January 26th, 2016 · No Comments
January 23rd, 2016 · No Comments
January 22nd, 2016 · No Comments
by Lyn Jensen
One of the sadder parts about American Idol leaving us is how we won’t get to see new judges. The final season is being judged by the same threesome that made such a mess of Season 14–and didn’t do such a great job on Season 13, either. This field shapes up according to the whims of Harry, J-Lo, and Keith, who keep talking about they’re looking for a bookend for Kelly Clarkson. (A what?) They have some strange ideas about who may be that bookend. Let’s see who they sent (and some they didn’t send) to Hollywood Week:
1. Jessica Cabral, is a Brazilian-American with a frosted bob and a soulful voice. She shows off some jazz runs and stylings. The judges compare her to Kelly Clarkson, and give her a Golden Ticket to Hollywood.
2? Cody Ostrenga rides rodeo, sharpshoots, shows off a belly dance (J-Lo likes it, Harry says you can see that anytime on Bourbon Street) and he sings “Rollin’ on the River” pleasantly, too. The judges agree he’s entertaining. That worked for Taylor Hicks–but not for Cody. After the judges all smile and nod about how entertaining he is, they say his voice isn’t good enough. There have been several pitchy inexperienced teens the judges thought were good enough, but this guy, they don’t.
2. Brian Dale Brown has auditioned for Idol ten times. He apparently has never got taken, which would mean he’s been turned down by every judging panel back to Season 5–at least. He’s a big heavy red-haired guy who shouts his way through “Unchained Melody.” The thing is, he is hitting the notes–and he’s doing the work of Bill Medley’s and Bobby Hatfield’s voices. That’s good enough for the judges, who send him to Hollywood.
3. Sentimental story time: Melanie Heber, 17, is a cancer survivor. She plays guitar and sings a Bruno Mars song in a folksy style–she whines but in a good way. The judges praise her and give her three “Yes” votes.
4, 5, and 6. Montage of Rachel Karryn, Briana Espinal, and Caroline Byrne–they all get to go to Hollywood. Maybe we’ll see if they’re actually capable of winning then.
7. China Sherrod, a heavyset black teenager with bobbed hair, plays guitar and shows a very soulful, emotive voice on an Ariana Grande song. The judges love her and give her three “yes” votes. Harry says she could “stay in that lane and go far.”
8. Lillian Glanton, bright brassy 15-year-old singer-songwriter from a chicken farm, sings one of her own songs. She plays guitar, too. Her voice is as bright and brassy as her long blonde hair. Harsh Harry says, “No.” J-Lo notices some notes were off but says, “Yes” anyway. Keith’s on the fence but eventually sides with J-Lo. So Lillian’s got a Golden Ticket.
9. Casey? No, Kacye Haines, who has a sentimental backstory–he’s been through drug rehab. His vocals show some strength and range, but Keith votes, “No.” J-Lo votes, “Yes.” Harry’s on the fence but comes up with comparisons to Bono and Jon Bon Jovi, and finally says, “Yes.” Kacye’s going to Hollywood. Will he last long enough for us to remember his name?
10. Zach Person (pronounced like Pierson), a teenage black blues-alt singer from Texas, sings and plays guitar on “Next Door Neighbor Blues,” a Gary Clark, Jr. song. Even though he’s young, he sounds professional, very experienced for his age. J-Lo likes the way he sounds like he’s “from another time.” Keith says, “It doesn’t matter who you sing, you sound like Zach.” The judges hand over a Golden Ticket.
11. Collette Lush is loud and not much else–rough, jagged, pitchy, shaky. She’s also a teenage redhead from Orange County. The judges appear more fixated on her hair than her voice. Keith thinks she doesn’t sound like anybody–and I’m not sure how flattering that’s supposed to be. J-Lo thinks she sounds like Carrie Underwood, although I sure can’t hear it. Maybe because the judges like her red hair so much, they send her to Hollywood.
12. She’s got long dark hair, she’s from San Diego, and she shows soul on a Beyoncé song. Avalon Young sings better than the last girl did, so she gets a Golden Ticket, too.
13. Uson Isong is a very tall, very thin, very dark Nigerian-American kid with a black hat. He gives a little bit of soul to Sam Smith’s “Not the Only One.” His vocal is all over the place–but the judges insist he can sing. He gets a Golden Ticket, but maybe more because of his bubbly personality than his singing.
15. We haven’t seen any promising rockers this season, except maybe for Jackie Butler. She’s 19, she’s got green hair and she sings lead in a punk-alt band. She delivers an uneven performance of a Bruno Mars song. Harry notes, “Something happened halfway through.” Keith says, “You moved out of the band.” She gets three “Yes” votes. Will she do better in Hollywood, or is this her best?
