'American Idol' Recap: Season 13 Premiere Twerks It Out
The revamped Fox reality singing competition returned with impressive auditions in Boston and Austin.
From the first frame of American Idol's season-13 premiere, it already feels like a very different show, as a nervous Marialle Sellars entered the program’s brand-new "chamber," a holding room just before going in front of the judges.
"You are going to be a nightmare for the other contestants in this competition,” Harry Connick Jr. told the young Detroit hopeful, who came in armed with a guitar and a rather impressive rendition of "Grenade" by Bruno Mars.
Is she the next American Idol? Who knows, but this is just the first three minutes -- and already I’m hooked.
There are plenty of cosmetic changes with the production as well, utilizing a split-screen, Instagram-type technique with first-person narratives telling the story. The vibe is different, too, as Connick, Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban set the stage for the new season by hanging out on a couch.
"To send somebody out of the room crying is a terrible feeling," said Connick. "But if it's the right thing to say, I think you have to say it."
That said, at one point, Connick -- who is dubbed "Harsh Harry" -- tells an auditioner: "You are growing up in a time of pitch-correcting software, and you could really use it."
The episode led off with 28-year-old club singer Troy Durden, whose twerking version of "Over the Rainbow" had all three judges thoroughly entertained. "There’s a voice there and you need to twerk on it a little bit more," joked Lopez.
Another bonus: Connick really uses his fatherly instincts as he doles out advice to contestants, as when he tells 15-year-old Morgan Deplitch that her audition of "Paris (Ooh La La)" by Grace Potter and the Nocturnals was not age-appropriate, and the lyrics "creeped him out."
Talent-wise, there is plenty represented in Boston and Austin, and the new rule of auditioning with instruments means lots of guitars, which intimidates Malcolm Allen to the point of playing an air guitar. Viviana Villalon even busts out a ukulele for her version of Maroon 5’s "Love Somebody," which does the trick and earns her a trip to Hollywood as well.
As for the sob stories, they are still there, but not as prominent as they were in the past. For instance, Sam Woolf, of Bradentown, Fla., talks about his mom leaving him and being raised by his grandparents, but it never went deeper than that as his music did all the talking. Savion Wright from Texas told his story of having ADHD and waiting eight years to audition because he felt he wasn’t "creative enough," but it was just a quick prelude before he impressed with an original song, "The Dark Side of Me," plus his terrific vocals and charm.
Do the girls have guys to root for? Ethan Thompson has a Phillip Phillips vibe to him that shows major promise, but with a lighter tone, while teddy bear Shanon Wilson, a former football player from Texas, falsettoed his way to Hollywood.
On the girl front, X Factor fans may have recognized Rochester’s Jillian Jensen, auditioning acoustically and explaining that performing with the instrument is the "only time I feel myself." Her rendition of Gavin DeGraw’s "Not Over You," perked up Urban’s ears, and earned a hug from Connick.
As always, the premiere episode had its fair share of bad auditions, with Sam Atherton from Massachusetts coming close to the evening’s most obnoxious, bragging that he was a multi-instrumentalist with perfect pitch who doesn’t need to practice. J.Lo fanatic Roland Guerrero, although sweet, faltered doing one of the pop star's songs, "Hold it, Don’t Drop It," which was so terrible that it caused her to admit: "I didn't even recognize my own song."
Munfarid Zaidi, from Pakistan by way of Sugarland, Texas, scored points just for knowing who Connick was, and then finished his audition being cradled in the judge’s arms "like a baby" while he crooned "No One" by Alicia Keys.
In all, 46 people were awarded tickets to Hollywood -- and this is just the first night!
So who do you think of this group will go the distance to the semifinal Idol worshippers? Hit us up in the comments!