Tag Archives: Jennifer Lopez

Queens native Nicki Minaj to join ‘American Idol’ as judge: report


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Phil Mcarten / FOX

Queens rapper Nicki Minaj will be joining the judges table on “American Idol” for the singing competition’s upcoming season, according to reports.

Sources confirmed to “Us Weekly” that the “Super Bass” singer will take one of the spots vacated when Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler announced their departure prior to the popular show’s 12th season.

“I’m not sure the deal is completely done yet, but yes, she is definitely doing it,” one source told the magazine.

The Young Money Entertainment artist from Jamaica performed her song “Starships” on the show last year.

Minaj — born Onika Tanya Maraj — was also rumored last year to be in the running for a judging position on Fox’s “The X Factor.”

Mariah Carey announced last month that she would be joining “Idol’s” judging panel.

The new season of “Idol” is set to premiere on Wednesday, January 18.

 

Heejun Han sent home on ‘American Idol’


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Phil Mcarten / FOX

For the second straight week, Heejun Han found himself in American Idol’s bottom three. This time though, neither viewer votes, nor the judges were able to save him.

Han was joined in the bottom three last night by Skylar Laine and Hollie Cavanagh, but it was Han whose Idol dreams were ended.

After host Ryan Seacrest announced that Han received the least votes, Steven Tyler informed the 22-year-old that the judges would not be using their one save on him.

After the show Jennifer Lopez consoled Han, saying she wanted to save him, but couldn’t.

Han advanced as far as fellow Queens crooner Pia Toscano made it last year. Both finished in ninth place in the singing competition.

In his Idol exit interview, Han said he felt surprisingly upbeat.

“I feel great actually,” the Flushing-native said, “This is not as bad as I thought it would be. I feel like I showed what I got and I finished with a high note.”

Han’s performance of “A Song For You” on Wednesday night’s show drew a standing ovation and praise from the judges.

“Finally the Heejun that we selected came back to us tonight,” Randy Jackson said. “Welcome back.”

“It was my first time getting a standing anything and it happened to be Steven, Randy and Jennifer, so it was an awesome experience.” Han said.

One aspect of the show that he said he will miss though is the stage and everyone cheering for him.

“Stay crazy, stay humble and stay with me. It’s only going to get crazier,” Han tweeted after last night’s show.

By making it to the top ten, Han guaranteed his spot on the Idol concert tour that will kick off this summer.

Heejun Han receives standing ovation from judges on ‘American Idol’


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Untitled-1

A week after the American Idol judges were on Heejun Han’s back for not taking the competition seriously, the Flushing-native had them on their feet with his rendition of “A Song For You.”

The top 9 Idols performed songs from their personal musical icons with Han choosing the Donny Hathaway classic.

The song, which was a complete departure from last week’s jokey performance, displayed the Queens crooner’s capabilities and earned a standing ovation from the judges.

“Hee-man you did it, you turned it around,” Steven Tyler said.

Last week’s playful performance was a result of Han not knowing how well he can sing, the Aerosmith frontman said.

CLICK HERE TO SEE HEEJUN HAN IN HIGH SCHOOL

“That is the most beautiful tone,” said Jennifer Lopez. “When you connect and you really sing to us, you move people.”

Veteran judge Randy Jackson was just glad to have the old Han back.

“Finally the Heejun that we selected came back to us tonight,” Jackson said. “Welcome back.”

After the show Han tweeted that “A Song For You” was for his fans.

“Thank you all so much. What a life,” wrote Han. “It was [a] song for you guys.”

Tonight on Idol the viewer votes will reveal who will be sent home and who will advance to the show’s top 8 at 8 p.m. on Fox 5.

 

Heejun Han survives the bottom three on American Idol


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Michael Becker / FOX

Queens’ Heejun Han found himself in American Idol’s bottom three vote getters for the first time this season, but survived to advance to the show’s top 9 and keep his Idol dream alive.

Han was joined by DeAndre Brackensick and Erika Van Pelt as the bottom three vote getters with Van Pelt being sent home.

After being saved Han tweeted to his followers, “Thank you so much for giving me another chance.”

