Welcome to the live blog and recap for “Auditions #3″ of American Idol Season 12!
The show is hyping the hell out of Nicki Minaj’s walk-off following a huge blow-up with Mariah Carey. Will the drama be worth the hype?
Here we go!
-A little bit of Ryan racing on a race track in Charlotte, although he’s short enough to be racing horses.
-We also get a tease of the Nicki/Mariah blow-up to end all blow-ups, which I imagine will fail to end all blow-ups.
-Scotty McCreery is the special guest on hand at the auditions, hyping up the crowd and relating his own experiences, not unlike Haley Reinhardt at the Chicago auditions last week. He’s such an affable personality, and strangely endearing.
NAOMI MORRIS, 28, is up first!
-Nicki Minaj says “I have to name her”, and anoints Naomi with the nickname “Omi”. She then gabs with Naomi about her fashion sense (or lack thereof, in the makeup department).
-She sings “Respect” by Aretha Franklin, and it’s a nightmare. She pleads for another chance, explaining how nervous she is. Nicki asks her if she think she’s the next American Idol. She truly does believe she is.
-Naomi sings “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” as her follow-up song and gets some of the words wrong, never minding the sharp vocals. Nicki tells her that her fashion is poppin’, but it’s a no on the singing, a sentiment echoed by the other three judges, although Mariah comforts Naomi by telling her not to let this audition break her, since she’s a beautiful young woman.
-The next auditioner is an awkward kid who has adopted the technique he learned in season 5 of singing while laying down (strangely, I remembered the Chris Daughtry mentoring segment to which he referred – and which we see in a brief flashback, making me miss season 5).
JOEL NEMOYER, 24, is up next!
-He’s as enthusiastic as he is awkward, wishing the judges a good morning, and then performing a dance for them that looks straight out of the Napoleon Dynamite School of Dance.
-Nicki nicknames him “Jumanji”, which is just unfortunate.
-Joel lays on his back and performs Michael Buble’s version of “Feeling Good.” It’s pretty bad.
-Keith says that maybe he just picked the wrong song, but Randy is more adamant. It’s not just a “no”, it’s a “never”.
-Our next auditioner recounts the story of his wife’s battle with appendix cancer, the tumor of which ballooned to the size of a grapefruit…before growing to the size of a basketball. The doctors didn’t give her much time, yet here he is, three years later with his wife and young son, and she’s miraculously well.
BRIAN RITTENBERRY, 27, is up next!
-He charms the judges with his stories of how he’s always singing in his basement, to the consternation of his wife.
-He sings “Let It Be”, and it’s a husky and powerful vocal.
-Ryan takes his wife in to meet Keith Urban, who jokingly tells her not to keep him in the basement. She’s also present for the big moment: four yesses.
BRIAN RITTENBERRY is going to Hollywood!
-I like this guy. I’m not crazy about his voice, but he comes across like a more likable Tate Stevens. Which is not to say Tate Stevens isn’t likable, but this guy has a lot more personality.
-I’m sure there’s something to be inferred from Ryan offering hot dogs to a host of women.
JIMMY SMITH, 25, is up next!
-Jimmy submitted an audition online on a whim, and he received the call, to his surprise, to come audition in front of the judges.
-He sings “God Bless the Broken Road”, and it’s actually quite pretty. That said, I’m kind of over the whole country thing on this show. I recognize that it’s here to stay, and it’s a zero-sum game trying to fight against it, but I just needed to get that off my chest because the show’s gradual transformation into Nashville Star is driving me nuts.
-Of course, this ignores that he’s actually one of the better male country singers the show has had, and there’s certainly potential for him to really change opinions.
-Jimmy gets four yesses, easily.
JIMMY SMITH is going to Hollywood!
We then get a quick, rapidfire montage of other contestants advancing to Hollywood. They include:
Sarina Joi-Crowe, 17
Haley Davis, 26
Na’Chelle Fullins-Lovell, 19, who’s got some crazy octave range.
-Mariah sings a little Billie Holiday during a break in the production, with Keith musing that he needs to listen to some more Billie Holiday.
-Back from the break with Scotty McCreery chilling at the auditions, even running into a girl he went to middle school with.
-Our next auditioner is myopically focused on getting that Golden Ticket (not terribly unlike Charlie Bucket). He’s intent on impressing Keith in particular.
