Wednesday, January 27, 2010

American Idol Season 9 - Dallas Auditions - Neil Patrick Harris Takes on Simon!

Welcome back America to the American Idol auditions, city # 6.  Good ol' Dallas, Texas where we met the 1st (and still one of the two best) American Idols, Kelly Clarkson!   The hour of TV was filled with more contestants heading to Hollywood than not but we still only saw 8 of 33 people that are on their way!   Of course, based on the Guest Judging talent in the house, I may have preferred more bad auditions!   How about that Neil Patrick Harris folks?  Is there anything this guy can't do?   Child prodigy doctor (Doogie Howser), the ultimate womanizing bachelor on How I Met Your Mother, AND an awesome awards show host.  Now?  It looks like he was born to be behind the American Idol judging table.   Can we take a vote here?   Next year, Shania Twain and NPH judge this thing alone!  While Katy Perry wouldn't take any of Kara's comments, Neil and Simon were at odds quite a few times.  It was quite a spectacle to watch.   Oh yes, and on day 2 there was Joe Jonas of The Jonas Brothers fame (blink and you would've missed him!  But I'm guessing most teenage girls didn't miss him!)

Anyway, enough of me ranting, let's get on to the contestants:  

Hollywood Bound

  • Lloyd Thomas - 29 from Dallas, Texas Loved this guy.  A large and in charge man who grew up in the projects looking for a better life for his 2 daughters.  (okay, all of these down and out stories are getting old right?)  But, this guy made up for his story with his awesome personality.  He was hysterical!  He sang Stevie's "Overjoyed" beautifully.  But when Simon said it was his favorite of the day, he responded with an overjoyed reaction "Get Out of Here Simon!  You better leave right now!" with a smile from ear to ear.  The judges loved him.  NPH gave him some good critiquing to show more of his personality in the singing because that's what people will like.  I think Lloyd may get to taste a little more victory before his journey on Idol 2010 is over.    Here's the thing.  What's up with him being 29?   I understand if contestants turn 29 during a season, but don't you have to be 28 when auditioning?  Something is fishy here folks! 
  • Kimberly Carver - 26 from Denton, Texas -  Simon called her "Jazz TV, " Neil fought against Simon's remarks.   She sang an original tune and it definitely was jazzy.  But I agree with NPH, you can't discount her in the audition for being too jazzy.  She sang well, give her a chance to do something more Idol's speed in the next rounds.   Loved how Kimberly said that she's going to have to go and watch Doogie Howser again.   Poor Neil, some people still haven't seen his brilliant work on HIMYM (yes the acronym for How I Met Your Mother, get with it people!!) 
  • Erica Rhodes - 23 from Irving, Texas - Yes, this was the dominatrix girl that used to be on Barney.    Okay, so she wanted to "distance herself from her 'fame'" on the purple dinosaur show.  (Erica, sweetie, no one remembers and many never saw you on it!)  But this was a bit ridiculous.  The whip, singing En Vogue's "Free Your Mind" song while clad in leather?   A little too much.  Hey it got her to Hollywood and the judges were impressed.  Not THIS judge folks!  I thought she sounded like Rosie Perez trying to sing.  But what do I know?   We'll see what she has in future rounds.  
  • Dave Pittman - 27 from Mountain Home, Arkansas - The guy with Turrets syndrome.  Is it me or do we have way too many of these stories this year?   Granted, it was interesting to see that all of the twitches and throat clearing didn't happen while he was singing.   So, hey, the story worked for him!   He had a decent voice when singing "Bring It On Home to Me" by Sam Cooke.  So, do we think Neil Patrick Harris actually identified the turrets syndrome when he asked Dave about it or do you think it was on Dave's little form for the judges?   With any other judge (ahem, Kara) I would say it was on the form, but NPH?  Come on!  He's Doogie Howser, M.D.  A child prodigy doctor!  He can spot those things a mile away! 
Brief Pause as we bid farewell to Neil Patrick Harris and welcome the non-existent Joe Jonas.  I  have no disrespect for the guy, I just know the reason he was on that panel! (TV Ratings) 
  • Todrick Hall - 24 from Arlington, Texas - Well he had one strike against him because he referenced Fantasia.  He starred in The Color Purple on Broadway with her.  Everyone  who has read my recaps for awhile knows I have very choice thoughts about the illiterate Idol.   But I did like Todrick.  He came in and did an original composition for the judges.  He name dropped them all in the tune (except Joe but who could blame him?) and even brought William Hung into the equation.  And ended with a plea to send him on to Hollywood.   Just by the song alone, you have to put him through, but I thought the voice was good too.  We'll see how far he goes!    
  • Dawntoya  Thomason - 27 from Dallas, Texas -  Barely saw any of her audition, but dang look at that name!  Dawn just wasn't good enough was it?  You had to add the TOYA on there Mom and Dad didn't you?  
  • Stephanie Daulong - 20 from Austin, Texas -  She had a headband, she's a bartender/songwriter and that's about all I saw.  Voice didn't impress me with the sentence we got.  So, we'll see! 
  • Megan Wright - 20 from Richardson Texas - All she has is her little brother.  Her parents are divorced.  (Okay, then what was that whole posse of people that were there with you AFTER you got the golden ticket?  so weird)   The kid brother was very cute.  And people will want to vote for her to see more of him.  Her voice was decent.   Kara thought she'd be a joke because of her t-shirt (i couldn't read what it said).   Simon liked the SURPRISE element.   She sang "To Make You Feel My Love" a Bob Dylan song that was recorded by both the awesome Billy Joel and the copycat Garth Brooks (just kidding Garth, but you know Billy did it first, Mr. "Hope Floats" soundtrack!)  
  • Christian Spears - 16 from Houston, Texas - An 8 year Leukemia survivor (here we go again!).  She sang Etta James' "All I Can Do is Cry" and she did sing well.  But, as I always say, 9 times out of 10 the young ones just aren't ready for all of this.  But, she has a good voice and people will support her.  All we can do is keep watching to see what she does next! 