16. A montage of ten or so Golden Tickets–giving a tease and a reminder there are contestants that haven’t been featured yet.
17. Like Avalon Young, Stephaney Negrete is from San Diego. She’s got a loud showy Broadway voice and strains her way through some big showy runs. J-Lo in particular is concerned about the performance, but she says she’d like to see Negrete one more time. Harry is less critical, and the judges send Negrete to Hollywood.
18. Manny Torres is a dark-skinned Puerto Rican who proves he’s no Adam Levine on Maroon 5’s “This Love.” J-Lo thinks he’s a star, however, so we know where this is going. Keith and Harry like him, too, so he gets three “Yes” votes.
As the last auditions end, I’m left wondering what happened to Savion Wright. He auditioned for a third season but his fate is unknown. Next week comes Hollywood, the lines, the groups, and maybe the rooms. We’ll wait and see if Wright pops up, if any new faces emerge, and if the promising contestants still look promising.
January 22nd, 2016 · No Comments
January 22nd, 2016 · No Comments
January 21st, 2016 · No Comments
by Lyn Jensen
Last night and tonight are the last auditions for American Idol we’ll ever see–unless someone decides to revive the franchise. So far the final talent pool doesn’t look very promising. Did anyone who sang last night sound like the next American Idol, and the last one ever?
1. A girl says she’s “She’s” sister? While America tries to remember whether “She(?)” was an Idol contestant that got cut early sometime ago, or the “Gangnam Style” guy, this girl says her name’s Po? Or Poe? Poh? We finally learn she’s Miranda Scott, and her sister is “Shi” Scott, a Season 14 finalist. She’s raspy and has no range, but Harry thinks she’s—refreshing. She gets three “Yes” votes and I’m guessing it’s because being Shi’s sister makes good TV.
2. Amelia Eisenhower is so desperate for TV time that she shows off a Japanese sword, a katana, even though it’s got nothing to do with anything. She’s a fiddle player from Nashville who likes Led Zeppelin, and that makes about as much sense as anything else about this segment. She sings “Many Rivers,” an Annie Lennox song, aptly demonstrating she’s no Annie Lennox. She hits maybe three good notes. Harry calls her voice “mysterious” but says he wants her to hit more notes. (We all do, Harry.) She gets three “Yes” votes, probably on the assumption that people will be tuning in to see “the Katana Girl,” or something.
3. Joy Dove is an energetic black girl with corkscrew curls, and she, unlike the first two contestants, can sing. She’s got a big loud energetic voice and personality, and the judges put her through to Hollywood.
4. A white Southern guy with a ukulele! Mackenzie Bourg can properly hit notes, at least, which is better than can be said for the first two contestants. He’s like Dave Mathews or John Mayer at their scatti-est and weirdest. The judges find him charming and pleasant and put him through.
5 and 6? No! Two brothers do a duo that Keith Urban calls a “Gregorian acid trip.”
5. Every once in a while a TV talent contestant looks headed for disaster–then s/he sings, and all is forgiven. That’s the case with black-hatted pianist Jenna Renae, who can’t even open a door right and blabs about how she likes J-Lo and Kelly Clarkson. She can sing soulfully, though. Harry finds her “hard to peg in a good way.” She gets three “yes” votes.
6? Mario Bonds, a blind black guy, shows off his powerhouse voice on Natalie Cole’s “Inseparable.” Harry comments he filled the whole room, he has a powerful presence–but he had pitch issues. The judges all say, “No,” after they took all those other singers with pitch issues.
We finally get to “the real” 6. Adam Lasher is back! He’s Carlos Santana’s nephew who auditioned in Season 14, when he had longer hair and a beard. He’s also the guy that Harry called a superstar–and then cut at the end of Hollywood Week. Last season Lasher invited comparisons to Jim Croce and Tom Petty. The judges send him through to Hollywood.
7. Emily Brooke is also back from Season 14, and the loud and pitchy teenage country girl is as loud and pitchy as ever–but the judges all talk about how much she’s improved. (This is improved?) She was cut just short of the semi-finals last year, so it’s obvious where this is going. She’s getting her second chance at Hollywood Week.
If American Idol honestly wanted to keep viewers watching, they’d insist that contestants sing on pitch. We’ll see how many remaining contestants actually do when we tune in for the last night of auditions–ever–tonight.
January 21st, 2016 · No Comments
January 20th, 2016 · No Comments
January 15th, 2016 · No Comments
by Lyn Jensen
After three episodes went by with no front-runners emerging, last night we finally saw some auditions that promise the final season of American Idol may live up to its hype after all. Here’s who made it to Hollywood Week and potentially to the voting rounds:
1. and 2. Amber Lynn and James “The Eighth” Dawson audition together but not impressively. He plays guitar while she sings in a quirky voice. Then he sings, and his song choice is John Legend’s “Sun Comes Up.” His voice isn’t a technical wonder but it shows some character, enough to make you want to hear another song, at least. The judges offer mixed comments but give both singers Golden Tickets to Hollywood.
