Recap: ‘American Idol’ Auditions – New York City

01.15.15 3 years ago

FOX

Welcome back for another night of “American Idol” auditions.

We wrapped up Kansas City last night.

And on Thursday (January 15)? We're off to New York City.

Click through and follow along…

8:00 p.m. Little known fact: Jenny used to live on Da Block. She's wandering in her old neighborhood, by her old house, where the current resident has no clue who she is. She insists she lived there for a long time. 

8:01 p.m. Adam Lambert is replacing Keith Urban for this set of auditions. He's the first contestant to sit on the judging panel and both Harry Connick Jr. and J-Lo are “excited” that he'll be joining them. J-Lo wants New York to represent.

8:02 p.m. “Hi, new friends!” Adam Lambert, wearing a blue suit, gushes, as Harry narrates his credentials and experience in case we weren't sure. Unafraid of being a walking, tough-talking stereotype is Sal Valentinetti, accompanied by “New York, New York” on the soundtrack. Sal's thinking of this as a job interview, so he's wearing a suit and singing Sinatra. Harry's bantering with Sal, which costs him $100, because Sal knew the real title of “Fly Me To The Moon.” Sal would be super as the host and entertainment at a red-sauce Italian restaurant, but I couldn't make any judgment based on that so-so Sinatra impression. Harry doesn't think Sal's what the show is looking for. Adam thinks a lot of people would vote for him. J-Lo agrees and Sal's going to a corny corner of Hollywood. I think the chances of America getting for vote for Sal are basically zero, but I guess if somebody's gotta start the New York auditions, it might as well be Sal. Wait. Sal's only 19? That's ridiculous.

8:14 p.m. Another montage of family accompaniment. Last night, this same montage led us to the girl with the deaf parents. That was sad. Tonight? Jay Nunn's family is his stuffed bear Mr. Crispy. Jay has asthma and the bear was given to him to calm him when he was first in the hospital. Mr. Crispy gets a place on the judging panel and ends up mauling J-Lo. Oh. It's J. None. I wouldn't have guessed that, I suppose. I like J's New Jack Swing voice. He does a very fine Bobby Brown on “My Prerogative.” Mr. Crispy liked J and also likes Adam Lambert. He replies, “I'm really not into bears.” See, kids, a “bear” is… Oh, never mind. When did Adam Lambert start wearing a brown suit? That's a problem with out-of-order auditions when you have a flashy dresser like Adam Lambert.

8:18 p.m. Self-described “walking disco-ball” Jax is 18, but she's an old 18. Her father was a firefighter who was a first-responder in 9/11. She describes her singing as therapy for him. Jax has a tough Jersey Girl exterior, but her piano-driven cover of “I Wanna Hold Your Hand,” has an unexpected and pleasant mixture of hard and soft. Jax voted for Adam Lambert. Harry says they haven't heard anybody who sounds remotely like her. “It's funny. You're like shy and confident at the same time,” J-Lo says. EXACTLY. Adam is back to his blue suit and he says her energy is warm and grounded. Jax is going to Hollywood. Jax's brother gives Ryan a lift. I think Jax could, under the right circumstances, be Jena Irene-esque. 

8:30 p.m. Buskers! Johnny Arco is a singing violinist. He was arrested in the subway for giving lip to a cop. He got 20 days. There's something he's not telling us. His violin cam from David Brewer and it's from 1719 and it's apparently worth half-a-million dollars. I'm not sure why he's playing it guitar-style, or why he's playing Radiohead, but whatever he's doing is very interesting and a little scary, especially his nervous laugh. Harry calls him intense and talented and says that “American Idol” isn't right for him. They compliment Johnny and send him packing. More details on Johnny's arrest are here. Don't worry too much about Johnny. He's got a pretty solid social media presence and whatnot.

8:34 p.m. Busker No.2. The Glamorous Subway Performer, Najah Lewis makes pretty good money with her busking. Her family is musical. Najah's voice is clearly very good, but she's got a lot of affectations that don't read especially authentic to me. Harry was captivated even though Najad didn't move. Adam felt like Najah was inventive and unique. Najah is going to Hollywood.