The Bad Ones

  • Julie Kevelighan - AKA The "Lady Marmalade" audition from season 1.  Yes, folks, she returned!  I'll be honest, it was tough to remember this one, but still funny to relive it.  She claimed to have been taking choir and acting classes for the past 8 years and now has returned with a sign that said "THIS IS MY YEAR"   She sang "Black Velvet" awfully as expected.  But the best part was Neil Patrick Harris ripping her apart.  He critiqued her sign and how she was running out of room and scrunched the letters to make it fit.  All of this before he told her it was not a good audition. Simon added that the sign should have had "NOT my year" on it.  Ahh classic.   Julie made it worse by talking to the cameras afterwards thinking if she had "taken a deep breath" she would have done better.   Great stuff.    
  • Dexter Ward -  He was on the news in Dallas telling the city that the show was already over because he is going to win.   He made lots of winky faces and then sang a really rough version of "If I Ever Fall in Love Again"    Nothing really else to say about it except that it was funny to watch!  
  • Vanessa Johnston - The chipper girl who loves Pink and Teal.  She sang "At Last" in every key but the right one and she screamed it.  She wouldn't stop moving and smiling.   And when the judges ripped her apart?  She kept smiling.  Simon said when people ask him what his nightmares look like, THIS IS IT.   Her response was "at least you're dreaming about me Simon!"   How can you argue with that?   Anyway, at least we won't have to see her anymore!
So that's it!  Can you believe it folks?  Only one more city to go on this audition circuit.  Ironically, it will be the first city that was filmed this summer: Denver, Colorado.   So, yes, we get more of Victoria Beckham.  Yay! (sarcasm)   This recap will be posted a little later as I'll be pulling double duty with the long anticipated LOST Premiere!  (final season)   Exciting stuff.   Anyway, I hope you enjoyed my ramblings and I will see you next week!

Ending Credits

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

American Idol Season 9 - Los Angeles Auditions - Katy Perry and Avril Lavigne Bring their Claws!

Hello America!  Well, after that hour we spent in Los Angeles, I can say that I did get a few laughs, but was left a little unimpressed by the amount of talent that we were shown.   We saw 5 of 22 that got sent through to Hollywood.  That's quite a rough ratio.  But we did get to see the evil side of our 2 guest judges.  Day 1 brought us Avril Lavigne who promised to go easy on the contestants.  I guess her hoodie with devil horns convinced her otherwise?   And, well, I didn't expect any less from day 2's guest judge Katy Perry.  But, I loved that she had it out for Kara the whole time!

But we did get a little insight on some of our golden ticket handlers.  So let's take a deeper dive into what we saw:

Hollywood Bound

  • Jim Ranger - 27 from Bakersfield, CA - Jim is a pastor and married with 3 kids.  He's a different looking guy from your normal Idol.  A little on the husky side, long hair and a beard.  But he sure drove home a rendition of his self-penned song "Drive."  Didn't really hear enough of the song to know if it's any good or not, but the voice was good!   I didn't understand why Kara and Avril were focusing so much on him being a pastor and a father so he shouldn't have time to be on American Idol?   Did they give Josh Gracin a hard time for ditching the Army to be on the show?   Anyway, Jim was pretty good and he had the nice "crying after getting through so he can provide for his family" thing going on for him too!
  • Mary Powers - 28 from Burbank, CA - Or as she will be known this season "This year's ROCKER Chick".   She gave a pretty decent rendition of Pat Benetar's "Love is a Battlefield" but Simon didn't like her attire.  He thought she was too cliche' with her leather rocker gear.  But, the voice was unique as the other judges pointed out.  Top 12? I don't know, but I think we'll see more of this one.   And she had her daughter working overtime for her as well.   A cynical hardcore Simon Cowell fan, Mary's daughter got the chance to meet HER idol.   Cue the "awwwwwwwww's" from the crowd! 
  • Andrew Garcia - 23 from Moreno Valley, CA - So many stories here.  Where to start?  Okay, the obvious is the name.  ANDY GARCIA????  Is that too easy?  Okay, we'll move on.  How about his wife?  Who knew Andy Garcia was married to Kate Gosselin's hair?  Just crazy!   Okay, then the story Idol tried to force on us.  Andy's dad grew up in Compton and was involved with the gangs.   So Andy Garcia got to grow up away from that.  All his father wanted was a better life for him.   Okay, so Andrew never spent time in a gang himself but he still decided to ink up his neck?  RESPECT YO.   Okay, I kid, but the dude did sing pretty well.   He did a rendition of Maroon 5's "Sunday Morning" which I always thought like a Stevie Wonder (in his prime) type of diddy.   Good song, good audition, this guy is on his way to continuing to live his GANG-FREE existence!  What a story.   Who is with me for continuing to push for the story where he's named after that Hollywood guy that was in the 3rd Godfather?    And I still love the Kate Gosselin's Hair angle too! 
  • Tasha Layton - 26 from Granada Hills, CA - So she is a personal assistant during the day and a minister at night.  She sang Joss Stone's "Baby Baby Baby" and sang it well.  I'm not sure why Simon went for the "Oh Happy Day" medley comment.  Did every other minister, pastor, preacher that has made it to Hollywood this year get that speech?   Sure, the editing leaves a lot of the audition on the cutting room floor, so maybe Tasha just went on and on about how much she loves singing in church!   Anyway, another good audition, but still waiting to hear more from her. 
Let's pause to have Katy Perry throw her coke in Kara DioGuardi's face!!   I am so glad that someone else gets annoyed by Kara!  Who else is with me?

