Sir Mac and I are going to be talking Idol every week! Watch out for our combined power lists/discussions in the coming weeks. First up? We pick our favorite auditions! Join in the conversation below in comments
Mac’s Top 10 Auditions:
1) Majesty Rose- Violet Hill by Coldplay
Unique. Nothing like her currently on the show, or has been on the show. I think she’s definitely one to watch, probably even more so than Marielle Sellars. I thought Sellars’ cover of Grenade was just alright, but Rose really picked a song that suited her style and voice really well. I think her uniqueness is what I love the most.
MJ – She’s on my list too. What I love about Majesty is her originality, and her ear for interesting covers. Vocally, she knows how to play with phrasing and dynamics. My bet is that she’ll be one of the more interesting contestants.
2) Ayla Stackhouse- Wings by Little Mix
I thought it was a cool audition choice. She has a great personality too. In a weird way, she reminds me more of Jordin Sparks than Brianna Oakley, because of the tone in her voice and the style. Brianna just has similar hair to Jordin, but not really the right sound. I love that we have strong black females this season who are current, and don’t fall into the easy “diva” category where they are forced to sing Whitney Houston every week.
MJ – Ayla has personality and swag, which could work against her in the competition, as voters tend to like their female singers to be demure. I think it would be great for a female R&B singer, with attitude, to advance through the competition. Could it happen?
3) John Fox- To Make You Feel My Love
My favorite male. I absolutely loved his cover. His voice is great, and he really felt like he had a story to tell with his song. He reminded me of Matt Giraud. There are a lot of white guys with guitars this season, so he really will have to continue to stand out.
MJ – John’s vocal has an essential sweetness and passion. I agree that he’s a story teller, but I’m not convinced of his star power. I’d have to hear more.
Mac – He reminds me a bit of Phillip Phillips, who arguably lacked some presence in his first audition. I think the bigger question is will Idol allow him the time he needs to develop on stage?
4) CJ Harris- Soul Shine by the Allman Brothers
There’s something incredibly authentic here. Very real. Very likeable guy. He really feels like someone Idol found while walking down a street. He doesn’t seem over coached or anything. Sometimes it’s fun to take a real country bumpkin and throw them into the spotlight. Yes, there are better vocalists in the competition, but there’s something about CJ that makes you want to root for him.
MJ – One of my favorites too! There are better singers in the competition, but CJ sings with such raw conviction, I believe every word he sings. He commands attention on the stage.
5) Sam Woolf- Lego House by Ed Sheeran
He still is a standout for me, despite having been in the first episode. I still remember the cool tone in his voice, and his ease and confidence while performing. He’s one to watch, I think. Whatever tween girls are still watching this show should fall in love with Sam Woolf. What a great name too, for a performer.
MJ – Seventeen year old Sam rushed nervously through “Lego House,” but he had such a beautiful tone and phrasing, and a ton of charisma. Sam is definitely one to watch.
6) Ben Briley- Arms Of A Woman by Amos Lee
I liked that he’s clearly a country singer, but he chose a non-country song and put his country spin on it. He reminds me a bit of Chris Richardson, with his nasally tone, but 100% country (not just Mayberry). He also feels authentic, like CJ. And he still feels refreshing, even though Scotty McCreery won just a few seasons ago. I think he’ll be a polarizing contestant for some, but for me, I’m digging the sound.
MJ – I’m not sure whether I love Ben’s nasally tone. I’d have to hear more. But his song choice was A+. He seems to have a hodge-podge of influences. I wonder what else he has up his sleeve.
7) Samantha Calmes- From Birth
I realize this girl will never make the voting rounds, but I have to agree to disagree with Harry Connick Jr, who didn’t enjoy her audition. I loved the spoken word transitioning into the light singer-songwriter sound. I would love to see more of Samantha. I think she knows who she is as an artist, and her second song (The Jeffersons Theme!) proved she was a better vocalist than Harry thought initially.
MJ – Samantha’s original song, with its talk/verse and melodic chorus was a little odd, but intriguing. Yeah, Harry dissed her vocals, but she shut him down when she showed off some massive pipes with her rendition of “Moving on Up.” The two performances also revealed a very versatile singer. I want to hear more from Samantha in Hollywood.
8) Malcolm Allen- Superstition
I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed Superstition on American Idol. Malcolm Allen came in, took an overdone song, and really made you enjoy it all over again. Shocking. He’s got a good personality, seems like a fun guy, and could do well in the competition. He’s already more interesting than any of the boys last year.
MJ: Malcolm is one my favorites! I love his confidence, and ability to make a song his own. I agree that he took an annoyingly overdone song and made it fresh again. I hope this talented singer goes far. His chiding of the WGWG cracked me up.
9) Austin Wolfe- Radioactive
I think she’s current, and she’s a little edgier than we usually get from our female contestants. She’s following a bit in the footsteps laid out by Angie Miller. I think she’ll fly under the radar a bit, and then out of nowhere will just give the performance of the week.
MJ: Here’s a young singer who is decidedly NOT half baked. So much confidence, and a sense of her own artistry for a teenager. I loved her beautiful tone and phrasing.
10) Keith London- Roar
OK. Another time I disagreed with Harry. I had a hard time choosing my last person, but I slid Keith here because I don’t know why Harry hated on him so much. I liked the voice, I liked his song choice. Yes, when you strip a song down like that, it automatically sounds more intimate, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t sound good. Other people who could have been in my 10th spot… Alex Preston, Brianna Oakley, Brandy Neely, and Spencer Lloyd.
