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American Idol Season 13 Premiere: 1/15/14

January 16th, 2014 · No Comments

Season 13 of American Idol opens with an audition:  Mario Sellars, a Black woman with a guitar(BWWG?), is singing Bruno Mars’ “Grenade” for the new trio of judges.  She does have a very nice voice, and the judges all say, “Yes.”

The series begins with the question, “Will she be the next American Idol?”

The long-running singing contest is back with some format changes (contestants may accompany themselves during the auditions, for example) and a new mix of judges:  J-Lo is back after being gone for a season, Keith Urban is back for a second season, and new guy Harry Connick, Jr. has been apparently recruited to fill the “tough judge” role.   He’s also been hyped as giving Keith Urban some “bromance” to rival those two judges on The Voice.

First part of the premiere features Boston auditions.  A Black man, Troy Durden, twerks his way through a shrill “Over the Rainbow” but the judges say, “Yes,” anyway.  This is the scene that provided the “It’s a long shot but it just might twerk!” sound byte in the commercials.

Sam Woolf, a 17-year-old WGWG, sings “Lego House,” and he strikes me as having not much tone–but the judges rave about his incredible tone and unanimously vote him through.  There follows a collage of three contestants getting a “yes.”  One’s another WGWG, Ethan Thompson, and another’s a White Girl With Guitar, Jillian Jensen.

So far the best audition is the one that opened the show.   We don’t always catch the last names, but there’ll be time to learn about the people who stay in the competition.  Stephanie Harvey, a New Jersey teen, leaves me cold but the judges say “yes.”  Another teen, Morgan, sounds loud and has no range but the judges love her.  I doubt either one makes it through Hollywood week.

A teen named Austin from Boston sings “Richochet.”  Urban observes he may sound like Justin Bieber in the morning–a clear pop voice but with a raspy edge.  He’s put through.

Katlyn Jackson sings a sentimental country song she wrote and it’s exactly the right match for her voice.  She’s  through.

A teen guitarist, Keith London, sings Katy Perry’s “Roar,” but not very impressively.  He squeaks through with two “yes” votes.

Here’ another format change for this season.  Fans are shown a clip of an audition and asked to instantly vote “yes” or “no.”  I thought the woman screeched rather than sang, but the judges all said “yes” and a slim majority agreed with them.

For the final two successful Boston auditions that are featured, one’s a Black football player who the judges must be hoping channels some of Ruben Studdard’s vibe.  He’s not as good as Studdard but he’s through to Hollywood.  Stephanie, who auditions in her cheerleader uniform, has a voice that’s pleasant enough for Urban and Lopez, although Connick finds her so-so.  He gets to joke about how he turned down a cheerleader–and her whole squad who’s come along with her.

Second part of the show shifts to Austin.  First there’s a collage of bad auditions, then a collage of gold ticket recipients.  First featured audition is a young Black GWG–Savien Wright who wears glasses and dreadlocks.  He shows the most impressive vocal since the opening, and gets rewarded with a gold ticket.

After more “yes” soundbytes, including for a loud screechy woman named Madelyn, a Black contestant named Malcom sings a Stevie Wonder song in a Stevie Wonder voice.  Urban thinks he’s the best singing of the day, and he gets a gold ticket.

The finale is saved for a guy born in Pakistan, who shows a strange personality and even stranger voice–honestly, he made me think of  Will Hung.  But he so impresses the judges that Connick picks him up and carries him around.  Then for a finale, the bromance gets some screen time as Connick picks up Urban and carries him, too–something about celebrating record sales.

Ryan Seacrest’s out voiceover tells us that 25 contestants were chosen in Boston and 21 on the first day of Austin auditions.  (That means we saw roughly half of the successful auditions.)  The Thursday night show will feature Day 2 of the Austin auditions.


Tags: American Idol