  • Chris Golightly

The Bad Ones
Well, who should I pick out of all of the wannabe's we saw?   First of all, one more Kara bashing by Katy Perry.  "You shouldn't send someone to Hollywood because you feel bad for them!"  Couldn't have said it better myself.  Kara seems to recruit Randy to her cause way too much this season and the guest judge usually goes along with them.  I'm glad Katy stood her ground!  Granted, we didn't see those contestants perform, but eh who cares?   The bad ones - There was Neil Goldstein with the high IQ and sweaty face.  Loved when he sang Meatloaf and the lyric "Remember everything that I told you" and then forgot the rest of the song!  Simon's "That's ironic" had me rolling!  You had your screecher in Jayson Wilson's "All By Myself" performance.   The unemployed Jesse Chang did some "Kung Fu Fighting" and some great arm motions with his "HUH" grunts!  There was the Mick Jagger dancing machine in Austin Fullmer (what was up with that sit on the floor and clap dance?!)   But the following 3 are the ones I'll highlight.
  • Damian the Martial Arts fan.  He had been working on his nemesis, THE HIGH NOTE before the audition.   When he went in, the pepperoni sandwich maker said he was going to sing the Righteous Brothers tune.   The judges "Unchained Melody?"   Damian - "No, the other one"  Judges: "You've Lost That Loving Feeling!"   LOVE IT!   But the best part about the audition wasn't the awful singing.  It was when he messed up the high note and he thought THAT was when he "screwed up" the audition.  Classic stuff folks, classic! 
  • THE ADAM LAMBERT CLONES and A.J. Mendosa - What was up with all of the people wanting to be like Adam Lambert this year?   If there is one thing we have learned, the next year clones never succeed on Idol.   After a medley of Adam Hair Kids, we met A.J.  He claimed to have sent a demo to Adam Lambert who had nothing but great things to say about it.   Hey, I have no doubt that story is true.  Would Adam Lambert ever say a bad thing to someone when he's not performing?   (you know...because he's super nice guy off stage and then MANIMAL when he plays "dress up!")   Anyway, watching AJ's trainwreck of a performance was fantastic. He even went all high pitch like his Idol.   He sang "Cult of Personality" but it sounded like "Keltive PIERSONELITAAAAAY"   Lots of ventriloquist comments from the judges and rightly so.   Great fun to watch! 
  • Jason Green - Well you knew you were in for something special when the extremely flamboyant and sexually charged Jason Green came in and flirted with each one of the judges!  And of COURSE he sang the Divinyls tune "I Touch Myself".  And of course he believes in MAGIC! (jazz hands please!)  His air drum sound effects into the chorus were a great time "BOOM! BOOM!"  And he made Katy Perry feel dirty.  A nearly impossible feat.  Very crazy stuff indeed.  
So, that's it from L.A. folks!  Were you impressed by any of the talent we saw?  Tomorrow we head down to Dallas, Texas and will be joined by the continually AWESOME Neil Patrick Harris and JOE JONAS?  Really?!!?!   I guess we'll have a very teenage friendly episode on Wednesday because we know viewership will be up!

Ending Credits

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

American Idol Season 9 - Orlando Auditions Feature Guest Judge Kristen Chenoweth and Lots of Golden Tickets (Recap)

Hello American Idol watchers and welcome back to the Audition Recaps!  Next up: ORLANDO!  Home of Mickey Mouse and The American Idol Experience in Disney World! (surprised they didn't mention it actually)    Can you believe that in an hour's worth of TV, we only saw 2 full auditions of people that DIDN'T go to Hollywood?   That is pretty crazy.   The last audition of the night has the Twitterverse talking that we may have found our new Idol.  I am not sure I'm sold yet, but he did put on a good show.  Let's talk about everyone that we saw make it first and then we'll discuss the producer bait!

Guest Judge for Day 1 was Kristen Chenoweth of "Pushing Daisies," "Glee" and "Wicked" Fame.  How can you not love this girl?  She's quite a perky personality!  But after seeing her getting along with THE ENEMY (yes, I mean Kara), maybe I should rethink things!

Anyway, let's get into the auditions:

Hollywood Bound

  • Seth Rollins - 28 - from Lakeland, Florida - The Idol machine poured on the syrupy back story pretty good on this one.  But whenever there is a kid involved, it's hard not to eat it up!  His oldest son is autistic and Seth and wife want to get the best care money can buy for him.  So he's going after his dream.  He sang Gershwin's "Someone to Watch Over Me" and gave credit to the Frank Sinatra version.  The voice was decent, but the judges seemed to let him in because they liked him.  Randy mentioned that he wants him to "EXUBE"  (I can't possibly make this stuff up!)   Not sure how far Seth will make it, but for now he's keeping the dream alive.  And how can you not love it when his son says "Daddy goin to Hollywoooooood!"?  Now, my question is did Seth do his research to be quoting off statistics of divorce rates among parents with autistic children?    Eh, I should keep my mouth shut on stuff I really don't know too much about!  
Brief pause to give props to the Billy Joel version of "When You Wish Upon a Star" making the cut in this audition episode,  you rock Billy!  We need another Billy Joel theme night on Idol.  They wasted that theme on season 2's crop and never brought it back.   I thought I was gonna reach into the TV and slap Josh Gracin across the face with that awful rendition of "Piano Man"!   Okay....sidebar over!
  • Jermaine Purifory - 24 - from Cleveland, TN  - He sang Tony Bennett's rendition of "Smile" and it was quite good!  Kristen noted the seamless voice and how she didn't worry when he went for the high notes.  It is funny to mention how with some people, you know that note is coming and you're just not sure they're gonna hit it.  Jermaine went for them so effortlessly and even did some impressive runs near the end of the song (which I usually hate).   I'll give the guy mad props.  He auditioned before in season 7, but he must have improved because the judges really loved him this time around.  I can't say for sure but Simon thinks the "chicks" are gonna like him.   And Randy had to throw out that BAZILLION number again when he said YES.  Is this your new thing dawg?   I heard you throw out a Paula'ism too with your INFECTIOUS comment!    
  • Shelby Dressel - 18 - from Avon Park, Florida  The poor girl had some undeveloped nerves around her mouth and she wasn't able to smile correctly growing up.   At 18, you can still see remnants of it, but she seems to be able to function a lot better.  It still makes her a little insecure.   Her version of Norah Jones' "Turn Me On" was okay, but the judges were won over when she forget the lyrics and yelled "OH SH!!"  I won't lie, it was a good time.  Randy called it a good ice breaker and they let her through to Hollywood!     
  • Jason Stone - 25 - from Miami, Florida - Jason was the first to face only the 3 judges (no Kristen on Day 2).  He sang 2 songs.  First he beatboxed his way through The Beatles' "Come Together"  and while Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Doofus were bouncing along enjoying it, I was with Simon asking "how is this relevant?"   Sure, Blake Lewis made it all the way to the final 2 of season 6 in a lackluster season, but he actually had a decent singing voice too.   When Jason sang "Ain't No Sunshine," it was okay, but it wasn't anything chill inducing!   And then he compared himself to Blake saying that Blake never tried the SIMULTANEOUS Singing/Beat-boxing.  Um...WHAT?   The moral of this story?  If Kara wasn't a judge, this guy wouldn't be going through.  Paula would not have fought for this guy.   And Randy is such a ridiculous pushover he'll say yes if a female wants the contestant in.   Yes, in the long run it doesn't matter, but this guy should NOT be getting a free trip to Hollywood for THAT audition!  
  • We then saw a clip of 3 girls difficult to come up with any critique for them:
    Jannell Wheeler Tampa - 24 - Sang "House of the Rising Sun" and got through.