MATTHEW MUSE, 23, is up next!
-Matthew explains how honored he is to be in front of them, and then says people have compared his voice to Brad Paisley.
-He sings “When I Get Where I’m Going” by Brad Paisley. You know, starting out, it’s not half bad. But then it just sort of goes off the rails.
-He does a little dance for the judges, continuing the trend of auditioners doing a jig. At Nicki’s behest, he throws in a strut. A proper country strut.
-Randy tells him he’s nowhere near ready for this, and the other judges concur.
Isabel Gonzalez has been nominated by her aunt as part of the auditioning nominations from Idol this season. Randy surprises her at her high school, and I swear, this girl looks EXACTLY like Camille Bell.
ISABEL GONZALEZ, 16, is up next!
-This girl immediately wins a place in my heart by singing one of my favorite songs of all-time, “Nothing Can Change This Love” by Sam Cooke. She does some pretty crazy riffs on the song too.
-Nicki says she could listen to Isabel all day, and Mariah says she’s adorable, and that people are going to adore her, adding (after Isabel leaves) that she looks like a young Phoebe Cates. Keith wanted to just vote three seconds after she started singing. In brief, it’s four yesses for Isabel.
ISABEL GONZALEZ is going to Hollywood!
Before break, we get yet another tease of Mariah vs. Nicki: The War to Settle the Score.
The more they build it up, the more I fear it can’t possibly deliver.
That said, I find myself enjoying this audition episode far more than last week’s premiere, just for its bubbly sense of energy. And I already enjoyed last week’s premiere (I fear I may have been among the few).
-Back with Keith asking Mariah, during a break in production, when she started writing songs. Mariah reveals she started at age 6 (after joking that she actually just started yesterday). I kind of love Keith in his sincerity, as he seems genuinely interested in getting to know Mariah.
TAISHA BETHEA, 21, is up next!
-She sings in an alternative rock band, and surprises the judges by singing “Folsom Prison Blues” by Johnny Cash, despite having stated her desire to be a rocker.
-Randy seems tentative about his judgment, and asks her what her second song will be. Taisha sings “You Oughta Know” by Alanis Morrisette, and it’s a much more confident vocal than the first.
-Keith says he would have liked to have heard her with her band, since he feels she’s better suited to it.
-Nicki praises Taisha for being unconventional, not simply doing R&B like any other young black female (to which Randy adds, “Black girls can rock!”).
-All the judges say yes except for Mariah. But three is more than enough to get her through.
TAISHA BETHEA is going to Hollywood!
-We then get a mixed montage of Golden Tickets and rejections. It’s hard to believe Nigel Lythgoe when he says that this season is going to be about the contestants when none of these contestants get chyrons telling us who they are.
SUMMER CUNNINGHAM, 20, is up next!
-She sings a country version of “Lean On Me”, and Nicki loves her voice and her look.
-Keith asks her how she sees herself as an artist, and Summer explains that she “did the country thing” (mildly offending Keith), but believes she’s more of a soulful country singer.
-Mariah asks Summer if country is her passion. Summer explains that she loves country music, that it feels real to her. For some reason, we can see Nicki start to sour during this exchange.
-The judges vote, and she gets three yesses until getting to Nicki, who chastises Randy and Mariah for picking Summer apart. Nicki feels they’re scaring her into lying by forcing her to claim country music as her sole genre. Randy and Mariah insist they’re just trying to help her.
-The judges argue with Nicki (except Keith, whom Nicki exempts from her rant), and Nicki announces “I’m going to keep talking”, with Mariah firing back “Like you always do.” Keith tries to defuse the tension by announcing that Summer has four yesses.
SUMMER CUNNINGHAM is going to Hollywood!
-But things are far from over between Nicki and Mariah, with Nicki arguing that Mariah and Randy are trying to mold the girl, instead of just letting her be whoever she wants to be. Randy adds that he was simply saying that her voice sounds better in country, but this does nothing to cool things between the two women on the panel. Things escalate to the point where Nicki asks what she’s even doing on the damn panel if she isn’t going to be allowed to speak her mind. Nicki storms off the set, with Mariah joking “That’s what I was going to do the next time she ran her mouth about me.” To which we hear a muted curse from Nicki from off the set.
