'll see more of him. Natural performer although I hope he doesn't use the same style for everything. He kinda looks a bit like Randy now I think about it.

Two brothers audition together. Badly. Really. They argue a lot and may have been better individually. I can imagine them being pains at school.

Sexy girl strolls on while the judges are still bemoaning the preceding guys. Unusual to see adjacent auditions - they're normally all over the place and totally re-ordered. Savannah Votion sings At Last which is a good audition song and she's through no trouble. The girls' category is already getting full, though, so she'll need to come out with something special next.

Rick Jo Garcia gets her name on the screen but no idea why.

Cristobel Clack is a name to remember. Special hair-do and heels for the audition. Nice audition of an Alicia Keys number. Good range and attitude and a nice performer. She has an interesting look about her and I can imagine the make-over team really enjoying working with her and totally transforming her.

Ann Difani sounds really good but could be a bit ordinary, especially when nice husband comes on stage and it all gets a bit too cute and 80s perfect-couple-like.

Victoria Acosta sings Big Boys Don't Cry and she beats the other two easily. Great audition. Even better when she sings in Spanish.

Papa Peaches thinks he's a big black woman trapped in a small white guy's body. He likes dancing and doesn't like doing covers. Quirky guy but good singer with star personality. Nicki loves him but Randy and Keith say no. Mariah gives him a small yes. Randy gets to break the deadlock and, with a major plea from Nicki, he gets through. He's one of those acts that will either bomb or do really well. Not liking to do covers could be a problem!

So far there's been no signs of the arguments between Nicki and Mariah, Mariah being particularly quiet and not exactly detailed in her comments. Keith is good and genuinely informative. Nicki is extraordinarily inciteful and inside the weird sentences are actually good comments.

Good-looking Sanni M'Mannauira (or something like that) sounds great and has a nice nature and movement. He does his interpretation of a Michael Jackson track and is bound to go through. Fresh, as Randy mentions. Good word for this young guy.

Adam Sanders does the beautiful I'd Rather Go Blind. He's nervous and a bit plump boyish-looking but, my goodness, he can sing. One of the best so far and he goes straight through. He did overdo the wailing a bit but I guess that can be forgiven at this point, just as long as he holds back a bit in Hollywood.

Totally different scene for Long Beach with the news programme announcing that auditions are causing jams on the roads. They're taking place on the Queen Mary ship.

Shubha Vedula sings just to the two guys with Mariah late and Nicki somewhere else. This girl's good, competent and shows clear confidence. I like this girl and think we'll be seeing a lot more of her - one of the best girls we've seen. Another name we'll remember too. She sounds like a star already. She seemed to know what she was doing so my guess is that she's pretty experienced in performing as that was so natural. What I did like, though, was her clear surprise and delight at getting through.

Brian Martinez is a let-down after that. Not sure why he's being shown, other than for the chat between the judges about why he was advised to come on. Seems someone heard in in the rest room. He looks pretty disappointed. Let's move on.

Matt Farmer gets the Iraq back story, little kid too in a pink dress. He does A Change Is Gonna Come. I'm not sure he did that well - a reasonable voice but he could get boring and don't think he'll get very far. They put him through but that'll be as far as he gets.

Stephanie Simpson is a pretty purple-haired girl. Comes on and just jumps around and shouts, quite annoyingly! Not at all sure what she is trying to do and just does a couple of shouting bits, breaks something on set and goes off giving finger signs to the cameras. Odd.

Jeseaiah Baer (I think) comes on and then there's a fire alarm (on a ship?!) which you wonder whether was something to do with the Purple Girl but apparently not from what I can gather. Once they all come back she does really well with a nicely different, slightly jazzy and different style that is appealing. She's one of the younger ones at 16 too, which we haven't had so many of so far. She's through. I like her.

Now there's a series of dumb acts and the producers get to play with ghost effects. Bit of a waste of time but not as bad as their previous efforts I suppose.

The next guy had his tonsils out and now has a speech problem but you get the impression that he's going to sing well. Micah Johnson sure doesn't disappoint us with some song about Chicken Fries which rhymes, of course, with mother's eyes and various other -ises. Nice guy and good telly.

Apparently that's the last for Long Beach but there's half an hour still to go so they must have forgotten to tell us where else we're going tonight.

Mariah fortunately has had some advice on her clothing and loses the previous ridiculously bad dress which succeeded only in making her frontage look even bigger than it seems to be anyway and impossible for anyone to look anywhere else but at her cleavage. Thank goodness for that. It is so strange how little sense some people who are rich enough to own complete ranges of fashion shops can be when choosing what to wear themselves. Nicki, although weird, does do weird in well-designed style.

