After the debacle that became last season, American Idol returned to its senses for Season 13, and assembled a panel who focused on finding talent more than individual camera time, and tweaked things just enough to make it interesting. Besides the thousands of yearning talents, the show has a whole new troupe of executive producers, and the premiere went from Bean Town to the most music-centered Texas City in search of those who could truly bring it. The fun and fan-friendly festivities already feature a few who could last until the final week!
Harry Connick, Jr. declared that he just aimed to be “honest” in his assessment of talent as the rookie judge, but very familiar past mentor to the show. He wasn’t so familiar to some of the waiting hopefuls, who frantically Googled him, just to be sure of his name! Many were there just to meet Jennifer Lopez on her re-ascension to the center chair again. Keith Urban and Harry even had entire conversations while the J-Lo admiration advanced, but with the opening entrance of Marrialle Sellers, Contestant 45201, from The Chamber, it was clear this was serious business for big dreams. Troy Durden started out with an invitation to Jennifer Lopez to twerk with him, but he got down to business with “Somewhere over the Rainbow” and got three yeses! Sam Woolf is only 17, but he has lived a lot in those few years, living between parents before settling with grandpa, “Papa Roy,” his cheerleader and agent. He summoned Ed Sheeran with “Lego House” and won gold, too. Keith Urban called his pitch “incredible,” and Jennifer said he was “like a flower.” Ethan Thompson was another mellow man with guitar. Lindsey Pedicone offered “Long Way Down,” and didn’t go down in flames. Jillian Jensen added soul to her guitar tones, and took the ticket.
Taylor Hildack had a thing for the word “freaking,” but Keith and Harry didn’t find the freaking fantastic in her vocals, so home she went. There were tears galore, and Jennifer teased Harry that he was “so good at it,” being mean, that is. Stephanie Harvey got three votes on another chance, melting into her family. Grace Potter was uber-popular with the ladies, but not so much with Harry Connick, Jr., who thought her words were a little racy for teens. No one else got so upset, calling Harry “such a Dad.” Morgan Deplitch was one of those going for “Ooo La La,” totally swept away with J-Lo, but “not you so much, Harry” as Keith quipped. The “save you smooth” phrase of the song sent Harry into censor mode, but Morgan got through to gold. The judges were so taken with Austin Percario, and his stage mom, that they invited her onstage, and she left a small puddle as her boy took his ticket, glad to be going to Hollywood “without my mom!” Kaitlyn Jackson sang the song she wrote for her departed grandfather, and the panel assured her that he heard her from heaven. Harry raved that she will be “so fun to watch” along her journey. Keith London did a unique rendition of Katy Perry’s “Roar,” but Harry didn’t rave for him. Sam Atherton was so sure of his talents that he didn’t bother to practice, and his original song, “Love Doesn’t Last Forever,” lasted way too long for the judges, as they said so long to Sam. Shannon Wilson looked every bit linebacker, but sang to the heights. Stephanie Petronelli opted to show off her abs in her cheerleading attire, and Harry noted that her singing wasn’t coming enough from her belly region of the diaphragm, but his co-panelists had no problem, as she took Grace Potter to the top, also.
The Austin auditions became a bit more testy for a few. Durann Cree was devastated not to be quite ready, while Isabel Gallegos went forward. The silver chamber was blessed by some contestants, and cursed by others, with the green light giving them their last “Go” to the panel. Savion Wright came to music as a solace for his life struggles with ADHD and school traumas, and the young man from Jasper was just glorious performing his original song, “Both Sides of Me,” describing how the moment encapsulated eight years of getting there, because he felt he was “not good enough yet.” He already has the soul of an artist. Expect to see him for a long time to come. Justin Faal had just the right something, as did Ferrica Carrey, supported by her two moms. A lovely country girl named Comey will have a chance, along with Madelyn Patterson, Savanna Young, Vivianna Villareal, and Ben Boone. Malcolm Allen called himself “Piano Man,” proclaiming “I am music,” with keys across his arm. He wowed the panel with his natural musicality on Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition,” and he’s likely staying around for some time. Harry Connick, Jr. promised his special fan, Munfarid Zaidi, Texas bred, but Pakistani born, that he would “hold your like a baby,” if he was pleased with the first song. Well, hold the young man and sensational singer he did! To top it off, when Harry asked what he would sing next as they cuddled, Munfarid rang out with, “When you hold me close…” for a duet that sent Keith and Jennifer over the moon, and him through to Hollywood, with 45 more!
American Idol airs Wednesday and Thursday on FOX.