8:42 p.m. Did you know that this is Jenny's home? Or was? She visits a Boys & Girls Club. 

8:43 p.m. Everybody auditioning wants a little J-Lo, especially the guys who know that J-Lo either likes younger men or has been in movies in which she likes younger men. Tion Phipps has nice curly hair and a strained high voice that J-Lo calls “pretty. James Killian Dunn has an even higher voice, if you like falsetto cheesiness. J-Lo likes both of them. They're both going to Hollywood, though Adam Lambert voted “No” on James Killian. Can we cut from this segment to the upcoming J-Lo stalker movie? 

8:46 p.m. Maybe we won't get a commercial for “The Boy Next Door,” because rather from cutting from Sexual Predator J-Lo to ads, we're actually going to the audition for Shi Scott, who may share Tion's hair. Shi's real name is Shayna and Shi's stressed out. I think Shi's got a super voice, but I don't especially love the Amy Winehouse impression she's doing with it. “It really sounded like an Amy Winehouse impression to me,” Harry says. J-Lo wants Shi to tap into things emotional. Adam isn't sure if Shi's ready. I wish they'd ask her to sing something cold.

8:53 p.m. We're back with Shi in limbo. Adam votes “No” and J-Lo votes “Yes.”  Harry votes “Yes.” I'm not sure why Harry voted yes. But good for Shi, I guess. “I didn't know you were gonna be here,” Shi cries when she sees Ryan. “I've been here for 14 seasons,” Ryan agrees.

8:54 p.m. Whether his suit or brown or blue, Adam is a tough judge. He can definitely come back. I'm less sure about Eric Lopez, who's determined to sing Queen in front of Adam. “You don't look typical Puerto Rican,” J-Lo tells him. Oh. Eric has bits and pieces of decent singing joined together by shouting and stamping. Adam liked some of the notes he sang, but calls him disjointed. Harry generously votes “Yes.” J-Lo doesn't think Eric fits in the competition. Adam identifies with Eric, but isn't sure he's ready. Eric pleads his case to Adam and breaks him down and gets his “Yes.” Harry praises Eric for his hustle and mocks Adam for falling into that trap.

Let's head to Page 2 for the second hour of this never-ending episode…

9:04 p.m. Time for a Blonde Ambition Trio. Sporting golden locks and collective high heels, who will stand out? Maddie Walker auditioned last years. She's a 30-something 16-year-old with a good country voice. Courtney Zahn is less interesting because she's poppy as a singer, but bland as a performer. Jackie Nese, in contrast to Maddie, actually seems like she's 17. Jackie has a big voice, but needs much much much more training. She sings a nuance-free version of “Born That Way, but she gets a ticket to Hollywood. Courtney and Maddie are also advancing. The cockroach scurrying across the floor also gets a golden ticket to the edge of the floor, where Harry steps on it. Somebody alert PETA! Controversy! [From that group, Maddie's the only one I can imagine seeing again.]

9:09 p.m. Sporting tremendous dreads, a cool hat and a talented pedigree — his dad was in “Stomp!” and his mother was Miss Mississippi — is Qaasim Middleton. I love his mother's ultra-eagerness to tell the world that her son is a virgin. Qaasim has great presence and a likable personality. His actual Stevie Wonder performance is 10 or 20 different, vaguely connected things, but some of those things are singing and dancing. “It was a little bit of everything,” Harry says. Adam can't wait to see what he does when he has arrangements and choreography. Qaasim is, of course, going to Hollywood.

9:18 p.m. It's painful to listen to Bridgette Guerrette. Adam tells her that she isn't wrapping her musicality around the right style. What the heck does that mean? She's not going to Hollywood. In a staged lull, Harry asks Adam to audition for them. We get a flashback to Adam's Season 8 audition, intercut with modern 32-year-old Adam. He's singing “Bohemian Rhapsody” in both auditions. The best part is seeing and hearing how much Adam has improved in every imaginable way. He's going to Hollywood. “That was so fun,” Harry says. 