Ah, Day 2 Long Beach. Fair enough. Hadn't thought of two days at the same place. Right, we kick off with Kimberley Rachel Hale who's pretty good, simply dressed but she's overdone the teeth whitening. Something good about this girl. She talks and talks. I can't quite figure her out but we'll see her again.

Breanna Oakley is 16 going on 26. She has the bullying back story. She was on Most Talented something or other in 2009 so you do have to wonder what she's been doing for the last 4 years. She has that very serious attitude that has probably come from so many people giving her advice and counselling and you almost expect her to come out with a load of educational or psychological jargon inherited from all those consultants that have been around her. For all that she certainly has talent and sings fabulously. A bit too perfect in a way. Obviously through to Hollywood. Good reviews from the judges but how will she cope at Hollywood, I wonder.

Mateus Fernadez is a little guy. Now that's the way to sing Change Is Gonna Come. Excellent. This fellow was really nervous but he got over that once he started singing. Through easily although he could find it tough at Hollywood.

Friday, 25 January 2013

A Good Night For The Bs in Baton Rouge

This edition is being screened just as some lawyer in the States is making a good profit from planning to sue the American Idol production company for supposedly discriminating against black auditionees over the years. The people they are proposing to cite seem to me either to have been fairly treated, and given opportunities to return when they get out of jail, have charges dropped or whatever they felt excluded them at the time, or they're just plain lame and wouldn't have been put through if they were red, white and blue.

With the massive Country vote out there, it is probably inevitable that, as the Live Shows progress, the good ol' boys may have a bit of an advantage but that's over everyone, not just a particular colour. Jessica Sanchez ran Phillip Phillips a close second last year and there has been a pretty broad selection of finalists and, indeed, winners. If it were to be shown, however, that black candidates with dodgy legal history were treated differently than others then the production company will have a problem but from what I've seen to date, this hasn't got legs other than for the tabloid headline writers for a while.

So, these are the Baton Rouge auditions - cue pics of swamps, crocodiles and whatever else the producers reckoned they could get away with by way of brand stamps for this place in the Bayou.

Megan Miller comes along to start us off and is on crutches, having had a nasty accident just before. Nice that we didn't get the back story - she just rolled with it and I like her. She has a great personaility and sings well. Whether she has that extra something I don't know but she's certainly streets ahead of many others they've put through.

Charlie Askew has a voice that is quite different - I don't think it has broken, despite his age. Nice. He could stand out with the right material. Interesting to see where he'll go after Hollywood.

Maddie Assell is another nominated girl and we see the Randy surprise. These have been pretty good so far and don't come in with the 'This is my dream' thing. Well, normally they don't. This one did as soon as I wrote that. I can imagine her having one fabulous make-over and looking totally different if she makes the Live Shows. She's also different and instantly likeable. And she can sing well. This is a much better start than most weeks have been so far.

If that lawyer's watching, though, that's 3/3 very white people.

Paul Jolley, great voice and mature guy who looks good but honest, not pimped up. He'll do well.

Chris Bartell is named Mushroom by Nicki. Hilarious but bad and should return to a dark room somewhere.

Dr Calvin Peters has a good tone and looks reliable. Easily through but not sure about star Quality.

Finally someone really good - Breanna Steer, followed by Brandy Hotard. We don't see much of these two but enough to show they're both a little special. This is turning into a good location. Or, at least, we're being spared more of the lame acts than before. Watch out for both of them.

Thank heavens for the Doc or it would be 7/7 so far shown as going through.

One true hunk fireman would get through just for the way he looks. Justin sings well, Country-style, and

Burnell Taylor makes the final Baton Rouge score 2/9. Comes across as one nice guy and performs with style and in tune. Good job and I can see him entertaining the crowd in the Live Shows no problem. He gets a standing ovation from the four judges and they seem as impressed with him as anyone they've seen. I'd also watch out for Brandy and Brianna, though.

A good night for the Bs. That's those with names beginning with B, of course.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Ryan Drives, Nicki Walks - Charlotte Auditions.

All the publicity promos for these auditions have been about some row between Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey, presumably with Keith Urban banging his head on the table and Randy Jackson simply looking helpless as only Randy Jackson can. So let's get that out of the way and assume that Nicki says something, Mariah disagrees and that it's probably not got a great deal to do with whoever is being auditioning.

I wonder if there'll actually be any auditions that make it through to the Live Shows in this week's showing? Let's see.

Ryan on a motor speedway racetrack being allowed to win in Charlotte, North Carolina. This was Scotty territory so cue him telling the crowd that he was there, well nearby, two years ago. They like that.

First act is Naomi Morris who makes clothes and make-up. She also makes people's ears hurt.