    Brittan Starr James - 23 - from Coral Springs, Florida.  She had curly hair with highlights and sang some song about taking her to New York and wanting to see L.A.  (too lazy to look it up!)  She's in too.

    Kasi Bedford - 19 - from Seminole, Florida - Sang "Something to Talk About"  - Judges liked her rasp and thought she was cute.  Here is where Randy channeled Paula with words like "Infectious" and "Bubbly"  -  She's in.  I have no opinion at this time!
  • Cornelius Edwards - 24 - Boynton Beach, Florida  - He learned dance moves from his "Adult Entertainer" friends.  Oh boy.  This guy pretty much got his golden ticket for doing a split and landing on his jewels for 30 million to see.  But, even though it was in the preview, I still laughed when he said "My Pants Done Ripped!"   And boy did they RIP!  That was nuts.  His voice was okay on "Proud Mary"  which he called Tina Turner's "Rollin"   REALLY??   This isn't Limp Bizkit!   But, yeah I'll give him a pass for his BIG MOVE.  That was highly entertaining! 
  • Then there was the DiSimone Sisters from Cherry Hill, New Jersey.  Should I even tell you that I grew up like 20 minutes from there?   This is another SALON family where their mother runs shop in the house.  They were very creepy sisters that make up songs about loving each other on the spot.  And they're too supportive of each other.  Really neither of them were that great, but I actually liked them in the opposite order that Simon Did.  I thought the younger sister was better.  But not much!

    Bernadette -  27 - Sang "Hit the Road Jack" - Talk about cabaret.  Maybe I don't know what Simon means when he says it (even though his support for Adam Lambert last year nullified anything he's ever said about cabaret before!).   This was just a bizarre performance and seemed like it should be on a cruise ship in the 50's or something ridiculous like that!

    Amanda - 23 - Sang Whitney's "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" with older sister nodding and dancing along.  Just WEIRD.  So at least Amanda went 80's on us.  But she also changed the key of the song midway through.  (and not the part where there actually is supposed to be a key change in the song!)   Worst question of the day.  Kara - "Are you from JERSEY???"   Ummm Kara, seriously?  You have their audition paperwork right in front of you!!!  How psychic are you!?

    Anyway, they're both heading to Hollywood, but I can't see us seeing them much longer!      
  • Matthew Lawrence - 25 - from Stark Florida - So here's the man everyone will be talking about.  He has had a troubled past.  Spent some time behind bars after robbing a bank with a B.B. Gun.  But 10 years later, he looks to be reformed and working hard for his dad at his trucking company.  But, he wants to make his family smile after he's given them so many problems.  I think the story definitely helped his audition piece.  Because without it, it's just another guy singing.   But you can't help but get sucked into it.  It didn't hurt that he picked an AWESOME song in Ray LaMontagne's "Trouble"  (sung by Chris Sligh and Taylor Hicks in previous seasons).  If you want to see his audition clip, check out my other post here.   Kara is calling for Matt to be in the top 12.  I can definitely see it.  Matt is already developing a fanbase to take him to number 1.  Are you a believer!?   I'm going to wait, as always! 
35 Peeps from Orlando earned their Golden Tickets.   That must be why they showed us so many HOLLYWOOD auditions.  The show has been pretty good at showing us a good ration of Hollywood-bound contestants this year.  It should make for less controversy once the LIVE shows come and there are contestants that no one knows.  (naaaa, we'll still have them!)

The Bad Ones

  • Theo Glinton - The Glitter God with Feathers on his Face and a Cape.  He screamed Pat Benatar's "Heartbreaker".  The ironic thing was that he actually could carry a tune.  But Simon said it best, "When you walked in like that, I mentally said no."   How could you not? He looked ridiculous!  And the theme continued as Theo wants to open up a corporate salon.  Good Luck Theo because Showbiz ain't happening.   Even if you are "THUPER at everything you do!"   
  • Jared Norell - 28 - Gave it up to God and sang "Amazing Grace".   Now, you never know how serious these people are, but he told the judges he honestly thought he was good and went on to give a screeching and very not pleasing audition.   I likened it to Eric Cartman from South Park.  Of course, the big thing was that he refused to leave and then security AND the police had to come in and take him out in cuffs.   REALLY?!  REALLY????   I find it really hard to believe that the man needed to be cuffed.   That was kind of over-dramatic even for American Idol!   But I still got a laugh when there was a long pause and an empty audition room and Simon said "So is that a Yes or a No?"   Even though, I'm sure half of the joke was created in the editing room! 
So, that's it for this week folks!  Do you have any favorite contestants yet?  I'm still holding out for the other 4 cities!  Next Tuesday we have Katy Perry and Avril Lavigne helping out in Los Angeles (Pasadena to be more exact).   This is about the time where I will start hoping for Hollwood Week to get here sooner.  But we still have 3 weeks until that will happen.  Yikes.  Hope you enjoyed my ramblings and I'll see you next week!

Ending Credits

Follow me on Twitter for updates: @LOSTAddictsBlog (yes, it's mainly about LOST, but I will post when these blogs are up)

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Check out my other Blogs: 
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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

American Idol Season 9 - Chicago Auditions with Guest Judge Shania Twain

Hello Idol fanatics!  We're back for the 3rd Audition city of Season 9.  Sweet Home Chicago!!  Maybe, I'm getting nostalgic of this being the first season without Paula and the last season with Simon (a true sign that "change is gonna come"), but I really am enjoying these crazy auditions this year.  Talk to me again next week as we get into our 3rd week of this and I may be singing a different tune.  But, I also am enjoying the guest judges too.  And, I totally think they dropped the ball on picking up Shania Twain FULL time!  She was fantastic the whole episode!  And ironically, both she and Paula have been questioned on their actual vocal talent.  It's perfect!   No disrespect from me though, I still anxiously await her next album!