3? No. Emily Weers is hyped as somebody who can do an auctioneer’s spiel, but can she sing? At her audition, she sounds (and looks) a little like Buffy Sainte-Marie. That’s not good enough for the judges who think her vocals aren’t strong enough and find her pitch drifting everywhere. She’s better than half the people they’ve taken (including the two above) but she’s not (even) going to Hollywood.
3. Chris “CJ” Johnson is a White-Guy-With-Guitar (and tattoos and a goatee) but his voice is soulful. He gets three “Yes” votes.
4. Ethan Coots, a fifteen-year-old country boy (another WGWG), looks about twelve–and J-Lo thinks he’s cute. He says, “Blues and Southern is my genre.” He shouts his way through “Stormy Monday,” copying the Allman Brothers’ recording. Harry and J-Lo argue about whether to put him through or not. (Guess which one wants to put him through?) It comes down to Keith, the softie, and we have to wait through a commercial break for Keith the Softie to outvote Harsh Harry.
5. Mary Williams, with blonde wavy hair, from Tennessee, performs some old-school country with Tammy Wynette’s “‘Til I Can Make it on my Own.” She’s got a powerful country voice, and a pretty one. For once the judges get a little unpredictable. Harry and J-Lo vote “Yes,” meaning the lady’s going to Hollywood. Keith, who can get hyper-critical with country singers, dissents but is out-voted.
6. Terrian (like “Terry Ann”) is black with bushy red hair. She’s from what might be called the wrong side of Memphis. She sings Pharrell’s “Happy,” and she’s got a pretty voice. Even though Harry criticizes her vocal flaws, the judges give her three “Yes” votes.
7. Time for another (white) guy with a guitar, Tommy Stringfellow. This one’s a tall thin (stringy) fellow with a shock of curly red hair. He sings Ed Sheeran’s “Gimme Love” in a quirky voice. (There are many quirky voices this season.) J-Lo thinks he’s cute, so we know where this is going. Keith and Harry like him, too, so he gets three “Yes” votes.
8. Tank Johnson is a black teacher who’s about as wide as he is short. He shows up with a boom box and dance moves, but finally gets around to singing “Superstar.” (He’s copying Luther Vandross, not the Carpenters.) His singing shows charm and personality, even if it’s not technically thrilling, and the judges give him three “Yes” votes.
9. John Wayne Shultz (Harry calls him the show’s “big handsome cowboy”) is back–in Season 10, he almost made the semi-finals, but that judging panel liked Scotty McCreery better. Shultz sings “The Dance” (Garth Brooks) and the judges love him. Keith likes his “natural way of doing it, not a Garth impression.” They welcome him back with three “Yes” votes. We may have found our first potential winner of the season.
10. During Season 5, Tori Kelly auditioned but didn’t get far. Now she’s got a hit record, and is influencing the next generation of singers. One is a fifteen-year-old black girl, Jordan Simone. She has a very mature voice and style for her age. The judges give her three “Yes” votes.
11. A montage of successful auditions including quirky-voice Rhea Raj on piano, and somebody named Casey, or something.
12. Tonight’s showing us more good singers than the first three episodes combined. Jake Dylan (guitarist, white) is a working plumber from Oklahoma who sings well–then Harsh Harry says, “You’re good but we’re looking for spectacular.” (Given the some of the mediocre people the judges have raved about, you could’ve fooled me.) J-Lo and Keith outvote Harsh Harry, however.
13. Ashley L. has a last name that’s hard to spell and pronounce. (There’ll be time to learn it if she makes it through Hollywood Week.) She’s a brunette with a guitar, and somehow the song “Black Velvet” suits her well. For once J-Lo’s the judge who’s unimpressed, saying, “I wanted a tiny bit more.” Harry and Keith outvote her.
14. Speaking of last names that are hard to spell and pronounce, Andrew V(N?)azarabekian came all the way from Russia to audition. He says he’s doing an Adele song, but the song he does is Bob Dylan’s “To Make You Feel My Love.” The judges agree he’s got a beautiful voice and give him three “Yes” votes.
15. Have we found our first breakout of the season? L. V. Shane looks old-school seventies-era singer-songwriter, with guitar, long hair, beard, earrings, and a past that includes drug use and rehab. When he sings “House of the Rising Sun,” it’s like he’s giving a concert (even though Harry notices his guitar’s out of tune). J-Lo notices how his voice fills the room. He gets three “Yes” votes, and he’ll either shine through the season or will never be seen again.
Auditions wrap up next week.