Season 14 of American Idol finished its auditions last night, with one last look at who found their Idol journeys in San Francisco. We’ve seen only a small portion of the Hollywood Week talent pool, but we now have some idea of who to watch in the next rounds. We only saw seven more successful auditions, but it’s strange how several of them compared to some of the unsuccessful ones:
1. First successful audition (the evening started with a bad one) is one of the better ones–a seventeen-year-old black R&B singer, Adanna Duru, who sings a song about a “cool California guy.” From the way Keith, J-Lo, and Harry react, we know how they’re going to vote–all three say “yes.”
2. Right after we see a gavel-voiced guy trying to scream metal to acoustic guitar accompaniment, to which the judges say, “no,” we see a gravel-voiced blonde, Hunter Larson. She’s loud, and worse than pitchy, and she slaughters the standard, “That’s Life.” The judges all go crazy over her, however, raving about how gritty she is, how she sounds like Pink. (If I were Pink, I might demand an apology.) They send her to the next round, when frankly, I liked the gravel-voiced metal shouter better.
3. The judges also love Tara Honda, a teenage Asian-American belter, who auditions with “I Feel the Earth Move Under my Feet.” She gets three “yes” votes.
4. Daniel Seavey is fifteen going on ten. “A lot of people compare me to Justin Beiber but that’s not my style,” he says. At least Beiber looks like he’s graduated from elementary school, Kid! The undersized teen lists about a dozen instruments he can play, then plays piano and sings Leonard Cohen’s cynical “Hallelujah” in a babyish voice. If the judges were thinking, “How cute!” they were overlooking that the song was simply too big and too mature.
The judges ask for a second song, on guitar, and the kid’s voice is so tiny, the acoustic guitar drowns him out. Harry, the sober-minded judge, says, “You don’t have the maturity yet” and votes, “No.” Soft-hearted Keith, however, would like to see the kid during Hollywood Week and votes, “Yes.” The show takes a commercial break at this point, teasing how J-Lo will vote. There’s not really any suspense. We know that J-Lo, the softie, is going to side with Keith–and the kid exits the room with his golden ticket to Hollywood. (I want to see this fifteen-year-old baby singing in the group round with Kathleen, the fifteen-year-old Bowie-groupie-wanna-be, who we saw the first night in San Francisco.)
5. Rocky Peter was born in the USA but raised in poverty in Nigeria. He gives viewers reason to feel patriotic when he boasts of his US citizenship. He’s a folksy black guy with a guitar (a little like CJ Harris of Season 13) and he sings his own song, “Wrong Places.” Keith in particular thinks he’s got a beautiful voice, and the judges all vote, “Yes.” I look forward to seeing this Rocky (cue the movie theme music) become one of this season’s heroes.
6 (or not). It’s this evening’s “Hollywood or Home” Twitter poll. A woman’s loud and worse than pitchy. (I think her name was Sheila.) Harry has the sense to vote, “No.” Softie Keith votes “yes.” J-Lo’s the swing vote, and we know what a softie she is. Would you believe 71% of Twitter voters liked her but J-Lo didn’t? J-Lo, for once, sensibly votes “no.”
6 (this time it’s for real). First, however, the judges get their playtime. Harry’s apparently heard one too many bad renditions of “Chandelier.” He gets down on his knees and screams his way through “Chandelier” for Keith and J-Lo’s amusement. In the holding booth, poor innocent Jaq MacKenzie looks frightened. Somebody from the outside peeks in to see if she’s the one doing all that terrible screaming. When the judges finally calm down and let Jaq in, she proves to be a punky Goth-flavored fifteen-year-old who can sing, write songs, and play guitar. She’s the contestant who sounds like Pink! J-Lo thinks she sounds great, but young. Keith likes her voice, too. Harry, however, wonders, “Would sending you to Hollywood help you or hurt you?” J-Lo declares she’d like to see her again in Hollywood and votes, “Yes.” Softie Keith agrees and so does Harsh Harry.
Let’s see the following fifteen-year-olds forced to sing in a group: punky Jaq, tiny baby-faced Daniel Seavey and Kathleen (“Is this a joke?”) Skinner!
7. Last audition of Season 14: Tianna Jones, 16, who has a shock of nappy hair and wears boyish fashion. She sings in a black R&B style but with gospel and rock overtones. The judges love her and give her three “yes” votes.
Next comes Hollywood Week. Sometime between today and next Wednesday, I’ll post the singers I predict will be in the final 24–and then see who steps up in Hollywood, and who can’t cut it after all.