Anyway, there was only a handful of contestants that made it to Hollywood through the Chicago circuit (13 to  of 12,000 to be exact.  Although one auditionee could've sworn there was 1 million people there. Ummm).  So, we got to see a whole lot of bad as well.  But nothing that stood out as much as the "PANTS ON THE GROUND" Phenomenon!   If you missed out on everything check out my posts here:

Will any audition match Larry Platt's nation-wide anthem to pull up those pants?   We'll have to keep watching to find out!   In the meantime, here is the Chicago Audition Highlights:

Hollywood Bound

  • Katelyn Epperly - 19 - from West Des Moines, IA - Cute curly Blonde girl that kicked off the show.  Her dad left her mom, things are nice and dramatic for the Epperly's.  Mom has convinced Katelyn to audition.  She sang Duffy's "Syrup and Honey" to which Shania brilliantly chimed in with "YUM!"  Gotta love that woman!   And, we might just have to love Katelyn as well!   She had a soft voice, but it was very good.   The Idol cameras showed a lot of her this episode, so be prepared to see more in the Hollywood Rounds and perhaps even the Top 24!     I have one piece of advice and I wish Carly Smithson would have taken it, cover up that NASTY Tattoo on your back!  No one wants to see that!   (although, Carly was by far worse in this category letting her husband ink her up everywhere)
  • Charity Vance - 16 - From Little Rock, AK  This was the girl whose parents own and run a salon in their house.  Okay, WHAT?   Now, please no one get offended, but if you have a father who is working in a salon, you have to start questioning how you were born right?!  But, we'll just stay tuned to see how this story progresses.  Charity was your classic 16 year old singing a classic tune, "Summertime".   I was no Fantasia fan, but it's a bold move to sing that song for Simon when he clearly loved the former's version on Idol.   She was good and had some really good range.  But, here's my take on the situation.  She learned this song for a high school talent show, and that's all she can sing really really well!   She will have no versatility in song choices and will inevitably fail.   Do I sound like a broken record?  So do most of the 16 year olds on Idol!  
  • Angela Martin - 28 - from Chicago, IL - Well, this girl was inevitably going to Hollywood.  She has already been there twice before.  The first time her father was killed and she had to leave and the 2nd time she had to show up in court for a speeding ticket.   A pretty rough road for a girl looking for a break.   She sang Mary J. Blige's "Just Fine" and the judges ate it up, saying she improves each time they see her.   The Idol machine is clearly going to push her as far as they can and hope that America latches on to the big sympathy story.   She was good, but I wasn't floored. 
  • John Park - 20 - from Northbrook, IL - The world is still looking for the first Asian American Idol.  Could John be him?  Probably not, but the student did impress Shania Twain into a bumbling disaster.  Of course, it was hysterical because everything she said had a certain "inneundo" about it.  "You have a beautiful bottom end."  I mean "Nice Tone down there"   and her twirling the strings on her blouse was a good time too!   As for John yeah, he had some good range and a good voice too.  I'll wait to hear more!  But, someone please fire Ellen and hire SHANIA!!!  
  • Paige Dechausse - 21 from Morris, IL - Sob story about the asthma attack she had at 15.  She only had a 30% chance of survival and if she did survive she would most likely be brain damaged.  But Mom came to the rescue with music and earphones to keep her going!  In the audition she sang Sam Cook's "Change is Gonna Come" (an audition staple).   It was pretty decent.  The judges were split on it, but the girls convinced Randy to let her into Hollywood to prove herself.  They advised to show some personality next time.   I thought she was good enough to make it to Hollywood without the indulgent comment from Simon, but whatever!  She's in.   Now, I'm not crowning her Idol or anything. We'll just need to see more! 
  • We saw clips of a few more that got in:
    Justin Ray - 20 and Unemployed -  All I could think about when I saw him was the SOUL GLOW hair from Coming to America!   Good singer though.

    Keith Semple - 27 with a guitar by his side -  He sang some Bryan Adams with a raspy voice and all.   I've been wrong before, but I doubt he'll go very far.  But he could be a unique voice this season.

    Marcus Jones - 18 from Gary, IN - He sang Edwin McCain's "I'll Be" and from we heard very well!

Not many highlights really:  
  • There was the "MY NAME IS KENNY" guy
  • The Accordian Lady with Blue hair
  • The pageant girl that said "THANK YOU VERY MUCH" with the super fake smile made me laugh
  • There was a parade of Profanity from Chicago rejects.  
  • Amy Lang with the "Boob Flex" was um...."interesting"
  • Curly Newbern singing that Maxwell tune was funny because it made Simon crack up.  But Shania watched the whole time and held it back!  Take notes Mary J. Blige!   That high voice was awesome! 
  • Brian Krause who Tip Toed to Tiny Tim?   That was just bizarre and disturbing more than funny!
  • Harold Davis -  Everything was wrong with this starting with the Idol Producers picking the Rocky Theme for the Chicago man.   But yeah, his vocals on Usher were awful.  And the judges' comments reduced him to tears.  awwww  sorry champ!   want to fight for glory...longest note ever....the champ is here!  "nice and slow" usher       what???     
So, the main thing I learned tonight?  Shania Twain for JUDGE!   But not to replace Simon, just ELLEN!    And also, keep an eye on Katleyn Epperly.  We'll be seeing her again.

Wednesday night is Orlando and it looks like we may have some juicy BAD auditions if anything.  I'll be there recapping the episode in all of its glory!  I didn't see a guest judge on the previews, so I guess we will have to wait and see.   Hope you enjoyed my ramblings and see you for the next recap!

Ending Credits

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

American Idol Season 9 Premiere Day 2 - Atlanta "Pants on the Ground" Auditions

"Pants on the ground, Pants on the ground, Looking like a fool with your pants on the ground!  With the gold in your mouth and your hat turned sideways, PANTS ON THE GROUND!!!"   I hate to say it America, but I actually enjoyed the auditions tonight in HOTLANTA!   2 original compositions by contestants that will have us singing for days and probably have places reserved for them at the finale.  No, not to compete, but to cash in on their 15 minutes!    But, aside from the crazy songs that people will be remembering until next week, the talent was actually pretty good too!   Let's not waste any more time with our pants on the ground, let's get down to business!

Guest judge for Atlanta was the one, the only Mary J. Blige.  I gotta say, I wasn't too impressed with her critiques that aired.  And for the most part, she was trying to hold back the laughter.   Yes Randy, Paula and Simon always had their laughing fits, but for the most part they kept it under control.  Mary would just blurt out things during the auditions.  Very respectful Miss Diva.  Anyway, she's done her stint, it's over.  Let's see who made it in and who didn't quite hit the mark!