Some idiot called Joe lies on his back to sing. Then a big fellow with a son and a back story about a growth so if they've taken the trouble to edit all that soppy stuff in I guess he'll be around for a while. Brian Ritanbury sings Let It Be in good ol' belt it out style. Through but boring - letting his wife Keith was probably the best bit.

Jimmy Smith was a good-looking hunky chap who would make good tv,
Sarina Joe Crowe sounded groovy,
Haley Davis looked liked Haleys look and did well,
Nachelle with some remarkable range made a good impression
and a whole bunch more we don't see much of go through.

Pity we didn't get much more than a glimpse. So far, only one name we've been given makes it anywhere near the Live Shows. [That's hardly a spoiler!]

More Scotty, who talks in very short sentences, often missing out complete words. That's another cue for a dude in a hat that doesn't look quite right. Must be a Country artist. Matthew Muse is a bit slow, with movements that would look better replayed at faster speed. Odd singing too. Why on earth thry ask him to dance I do not know. Nicki gets him modelling. This is ridiculous and a real waste of time. Production team in charge again. Please let us see some of those who actually get through to the Top 40.

Isobel Gonzalez gets descended upon by Randy. I like these slots. She is also beautiful. She reminds me so much of Carl Rose Sonnenclare, maybe aged a couple of years. Sounds lovely and a bit different. Natural, as Keith points out. Not sure if she's Idol material, though. She just seems a little too nice but a welcome breath of fresh air for all that.

Isabel Gonzalez - Charlotte Audition - American... by IdolxMuzic

A girl who was lead singer with a band called Carson looks the part. Nice that she is someone familiar with performing. Sings Johnny Cash's Fulsom Prison Blues. Didn't quite work. The next one works better but I agree with Keith again that she may be better in front of a band and dancing around on stage. Not a good audition. She does just get through on a 2-2 vote.

Another bunch of auditions. Some seem to wow the judges but we don't het to find out why.

Summer Cunningham sings Lean On Me and is OK but not spectacular. This is where the row we've all heard about comes and Nicki makes a very reasonable point but the others don't get it. I'm not going to ramble on about it here. From all the publicity, though, I'd thought she'd been the cause of all the trouble with some of her shot-from-the-hip or occasionally left-field remarks that I could imagine causing trouble but no, this was nothing like that and she walks off with some justification. Summer gets through but that's neither here nor there. I reckon that one or two of those we saw earlier clutching golden tickets will be the ones we see more of rather than this girl.

And, of course, Nicki will be back anyway.

Brandy Hamilton is first on the following day. Nicki is back with straight hair and a blue hat. This is a gospel-type and interesting audition. She's though.

Oh dear, now we get some odd woman in a blonde wig. She sings all right but, like so many, nothing I particularly want to see or hear again. The judges seem just a little over-nice, maybe making up for the row the day before. What was interesting, and unscripted, was Brandy's exit remark of Please don't fight: it makes us sad. That definitely hurt the judges.

Janelle Arthur has had some experience on stage in theatre. She is talented, quite professional and knows what she's doing. Easily through and a good Country candidate for the Scotty position 2013. One to watch if she can put her own brand on performances and not be just another good singer.

Rodney Barber is an earnest guy who helps homeless people and says people call him the Voice of Charlotte. No pressure there then. Nice personaiity but still a bit boring despite all the build-up.

Candice Glover made Las Vegas last year and is back for another try. So we can expect her to get through to Hollywood. In a way, these are the auditions we could afford to miss, with more time given to the new people. This girl's fine and sings well but no Idol in my view, whatever Randy says about that being the 'best audition yet' and being 'what this show's all about'. I didn't get that, I'm afraid, and they're just setting her up for yet another disappointment at some stage.

Litttle girl comes on who catches bullfrogs. She's good - an older Diamond White character - and comes across well despite losing all of the potential voters who love animals. Missed her name completely and nothing on screen so maybe she doesn't get much further than Hollywood.

Brad Harris, however, does get his name on screen but is dreadful and a complete non-starter. This is so odd, and also a bit tedious now, so much time spent on no-hopers who aren't even particularly fun to watch. Crap.

Saritha gets the soppy back story and gloomy pictures and sad song in the background. Comes on stage with 3 year old daughter in a ridiculous bright pink tutu (but denim waistcoat) and most of the time is spent on giving Nicki a teddy bear. Good audition, though, natural talent and Fresh Prince Of Bel Air showed that off well. A slower number let her down a bit but deserves to get through -especially if she can stay in the first style she used.

Ryan takes time out from racing a Ford Mondeo to tell us that 37 made it through from Charlotte. It would have been nice to see a few more.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Chicago auditions cont'd. Yes, more Mariah fans...

