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Freelance entertainment writer, martial arts instructor, and mother of two.

American Idol 9, Jan. 12 – Missing Paula … And a Little Bit of Heart


Boy, who would have thought after Kris Allen won the last season that by the start of this season we would have bid adieu to Paula Abdul, welcomed Ellen DeGeneres, and would be counting down the days until we said goodbye to Simon Cowell? With all that going on, it remains to be seen how this season will turn out. Yet, here we are with auditions in Boston, Massachusetts. Victoria “Posh Spice” Beckham is joining Simon, Randy Jackson, and Kara DioGuardi as tonight’s guest judge.

The first person to audition and step inside out of the rain is Janet McNamara, 26, an accountant, Somerville, MA, who claims she’s only been singing well for about two years, and really jumped up her game playing the American Idol game. This one isn’t going to go well, is it? Singing and dancing onstage are what she wants, and she plans to do what she does in job interviews, which is jumping up and down in the bathroom telling herself she’s awesome. She jumps right in in front of the judges and Simon is incredulous that the game might actually work.

I’m not so sure Janet is doing a good job selling the American Idol game as she sings Pocket Full of Sunshine. Simon wants to open a window, but is told his character liked her on the game, Randy liked her about 90%, and Paula always thought she was “fricking awesome.” She says that as she points at Kara, who is more bothered by that than Janet’s singing. This Simon character says no, as well as non-Paula, Victoria, and Randy. She tells her friend and Ryan Seacrest that Paula thought she did good.

Maddy Curtis, 16, Bluemont, VA, is number nine of twelve kids, which she calls a crazy and awesome experience. The child right before her has Down’s Syndrome, and says they always did everything at the same time, but he needed more of a companion, so they adopted a baby with Down’s Syndrome, then another. Maddy thinks we need to see the world the way her brothers do. She’s freaked out to see the judges in the flesh, and Simon jokes they’re not robots.

Singing the Hallelujah, Maddy is our first good audition of the year. She reminds me of a friend of my daughters’. Both of them are very kind and sweet. Simon tells her she has a good voice with some soul, and Randy didn’t think she’d be good, but actually really liked her. She had great control. Victoria thinks she has a beautiful voice, although she was a bit nervous. She thinks she has an old soul about her, and Kara found her to be authentic and singing from the heart. Simon tells her that amazingly she’s not annoying for a 16 year old. With four yeses, she’s through, and she stops to thank the judges on the way out. Refreshing. Her brothers give her balloon flowers afterwards.

Pat Ford, 17, Derry, NH, dances to entertain everyone while he’s waiting. He likes to “Hollah.” He asks Simon if he’s ready, which of course he is. He sings Womanizer and is entertaining in a sad sort of way. And if anyone was not a womanizer, it would be this guy. He tells Randy afterwards he thought he did awesome, and then tells Simon he thinks he’s even sassier than on TV. He knew Kara would be a sweetheart. Randy figures Pat has a lot of friends, and Simon notes he never had friends. I’ll be your friend, Simon. He gets four noes, and Randy asks him to stop singing forever. He asks to give Kara a hug, and she accepts it.

Jennifer Hirsh, 22, a receptionist, of Manhattan, doesn’t have the conventional Idol look, but she’s really interesting singing a jazzy version of Ding Dong the Wicked Witch Is Dead. Claire Fuller, 23, a college student, of Philadelphia, has more of a conventional look and sings just as well. Jess Wolfe, 24, a booking agent, of Brooklyn, is the third girl in a row that gets all yeses. Yet by noon, only gals have gotten through.

Amadeo Diricco, 28, a bartender, Johnston, RI, would describe his family as “a feat for no man.” They have big family dinners at least once a week, with cousins, aunts, uncles, etc. I just got done with dinner, but damn, I’m hungry looking at this Italian spread. He wants to get his foot in the door and thinks his life will change today for the better. He tells Simon his wife pushed him into auditioning, along with some other people.

Singing a Muddy Waters song, Amadeo could be good, but loud. At the end he shows a little control. Victoria tells him he has a huge voice and a lot of passion and seems like a really nice person. Kara feels like she’s home with her cousin and figures he makes a mean sauce. Randy likes his personality because he’s like a real guy. Simon explains in a weird way, this is his favorite audition of the day, because he likes him, and he’s sincere with a huge likability. He gets four yeses, and he’s the first guy through. His male family members are there to greet and tackle him when he gets out with his golden ticket.

Derek Hilton, 19, a landscaper, Bellingham, MA, calls himself a spiritual kind of guy and says he started getting into music when he was in a low point in his life, going on a lot of nature walks. He started pushing it last year working on his voice. The show can change your life, and he thinks if he makes it, he’ll touch numerous people. Posh asks him about his claim to sounding like Chris Brown and the Eagles. That’s an odd combo, no?

Singing Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Words, Derek is way too nasally, as Kara has to hide her laughter. Simon tells him he was channeling a lot of people, and Randy questions the nasally tone. Simon more seriously tells him it was rubbish and that he doesn’t sound like the Eagles, but sounded like twenty people at once, and all of them horrible. No golden ticket here, yet Derek still feels he’s amazing at what he does.

Mere Doyle, 24, retail sales, Walple, MA, had no umbrella outside and was drenched. Her store must not sell them. She’s an anime freak and handmakes her own kimonos. She’d like to be a successful singer in Japan. She’s been to a hundred auditions and treats them all like her life is dependent on it. She’s singing Janis Joplin. I don’t think she’s right for Idol or Japan. Simon is glad one of them had a good time, and notes the singing was verging on terrible. She says everyone, including voice coaches and theater directors, says she’s good. She knows this is the part of the auditions where they tell you to stop doing what you love. Simon thinks it will be the best news she’s heard, though.


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