Hollywood Bound!

  • Keia Johnson - 26 - From Memphis, TN   She lost Miss America, but was awarded Miss Congeniality.   So, apparently she has a good personality.   Okay, does that mean she's a good singer?  Well the judges thought so.  I thought she butchered a song that no one ever needs to sing again, "My Heart Will Go On".  Yes, she can sing and was in key in everything.  But what was with all of the runs at the end of each phrase?  Why didn't the judges call her out on doing too much "look at me world, I'm SINGING and I'm GOOOOD" with her voice!?   Maybe I'm being too hard on her.  I guess we'll see how it goes! 
  • Like last night, we got a glimpse of 3 girls getting in:
    Miriam Lemnouni -  25 - Atlanta - She sang Miley Cyrus's "The Climb" and actually showed what the song could sound like for someone with a voice!   I thought she was really good from the few seconds we heard.  
  • Noel Reese 16 - North Carolina -  She sang Whitney Houston, floored the judges.   16 years old singing Whitney?  Hmmm something not adding up here.  I'll reserve judgement until I hear more! 
  • Tisha Holland - 18 - Riverdale, GA -  Another one the judges just ate up.  All I saw was some girl snapping her fingers and singing a lot of big notes.  But sometimes the judges just love that stuff!   Then again, it was just a quick clip of her, so maybe I missed how she was the "best they heard so far" (most overused phrase in the American Idol auditions!) 
  • Jermaine Sellers - 26 - Joliet, Ilinois - We found out that his mother has spinal bifida and he's been taking care of her while singing at the church.  And probably no irony to the fact that he sang a pop song with a reverent theme, Joan Osbourne's "One of Us"  I love that song, and Jermaine did a great job with it.  I just hope he doesn't turn into one of those inspirational singers we have seen so much of these past couple seasons.  (David "the artichoke" Archuleta comes to mind first, of course!)   
  • Vanessa Wolf - 19 - Vonore, TN - Vanessa was the surprise of the night.  She was from a very small town in Tennessee to which it seems she has not left many times.  She likes jumping off bridges (the higher the better!  "100% pure beef!")   She got the dress she was wearing for 4 dollars and 50 cents.  It was very difficult to understand what she was saying half of the time, but when she got to her singing "Wagon Wheel" by Old Crow Medicine Show, man she sounded good!   The judges fear for her ability to get over her nervousness so that Hollywood doesn't eat her alive.  She definitely said "Are you CEREAL?" when they told her she was going to Hollywood.   But when she finally realized that her dream was coming true, well you just can't fake the raw emotion she was showing.  And I think all of America was crying tears of joy for her!   Best lines of the audition:  her mom at the bottom of the elevator "instead of butterflies I got frogs!!" - referring to how nervous she was for her daughter.   Vanessa "I get to fly on the AERO Plane?  They got peanuts right?"   Ahh good times! 
  • Holly Harden - 20 - Georgia - And who could forget Guitar Girl?   Usually the gimmicks will get you into the audition room, but she actually brought some talent with her too.  And how about Atlanta giving us some bona fide Country contestants this year?   She promised to lose the guitar outfit (and probably didn't pick up on the innuendo Simon was suggesting with his raised eyebrows) and everything is cool. Send her to the next round! 
  • Mallorie Haley - 22 - Winter, South Dakota - And the country belles just keep coming in and knocking them out of the park.   She sang Faith Hill's version of "Piece of My Heart"   The judges loved her.  And she definitely has the star image.  She should do well enough to get to the live shows, then it's up to America! 
  • Antonio Skiibo Ski - 22 - Orlando, Florida -  I'm not even going to try and explain this guy.  Because he made no sense!   He talked about being everything you ever wanted from a dollar store and only costing a dollar.  What does that MEAN?   But he did end up having somewhat of a voice.  I agreed with Simon and would have sent him packing.  But the tweedle dums sent him on to Hollywood.  Maybe he'll lose the act and I'll be able to take him more seriously!  
  • Then there was Carmen and Lauren the best friends.  You know whenever they do this that one is going to Hollywood and the other wasn't.   Again, I was with Simon on sending them both home.

    Lauren Sanders had a soft voice and I don't remember what she sang.  It wasn't good.

    Carmen Turner - 19 - sang Kelly Clarkson's "Where is Your Heart?" and she could carry the tune, but the high note just wasn't there.  It was cringe-inducing, actually!   She won't be lasting very long in Hollywood!  
  • Bryan Walker - 25 - Tennessee Police officer - Well this is a first, America!  Bryan is the first audition to only face ONE of the 3 original judges.  Simon went out for a break so Randy was there to judge this guy with Kara and Mary J.   Fortunately, for them.  He made it easy.  While I won't support whatever he was doing with the hair he had left on his head, he sure could sing that "Superstar"!   This guy just SEEMS like someone who would make the top 12.  Not win, but be in that top 12.   But America has to vote him there, and then the stylists have to do something with that look! 

Homeward Bound
There was the TV Show Host/Producer who just thought she was going to sail right through (the show having 411 in the title just made it too easy to go to the 911 line for the judges!), there was the guy that almost died 3 times (what was up with the awful dramatizations?), there was the guy who thought Britney Spears changed his life.  But there were 3 auditions of the non-Hollywood clan that we will remember from tonight!

  • Dewone Robinson - 27 -  Oh Dewone, the first audition of the day.  They were building him up like there was no way he could be bad (supposedly his uncle discovered Gladys Knight and the Pips)  Classic Idol, we knew he'd be bad.  But how AWESOMELY bad was he?   He was the other man with the original composition (my bad he actually said "it's one I come up with").  When pressed to give a name to his song he dubbed it  "Lady We're Not Together Anymore"  And then he went on to sing an intentional one man duet "LAAATEY!  It's over!!" in a high pitch voice.   Then the woman voice was the very low voice "BABY, I know it's overrrrr!"   That may have not been verbatim but I was rolling on the floor.  I truly hope this man is allowed to come back to the finale and sing this again with a backing band!   
  • Lamar Royal - The man who loved Mary J. Blige until she laughed in his face.  And then he turned into an obscenity spouting laugh riot!  The man just didn't want to hear any helpful criticism the judges had for him.  He just kept singing or cursing at them.  I wonder how that all would have went down if Simon were there!   
  • General Larry Platt - 62 years old - We already knew he didn't meet the age requirements.  But if you haven't learned the words to "Pants on the Ground" yet you're missing out!  This guy created an anthem for all of those fools out there with the gold in their mouth and their hats turned sideways, and yes...they're pants on the ground!  And come on!  For 62, doing splits?!   That was fantastic.  Definitely check out the link to the video I referenced above!   This guy is a sure bet to make the finale!  And I really think he and William Hung need to do a duet pronto!       
25 Contestants are Hollywood bound and we got to see 12 of them perform (not bad again!)  Maybe I have a stomach for these auditions this year.  How can I not be excited for Shania Twain joining the group in Chicago next week!?  It would be even better if she announced a new album release date! (not that I listen!)   I will see you next week America and until then, don't get caught with your pants on the ground!