Han has now advanced as far as fellow Queens crooner Pia Toscano made it on last year’s show.

This week, the Idol top 10 tackled the songs of Billy Joel. Han previously performed Joel’s “New York State of Mind” last month in his final performance before the judges chose the top 24 semifinalists.

This time, the Flushing-native sang “My Life,” but not before starting with something “much too slow.”

Han entered the stage in a tuxedo seemingly to perform a ballad, but as the piano began, Han ripped off his tuxedo and requested something he could dance to.

In a seeming preemptive to the judge’s criticism, Han sang “I don’t care what you say anymore, this is my life,” during his “My Life” performance.

“I love that you brought a little fun to tonight, that was a breath of fresh air,” said Jennifer Lopez, but added that she did not think he hit the vocal as well as he can.

Steven Tyler told Han he has to take his singing a little more seriously.

“There were still some vocal problems, but as much as you were entertaining I was just happy to see you have a good time,” Jackson said. “We’ve become to know you as a funny dude. I loved that part of it.”

The top 9 will perform again next Wednesday at 8 p.m. on Fox 5.

 

Heejun Han performs Billy Joel’s “My Life” on American Idol


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Michael Becker / FOX

Queens’ Heejun Han lit up the American Idol stage with the bright personality he has become known for, though the judges felt his vocals were lacking luster.

This week, the Idol top 10 tackled the songs of Billy Joel. Han previously performed Joel’s “New York State of Mind” last month in his final performance before the judges chose the top 24 semifinalists.

READ HEEJUN HAN’S INTERVIEW WITH THE QUEENS COURIER

This time, the Flushing-native sang “My Life,” but not before starting with something “much too slow.”

Han entered the stage in a tuxedo seemingly to perform a ballad, but as the piano began, he ripped off his tuxedo and requested something he could dance to.

In a seeming preemptive to the judge’s criticism, Han sang “I don’t care what you say anymore, this is my life,” during his “My Life” performance.

“I love that you brought a little fun to tonight, that was a breath of fresh air,” said Jennifer Lopez, but added that she did not think he hit the vocal as well as he can.

Steven Tyler told Han he has to take his singing a little more seriously.

“There were still some vocal problems, but as much as you were entertaining I was just happy to see you have a good time,” Jackson said. “We’ve become to know you as a funny dud. I loved that part of it.”

Viewer votes will choose the Idol hopeful who will be sent home tonight on Fox 5 at 8 p.m.

 

The Accidental Idol: Heejun Han talks with The Courier


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Michael Becker / FOX

Heejun Han landed in “American Idol’s” Top Ten by accident. The 22-year-old from Flushing auditioned for the show as a means to propagate his organization – a group called Milal that assists special needs children. He sought to spread the word, hopefully help the kids he adored. He never thought music, something previously regarded as merely a hobby, would become his life.

He now sings weekly for an audience of millions.

Originally from Korea, Han moved to Queens with his family when he was 12. As a kid, he performed songs in front of his parents and practiced singing in the bathroom, but never received any professional vocal training.

Han’s musical influences include a lineup of legendary balladeers — Michael Bolton, Billy Joel and Michael McDonald. For his first “American Idol” audition in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Han sang Michael Bolton’s version of “How Am I Supposed To Live Without You” – a performance so moving, it brought Jennifer Lopez to tears.

As he advances to the semi-finals, Han is beginning to feel the pressure. The show keeps its contenders on a rigid schedule. Training sessions consume a majority of their time, strengthening participants’ voices and practicing their song for the following week with mentors and coaches. Han says the contestants do not interact with the show’s three judges — Lopez, Steven Tyler and Randy Jackson — outside of the few minutes following their performances, when the officials offer their critiques.

Han says the biggest challenge of competing on “American Idol” is holding your ground and remembering yourself in the spotlight.

“It’s hard to know yourself and not act like a star,” said Han. “The circumstances can make you bigheaded. You need to just focus on who you are.”

Regardless of how he wound up a semi-finalist on “American Idol,” Han is ecstatic.

“When I tried out, it was to help my organization at home,” said Han. “Now, I’m in a position where I can help a lot of people. The fact that I get to do stuff for other people, it’s amazing.”

