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City of Champions

In the City of Champions, Pittsburgh, for the first time, auditions continued for Season 11 of "American Idol."



1) Heejun Han, 22, Flushing, New York, sang "How Am I Supposed to Live Without You" by Michael Bolton. He seemed to have a lack of confidence, lamenting for example, how wide his face looked next to host Ryan Seacrest's. But clearly, he was just suffering from a complex, as he's a good-looking guy and was dressed simply but nicely in a silver button-down shirt and a black newsboy cap. He told the judges they looked like wax museum dolls to him, so unreal. His family, who were supporting him, had never heard him sing. Surprisingly, his voice was mellow and controlled. Randy admitted he was surprised and impressed. Jennifer praised his tone and control. Steven told him he could be an American Idol. Three yeses. Afterward, he held an extremely long note for the camera: "Hollywoooooooooooooooood, I'm coming."

2) Reed Grimm, 26, Ellsworth, Wisconsin sang the theme song to "Family Matters." Growing up on stage, he's been performing with his family since he was very little. He wore a baseball shirt with "Grimm Rayne" on it, paired with plaid Bermuda shorts. His scatting version of the song was surprising, in a good way. Randy and Jennifer gave him a "zillion percent yes," and Steven chimed in with "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" or some such. Three yeses.

Next, there were some brief snippets of two other yeses: Aaron Marcellus, 27, Teaneck NJ; and Chase Likens, 20, Point Pleasant, West Virginia.

3) Samantha Novacek, 19, Sutersville, Pennsylvania, sang "We Never Loved at All" by Faith Hill. She auditioned with her sister, Patricia Bell, a.k.a. Patty the Pittsburgh Planker. Perhaps predictably, Patty was just there to plank while her sister sang. Why? Probably just to get on TV. Samantha wore a black dress with white stripes, her naturally blonde hair hanging loose. Her singing was fairly good, but the planking was distracting. Jennifer found that there were "guts behind the voice." Steven called her singing "sweet" and "clever." Three yeses.

4) Creighton Fraker, 28, Queens, New York, sang an original song, as well as "Who's Loving You" by Smokey Robinson. A busker who performs with weird costume props such as bunny ears and bling-encrusted sunglasses, Creighton is waiting for his big break. For the auditions, he kept it simple, wearing a gray shirt with the sleeves ripped off and black bermuda shorts. He sang an original song about how he wants to be the next American Idol. His voice was often pinched, and it was very stylized. Jennifer said it was like Jamiroquai and Justin Timberlake had a baby. Steven thought it was beautiful but asked Creighton to sing something else. He launched into a bluesy version of a Smokey Robison song. It was kind of rough, but the judges were loving it. Randy said, "You have a weird, crazy voice, but I love it." Steven said that he has the "bleep" to come in and sing his own song, which he liked. For Randy, it was a million percent yes. Jennifer gave it two million percent and Steven, three gazillion percent yes.

5) Eben Franckewitz, 15, Milford, Ohio, sang "Ain't No Sunshine" by Bill Withers. The fresh-faced boy with the Justin Bieber haircut had shot a lot of home video on the way to the show (with multiple angles; hmm). He wore a simple blue T-shirt and tan cargo shorts. His voice was the first of the show so far that made me sit up. The judges agreed that he has a natural gift. Three yeses.

6) Travis Orlando, 17, Bronx, New York, sang "Isn’t She Lovely" by Stevie Wonder. A previous audition left him in tears when he was cut, but he'd been working on it. Jennifer said that it still wasn't quite there. Steven told him he has to show the passion. Randy asked for his story, and he admitted he'd dropped out of high school. After the show last year, his mom actually left his family, and they were evicted from their apartment. Perhaps because of his story, the judges put him through to Hollywood.

7) Erika Van Pelt, 25, South Kingstown, Rhode Island, sang "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" by Carol King. A mobile DJ and a wedding singer, Erika travels to various clubs. She defended her often-mocked profession of wedding singer, calling it an outlet for her to share her love of singing. She wore a mint-green and white checked shirt and had shoulder-length curly hair. Her voice was much more mature than many of the others who got put through so far, but she does a lot of embellishing. Randy loved her low alto and her phrasing. Steven called her "sexy" and "sure of yourself." Three yeses.

Another montage showed more golden ticket recipients, without showing them singing. Another montage showed Steven playing with a special effects toy.

8) Shane Bruce, 19, Moundsville, West Virginia, sang "Hallelujah" by Leonard Cohen. A coal miner who was shown at work underground, serenading his co-workers, Shane showed up in a working-man's blue shirt tucked into jeans, with a white belt. Much as he wanted to impress the judges, he failed in his goal, not doing as well as he'd hoped (though he was at least as good as some they've already put through). They sent him away.

9) Hallie Day, 24, Baltimore, Maryland, sang "I Will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor. She had a long back story, starting with her joining a girl group at 15 called Plum Crazy. In debt, she became an addict and couldn't pay rent. She moved back home, where her parents weren't there for her. Oh, no. She attempted suicide. After hitting bottom, she met the man who would become her husband, Ryan Day. He encouraged her to audition. An attractive blonde wearing an unflattering outfit of a jump suit with a red and black tank-top, she sang a version of "I Will Survive" that actually showed the pain she'd felt. Steven asked her to sing something else because he likes to watch her when she sings, but the other judges said there was no need. Randy says, "You know what's wrong with this girl, Steven?" He answered, "Absolutely nothing." Three yeses. Jennifer predicted, "She could win."

In all, 38 got golden tickets in Pittsburgh. Next stop: San Diego on Sunday after the big game.

Moral:
Good and nice are just the slightest bit boring.


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Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
theafaye
Jan. 20th, 2012 06:11 pm (UTC)
What's planking?

It looks like I'll be able to watch Idol here, assuming my husband lets me. It seems to be a lot less behind than it was in NZ (which was a week behind - I think we're maybe a day behind here). I kind of feel that I never need to watch it though because I always enjoy your recaps so much.
alycewilson
Jan. 20th, 2012 07:42 pm (UTC)
Glad you enjoy the recaps. You'll have to let me know what you think of "Idol" when you watch the entire show. It's got a very different feel so far this season. Last year, they were almost trying to show that nothing had really changed after Simon left, and they were still showing a lot of bad contestants and using the most critical and/or funny judges' comments.

Maybe this season they want to be sure to highlight some of the singers they know are going to be in the top 40. Or maybe there just weren't enough colorful characters and/or funny judges' comments from the first two cities.

It does strike me as a little disturbing that even Randy seems to be on board with the other two right now, so that almost every contestant they're showing is getting three yeses. I'm wondering if they're really that cohesive in their thoughts or if it's just the editing so far.
theafaye
Jan. 20th, 2012 07:46 pm (UTC)
It's on tonight. Whether I actually get to watch it is, of course, a completely separate matter.
alycewilson
Jan. 20th, 2012 07:43 pm (UTC)
Oh, and planking is an incredibly stupid trend that would never have existed except for Facebook and photo sharing sites. People take pictures of themselves lying face down with their hands at their sides in all sorts of strange places. The weirder the better. On top of things like trash cans and rails is a favorite. It's a young people thing. I don't get it. :)
theafaye
Jan. 20th, 2012 07:46 pm (UTC)
Oh the kids these days. They really know how to have fun!

Still, I suppose having a photo of yourself planking at Idol is pretty unique, so she'll get lots of kudos.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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