Ending Credits

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

American Idol Season 9 Premiere - Boston Auditions

Here we go again!!  Welcome back American Idol enthusiasts and addicts of the world!  I'm sure some of you are just like me.  Every year you want to but you just can't quit watching this crazy show.  This year with Paula's exit tested us, but now hearing that Simon will be leaving after this season?  This might be the final nail in the coffin folks!  Let's journey down this road once more for old time's sake and let's see if I can improve my record of picking the grand prize winner.  After last year's shenanigans, my record added a notch to the Loss column as I am 6 and 2 on picking the winner.  But no fear, I was very excited that Adam lost!

Usually, in my opening blogs of the season I go on and on about Off-Season Idol news.  But, this year, I had the opportunity to post some of this stuff last week.  So, if you would like to catch up, check out my Idol Preview Article on Paula Abdul's exit, Ellen Degeneres's arrival, my "I told you so" lecture on Adam Lambert's antics, and a welcome Rule Change back to the Top 24 format this year.   Also, if you hadn't heard about Simon's plan after leaving Idol yet, check out my article from yesterday!

Those who have followed my blogs season after season, know that I easily tire of the audition process.  It's just more of the same stuff every year.  But, it feels like an essential part of the format as we need to build relationships with some of the talent.  But the bad ones?  Yeah, every once in awhile I get a little chuckle.  But lots of it is all been there, done that.   Usually for the 2 hour opener I am patient with it and am able to stomach the entire episode.   But, I warn you now, you may see me subtly deteriorate before your eyes over the 3 weeks and 6 episodes of auditions!

Okay, all the pleasantries are out of the way.  We may as well get down to business!  Victoria Beckham is the guest judge that replaced Paula in Boston while they searched for her replacement last summer (Ellen doesn't join until the Hollywood rounds).  You may remember her has Posh Spice from the Spice Girls.  Or you may just know her, as a contestant referred to her, as David Beckham's wife!  ahhh good times.  She didn't add much to the show, but she was the SUPPORTIVE judge that filled the gap where Paula would normally be.  Let's highlight the talent and then maybe mention a few stand-outs from the bad.


Day 1
  • Maddy Curtis - 16 -  They didn't waste any time bringing us the "very special" story.  Maddy is 9 of 12 kids and her closest sibling has down syndrome.  The family ended up adopting 2 more children with down syndrome as well.  Now, I don't want to say anything negative about this.  The family seemed very sweet and the kids were very cute.  But, you always know when you get these stories, the contestant is getting that yellow ticket!  She sang Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" which hit a sales spike 2 seasons ago when Jason Castro sang the Jeff Buckley version on Idol.  Gotta love that song, and Maddy nailed it.  Kara talked about her being an old soul, and instantly I asked myself "is Paula's soul inhabiting Kara now that Miss Abdul has left the building??"   And Randy was up to his old schtick "You came in here and I was like 'I dunno how you're gonna be dawg..' and man you blew the roof off!  WHAAAAT?????"    Okay, that's not what he said, but it was something like that.   Maddy was good.  I always get concerned with the 16 year olds.  She may have been practicing that one song for 16 years and doesn't know how to sing anything else.  We'll know in time! 
  • They did a montage of 3 Other girls that got in:

    Jennifer Hirsh - 22 - Did a jazzy version of "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead" from the Wizard of Oz.  You know you're good when you can sell that one in an Idol audition!

    Claire Fuller - 23 - From Philly (representin!)  sang some Mr. Big's "To Be With You".  I'm already a fan.  Anyone that does a 90's Monster Ballad and is from Philly is alright in my book!

    Jess Wolfe - 23 - From Brooklyn singing the tried and true "People Get Ready".  I wasn't feeling it as much as the judges were.  Thought she had a little too much opera vibrato to her voice.  But what do I know?  I only heard 2 lines of a song!  
  • Amadeo Dirrico - 28 - Rhode Island -  Amadeo was your classic Italian Guy.  I already know who Snooki and The Situation from the Jersey Shore will be rooting for!    All kidding aside, I do want to go over his house and try some of their home Italian cooking!  It looked fantastic.  I agree with the judges that this guy's personality was very, to borrow from Paula (whom I already miss), infectious!  It seems like he has a voice, but I didn't hear much of it in his rendition of  Muddy Waters "Hoochie Coochie Man".  But I could hear the potential of a good voice.   And, even if it's not there, hey he'll be entertaining in Hollywood and maybe even in the Semi-finals.  
  • They showed a trio doing a rendition of Matt Nathanson's "Come on Get Higher" in the waiting room with a couple guitars and some great harmonies.  But then they only showed 2 make it to Hollywood. Both sounding really good:

    Luke Shaffer - 24 - New York.  He sang "Fall for You" by Secondhand Serenade.  Good tune, great voice.  Need a good red headed guy to join the ranks to make us forget about Season 3's Jon Stevens.  I still have nightmares about that dude!

