idol-1

Last night, the first episode of American Idol Season 12 premiered on Fox.

The first set of auditions took place in the Big Apple, of course! Host Ryan Seacrest was there, as were the four judges: Producer Randy Jackson, Country singer Keith Urban, music legend Mariah Carey, and hip-hop star Nicki Minaj. They started bickering right away, and almost missed the first contestant: Michael Bouonopane, 27, from Massachusetts. He came in stomping and clapping and singing to the tune of “We Will Rock You,” but added his own words about the judges. He was quite a character, and the judges enjoyed laughing with him, but they quickly passed on him.

Mariah’s biggest fan was in attendance: Tenna Torres 28, from Queens, NY. She actually seemed pretty sane, despite that she attended “Camp Mariah” (whatever that is). She sang Carole King’s “You’ve Got a Friend,” and Mariah started tearing up. Mariah said, “If we could have someone like this come out of Idol 12, I’d be so happy.” Keith added, “You have so much patience and grace.” Nicki and Randy agreed to send her through, as well.

Then we had a Justin Bieber wannabe named James Bae 15, from Long Island, NY. He, of course, sang his idol’s song, “One Less Lonely Girl.” Basically, it was just talking. Mariah suggested he try being a DJ, and Randy bluntly said, “The vocals: No. Don’t sing, it’s not your thing.” He got no’s across the board. He looked so sad that Nicki gave him a hug, comforted him and told him he was special.

Our first motivational story was Christina “Isabelle”, 21, from Georgia, who struggled with her weight in high school. She sang an incredible version of “Summertime,” and the judges were blown away. Nicki said, “What you just did was a combination of amazing skill with beautiful tone. I’m blown away.” Keith said, “I think you’re a natural singer. I loved the vulnerability in your voice.” Christina teared up and said she wanted to bring back the kind of music that Mariah used to make. There was no question that she was going on.

Evan , 21, from NJ, had Broadway dreams, but when he was 19, he was diagnosed with bone cancer, resulting in the loss of one of his legs. He sang Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours,” and then added in the guitar for Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive.” Randy said, “I like your voice, but I don’t know if the star factor is there.” Nicki said, “I don’t think overall it was strong enough to go to Hollywood.” It was a general consensus among the judges that he was a good singer, but not a good fit for the show.

For a bit of a change up, Idol sent a judge to go hear a contestant who wouldn’t choose to enter herself. Jessica Kartalis, 19, of Staten Island, NY, was performing at an open mike, and Randy showed up at her mom’s request, and gave her a number to go sing for all the judges. She sang an original song and played the guitar, which she made a few mistakes on. Nicki said she didn’t think she was ready, and even refused to hear her sing another sing when she asked. Mariah sympathized with her having trouble with the guitar, but she and Randy both said she should try next year. Keith said, “I love that you play the guitar and write and sing. There’s a purity in what you do, I really like that. It’s so close to a yes.” Everyone said no, but told her not to give up.

Shira Gavrielov, 23, from Israel, had a number one hit in her home country, and moved to America to pursue her career further. She sang “Valerie,” and Nicki said, “Superstar! You gave it to me. You just excited me, and that’s what I wanna feel when you come in this room.” She and Randy agreed that she had the whole package, and they voted unanimously to send her to Hollywood.

The last contestant of day one was Frankie Ford, 24, from Brooklyn, NY, who sings on the subway to make a living. He sang “Sweet Dreams,” but got nervous and choked up from the get-go. He pulled through it, and Keith said, “I like your big voice. A lot of musicality, and tone, and dynamics. I hear a lot of who you are.” Randy added, “I like this kid. I believe in you.” Frankie promised them he would put in 110$. Mariah said, “I think you have an inner glow. You can’t manufacture that.” Nicki said, “I don’t think you have the best voice, but you have something that people will want to see.” He was sent on to the next round. (I have to add here that the producers ruined a perfectly good, happy moment by playing on Frankie’s name and putting “Relax” by Frankie Goes to Hollywood as the track to play him off.)

New York, day two. First off was Benjamin Gazey, 21, from Pennsylvania. He showed up in a Michael Jackson costume (and wig), and a lot of confidence. He sang two love songs to Nicki and Mariah, but he changed the lyrics up a bit, and the judges spent the whole time laughing. Randy said that the wig was throwing him off, but clearly that wasn’t the case. Mariah said, “It’s a little over the top.” Keith said, “This isn’t the right avenue for you,” and Nicki seconded that. Randy was straightforward: “The voice was terrible.”

Rozanna Shindelman, 21, from Staten Island came in and tried to blow the judges away with her powerful voice. She sang Amy Winehouse’s “To Know Him Is To Love Him,” but Randy said, “It was bad for me.” The rest of the judges agreed, and she begged to sing another song. It was a no across the board, though.

Sarah Restuccio, 17, from New Jersey is a country girl who enjoys four-wheeling, riding horses, and working on a blueberry farm. She sang “Mama’s Song” by Carrie Underwood. Nicki said, “I like it. You have a beautiful tone. I feel like you could be the next country star.” Mariah said, “I agree. I see a complete package.” But Randy said, “I wanna hear one more song,” so Sarah surprised them all with Nicki’s own “Super Bass.” The other judges were having trouble figuring out who she was, but Nicki kept pushing for her. She must have convinced them, because they all said yes,

Albert Chang, 25, from Queens, sang the theme from Phantom of the Opera, and… yeah, that song can really only go one of two ways. He tried to pull off a high note that sounded like the screech of an owl. Nicki jokingly said his range was better than Mariah’s, but Randy set everyone straight, and they all said no.

Angela Miller, 18, from Massachusetts, has had hearing issues her whole life, but you wouldn’t know it from the way she sang “Mamma Knows Best,” by Jessie J. Nicki said, “I haven’t felt that the whole day. That thing that makes me feel something in my soul.” Mariah said, “You have real tone with a real soul behind it.” Randy said, “I think you were one of the best of the day.” They all gave her a yes, and Keith called it “easy.”

According to Ryan, “one of the best voices we’ve ever had” belongs to Brett Holt, 28, from Pennsylvania, who also happens to be a huge fan of Idol, and he’s auditioned many times before. He sang Nat King Cole’s “When I Fall in Love.” Apparently, it wasn’t actually one of the best voices, because the judges said they “weren’t feeling it.”

Gurpeet Singh Sarin, 22, from Maryland, sang Maroon Five’s “Sunday Morning,” and Randy commented on his use of riffing. Nicki said, “I love your look, I think you have a pretty voice, but I don’t think it’s a stand out voice.” Keith said, “I think it’s a little too light this time around.” Mariah and Randy gave him yeses though, Keith held strong with his no, so it all came down to Nicki: And she sent him through.

Ashley Feliciano’s family has adopted a whole bunch of foster children who have special issues, so that’s her hook. Ashley herself is 20, from Connecticut, and she chose to sing Corinne Bailey Rae’s “Put Your Record’s On.” Nicki said, “So pretty, I don’t think you understand what you just did. I’m so inspired by you.” Mariah said, “Everything was nice and clear. The potential is great.” Keith complimented her “low register,” and then Randy invited her whole family into the room to hear her get her ticket to Hollywood.

Auditions continue tonight at 8 EST/PST on Fox, so be sure to tune in!