'American Idol' Recap: Episode 1

By Daniela Duron,

American Idol debuted its 12th season last night, and the episode was nothing short of crazy. Between the judges’ arguing and some awful auditions, the first episode shows this season will be something to watch.

The show starts with its latest winner, Phillip Phillips, singing his hit song “Home” on stage, which then transitions into his music video for the song. A montage is then shown of how the song has turned into an anthem for the country, and Ryan Seacrest says how the fans “turned a pawn shop worker into a star.”

Ryan then says how “history has shown that an Idol can do anything”, adding how the stars the show has produced have sold over 200 million records and 371 #1 hits. The show has had major success in the past, and although the legacy will continue, a new era begins. They then introduce new judges Keith Urban, Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj, along with veteran judge Randy Jackson.

The first auditions for the show take place in New York, where thousands of hopefuls have shown up for the chance to be the next American Idol. After the crowds eagerly await the arrival of the judges, the judges take their place in the audition room to face their first contestant and kick off the auditions.

The second the judges take their seats, bickering ensues between Mariah and Nicki. The first contestant wastes no time, however, and starts singing as soon as he walks in the room. After he gets the judge’s attention, they say no, despite his enthusiasm and ability to sing different genres.

Despite their arguing, the judges are still able to agree on the contestants. The audition of Tenna Torres follows, who is a 28-year-old from Queens. Torres, who attended Camp Mariah, had previously sang for Mariah when she was 13. The judges love her singing and give her a ticket to Hollywood, with Keith saying she was “refreshing between everything going on [between Mariah and Nicki]”.

After sending three more contestants through to Hollywood, the judges next meet James Bay, a 15 year-old from Long Island who aspires to be like Justin Bieber. Bay admits it would be a “miracle” if they say yes to him, but is still confident during his audition, where he sings “One Less Lonely Girl” by Bieber. Nicki tells him how special he is for not being afraid, but all four judges say no, so his dream will have to wait.

We next see Christina Isabelle’s audition, who reveals she has struggled with her weight all her life, but has lost 50 lbs since entering college. The judges love her voice and send her to Hollywood, telling her she should feel proud of herself and that they see her going really far in the competition.

The show then introduces 21-year-old Evan Ruggiero, who has been dancing since he was 5 years old. He was cast in a musical and his dream was to be in Broadway, but was diagnosed with cancer when he was 19. He explains that although he went through 16 months of chemotherapy and multiple surgeries, his doctors had to amputate his leg to save his life. He sings Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours” and Bon Jovi’s “Dead or Alive” for the judges, but his vocals fall short of the judge’s expectations. The judges agree with Keith’s statement that his voice is nice, but he doesn’t have the star factor for the competition. Although he’s disappointed, Evan says he hopes he touched someone who watched his story.

The show then introduces Jessica Kartalis, who was nominated by her mom as part of the show’s option that lets friends and family nominate people who were too shy to audition. Randy then goes to one of Jessica’s shows in her hometown and surprises her with a number to audition. Kartalis disappoints during her audition, however, as she messes up twice. The judges say no to her, but encourage her to audition again next year.

Shira Gavrielov auditions next, who is from Israel and has an album and a number one hit there. She sings “Valerie” by Amy Winehouse, and the judges are impressed and quickly say yes.

The evening’s last contestant is 24-year-old Frankie Ford, who shares he is adopted and calls himself a “starving artist” because he spends his days singing on trains. Frankie starts singing to the judges and is visibly nervous, having to stop to regain his composure. However, he’s then able to start over and sings much better, impressing the judges. Mariah says he has an inner-glow, something you can’t manufacture, and Nicki adds although she doesn’t think he has the best voice, he has a story to tell. All four judges say yes, ending night one in New York.

Day two in New York starts with the audition of 17-year-old Benjamin Gaisey, who is wearing a bright red leather Halloween costume and a wig. We then find out his singing and dancing matches his outfit, leaving the judges puzzled but they still have fun with it. Keith hides under the table, saying his dancing can’t be safe, and the judges say no to him.

After 21-year-old Rozanna Shindelman auditions, the judges say it was bad and don’t give her a golden ticket. This kicks off a montage of bad auditions, and the new judges tell Randy it’s tough to say no and that he has an easier time because he’s done it for so long.

Sarah Restuccio breaks the string of bad auditions, impressing the judges with not only her singing skills but also her personality. The 17-year-old blueberry farm worker from New Jersey first sings “Mama’s Song” by Carrie Underwood, which makes the judges believe she’s a country singer. She then proceeds to rap Nicki’s song “Superbass”, leaving the judges impressed by her, and they give her a golden ticket.

Albert Chang and Brett Holt then provide humor with their bad auditions. Albert doesn’t know who the judges are, while Brett claims to be an expert about the show, adding he has auditioned seven times. Although Nicki jokes that Albert’s range is “better than Mariah’s,” both contestants are turned down.

Angela Miller then auditions with “Mama Knows Best” by Jessie J. Angela says she has hearing problems, but it doesn’t stop her from having great vocals. Nicki says she hasn’t felt that way the whole day, and Mariah adds she has great tone, something she says the music industry needs more of.

Gupreet Singh Sareen is next, who reveals his nickname is the Turbanator. He sings “Sunday Morning” by Maroon 5, and although the judges are not completely impressed and Keith says no, the rest say yes, sending him to Hollywood.

The show ends with the heartwarming story of 20-year-old Ashlee Feliciano, who says her family fosters and adopts medically complex children. She sings “Put Your Records On” by Corrine Bailee Rae, impressing the judges, especially Maria, who says that “she doesn’t know what she’s just done.” Randy then asks her to bring her whole family inside the audition room, and proceeds to tell her parents that they are truly good people, adding that they should be proud of her.

After auditions wrap up, Nicki comments on how the judges “gel well, in a weird, crazy, way.” With that, auditions in New York are over, where 41 contestants made it through to Hollywood. Tonight, the show goes to Chicago, where it’s sure to be another crazy day of auditions.

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