It’s a new beginning for American Idol. Not only is the search for a brand new Idol on, but there are brand new judges helping founding judge Randy Jackson sort through the ripe batch of hopefuls. But it’s not like you didn’t know that. Months and months of endless hype finally led us to the season 12 premiere last night (January 16), and our first chance to see Keith Urban, Nicki Minaj, and Mariah Carey settle into their new roles.
Just as we suspected going into the big premiere, much of the first audition episode, which took place in New York, was centered around the new judges — more specifically, Nicki and Mariah. Not even 10 minutes into the show, we see Nicki and Mariah bickering about having accessories at the judges’ table. Nicki has her fashionable majorette hat; Mariah says if Nicki can have her hat, she should be allowed to bring one of her pampered pooches. Hiss, hiss, hiss! Listen, was it fun to watch Mariah become more and more annoyed with Nicki by the minute? Sure! Did it tickle us to see Nicki throw well-balanced shade MiMi’s way every chance she could? You bet your sweet ass! But this show is supposed to be about the contestants. Let’s hope this trend doesn’t continue all season long.
As judge-heavy as the first episode was, we did get to meet some promising, Hollywood-bound talent. Let us discuss some of them, shall we?
Teena Torres – 28: This certified Mariah stan wowed MiMi with old pictures from her days at Camp Mariah, and wowed the rest of the judges with her soulful vocals on “You’ve Got A Friend.” “We’re all just kind of sitting in awe,” Nicki said. Keith loved her “patience and pace.” Four yeses.
Christina “Isabelle” – 21: To quote Darling Nicki: “Oh. Em. Gee.” Christina, who shared that she is currently winning the battle against her lifelong weight issues, came in and slaaayed with a powerful and controlled rendition of “Summertime.” Nicki summed it up best: “I see you going really, really far in this competition because what you just did is a combination of amazing skill with beautiful tone… I’m blown away.”
Shira Gavrielov – 23: A former pop star in Israel, Shira moved to New York City for her chance at the American dream. Her enthusiasm and smoky voice will surely get her there. Nicki was positively in love with Shira’s look, sound, and attitude. “That’s what you want out of an American Idol,” Nicki said. “I just wanna say that I love you.” So did the other judges. Four yeses!
Frankie Ford – 24: Frankie found a career as one of those annoying guys who sing on the subway for money. With some advice from his fellow passengers, he decided to try out for Idol. We’re assuming he earned a nice chunk of change on the train, because dude is pretty good. He needs to get his nerves in order, but he’s good, nonetheless. Keith loved his big voice and musicality. “I hear a lot of who you are,” he said. “I believe in you, man,” Randy added. Hollywood!
Sarah Restuccio – 17: Sarah’s a Jersey girl with her heart set on being a country star. She surely picked a great country song by the wonderful Carrie Underwood to sing. The only problem: she was just OK singing it. Fast forward to the judges asking her to sing one more song. Sarah chose Nicki’s “Super Bass” and delivered a super badass rendition. Nicki loved every minute of it, but it kinda confused the other judges. “I’m not sure who you are yet,” said Keith. “Who do you wanna be?” asked Randy. After a passionate plea from Nicki, the judges were on board with Sarah and handed her four yeses.
Angela Miller – 18: Oh, Angela. We’re in love. Angela sings with a fire and soulfulness that belies her extensive hearing loss. “I haven’t felt that for the whole day…that thing that makes me feel something in my soul,” Nicki gushed. “A real tone with a real soul behind it,” Mariah added. “You’re definitely one of the best today,” Randy said. “That was really, really good.” And with the overwhelming praise, Angela got her ticket to Hollywood.
Gurpreet Singh Sarin – 22: Gurpreet, better known as the Turbanator, handled Maroon 5’s “Sunday Morning” with some bluesy care, and made the judges like his “light” voice, but they didn’t love it. Both Keith and Nicki felt his voice would get lost in the shuffle of the bigger voices in the competition, but Mariah was a fan and led the “yes” charge. Randy added his yes to the pile, but Keith said no. It was left to Nicki: “Turb, you’re going to Hollywood!”
Ashlee Feliciano – 20: Idol ended the first episode of season 12 on an emotional note with Ashlee. She spoke openly about her love for her two amazing parents, who foster and adopt children with various medical problems, while sacrificing all they have to make sure she can pursue her dreams. She surely made them proud with her audition. She knocked her rendition of “Put Your Records On” out of the park. “It was beautiful. You should be really proud of yourself,” Mariah told Ashlee. The other judges agreed. Ashlee and her big family are on their way to Hollywood!