-We return from the cliffhanger break with media coverage of the drama, and contestants worrying about the status of the auditions. Mariah apparently hired “extra security”, for reasons that I can only imagine stem from Nicki having enough street cred to make it viable that she’s packing heat, or brass knucks, or something. And lord knows Nick Cannon, God bless him, isn’t protecting her from s***.
-Nicki returns for the auditions, and she and Mariah seem to be going out of their way to so much as make eye contact. The first contestant of the day is excited, but also nervous to be the first person to audition following the big tiff.
BRANDY HAMILTON, 25, is up next!
-She’s in tears from her disbelief that she’s actually here. She sings “All I Could Do Was Cry” by Etta James. It’s one of the more powerful vocals of the audition. She explains that she is untrained, as she’s only really sung at church, saying that if she could just get a little training under her belt, she knows she can make the judges proud.
-Keith really felt the soul in her voice, and Randy adds that she really lights up the room. Mariah agrees, adding that it was “A+”.
-Nicki also felt the soul, saying that she almost felt like it was her man walking down the aisle with someone else. Randy adds that he really wants to see this girl do well.
-She gets four yesses, and then breaks Nicki’s heart by tearfully saying, on her way out, “Please don’t fight. It makes us all sad.”
Yeah! Stay together, Nicki/Mariah! STAY TOGETHER FOR THE KIDS!
BRANDY HAMILTON is going to Hollywood!
-Back from break with Mariah making a joke about hats, and then clarifying to Nicki that she wasn’t implying anything about Nicki’s own hat.
-Our next contestant is relatively self-absorbed, saying she talks a lot, and likes being the center of attention (“I like having people look at me.”).
ASHLEY SMITH is up next!
-Nicki nicknames her “Blondie” after her incongruous blonde locks. She’s five and a half feet tall (“I’m almost 5’1″!”), and is as spunky as you’d probably expect a short girl to be.
-She sings Carrie Underwood’s “Cowboy Casanova”, and…it’s actually damn good. The edit seemed designed to prepare viewers to expect a contestant like season one’s Tamika, who was similarly self-involved but without any discernible talent.
-The judges love her, and I kind of love her too, even if her personality is just two shades under obnoxious. Her energy is infectious.
-She gets four yesses.
ASHLEY SMITH is going to Hollywood!
-We get a montage of Nicki’s increasingly exotic nicknames for the auditioning contestants, including flashforwards to some of the future auditions. “Big Crazy Barb”, “Finger Lickin’ Good”, “Collard Greens”, and “Edgar Allen Poe” are the standouts. I wonder if any of them actually got to Hollywood?
JANELLE ARTHUR, 22, is up next!
-Janelle is a little southern belle frazzled by nerves. She sings Keith’s own “Where the Blacktop Ends”, shaking off her nerves and just launching into it.
-Despite my earlier qualms about the prevalence of country artists on this show, she’s the best audition of the day.
-Keith loved it, which pretty much means the world to Janelle. Nicki says that Janelle already sings like a star, which is hard to do. Randy compares her to a young LeAnn Rimes, while Mariah compliments her on just how pretty her voice is.
-Wait, has this girl auditioned before? She seems vaguely familiar. Whether she has or she hasn’t, it’s four yesses.
JANELLE ARTHUR is going to Hollywood!
-She gets locked out from the other side of the door by Ryan, who tells her he’ll only open it if she has a Golden Ticket. I thought that bit was kind of adorable, particularly the bit where she gives her full birth name when Ryan asks who’s knocking. She’s a total keeper.
-Back from break with a collection of auditions that make William Hung look like Dez Duron. Including more dancing, and a version of “Rolling in the Deep” with an endless cycle of “You played it, you played it, you played its”.
-We then meet our next auditioner, a street singer with real confidence and swagger about him. He’s been singing on the street for two years, following a stint in which he was homeless. As a result, he uses all his profits from street singing to help those in need.
RODNEY BARBER, 27, is up next!
-Rodney sings “I’ll Be” by Edwin McCain. It was just…okay. He definitely has a good voice, it just wasn’t the right song. But it’ll be interesting to see what he can do in the future, as he really has a husky baritone that would work well with some more contemporary numbers.