This was an extra hour broadcast this evening with a chance to see a further nine contenders (and flashes from about twenty more so quick that even counting them was difficult).

First up was a lovely girl called Brandy Neely who, once we'd got some long back story out of the way, had a first class audition. Powerful voice and yet showing that she could control it too. We'll see her again, for sure.

We should also see more of Josh Holiday, one of the very few decent male acts we've seen so far. I couldn't get that excited about him, particularly when he tried a falsetto, but for the most part he had a nice tone. Just average appearance but he gets through for all that. I reckon they've short of males and will be putting almost anyone through.

Courtney Williams was nice enough and flew through, as did some guy with no name displayed on screen and I failed to catch one in the preview too. He sang Knock On Wood and sounded good.

Clifton Duffin started the run of no-hopers. His parents hadn't heard him sing before. They hadn't missed much as he destroyed his mother's favourite: Superstar, which would have had Karen turning in her grave, Followed by Ieisha Cottton who was a simple 'No.'

Johnny Keyser returns after just missing out on the live shows last year. I didn't think he sounded a patch on how he performed last year but it was enough to get to the Hollywood Round once again.

Next came a really interesting act. Kes Ban had a longer name but that's what this girl wanted to be known as. She sang one cool track and then, with guitar accompaniment, did her self-penned number about an Azure Sky. She was excellent and, in particular, I liked her intelligent and rebellious attitude, joking about 'How much I want this' and other cliché remarks and then, with Ryan, about the 'paperwork' she'd be obliged to do before actually getting to Hollywood. She was amazing, very different, but they'd be taking a big risk with her so don't expect to see her around that long - however much she might deserve to be.

Now the production team start playing around with sepia settings for a series of what look like dreadful auditions ending with an admittedly clever 'The Miserables' poster with judges replacing those more familiar show people. They might have included the ridiculous Natasha Curry who shouted her way through a couple of tracks and even sang when Mariah asked if she could give them a monologue!

Chicago auditions close with Lazaro Arbos. Some UK readers may remember Gareth Gates on Pop Idol way back in 2002. He had a terrible stammer and struggled with normal conversation. As soon as he started to sing, though, he was amazingly good - going on to be runner up (to the excellent Will Young) and developing a successful career as a recording artist, on tv and, more recently in West End theatre as well as running his own Speech Therapy Centre. Well, Lazaro will be America's Gareth Gates. We'll see him and many repeats of his struggle over the years, no doubt, as he wends his way through Hollywood and maybe even the Live Shows. He does have a good voice and an attractive, lovable personality which will have bags of appeal (and votes if he does get that far). He does, though, also have a pretty obvious Spanish-type accent which spoils the way he can deliver English tracks and that may halt his progress, probably rightly so as he isn't that talented and not really able to compete with some of the acts we've seen already. But they do need guys so this could be a year for him to apply.

Chicago auditions: yet more Mariah fans

Chicago produced Haley Reinhart so that's one good thing about this town for a start. After some pretty pointless auditions in New York (well, those we were allowed to see, that is) the second instalment of the auditions run needs something good.

Mackenzie delivers that too, confident and attractive and a genuine performer. Then we get some useless bloke. Blokes are having a bad time so far and, as if to emphasise the point, along comes Kiara Lanier who's very tall but also very good and brings out the first dope of the season from Randy. Kiara announces that she is multi-racial and follows that with the bizarre remark that she's therefore like Mariah. Big Mariah fan. Nicki had tried telling her how pretty she was when she walked on but didn't get a great deal of response.

Stephanie Schimel is blonde and comes across well. Another Mariah fan. I can understand why Nicki appears to be getting miffed as everyone she says looks or sounds lovely seems to reply that they love Mariah. You kinda hope that someone would come on and say they really like Nicki and maybe that would even things up a bit. Nicki is the only one to say no to her, initially because she didn't get much impression of character from her performance. That was a reasonable enough comment but when the others put her through to the Hollywood Round anyway she said that she only voted against her because she was wearing the same nail colouring or something. Weird.

A poor girl called Melissa Bush appears in a slightly strange and very tight bright pink one piece affair that she says she bought specially. She's a dull, quite serious-looking girl who really doesn't look like you think a masseuse would look but there you go. She tries hard but simply can't sing. Nicki yells "Bush!" at her, possibly trying to get a laugh but I'm not sure. It just seemed so wrong on almost any level and the poor girl was clearly confused and goes off stage sadly. Not a good scene, that, guys.

