Oh, "American Idol" Season 12. Where else would the show premiere but in "The City That Never Sleeps," and New York offered up its biggest and brightest budding stars.
Enter the judges: Randy Jackson, country heartthrob Keith Urban and the two "ladies" that could barely contain themselves right out of the gate -- Mariah and Nicki Minaj.
Nicki immediately gave us what we wanted, proclaiming "this is so Barbilicious." How many Barbie references we will be subjected to this season? All hail Barbie.
The very first audition was an epic fail. When will these people learn that you cannot perform an original song or change the lyrics to a masterpiece like "We Will Rock You" and expect to make it through?
We need to hear a song we can relate to, sing along with, and associate with. When you come out singing some song that no one knows, it's a sure fire way to not get through to Hollywood, and the first contestant high-tailed it back to whatever rock he crawled out from under.
Immediately after the first performance, Nicki and Mariah go at it, with Mariah saying "If she (Nicky) calls me anything that begins with a B and ends with an itch, I'll rebuke it." Thus, we have our first threatened exorcism. Behave ladies; the show has only been on for 10 minutes.
Before another aspiring singer gets a chance to enter, these two start it up again, this time fighting over a "Mean Girls" quote. Why do Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj even watch "Mean Girls?"
Enter Teena Torres, a 28-year-old Mariah fanatic that yes, as a teenager, attended "Mariah Camp. Am I the only person on the planet that didn't know such a place existed? Teena brought memories and pictures to prove it. She was an authentic singer, and our very first four-judge "yes" and Golden Ticket to Hollywood. Teena gave an awesome rendition of Carol King's "You've Got a Friend."
Teena began the winning streak for New York City. Many followed to Hollywood with their very own Golden Tickets. Seems we're off to a good start.
And I spoke to soon. He raps, he pop-locks, he sings in his bedroom and pretends to be in concert, his dream of being the next Justin Bieber looks to be on the brink of coming true, and then he opens his mouth. James, the 15-year-old would-be pop star can't sing a lick and leaves in tears. Well, almost leaves, until he becomes the recipient of the very first "judges aren't all bad and I didn't know it would be this hard to crush a kid's dream" speech, delivered by Nicki.
After the "you're a great person, follow your dream, I'll always remember you , blah, blah, blah" speech, Nicki plants a wet one on James' cheek. Suddenly he could care less about being kicked off the show. Way to go, Nicki!
It wouldn't be "American Idol" if someone didn't sing "Summertime." Christina from Boston belted out this baby and yes, another golden ticket. But not until the show tugged on our heart strings, allowing Christina some camera time to tell America all about her weight struggles and once being 200 lbs and how difficult her high school years were. Thank you, "American Idol." We get it, didn't need it because Christina could actually sing.
"Idol" is on a roll. Next we meet Daniel, 21, who had been dancing since he was three, aspired to be a Broadway dancer, and whose career was on the up-swing when he was diagnosed with bone cancer. I don't know about anyone else, but after the footage and having the camera zoom in on his leg, which, after 18 months of chemo had to be amputated to save his life, I needed a box of Kleenexes.
I regained my composure just in time to hear his God-awful vocals and I yelled "No sympathy votes!" We've got a long way to go and lots of bad singing to hear and we haven't even heard a story about a homeless person that walked 100 miles to make it to the auditions yet.
The judges heard me and sided with me -- it's "no" for Daniel. Come back next year. All is fair in cheesy pop songs, R&B riffs and country ballads done well.
Hello Jessica! She was nominated by her mom. The producers received the nomination and had Randy fly in and surprise Jessica at work with a personal invitation to come to New York and audition for the show. Super Duper surprise factor, awesome way to get us a revved up and ready to go. This girl must be amazing for the show to pull out all of the stops so early, right?
Jessica enters for her audition; the judges spot her guitar (that she is totally not planning to use, just carrying it) and ask her to sing a song while playing the guitar. She starts in the wrong key. Apologizes. Starts again. Wrong key again. Apologizes again. Starts again. Wrong key again and yes, apologizes again all while -- you guessed it, singing an original song she wrote.