MJ: I was basically on Team Harry here. He performed a very nice rendition of “Roar.” But the pop song flip has become a bit of a cliche at this point. He didn’t quite bring it for me.
Kaitlyn Jackson- Another Angel
I’m not breaking the rules here, but I did want to mention that while Kaitlyn Jackson doesn’t have a strong enough VOICE to really win this (or even make the semi’s), her original song was my favorite original song over the course of the audition season. I loved it. Simple melody, good lyrics, and it came from a real place.
MJ: She was pretty amazing for a 15 year old. Her lyrics, at this point, are a bit too literal. But the use of metaphor, and other songwriting techniques, come with time.
And Five People I Would Have Said No To:
Khristian Davis- Saving All My Love For You
This girl is crazy, and clearly only put through to Hollywood so she can go freaking nuts at some point. Her accent faded in and out, and she seemed delusional. I didn’t like her vocals. I’m surprised she snuck into Hollywood for “one more chance”.
MJ: That fake Italian accent was totally lulzy. The producers so obviously have her slotted for Hollywood Drama. What would that round be without it?
2) Carmen Delgina
The only reason she made it is because her dad is famous. That was one of the weakest vocals to make it to Hollywood this year. I’d be surprised if she makes it to groups.
MJ: Carmen wouldn’t have made it past the cattle call if her dad wasn’t famous.
3) Tristen Langley
I agree with Harry. If Nikki wasn’t standing there, it would be a No. His voice wasn’t interesting enough to survive on his own. He’s too clean cut, for me, to sing Santeria. Just like some kids are too young to sing songs like Stay by Sugarland (or Rihanna’s version for that matter). I would have said No, even with the cracked out Nikki standing next to him. On a side note, I feel really bad for Nikki McKibbin, who has clearly been through A LOT since Season 1.
MJ: I really appreciated Harry’s candor regarding Tristen, who’s performance was really boring. But if you remember, Nikki wasn’t all that either. He’ll probably meet a quick end in the airplane hangar. He and Nikki were purely used as a “full circle” moment, to illustrate how the show has endured.
4) Adam Roth- Hallelujah
We gave this guy a golden ticket? Really? Honestly, the kid who rapped on the guitar should have gotten a golden ticket over this guy. He’s clearly insane (and some investigative types claim he’s faking it). Why do we send crazy people to Hollywood? Just so they can blow up during group rounds?
MJ: This dude has death metal video up on you tube. Definitely one of the stupider, head scratching choices to advance.
5) Casey McQuillen- Skyscraper
For all the talk about how amazing her voice was, I was really surprised. I didn’t like her voice, I thought it was high school choir average, and she took the song too slowly. Odd audition choice to sing acapella, and then slow down.
MJ: I disagree! I thought she had a sweet tone, and loved the heartbreaking ache in her voice.
MJ: I would certainly put Majesty Rose, Sam Woolf, CJ Harris, Malcolm Allen and Austin Wolfe on a best of list. Here a few more of my favorites.
Jess Meuse – Jess is my favorite right now. She’s got the gravelly voice of Stevie Nicks, but with a decidedly dark edge. Her original song “Blue Eyed Lie” was haunting. A singer songwriter with loads of potential. I just hope the process doesn’t smooth out her rough edges.
Mac-- I’m mildly concerned how she’ll translate into theme weeks. She reminds me a bit of Lilly Scott, who we all know was ROBBED in season 9.
Alex Preston – Austin is bluesy, with great natural phrasing. No mere strummer, Harry complimented the complicated jazz chords he played as he accompanied himself on his impressive original song. His musicality and stage presence could make for some compelling stage performances.
Mac-- I absolutely love Alex Preston’s original stuff, but I didn’t think that was his strongest original song to audition with. He’s probably my favorite contestant, but I think his audition could have been better. I agree with everything you said, I just wanted a different song.
Savion Wright – This singer/songwriter who waited 8 years to audition for Idol because he didn’t think he was ready yet, is a solid songwriter with a driving tenor, impressive guitar skills and charisma. As Keith said, Savion performs with everything he has.
Mac-- He was probably a midpack auditioner for me. I wasn’t blown away by his audition, but I definitely would have sent him through to Hollywood. He might have even grown on me in Hollywood.
Brandy Neelly – A returnee I’m glad is back, because she was straight up robbed last year. A country singer with a big voice, she has a wonderful grasp on dynamics, which is remarkable considering that she’s still only a teenager. I also really admire her tenacity.
Mac- Brandy just missed out on my Top 10. Honestly, I’m so happy she’s back and finally getting the recognition she deserves.
I would also give honorable mentions To Kenzie Hall, whose clear, exquisite tone is matched by assured phrasing and an impressive vocal range. I’ll bet her voice records beautifully.
Mac- Kenzie would be like… Top 25 for me. I think she’s a Top 12 contender, she just did a little too much with her audition piece for me to be head over heels.
I also really liked big voice rocker girl, Jen Asciutto. She formed a band in high school and played with them throughout the Detroit area and co-wrote their songs.
Mac- Again, I wasn’t blown away. I would have given her a yes, but I’m not convinced she’s a star, just a better than average singer. I think I’m gonna get hate mail for that, but… one life. To live.