Dave Brown is a podgy rocker. he's a fun guy and comes out with some cool retorts to whatever the judges come up with too. We need a few more intelligent candidates, I feel, and, for once, he doesn't announce how much of a fan he is of Mariah. He starts with Gimme Shelter. That was actually quite good and with some Stones-type backing and guitars it would work. He's quite shouty but not in a wailing or necessarily bad way. Randy gets him to do another track and there's a good, more restrained voice there for We All Die Young. I don't know how he'll fare but he's through to Hollywood.

Nigel Naverty likes ninja rap whatever that is. He's odd. Embarrassed remarks from the judges. He has to be the fastest singer I've heard. Not exactly bad but I can't see him doing Dancing Queen  that way in the Abba round. When he tries to sing vaguely normally he sounds as if he's speeded up. Bye Nigel.

Isobel Farrell gets some help from Keith Urban with Baby It's Cold Outside but still should get through totally on her own anyway. Nice voice. First instance of Randy not agreeing with the others but she gets through. Nice girl.

Griffin Petersen is a good-looking guy, after a bundle of other guys have been shown coming and going, all getting Nicki's attention for various reasons. Nicki likes this one and wants to put him through just because he looks good. His singing is pretty poor but, with just three on the panel on this occasion, Randy gets outvoted by the two girls and the pretty guy gets through.

Curtis Finch is also a Mariah fan. Heavens, has Mariah made some deal that only her fans get on the show? No wonder Nicki is misbehaving so much. He does the God Is Able thing which is very boring but he does have a decent voice and the judges seem very happy to send him through. Nicki, once again, says how much she likes him and he responds by saying how much he likes Mariah.

Another Mariah to end this show. We get the anorexia back story. Although I'm not a fan of this sob story stuff, she did explain this one pretty emotionally and maybe that will do some good to the girls watching the programme. Eventually she gets to sing and does Let It Be,  That's not a simple song to sing without any backing but she is great. One of the better candidates.

So, Chicago has found a few decent contenders and, with less production rubbish, the show is back on track. They still need to find some more guys, though.

Friday, 18 January 2013

This... is Season 12...

It took about 20 minutes to get going, with a sugary start read by Ryan Seacrest after Phillip Phillips' Home. He won last year, by the way, in case UK readers missed that, as, indeed, they missed the single for some reason best known to the record company.

Then we get some annoyingly cut portraits of the judges doing their thing. Randy's back, although his contract fines him $1000 every time he says 'pitchy', so he could be stuck for words unless they manage to select only remarkably in-tune singers. Mariah Carey is their Britney Big Budget judge who comes across as polite with some insightful comments, at least in the few initial screens we see. Nicki Minaj looks very blonde and sounds like she's there to cause trouble with bizarre everything so she's either going to be good fun or really annoying. Keith Urban is the sensible one, from what I can make out, and looks like being an excellent choice.

Tenna Torres is the first audition we get to hear properly. She went to Camp Mariah so Mariah liked her. She's through, although hearing two lines didn't tell us a great deal.

Several more fly through, sounding pretty reasonable and getting the Hollywood round tickets. Without names on the screen for these I have no idea who they are unless I managed to catch a spoken name. There's a mini Heejun doing a rubbish version of a Justin Beiber track. Please don't put him through. He wears headphones round his neck and may have been better off putting them on his ears so he couldn't hear Randy asking what the weather was like on the grounds that that was more interesting than his singing.

How on earth they choose these early rounders for the broadcsat show I don't know but if this is the standard of the production team then they'll need some damn good talent to make up for this dreadful start.

Christina "Isobelle" (their italics) says she struggles with her weight. She looks fine. She also sings well, with a traditional version of Summertime.

Next guy has the big back story which we get dragged through, with the shock factor of having to have a leg amputated which sure must have ended his dancing career which we're told seemed to be going pretty well in shows. Evan Huggerio has a cool personality and performs well with a couple of numbers, showing quite different styles. Surprised he didn't get through - at least to Hollywood. Odd decision as he was pretty capable.

Jessica Kartalis is someone that was suggested so Randy went round to see her and surprised her which might not be a bad way to get contestants. After just doing a self-penned guitar thing, they tell her that she can't sing something else which must have made her really frustrated for bringing the guitar in in the first place. It was like she was expecting to be able to sing something else and how they could judge on that short burst didn't look right to me. Oh well.

Shira Gavrielov tells us she had a No.1 in Israel where she was brought up. That, I would have thought, would have disqualified her but obviously not. She sang Valerie fairly well but nothing spectacular.

Another back story - some guy was adopted. Not sure why we need to know. Frankie Ford from Brooklyn. He does Sweet Dreams pretty well and is a likeable guy but doesn't get far. This acapella small room audition is quite tough and so different to the last round of X Factor where everyone is introduced to us after rehearsals on a big stage with backing etc. Some will suffer I guess as a result but that's the way this show works and the only ones who get through need to perform just as themselves.