We've already determined that the chances of getting thru to Hollywood while singing a song we don't know is slim-to-none, so yes. No golden ticket for Jessica. Hope you enjoyed your trip to the Big Apple, sure wish you could have stayed with us a little longer. (Not really.)
Shalom (in my Mariah Carey voice). I'd love to know what everyone else thought about our pop singer with the No. 1 song in Israel. I wasn't impressed and couldn't quite figure out what impressed the judges that allowed them all to give her a "yes" and ultimately a golden ticket to Hollywood. My guess is, she won't last long. Which is one of my problems with "Idol" -- we know there are going to be some amazing singers and some not-so-good ones. Why not just get the amazing ones in the beginning and save the maybes for last. Good TV?
Just as we expected: Next up is a homeless, pan handling, singing-on-the-train for dinner money, teenager. Didn't take us long to fill this slot. Frank Ford from Brooklyn! Adopted. Crack Baby. Homeless. Amazing chops! Frankie sang "Sweet Dreams," the Annie Lennox hit and knocked it outta the park. Welcome to Hollywood Frankie. Here's a warm blanket and a nice hot meal, get comfortable, we like you.
And then the first freak of the season. Clad in a James Brown wig, a red rubber Michael Jackson circa "Thriller" suit with a Tom Jones pelvic thrust, it's Benjamin. Benjamin sang three ballads. One was to Mariah (we could see her throw up in her mouth a little bit) and two were to Nicki, who seemed to really enjoy the Tom Jones pelvic thrusts. Good-bye weird dude.
Here's our very first, huge parental support audition. If you've watched "Idol," you know if the segment starts with parents declaring how amazing their kid sings, that they are the absolute best singer EVER and definitely there to be the "next American Idol" this kid can't hold a tune in a Wal-Mart shopping cart. It's true tonight. Bad, bad, bad. Note: Parental support = can't sing.
Another lesson learned: There are farms in New Jersey. Blueberry farms and little country girls that sing country songs. 17-year old Sarah came down from the farm and sang a Carrie Underwood song and blew our judges away. And if that wasn't enough, after belting the ballad, this little country superstar channeled her inner city hood chick and rocked out Nicki Minaj's "Super Bass!" We love Sarah.
Weirdo number two: Mr. Chin. Watching and listening to Mr. Chin felt like a prank. Surely we're being punked -- where's Ashton Kutcher to rescue us from this torture? Mr. Chin sang a "Phantom of the Opera" number and bombed badly. Jab No. 3 -- Nicky said that Mr. Chin's range was better than Mariah's. Nicki laughed. Mariah? Not so much.
Then the most bizarre thing of the evening occurred. Suddenly Nicki Minaj, the rapper from New York, was gone and some prim and proper lady -- perhaps royalty, with a very distinct English accent -- appeared in Nicki's place.
Nicki began to speak like a cross between Mary Poppins and Queen Elizabeth. It irritated Mariah, but not before Mariah noticed that she too had picked up the accent. These two are really going to make for a very interesting season. How many personalities live within Ms. Minaj? I'll count all season.
Unanimous decision and a ticket to Hollywood was given to a deaf chick. She surprised us all with her angelic voice and is now packing her bags and headed to tinsel town.
Freddie Mercury would be proud -- another rendition of "We Will Rock You." Bad singer. Gone.
America got to meet the self-proclaimed Turbanator, who got everyone's vote but Keith Urban's, yet still enough for his Golden Ticket. I personally like the Turbanator and was quite pleased to see and hear this Indian fella go from a hip pop song and into a traditional Indian song and sound great singing both. I'm thinking America will love him, but wondering what exactly will they do to him during the makeover week -- bedazzle the Turban?
And finally the last Golden Ticket of the premier episode goes to the oldest daughter of a family that adopts and fosters special needs children, making her the best big sister in the world born to the best parents in the world. I'm not making this up -- this is what they said -- but boy could she sing. I love that Corinne Bailey Rae song "Put Your Records On," and she did an awesome job deserving of her Golden Ticket.
There you have it. New York fared well for night one of season 12. Tomorrow night, hold on to your hat, "Idol's" headed to the Windy City. See ya there! It's "Idol," baby!