‘American Idol’ premiere review: Meet the Turbanator, Ashlee Feliciano, Sarah Restuccio

American IdolWe admit it: the best part of “American Idol” Wednesday night was when Keith Urban hid under a desk and yelled “it’s not safe” as one bad contestant in tight leather pants made a thrusting motion at new judge Nicki Minaj. It was a strange, uneven, and occasionally frustrating premiere, largely because even though we saw new personalities behind the panel, what we had was roughly the same show that we’ve had for 11 years.

The worst part about the show by far was the editing: rather than showing most of the good contestants, we instead had an episode stuffed with awful singers, people desperate for publicity, and of course the over-hyped shots of people getting mad and shoving away the camera. We only like seeing the bad auditions if they are spectacularly bad! Therefore, we’re not even going to mention most of them in here, and instead focus on the people who were really there for the right reasons.

Advanced to Hollywood

Tenna Torres – How many Mariah Carey superfans are going to be auditioning this season? We’re betting about a million, and the hero worship is going to be strong. The good thing for Tenna here is that she can legitimately sing, but we were not as crazy about her somewhat-soulful tone as Mariah and the other judges.

Christina “Isabelle” – Wait, so this person’s sad story is that they lost 50 pounds back in high school? That’s great for her health, but let’s focus instead on that ENORMOUS voice that she has. She needs to work on her facial expressions while she sings, but she could go really far if she keeps this up.

Shira Gavrielov – She. Is. Theatrical. We criticized Christina for not having enough facial expressions; this young lady from Israel was pretty great, except for the fact that her expressions distracted at times from her singing.

Frankie Ford – Frankie’s a great kid with a bad situation: he grew up in a rough part of Brooklyn, and since that time he’s been trying to make a name for himself by singing on the train. Despite the fact that “Sweet Dreams” was not a good song for him to do with his soulful tone, he still made it through.

Sarah Restuccio – The first country artist of the competition, and it was the first time that Keith put on his “serious face” in the entire show. Note to viewers: for every future country audition, we will probably see Keith’s face ten times more than other singers. We were a little bored with her Carrie Underwood song … and then she did “Super Bass” and we instantly loved her.

Angela Miller – If this is how someone can sing with hearing loss, who needs 100% hearing? She’s got some great stage presence and screams STAR. Our favorite performance of the entire show.

The Turbanator a.k.a. GPS a.k.a. Gurpreet Singh Sarin – Personality-wise, we love this guy. He may have the most stylish turban in human history, and he also brings a touch of something different to the show. Does he need some work on his vocals? Definitely, but the thing about this show is that you can work on that as the months go on. If he makes it to the voting rounds, he could have a good shot at going far.

Ashlee Feliciano – The final audition of the show, Ashlee had a nice story about taking care of children, and a pretty sweet voice that was unfortunately saddled with the overdone “Put Your Records On.” With the right songs that give her more of an edge, she could go far.

Not advancing

James Bae – He was made out to be a little bit of a joke with his Justin Bieber dreams and his cheesy outfit; but based on his response to Nicki’s critique, we actually liked the kid. So here you go: a mention in the review!

Evan Ruggiero – He had a truly inspiring story as a cancer survivor who ended up losing one leg, and the best thing about him was that he didn’t come in the audition room with the tear-ducts ready to erupt all over the stage. He was soft-spoken, sincere, and very likable. His voice was almost a little too nasally at times, and he needs to cut down a bit on the corny persona in later rounds.

Jessica Kartalis – Okay, this “recommend an Idol” thing is a little cheesy. How convenient is it that Randy Jackson shows up at the wrong time! Even with the recommendation, she was still not good enough to make it through. Let this also be a reminder that sometimes, singing original music is not always a good thing.

Albert Chang – Wait, who put this guy in a choir?

Who was your favorite and least favorite audition from the premiere, and do you dig the new panel? We want to hear from you below, and you can also check out a full trailer for season 12 over at the link here.

Personally, Angela Miller and the Turbanator are to us the two people with the greatest chances of actually making it to the live shows.

Photo: Fox

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