9:21 p.m. Trying to become the next Adam Lambert is toy-designer Adam Ezegelian. I feel like he may actually be the next Josh Gad or Dan Fogler or Jack Black. He's funny, husky and he's a decent artist. But can he sing? “This personality has become too big for my regular life,” he says. Before his audition, he offers caricatures for each other them. The first audition is definitely in the Jack Black vein. After Adam Lambert wants to hear something different after “Born to Be Wild,” Adam does a much better Jason Mraz cover. If nothing else, I think Adam could get a lead in a Broadway revival (or touring company) of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.”   He's going to Hollywood.  I like Adam, his geeky friends and that when he did his signature on the Wall of Fame, he basically drew himself as broccoli. 

9:32 p.m. I'm not sure what was with the in medias res intro to Katherine Winston, who's very good, even if “If I Didn't Know Better” is much better as a duet.

9:33 p.m. Sporting a big smile, a big chain and a cool hat is Travis Finlay. He had to give up his music school dreams to save his family money. I think he could have used a little fine-turning, but the raw materials of his voice and particularly his salesmanship are very much there. Harry thinks Travis is very handsome. J-Lo thinks Travis is a star, though she says that his vocal choices needed more refinement. Adam thinks the show is made for Travis. He's going to Hollywood. 

9:37 p.m. We've reached the commercial-every-five-minutes portion of the program.

9:42 p.m. Why are we wasting time on Benjamin Farmer? I though “Idol” was better than this now. It's a Freak Montage of the sort that I was sure we'd moved beyond. Nobody's in a funny costume, but we're mocking them none-the-less. Like why are we seeing the husky girl bending over other than humiliation? Blech.

9:44 p.m. Shades of Alex & Sierra? Yanni G. comes in with her boyfriend and does the sort of cover of “The Cup Song” that exists in 50000 versions on YouTube. J-Lo wants to hear Yanni do something bigger, but instead she lets her boyfriend Nick Fradiani come and steal the spotlight by being vastly more talented, in an “America's Next Top Busker” way. Maybe if he loses the silly hat I wouldn't be painting him with the “busking” brush. Harry liked watching Yanni watch Adam. In the end, Adam's going to Hollywood and Yanni's happy for him. I wanted to hear them sing together. Instead? Commercial! 

9:42 p.m. Why are we wasting time on Benjamin Farmer? I though “Idol” was better than this now. It's a Freak Montage of the sort that I was sure we'd moved beyond. Nobody's in a funny costume, but we're mocking them none-the-less. Like why are we seeing the husky girl bending over other than humiliation? Blech.

9:44 p.m. Shades of Alex & Sierra? Yanni G. comes in with her boyfriend and does the sort of cover of “The Cup Song” that exists in 50000 versions on YouTube. J-Lo wants to hear Yanni do something bigger, but instead she lets her boyfriend Nick Fradiani come and steal the spotlight by being vastly more talented, in an “America's Next Top Busker” way. Maybe if he loses the silly hat I wouldn't be painting him with the “busking” brush. Harry liked watching Yanni watch Adam. In the end, Adam's going to Hollywood and Yanni's happy for him. I wanted to hear them sing together. Instead? Commercial! 

9:52 p.m. So who gets the pimp slot? It's Hollywood Anderson, yet another busker. He works both the L Line and the J Line. He credits busking with giving him his confidence. He's doing an original called “My Best Friend” and his voice really is startling. It's high, pure and you can imagine hearing it on the radio tomorrow. “Goosies!” coos J-Lo. I don't know that Hollywood looks like a star, but that's a great voice. J-Lo wants to record the song tomorrow. Adam found it emotional. Harry calls it the best audition of the past two days and possibly of the last four seasons. Hollywood is, of course, going to Hollywood. And J-Lo is quivering with emotion. “I wish Keith was here,” J-Lo says, as she and Harry do their impression of Keith enjoying something. “That's why I'm glad that I accepted this job,” Harry says.

9:58 p.m. Everybody's pleased that J-Lo's hometown represented. Wait. She's from New York?

9:59 p.m. We're off to Minneapolis next week, though due to Sundance I'm not sure if I'm gonna be able to recap. We'll see!

Who'd you like tonight?

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