The American Idol XIII auditions roll into Atlanta, Georgia tonight! The episode is only 1 hour long. Plan accordingly…
A slew of uber-talented hopefuls flew by so fast, I could barely keep up. Not that I’m complaining. I continue to be entertained by this seasons audition round. Viewers who have tuned out and not returned are really missing out. It makes me want to hit the road and evangelize Idol!
Host Ryan Seacrest was back in his hometown, and what could be cuter than his mom waking him up in his childhood bed on the first day? Or mom fussing over him in the waiting room? Ryan’s such a mama’s boy.
Harry continues to be the font of awesomeness that he has been throughout the auditions. Not only do the hopefuls respect him, but they fear him a little. He’s already the guy whose opinion totally matters. There hasn’t been a judge with that kind of impact since Simon Cowell left the show. Harry’s presence is that much more powerful because, unlike Simon, he LOVES and KNOWS music. He brings a substantive voice that has been sorely missed.
My favorite tonight, by far, was singer-songwriter Jess Meuse. She has a commanding presence and impressive songwriting skills. Iconoclasts like Jess usually don’t fare well on Idol, however. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the new producers will create a safe space for her.
Cold Open: Hopefuls are woken up by their moms. It’s time to audition for American Idol! Nobody wants to wake up. But it’s a big day c’mon. OMG IT’S RYAN SEACREST AND HIS MOM. Ryan doesn’t want to wake up either. Sleeping in his childhood bed. TOTAL LULZ.
Ryan is especially peppy because Atlanta is his hometown.
Majesty Rose – “Violet Hill” by Coldplay – Wearing a headband of giant roses, Majesty begins singing prettily. Such a pretty voice. But once she hits the second verse, her vocal opens up to reveal an unexpectedly powerful vocal. This African American singer is arresting, and a real original. Incredible dynamics. And an inspired song choice. Harry is impressed with her elegance and subltly. Jlo loves that she’s effortless, because Miss Jennifer has got to work so hard. Keith says she completely pulled him in. 3 yeses. “Your golden ticket, your majesty,” says Harry as he hands it to her. A little stunned, she doesn’t react until she greets her family in the waiting room. Then, it’s a major celebration!
Jesse Cline – 19 – “Washed by the Water” We see him working at his job–a gas station attendant. Goofy and a total schlub, I wouldn’t look at this guy twice if he were pumping my gas. But once he opens his mouth to sing, there’s something about it. Maybe it’s the unabashed joy he brings to his performance. Harry calls him a believable singer. Keith was on board in “nanoseconds.” A born singer, he says.
Alyson Ragona – 19 – A pink haired girl sings Bohemian Rhapsody while accompanying herself on a ukulele. It’s as strange as it sounds. Her giant cat shirt freaks out Harry. 3 nos
Chris Medina – 23 – “Chasing Pavement” by Adele – NO NOT THAT CHRIS MEDINA. This one has a puppy named bubby with him, which Harry holds protectively while he performs. Chris has a smooth, soothing voice and nice phrasing. When Chris finishes, Harry asks, “Do you know that song, ‘I have a small plastic bag and a towelette'” The room cracks up. “I believe you when you sing,” says Keith. “I believed you, I believe I have a wet spot on my pants,” Harry deadpans. ” Keith asks “From the dog?” Harry, in a nerdy voice, “No. Dogs been great. This is a personal matter.” As he leaves, Harry jokes that he’s trying to shed the “Harsh Harry” reputation. Jlo snarks that its going to take more than playing nice with a dog. Ha! 3 yeses
Kristen O’Connor – 24 – “Good Morning Heartache” by Billie Holiday – She’s a nurse tech. And there she is as work, in her scrubs. There’s a lot of voiceover–talk about being the light in someone’s day at work– as she sings. But what we hear reveals a big voiced girl. Holy high notes! Emily Piriz -17 – “Mama Knows Best” by Jesse J. – Big voiced girl number 2. This one is soulful. She’s been watching American Idol since she was a little girl. Both singers are through to Hollywood.
Ben Briley – 24 – “Arms of a Woman” by Amos Lee – He’s a little nasally, but it’s not entirely unpleasant. Shift to Ben talking about his wife and life at home. Keith loved the sound of his voice. Harry compared it to Gumbo, a pot full of influences, stirred just right. Jlo noted his nasally tone, but she kinda loves it (Hm, I’m on the fence.) “That’s brother Gumbo right there,” declares Harry. Ben does NOT want to be called Gumbo. Ha. 3 yeses
Nica Nishae – 24 – “Natural Woman” by Aretha Franklin – Nica plans on doing the best that she can so that “the remember Nica Nishae.” The yeses come surprisingly fast considering a shouty performance that was strident on the top notes. I found her tone harsh. – 3 yeses.
