Sunday, March 18, 2018

American Idol is Back! Auditions, Kisses and Golden Tickets

Welcome to American Idol! After a two-year absence, the competitive singing reality show returns on a new network, ABC, with new judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan. I’ve been a fan of American Idol since season one and I’m ready!

The show opens with a heartwarming introduction by Carrie Underwood, who won the fourth season of the original show, about dreams and aspirations. It will be interesting to see if American Idol can regain the stature it once had in its early years. With NBC’s The Voice reigning supreme right now, the idea of bringing back Idol was risky, but it might pay off if it can lose just a bit of the cheesiness and focus on the competition at hand.

On this Sunday night’s two-hour debut, it’s time to get to what we are here for – the open auditions. They are in New York City and 17-year-old Catie Turner of Langhorne, Pennsylvania starts the show off with a bubbly personality. However, on this show, you just never know if a good personality will translate into a good audition. She auditions with her own song, 21st Century Machine, and it’s a really great song. This quirky, funny girl is off to a great start and Katy Perry adores her. All of the judges love her voice so they vote her through and she has an entire clan waiting for her!

Next up is a man who escaped from the Congo with his family when he was only 10 years old. Ron Bultongez, 21, from Plano Texas — Oh my, his baby is precious – Lisa, wait, you’re watching to see if he can sing. Back to the audition. Ron sings “Let it Go,” by James Bay. He needs to work on his enunciation a bit, but he sounds pretty good. Luke, you need to remember that his story doesn’t make him a good singer either. Katie says she doesn’t know who he is as a singer and that he’s doing more of an impression. The judges seem uncertain. Luke says yes, while Katy says no, so it’s up to Lionel Richie, who says … no, but tells him to come back with an identity.

Wow, after saying no and after the commercial, they bring Ron back! Lionel changes his vote and sends him to Hollywood!

Maddie Poppe, 19, Clarksville, Iowa sings with “The Rainbow Connection,” and she has a great voice. She gets through to Hollywood.

Koby is 26 years old from Denver, Colorado, and is a theater performer. She auditions with “Never Stops,” an original song. She starts belting it out and it’s a bit too theatrical, screamy, over-the-top. She seems to be screaming more than singing. She’s a little too much and Katy tells her she’s not a pop star. Lionel and Luke say no. Thank goodness. The woman embarrasses herself all the way out the door. Way to be a professional.

Trying for redemption from performing what was dubbed “the worst national anthem ever,’ when she was 11 years old, Harper Grace from Mckinney, Texas, is up next, singing an original country music song. She is definitely better than her 11-year-old self and her song “Yard Song,” is well-written. She sings “Young, Dumb, and Broke,” as well and it sounds great as a country vibe. Hollywood, here she comes.

Another country girl, 16-year-old Laila Spring from Kentucky heads to the audition with her little sister Dyxie. Once we get to Laila’s actual audition, she sings “Who’s Loving You.”  I love how Lionel imparts wisdom on her to make sure that she’s going into the fire and can handle it. I like Lionel as a judge so far. She gets a ticket to Hollywood.

Benjamin Glaze is 19-years old and is a cashier ready to audition with guitar in hand. Adorably, Katie gives Benjamin a kiss, knocking him off his feet. Then, of course, he has to sing now. Unfortunately, Luke tells him to hone his craft a bit. Katie tells him he’s being outsung right now. It’s a no.

I have no idea what’s happening but Nico Bones, who admits he’s hungover is ready to audition with “Worms.” Well, that was interesting and he finishes his audition with a burp! Do you really need to know whether he got through?

He is followed by the down-to-earth Noah Davis from Royal, Arkansas and he’s 18 years old. He sings Stay by Rhianna on the piano. This kid can sing. Luke Bryan hugs him. Such a nice kid.

Alyssa Raghu is only 15 years old and just wants to make her dad proud in her audition singing “Almost is Never Enough.” Her voice is fantastic. Everyone claps and Alyssa starts to cry and Katy says she’s Top 10 material. Of course, she gets a ticket.

The next Idol hopeful is 26-year-old Sardor Milano, who won a Russian singing competition years ago. What competition did he win? That opening note was horrible and of course, the speechless judges did not put him through.

Zachary D’Onofrio, 16 years old from Wesley Chapel, Florida, doesn’t have too much experience singing and has never auditioned before, so why not start with American Idol? He’s been made fun of for his high-pitched voice. He is auditioning with “The Way You Look Tonight,” by Frank Sinatra. Wait, what?! His voice completely changed to a lower register.

Of course, Luke Bryan is excited about this kid right off the bat, who doesn’t miss a beat even when Katy Perry comes out to dance with him. I like this kid. I don’t think he’ll win this competition, but wow. He gets a golden ticket.

The last contestant is Dennis Lorenzo from West Philly who earns the final golden ticket of the day.

About Lisa Iannucci

Lisa Iannucci has been interviewing professional athletes and Olympians, sports writers and film/tv personalities for more than a decade. Her book, A Film & TV Lover's Travel Guide is now available:

About Lisa Iannucci

Lisa Iannucci has been interviewing professional athletes and Olympians, sports writers and film/tv personalities for more than a decade. Her book, A Film & TV Lover's Travel Guide is now available:

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