“American Idol” airs Wednesday and Thursday nights at 8 p.m. on Fox 5.

 

Heejun Han performs “Right Here Waiting” on American Idol


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Carin Baer / FOX.

After American Idol’s dozen finalists were narrowed down to 11 before the show even began, Heejun Han took the stage to mixed review from the judges.

Host Ryan Seacrest opened the show by announcing that “with the cooperation of law enforcement we discovered information that left us with no choice but to eliminate one of our finalists from the competition.”

The unnamed finalist that was disqualified was Jermaine Jones, one of the three wildcards chosen by the judges to advance to the top 13.

The remaining contestants performed songs that debuted in the year they were born.

The 22-year-old Han sang the 1989 Richard Marx ballad “Right Here Waiting.”

“Dude, for me, I didn’t really enjoy this at all. It was pitchy all over the place,” said judge Randy Jackson to boos from the crowd.

Jackson said he felt it was the wrong song choice and that Han is usually better than what he showed last night.

Steven Tyler agreed that Han didn’t choose the right tune to perform.

“You stepped far outside your circle to do this. It wasn’t a great song for you,” Tyler said before adding that he loves Han’s voice no matter what.

Jennifer Lopez was the most impressed of the three with the Flushing native’s performance.

“I could tell you were struggling with the song a little bit, but then for me I felt like you started fighting through that a little bit more and going for it towards the end and it got really beautiful for me,” Lopez said. “I felt your heart in the song.”

The viewer’s votes will be revealed tonight on American Idol at 8 p.m. on Fox 5. Tune in to see if Han survives to advance to the show’s top 10.

 

Heejun Han cruises into American Idol top 12


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Michael Becker / FOX

Queens crooner Heejun Han has cruised into American Idol’s top 12.

Viewer votes chose the bottom guy and girl and the judges chose who to send home.

The choice came down to Jeremy Rosado and Elise Testone. The judges ended Roasado’s journey.

On Wednesday’s episode, Han performed Stevie Wonder’s “All In Love Is Fair.”

The judging triumvirate was impressed.

“Fantastic,” said Steven Tyler. “I love your voice man. Keep it up.”

“I love you,” Jennifer Lopez told the Flushing native. “I loved you since the first time you sang for me and I still love you now.”

Randy Jackson said that while the performance wasn’t flawless it “was really good.”

Devotees took to Han’s Facebook fan page — which has more than 16,000 likes — to extol his performance.

“I had goosebumps listening to that song,” said one fan.

“I love your voice and your humor. Thank you for being you,” added another.

Han was not among the bottom two male vote getters. Beside Rosado, Jermaine Jones found himself in the bottom two.

Idol continues next Wednesday at 8 p.m. on Fox 5.

Heejun Han sings Stevie Wonder in American Idol’s top 13


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Michael Becker / FOX

Heejun Han continued on his American Idol journey Wednesday night impressing judges and winning over fans.

Each contestant took on a Whitney Houston or Stevie Wonder tune on the singing competition’s 400th episode, with the Flushing native performing Wonder’s “All In Love Is Fair.”

The judging triumvirate was impressed.

“Fantastic,” said Steven Tyler.  “I love your voice man.  Keep it up.”

“I love you,” Jennifer Lopez told Han.  “I loved you since the first time you sang for me and I still love you now.”

Randy Jackson said that while the performance wasn’t flawless it “was really good.”

Devotees took to the Queens crooner’s Facebook fan page — which has more than 16,000 likes — to extol Han’s performance.

“I had goosebumps listening to that song,” said one fan.

“I love your voice and your humor. Thank you for being you,” added another.

The viewer votes will be revealed tonight at 8 p.m. on Fox 5.  The bottom guy and girl vote getter will be revealed with the judges choosing the Idol hopeful that gets sent home.

Flushing’s Heejun Han named American Idol finalist as Creighton Fraker is sent home


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Photo Cortesy of Michael Becker / FOX

Viewer votes chose American Idol’s finalists Thursday night and only one of the two Queens contestants were chosen to continue the Idol journey.