Bejamin Gazey looks very strange. The red plastic sounds bad. He says he's going to sing two love songs for two lovely ladies. That reminds me of the girl they didn't permit to sing a second number. Nicki's hair looks flourescent in these second New York auditions.

Rosanna looks pretty. She only sings in front of her parents. Just as well. She ruins one of my favourite songs - To Know Him Is To Love Him. Someone needs to stop her. She mentions a 'second song' too. But doesn't get to sing it. That's lucky.

Then we get a string of rubbish acts before Sarah Staccio from New Jersey comes along. She is totally different to the streets of New York folk, working on a farm and driving quads around. Mama's Song is a Carrie Underwood number so she's definitely on the Country tracks but is also someone who Randy would be justified with the pitchy comment. Nice looking girl. Super Bass next which is a totally different thing - a sort of rapid rap that must be one of Nicki's. Confusing. That does attract the judges' interest. She gets through and it'll be interesting to see what she does next!

Some Chinese-looking guy that works in a doctor's office appears. Dreadful. Go away.

Rapid fire good and bad. Ashley Miller has ear problems. That should mean that she can't sing but, actually, she can. One of the better auditions. The judges loved her and so far she's the one they are seen to be rating. No successful guy's auditions shown so far.

Brett Holt isn't going to change that with an off-key track - his fifth attempt to get past the first rounds! Confusingly, some producer had the idea of dubbing a preview of him so that he sounded great, with wows from the judges  - then a big build up, then the crap singing for real and rejection - and to wind up the thing as if they loved him. God, that was bad production. They managed more mischief with the Turbanator, (as Gurpreet Singh Sarin is going to be known for a while), too with some graphic targeting the judges and, after he does just scrape through (with a pretty average but at least tuneful performance), they have his mauve turban flashing yellow, red and green. You do have to wonder why they bothered and this is pretty worrying for the rest of the auditions.

Ashley Feliciano and her back story take up another huge chunk of viewing time. This is very tedious. She had better be damn good after all that, including her mother talking about how she 'adapts' children with complex problems. Maybe it was her mother's accent. She was sort of OK, quite appealing but not the best of auditions. Oh, heavens, now the whole ruddy family is coming in. Why? This is bonkers. 1 minute singing. 6 minutes prattling on. At least no visual tricks. I presume that must be it. Yes.

Apparently 41 acts got through to Hollywood Round. It would have been good to have heard a few of them as it's unlikely we've seen a winner today.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Nigel Lythgoe Interview

Nice bit of background from Nigel Lythgoe as to what we may or may not expect from American idol this season from MJ's blog.