    Benjamin Bright - 25 - New York.  He sang some Beatles "All My Lovin'" and was also pretty good.  We'll see how these guys do in the next round! 
  • Ashley Rodriguez - 21 - Well, we know she's going to do well.  Kara found her "PACKAGE ARTIST" for the year.  Even though I rolled my eyes at Kara, I did think Ashley's version of Alicia Keys' "If I Ain't Got You"   was smokin!   She has top 12 written all over her.  But we have 3 weeks of auditions to get through so I won't get carried away just yet!   But Randy how many yes's do you give her?  "200 bazillion million quadrillion trillion duuuuuuuuhhhh illion YES!!!"    Really dude?   I mean really?   Paula and Simon are the 2 original judges to leave the show and Randy stays behind as the LEGACY?  What is wrong with this picture!?  
  • Tyler Grady - 19 - Nazareth, PA.  Besides this guy liking to climb trees for a living, resulting in his shattered wrists with titanium plates, I really liked him.  He had a very retro style to him, he's a drummer aspiring to be a front man and he has a way with the ladies.  He sang a very good rendition of Marvin's "Let's Get it On" right to Kara and Victoria and melted them right on the spot.  Smart dude.   I think he has top 12 potential as well.  I'm sure we'll get a chance to vote on him! 
18 Total Made it in on Day 1 (not bad, we saw half of them!)

Day 2

Gotta love the history lesson they gave us on The Boston Tea Party and the Revolutionary War. Who says Idol isn't trying to reach the youth of America?
  • Mike Davis -  18 -  The Codzilla Speedboat guy.  They definitely need one of these true Boston people to crack into the Live shows.  He was another guy with a good personality.  I thought his version of "Yesterday" by The Beatles got better as it went on but it had its off moments.  The highlight of this audition was the judges just getting up and walking away after they voted.  Okay, guys, now you've done it all!  Good one!
  • Katie Stevens - 16 - from Middlebury, Connecticut.  Here was the other Feel Good/Sad story of the night.   Katie is really close to her Portuguese grandmother who has Alzheimer's.  She wants her grandmother to know she is making her dreams come true before she forgets who Katie is.  (I may or may not have gotten a little welled up in the eyes.  I'll never tell!)    She did an amazing job on  "At Last".  Extremely great soulful performance, especially at 16.  Again, is she a one trick pony?  We'll see.   But it was sweet to see her telling her grandmother on the phone that she won!  Even Mr. Seacrest got caught up in the tears! 
  • Joshua Blaylock - 28 - New York.  Sang "Broken Road" by Rascal Flatts.  It was okay, but there were definitely a few flat notes in there.   The judges thought his voice didn't match his age.  But he definitely won over the judges and the audience with his extremely nice personality.  It was hysterical watching him try to be assertive and mean.   Maybe American will like him enough to vote him through a couple rounds.  But even if they don't, it still felt right sending the boyish Man to Hollywood!  
  • Justin Williams - 27 - from Utah.  Ooh the girls are gonna love this guy!  He certainly has a "look" to him!   Add on top of that that he is a cancer survivor from 7 years ago.  He went through 6 months of chemo and is now living cancer free.  He sang the very fitting "Feeling Good".  And I will say it, much much much better than Adam Lambert's Cabaret version of it from last season.  This dude has a crazy range and you add his extreme good looks (I'm allowed to say it without everyone questioning if I'm straight now.  I'm married!) this guy is a package deal!  I was shocked the judges didn't rave about him more.  But, again, what do I know??   Just that I said a man is really good looking and have said nothing about any of the women in the competition yet!  (yep, maybe you should start questioning again!)  
  • Bosa Mora - 22 from Ohio -  His parents are from Nigeria but raised their two children in the states.  You gotta give this guy some props for singing some Classic Country!  He sang George Strait's "You Look So Good in Love".  The ladies thought he did a very emotional performance.  Simon thought it was boring.  I was just shocked that this dude was singing country!   Plus, I have been brushing up on my George Strait recently, because I'm taking my wife to see him later this month.  Should be a good time!   Bosa?  He has potential, but I'll hold out until I see more.  
  • Leah Larenti  - 22 - Medford, New York -  Leah is one of those people that loves music but likes to cry about it a lot too because she wants people to understand how much music means to her.  It's okay, Simon understands!   And, after I heard her sing, I became a believer too.  Her version of "Blue Skies" was a crazy bluesy good time.  She has quite a voice!  I'll look forward to hearing what else she has to sing in subsequent rounds, but they definitely saved a good one for last!
So 32 total made it from Boston.  Pretty good, we almost saw half of them still even after day 2.

The Bad Ones
Of course they showed us many of these.  There was the peppy jumpy first contestant, the "DIVA" who thought she was better than all of the contestants in previous seasons, and the Anime lover (Simon's comment about not being able to fly to the moon and then reconsidering was a good time).  But here were a few that I'd like to call out because I got a good chuckle out of them.
  • Pat Ford - 17 -  It was so overdone but when he kept yelling "hollllaaaaaa!!!"  How can you not laugh?  Especially when the editing showed no one else in the waiting room laughing.    Then he sings Britney Spears with full-on dancing?   And then he calls Simon Sassy!   And then Randy tries to console him by calling him "a great hang?"   Whaaaat?   Gotta love this stuff.   Keep trying that new lingo Randy!  Once you're live, you'll be saying the same thing after every contestant, every....single...night! 
  • Derek Hilton - "The Nature Walk Guy" - Obviously he was an awful singer, but you gotta love how he said he admires Chris Brown's ability to "Touch Young Kids".   This was probably filmed before Chris Brown's domestic violence with Rihanna was made public, but this guy turned Chris Brown into a pervert!    And if you think I'm immature for thinking it, did you see Randy and Simon laughing?   But yeah, the audition was hysterical.  There were literally 20 different voices during that performance! 
  • Norberto Guerrero - 18 - The guy that sang "Everytime We Touch" and forgot the words while he was dancing around the room.   But it was the look that made this hysterical.  The long black hair, the beard, the flashy vest.  Truly one of Reading, PA's finest!   Simon's "Singing like that with a beard...made it even more strange." had me laughing uncontrollably!   Is it wrong to laugh at others' misery?   
  • Andrew Fennlon - We have to bring up the moody guy that waited all day because the producers of Idol would want us to.   His audition was definitely not good enough to make it.  But his attitude during the whole process was insane.  You just have to wonder how exaggerated that was. 
So, that's it kids.  Boston down, ATLANTA to go tomorrow.  Doesn't it seem like we just visited Atlanta during these auditions?  Oh well, we're going back!   Are you on board for this No Paula season?  Are you fired up about Simon leaving?  Are you ready to enjoy one more season before the show totally changes on us?   I'll be here each and every day giving my spin on it.  You can count on that!  See you tomorrow!

Ending Credits

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