Heejun Han was among the group of five guys that received the most votes securing his place in the finals and a chance to be named the 11th American Idol.

Astoria’s Creighton Fraker did not fare as well, being sent home after not being among the top five male vote getters and not being chosen by the judges as one of the three wild cards.

“Had so much fun on my Idol journey! More than grateful for this experience,” Fraker tweeted after the show. “Can’t wait to keep writing and performing my music. Much love.”

The Randy Jackson-dubbed “mad talented” Han advanced despite the judges believing his semifinal song choice — “Angels” by Robbie Williams — did not fully display his voice that Jennifer Lopez called “silky smooth.”

Fan flocked to the Queens crooners Facebook page to congratulate him after receiving the news he was safe.

“All for God. All by God,” Han tweeted.  “Thank you guys so much for everything . I wont let you down.”

This is the second year in a row a Queen resident advanced to American Idol’s finals. Howard Beach’s Pia Toscano made it all the way to the top 9.

The Flushing resident will continue his Idol odyssey on Wednesday at 8 p.m. on Fox 5 as he and his 13 fellow finalists will perform.

 

Queens’ own Creighton Fraker and Heejun Han perform on American Idol’s semifinals


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Fox

American Idol went live Tuesday night for the first time this season as Queens’ own Creighton Fraker and Heejun Han sang for their Idol lives in the show’s semifinals.

Thirteen men took the stage on the popular singing competition, but only five will continue onto next week’s show.

Fraker belted Queens native Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors” to praise from each of the celebrity judges.

“That was so beautiful,” Jennifer Lopez said. “With a voice like that I do not want you to go home.”

Steven Tyler agreed calling the Idol hopeful’s performance “stupendous.”

The judges questioned Han’s choice of Robbie Williams’ “Angels,” saying the song did not allow the Queens crooner to fully display his voice.

“I’m not sure if that song showed off all of how beautiful your voice is,” said Lopez, who also called his sound silky smooth.

While Randy Jackson agreed that the song didn’t show everything the “mad talented” Han can do vocally, he added, “I am so happy we found Heejun.”

Viewer votes will choose the five men and five women that advance to the shows finals which begin next week. The women take the stage on Wednesday night at 8 p.m. on Fox 5. The show’s 13 finalists — the judges will each select one wild card contestant — will be announced Thursday night at 8 p.m. on Fox 5.

Two Queens contestants make it to American Idol’s top 24


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Photos Courtesy of Fox

Hundreds of thousands of “American Idol” hopefuls were narrowed down to 24 over the past month, with two Queens crooners making the cut.

Heejun Han, of Flushing, and Astoria’s Creighton Fraker both withstood the auditions, Hollywood and a trip to Las Vegas to make it to the shows semifinals round, and now have the opportunity to sing live in front of America, hopefully earning the viewers’ votes.

Fraker grew up as a preacher’s kid in South Dakota, finding his voice in church choirs and local boys’ singing groups. He took private lessons throughout the years and eventually joined a touring choir, serenading audiences across the nation.

The 28 year old moved to Astoria eight years ago.

For his turn in front of the judges, Fraker belted out Smokey Robinson’s “Who’s Lovin’ You,” as well as an untitled original piece.

“[The judges] had only good things to say. They were shocked at how unique I was,” Fraker told The Courier.

READ CREIGHTON FRAKER’S INTERVIEW WITH THE QUEENS COURIER

Han, 22, originally from Korea, shocked the judging triumvirate with his audition performance of “How Am I Supposed to Live Without You” by Michael Bolton.

“You have a beautiful tone,” Jennifer Lopez told Han, who said he loves singing Soul and R&B.

Han’s Facebook fan page already has nearly 8,000 likes.

In their final performances before the judges, both Fraker and Han paid homage to their hometown singing Billy Joel’s “New York State of Mind.”

The semifinalists will be sliced in half during next week’s round. The men will perform Tuesday night with the women singing for the “Idol” lives on Wednesday. Viewer votes will determine the 12 finalists who will compete to become the 11th American Idol on Thursday.  Each show airs on Fox 5 at 8 p.m.

Additional reporting by Alexa Altman