American Idol executive producer, Nigel Lythgoe answered reporters’ questions on a conference call today. Here’s what went down, including dish on weekly voting rankings (this could happen!) wildcards, and how a girl could finally win it all.
The American Idol auditions begin next week with New York City on Wednesday, Jan 16 and Chicago on Thursday Jan 17.
You know those controversial voting rankings Simon Cowell revealed every week? Nigel Lythgoe has been wanting to do that for 8 or 9 years. Yes, he thinks it’s an awesome idea, and what he has to say on the subject, is pretty interesting. He name checks Carrie Underwood, who he says won every week, and Hawaii, “It’s very amusing to me. It’s something we've wanted to do for 8 or 9 years. We did it in England with Pop Idol. I've always been stopped doing it in this country with people saying ‘Oh no, people will stop voting if you show that the one person is winning–like a Carrie Underwood who won every week–people will stop voting.’ We always fought that back and said, ‘Well no…just because my soccer team is number 4 in the league, doesn't mean to say I'm going to stop supporting them. I'm going to support them more.’ All of a sudden, they managed to do it on the X Factor. I was a little…’Damn. It now looks like we’re going to be copying them.’  The one thing I believe about American Idol, is that everybody else copies American Idol.  Yes, I thought it was a good  move.  It doesn't stop people voting. It makes them more passionate to see their person do well. I liked it. We’ll still discuss it. I'm not sure how we’ll do it.
Nigel would like to reveal regional statistics, “I also like the idea of doing…like the conferences like the NBA do. Let’s see how the west voted for you…let’s see how the east voted for you…and build the figures up so you can see where the votes are coming in from. I think it would be exciting. I think we’d see if they've got hometown support. Very interesting when you've got an Hawaiian contestant–how that can sway the vote. Every island votes for goodness sake (He’s talking about Season 3 and Jasmine Trias, who made it all the way to 3, presumably on the strength of the Hawaiians. So it was true.) Anything that garners interest and fills a show out that is generally 99% padding–any way we can make that exciting–I really want to look at. Now that X Factor’s managed to do that, I will be fighting tooth and nail.”
On the semi-final round changes and wild cards, “I’ve never liked a top 11 or a top 12 or a top 13.  It was always created in order to fill the transmission times that Fox wanted.  So we created top 13s and top 12s, and let’s give them wildcard here and let’s bring somebody back–It’s very plain and simple.  As we've always done with So You Think You Can Dance–There’s your Top 10, It’s a knock out competition. We've always attempted to do that. But we've never found a way to do it with everything that’s been asked of us. And this year, we have.” Hm. The math is a little confusing here. The finals begin on March 7.
What makes a good judge and how much of a bonus has it been that we've already heard about the judges and the sparks that are flying between them, “I don’t think that’s been a bonus. It’s not publicity that I  welcomed. It’s about the contestants. The judges are always  going to be interesting because they are who they are. I don’t really want to know that there’s been a huge blowup between them and have it it all taken out of proportion. I'm not into that sort of publicity. It will, I guess, get people to watch to see if they blow up on TV. So, everybody tells me I should be grateful. I would much prefer that  they watch because these judges are excellent. Nicki Minaj, I think, is one of the best judges I've ever worked with.”
What makes a good judge? Singing out of tune is not that big a deal!  ”Somebody who is honest with integrity. Not honest just telling somebody they suck and go home, pack your suitcase. Any information that they can feed into helping the kid in that short period of time I think is great.  The different angles that they can come from, knowing that it isn't just about the voice. And REALLY does it matter if they sing out of tune a little bit? Because everybody I've ever seen live sings out of tune, even the greatest singers in the world. Of course, if you’re making a single now a days, they’ll auto-tune it anyway.  Is there more we should be discussing rather than ‘You were pitchy.’ I'm so sick of that remark! So now, we are constantly trying to find ways to help them. This panel is doing that. I think one of the best judges I've worked with is ME on So You Think You Can Dance.”
On a female contestant finally winning Idol, what do they need to do?  ”What they have always had to do, which is capture the vote. It isn't always about the voice. It is about charisma, personality attracting an audience. And doing that week on week. If there was an absolute formula to stick to in order to win American Idol, we’d have probably found it by now, bottled it, and I'm sure one of the production companies would be selling it. It’s really what grabs you.  Does the story grab you? Does the song of the week grab you? There’s more strength in the talent of the girls [this year]. It’s not to say that one of the boys will not sneak in. Because there are 5 or 6 really good guys and only 5 of them are going to make the top 10.  At the end of the day, when you've got 5 guys and 5 girls, the depth of talent doesn't matter. It’s anybody’s game at that stage.”
Would Nigel be personally disappointed if a guy won this year, “I get my favorites, I’m human, and I like my favorites. I've never been disappointed with any one of the winners with the shows I've been involved with.  I've been disappointed in losing people a little too early along the way–Tamyra Gray, I was really upset at losing–but thrilled that Kelly Clarkson won.  I don’t have a personal involvement from that point of view. Normally my favorite revolves around who I pick in the draw and hopefully I’ll win the 150 dollars at the end of the series.  In truth, I don’t have a horse in the race, and I like to keep it that way so that nobody can make allegations about ‘oh his favorite won? How did that happen?.’  (Uhm, except this last season on SYTYCD where you namechecked your favorite every week–and she ended up winning Favorite Girl)
Why does American Idol produce bona fide stars while the others, like The Voice and X Factor have not?  ”In fairness, It’s right to say they haven’t been on the air that long yet,” admits Nigel. “I do think that other shows tend to concentrate on gimmicks–maybe their judges a little too much.  I say that having just experienced two months of talking about our new judges. Hopefully the programs themselves will show we’re still purposing on the contestants.  Also the amount people vote and get involved with–they want to see them successful after the show. Phillip Phillips‘ song “Home” was just tremendous. Scotty McCreery, again,  very good in that genre, and people loved him.  We've had success and we want to continue having success.”
