Season Nine of American Idol opened with drama at the forefront. The departure of Paula Abdul, the entrance of Ellen DeGeneres and the announcement that this will be Simon Cowell’s last season, overshadowed the search for the next great talent.
So here we go with the first blog of the season.
AUDITION LOCATION: Boston, Mass.
GUEST JUDGE: Victoria Beckham: Posh added some spice and certainly didn’t play it safe. She even clashed with Simon Cowell.
■ Ashley Rodriguez, 21, Boston, Mass. The college student tackled the tough task of Alica Keys’ ‘If I Ain’t Got You” and pulled it off with a very appealing commercial look. “Some people have got it and you may have it,” Cowell said.
■ Katie Stevens, 16, Middlebury, Ct. The high school student gave me goosebumps with her voice and story about wanting to succeed for her grandmother, who suffers from Alzheimer's.
■ Amadeo Diricco, 28, Johnston, R.I. The bartender impressed with a big voice and even bigger personality. His golden ticket celebration resembled a Rocky Balboa victory over Apollo Creed. And like Rocky, Diricco will be a big underdog when it comes to showing range as he moves on in the competition.
■ Justin Williams, 27, Sandy, Utah: The cancer survivor, who works as a vocal coach, picked the perfect song (Michael Buble’s “Feeling Good”) to match his life story. He also had a Buble-type voice to match. “I am going to remember you,” DioGuardi said. Williams is also a contender.
■ Sixteen-year-old Maddy Curtis from Bluemont, Va. had a heartwarming story about her relationship with her four little brothers who suffer from Down Syndrome. She had a sweet personality and voice to match, singing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”
“A bit of soul in there, Maddy,” Cowell said. “For 16, you are not annoying.”
■ Tyler Grady, 19, Nazareth, Pa.: Even with two broken arms, the college student impressed Beckham and DioGuardi with his 70’s look and soulful sound.
OTHERS GOING TO HOLLYWOOD:
■ Luke Shaffer, 24, New York, N.Y. (waiter)
■ Benjamin Bright, 25, Rome N.Y. (elementary music teacher)
■ Jennifer Hirsch, 22 Manhattan, N.Y. (receptionist)
■ Claire Fuller, 22 Philadelphia. (college student)
■ Jess Wolfe, 24 Brooklyn, N.Y. (booking agent)
■ Joshua Blaylock, 28, New York, N.Y. (business development agent)
■ Mike Davis, 18 Boston, Mass. (Actor on Codzilla entertainment tour boat)
■ Bosa Mora, 22, Columbus, Ohio (college student)
■ Leah Laurenti, 22, Medford, N.Y. (unemployed)
TRAIN WRECKS AND FREAK SHOWS:
■ Andrew Fenlon, 25, Boston. He sounded angry and on the edge about waiting three hours to audition. He listed his occupation as an unemployed musician. With his attitude, he’ll keep that title.
■ Janet McNamara, 26, Sommerville Mass: What the accountant's rendition of “Pocket full of Sunshine” had in energy, it lacked in talent.
■ Lisa Olivero, 24, Billerica, Mass.: The waitress should stick to belting out the orders.
■ Pat Ford, 17, Derry, New Hampshire: Singing Brittany Spears’ “Womanizer” could only be labeled as over-the-top.
■ Derek Hilton, 19, Bellingham, Mass.: The landscaper thought he sounds like Chris Brown and The Eagles. Simon Cowell said he didn’t sound like Brown or The Eagles. “Maybe an eagle,” Cowell said of the Hilton who sounded more like a screeching injured bird.
■ Mere Doyle, 24 Walpole Mass.: The self-proclaimed anime freak scared the judges with her rendition of a Janis Joplin standard.
■ Bill Bloom, 26, Marlboro, Mass.: It’s hard to believe he is a music teacher.
■ Michael Ryan, 18, Braintree, Mass.: The college student should concentrate on his studies.
■ Norberto Guerrero, 18, Reading, Pa.: He sings and looks like he should be in the next ‘Twilight’ movie.
MOST MEMORABLE JUDGE COMMENT
“You sing like a 3-year-old girl, dressed like LaToya Jackson; you got a beard; the whole thing is too weird,” said Simon Cowell about 18-year-old Norberto Guerrero’s audition.