-Nicki is inspired by his story, as are the other judges, Mariah in particular, who felt a real connection with Rodney.
RODNEY BARBER is going to Hollywood!
-We waste no time, going straight into the audition of a returning hopeful…
CANDICE GLOVER, 22, is up next!
-Candice explains her heartbreak at being cut at Vegas last year, adding that “Come back next year” isn’t always something you want to hear at that point in time. In front of the judges, she says that she’s been compared to last season’s Joshua Ledet.
-She sings “Syrup and Honey” by Duffy, and it really is spectacular, totally earning the standing O she gets.
-Randy proclaims it the “best audition of the season” so far. Nicki says she loves Candice, that she wants to skin her and wear her. She goes so far as to claim that she’s the reason people watch Idol, and that she’s not even worthy to critique her. Mariah doesn’t even know what to say. She wishes Candice already had something out that she could listen to, with Nicki adding that if she doesn’t go to the end, there’s something seriously wrong.
CANDICE GLOVER is going to Hollywood!
-We’re back with a young female who loves to hunt and fish, particularly “frog-gigging”, where you go out at night and catch bullfrogs, cut off the legs, fry them, douse them in hot sauce, and eat’em like chicken. I’m not one to throw stones about awkward food tastes, given my youthful taste for Dunkaroos.
JA’BRIA BARBER, 16, is up next!
-Nicki nicknames her “Frog-Killer” and makes her promise not to kill any more frogs if she goes to Hollywood.
-She sings Bonnie Rait’s version of Stevie Ray Vaughn’s “Pride and Joy”, and it’s very smoky and cool, even if it’s not the strongest vocal of the night.
-Mariah gives her a pass on the frogs, but says that she really likes her voice. Randy agrees, adding that she has a real swag about her. The judges give her three yesses (Keith is off accompanying Nicole Kidman, his wife, to an awards show).
JA’BRIA BARBER is going to Hollywood
-We then go into our next audition, a strange fellow who came from a high school with no wrestling team, which led to him and his friends breaking chairs over each other’s heads. He does do a mean Ryan Seacrest impression though.
BRAD HARRIS, 28, is up next!
-Brad tells the judges he used to rap under the name “Bakon”, with Nicki professing her enthusiastic love of bacon and all the things you can do with it, like Bubba talking about shrimp in Forrest Gump.
-He sings “A Whole New World”, and while it’s not the worst thing in the world, it’s not exactly good either. Nicki asks if he’s been practicing his breathing, and though Brad insists he has, it’s not enough to keep Randy from proclaiming “It wasn’t good.”
-No Hollywood for poor Brad Harris, although he at least had the benefit of sharing screentime with Mariah Carey’s daydreams of bacon (spliced in by the production team). Oh bacon. You truly are the balm that soothes the wounds of rejection.
-We meet the next contestant, a single mother who has a young daughter with her boyfriend, whom she loves. We learn that he was involved in a near-fatal car accident earlier in the year, which cost him a finger and broke both his hands. She hasn’t told him she’s come here to audition, as she doesn’t want him to worry.
SERETHA GUINN, 22, is up next!
-Seretha brings her daughter with her and explains that the girl idolizes Nicki and calls her “Dun-Dun” (“She gave YOU a nickname!” says Mariah). Nicki’s heart is understandably melted.
-Seretha then wins everything from now until the end of time by singing a jazzed up version of the theme song to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. The judges ask for another song, and she sings “How Do I Live”.
-After a worrisome moment of silence, Nicki simply says “Incredible.” Mariah says “I loved you, I loved you, I absolutely love you.” And Randy ranks it among the day’s best.
SERETHA GUINN is going to Hollywood!
-Nicki takes a picture with Seretha’s daughter as Ryan cuts in to let us know that the Charlotte auditions produced 37 Golden Ticket recipients. Nicki tells the camera that they found some top notch talent today, with Randy adding that they might have found some top 10, top 5 talent, or maybe even a winner.
-We finish up with a preview of auditions in Randy’s hometown, with Keith getting Nicki confused with Mariah and worrying he’ll have to say a Hail Mary or two. Working that Aussie charm.
-I’ll be back tomorrow for another live blog! Check back in this thread and at Rickey.org for videos of tonight’s auditions. See ya tomorrow!
Latest News on American Idol 12
All News on American Idol 12