What the judges are looking for, “Nicki is looking for an artist. Mariah is looking for the complete singer-songwriter. Randy is looking for somebody that sings on pitch. (laughs) Keith isn't just looking for a country star. Keith is looking for an instrumentalist, a good singer, and somebody that can capture that magic charisma, and connect with the public. They all have their own agendas.”
Which judge is the toughest this season, “So far, Randy Jackson.  You can see the other 3 judges wince, because although they may agree with that outright sentiment, they certainly feel like they’re not there to hurt anybody. So, where possible, they will try and send them away with either a good comment of how they can improve, or a suggestion of what they can move on into. Obviously, they haven’t met my little friend, Jimmy Iovine yet. He will have many words to say.  These judges are judges–they’re not mentors. They’re not really going to be speaking with the kids during the week or helping them improve. They will make a judgement of the kids’ performance and then if it helps, then the kids take it on board. If not–it’s very difficult in that 30 seconds to make lasting comments for the kids to improve week on week.  We've got other people telling them how to do that.”
On Keith Urban and country music on Idol and throwing shade on Simon Cowell!  “It actually came up at TCA yesterday, where somebody said, all of a sudden, country music is being embraced by American Idol. Which, in truth, I tried to put right and say, ‘we had  country music right from the beginning.’ Simon Cowell doesn't like country music. I don’t think he understands country music. I don’t think he understands all the different genres, whether it’s bluegrass, outlaw country or anything. He just thinks that everything is  ”Grandma got over by a reindeer”….that’s his assumption of country music and he always put it down. We always had good country singers.  This is the first time I think that we've had a country judge–he is such a lovely man. He is the scratching post between Mariah and Nicki. He sometimes looks like he’s watching a tennis match with his head bobbing between the two girls. But when it’s his turn to speak, he gives his mind and he won’t put up with anybody else knocking a kid down.  He’s had rows with both Mariah, Randy and Nicki–a big one with Nicki.  They know they’ve got a big job on their hands, because, Jennifer, Steven and Randy did very well with Scotty McCreery and Phillip Phillips. They’re very competitive people. These are human beings who have experienced an incredible success in their own lives. Keith is a great addition this year.”
How empowering was it to have the success that Phillip Phillips’ had just at the time they are ready to launch a new version of the show, “Certainly that song has been one of the biggest. But Phillip still has to prove himself.  We can’t jump up and down and say ‘Wow, he’s a major star now.’  There’s a long way to go to be the next Carrie UnderwoodKelly ClarksonDaughtry.  But, thrilled for Phillip and it obviously validates the program. There are other people like Colton [Dixon] in that year, who have become a huge Christian star. Scotty McCreery–still a very big country star. We tend to produce the goods at the end of a series. But it’s maintaining them too. I'm not one of these people who just want to waive a flag and go ‘American Idol is a great thing.’  We’re a springboard. But one record does not make a career. I have every belief that Phillip will make a career, because I think he’s hugely talented. We are extremely lucky that a record like “Home” sells over 3 million. It's astounding how successful that’s been. Hopefully, we'll use that as a springboard to get the attention for this year’s American Idol.”
Nigel mentioned the bus tour that sent a producer out to far flung small towns. People who passed that audition went on to sing in front of the judges.  Plus, producers went out with a hidden camera to surprise kids who were nominated by their friends and families.Also, he mentioned what we already knew: Boys and Girls will be separated through the Vegas round. “It gives us a little more insight into who the talent is,” Nigel said.Of course, there will be no guest judges. Jimmy Iovine is coming back as mentor. Like last year, record producers will join him to work with the kids. Nigel is trying to align the Idol experience with what the kids will encounter in the music business.
Will American Idol ever embrace hip hop music?  Could there be a winner who raps?  No. “I don’t believe so. I believe rap is an art form in itself.  More akin to poetry, more akin to drama. Rap in the street, when they have rap competitions is thrilling, because these kids are making it up and having a go at each other. Hip hop is a way of life, it isn't a genre in truth, in American Idol. I think what we’ll get–a lot of good R&B kids, and a lot of good street kids coming in–goodness knows we need it, because there’s very little music to get hold of now a days. I think we've heard the Adele songbook 2,987 times this season, because there are melodies there that the kids can latch onto and sing.  You give them a whole list of 9 thousand songs and they sing Etta James’ ‘At Last’.  We cannot win sometimes with the music.  I do not believe Hip Hop will become a genre on American Idol.”

Friday, 4 January 2013

Season 12 start in the UK on Thursday 17

On Channel 5* (which is a bit strange as that's just a tiny channel but at least it's on Freeview and not Sky subscription! Phew.

I have just found some pretty good rumours for the Top 40 (20 Boys and 20 Girls) from people who have seen the audition rounds so far. No Danielle Castleman after all. Maybe Randy just got her a contract there and then, or she bombed hopelessly at some stage.

Some interesting names there with a dozen or more from previous Seasons having another go - some very deservedly too. Check out the link above if you want to see these. I am working my way through videos that I can find but so far I haven't found anything worth promoting here. There is one Jessica Sanchez type girl who looks and sounds good and one Hollywood fall-out guy who could well make the Live Shows but I shall hold those back for a while yet.

I still don't understand why Jessica's Jump In hasn't been released as as single. Perhaps now that the Christmas Chaos of X Factor and Charity stuff has died away it will come out - January and February do tend to be dull months with some records lying around the charts for weeks.