Jordan Brisbane – 15 – “If I Were Your Man” – He cooks at his high school. He believes he has what it takes to “shut American Idol down.” And he pretty much does! He’s trying too hard, but he’s 15. For a teen, his confidence is impressive. Harry advises him to be careful when he sings runs. He thinks he’s a pretty good singer, but he’ll be better when he’s older. Jlo agrees. Keith thinks he has raw talent. But rather than sending him off til he’s matured, Jordan gets 3 yeses. Harry thought his face was so beautiful, Jordan should be in movies.
Oh. Let’s pimp Phillip Phillips! He auditioned in Savannah, GA. Clips of a hopeful, Sam Burchfield, jamming out at a Phillip concert a few days before his audition…
Sam Burchfield – 22 “I Want To Be Like You” from Jungle Book – And here he is…performing a Disney cover. I’m not a huge fan of Disney music (I know. Kill me now) but this is kind of charming! Sam is full of fun. Jennifer likes what she heard. Keith compliments his guitar playing, but also loves his voice. Harry says no, he found the put on accent Sam employed a little precious. It’s a good point. Sam took on a character to perform. He really needed a second song to prove that he’s more than a novelty. Jlo and Keith say yes, Sam will be able to prove his authenticity when he gets to Hollywood.
Jessica Meuse – “Blue Eyed Lie” – She’s from the tiny town of Slapout, Alabama, and is a self-described road warrior. Harry notes that she has a Stevie Nicks vibe. And he would be correct. She’s Stevie, with the gravelly voice and pronounced vibrato, but with a darker edge. Her performance is compelling and the song reveals a promising singer-songwriter. Harry calls her “low maintenance,” a gal who would just kick back with the crew back stage. She says she’s a solo acoustic act, used to carrying the act on her own. Keith notes that she plays like someone used to carrying the rhythm and the melody–all parts of the performance–herself. The sum is better than the parts, he says. Golden ticket in hand, Jess cries in the waiting room. It’s going to be interesting to see how this obviously strong-willed women gets on with the trappings of Idol.
Jared Cotton – A horrible sounding contestant sings. Will he go home or Hollywood? YOU CAN VOTE VIA TWITTER. After the break. Yep. He’s going home. That 56 percent of you actually thought he would make it to Hollywood kind of freaks me out.
Travis Hunter Brown -. Ryan’s mom gives this crazily styled hopeful some fashion advice out in the holding room. She should have told him to head back home. He’s awful. A montage of terrible singers follow.
Lauren Ogburn – “Fancy” by Reba – Lauren walks in, all tough, with an American flag headband. She’s going to make sure you don’t mistake her for a girly girl. She’s a throw back, with a gritty, southern fried sound that reminds me a little of Skylar Laine from Season 11. The judges are really impressed. Jlo utters that dreaded word, “goosies.” Lauren admits she’s intimidated by Harry, whom she’s “heard things about.” Harry thinks her look is a bit try hard (yes, we get it!) but he likes her singing. Keith is enthusiastic, calling her “authentic.” 3 yeses.
Next, are two returnees, Neco Starr and Caleb Johnson. Both are back to redeem themselves. Caleb had screwed up royally in Las Vegas Season 10. Neco was undercooked the last time he auditioned. Harry didn’t get Neco, but he said yes, because he thinks he’s a talented guy. Jlo said yes, Keith said no. Caleb delivered a powerful audition that impressed all three judges. Both are Hollywood bound!
Bria Anai – 15 – “One and Only” by Adele – by Momager is on hand. Harry loves her bright purple lips. This girl is almost scarily mature and self possessed, her singing assured. Theres a touch of playacting here, a bit of pageant bot at work. But she’s got the goods. No doubt, she’s been at this for awhile. The judges are really stuck on her lips! But, they find her singing amazing. 3 yeses
The video previews teased the return of Pants on the Ground guy dancing with Harry, but it wasn’t shown tonight. Huh.
44 golden ticket holders head to Hollywood from Atlanta! 163 golden tickets so far.
Salt Lake City is next!