Here’s your American Idol 11 Portland, OR auditions recap post. I’ll be live blogging tonight at Entertainment Weekly. Do join me there if you’d like! I’ll be back here as soon as the episode ends on the East Coast to post videos, polls and a full recap!
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Soooo. Yeah. I’m over the auditions. There were a couple of notable singers: Brittany Zika, Britnee Kellogg and Jessica Phillips. Jermain Jones and Romeo Diahn had distinctive voices, but needed some work. I’m not sure they’ll be able to go the distance.
The judges continue to be way too easy on the contestants. Particularly, Steven, who will tell a god-awful wannabe that they “aren’t ready yet.” Randy Jackson at least tells it like it is, even if it’s in the most dickish way possible.
The trio never disagree about ANYTHING. It’s either 3 thumbs up or 3 down for this bunch. The lack of tension is dull dull dull. They’ve got to fix this stuff before the live shows begin, or the judging will be unbearable.
Forty-two hopefuls advance to Hollywood.
Brittany “Tripster the Hipster” Zika – 21 – Portland OR – “The Story” – Brandi Carlisle – The episode began, right off the bat, with a “hipster” type. I figured they’d mock Portland’s alternative culture by dragging out somebody terrible to make fun of. But Brittany is pretty good. She had a dream of singing on stage with Sara Bareilles. When it came true, she saw it as a sign to audition for Idol. She’s got a very pretty, folksy vibe. Jlo loves her tone. Randy’s critique is asinine. He likes her voice, but says, “You look nothing like what you sound”. Wut??? She looks fine. She’s wearing a funky hat and glasses. Randy should check out his own ridiculous self in the mirror. The judges say yes and she’s off to Hollywood. “God I’m much to young to be this old,” says Steven.
Ben Purdom – 18 – Philadelphia, PA – “Born This Way” Lady Gaga, “Super Bass” Nicki Minaj – Ben has an icky cold, which he uses to excuse his horrible performance. No dude. You can’t sing. When Ben revealed he was there because his co-workers told him he was talented, I knew we were in trouble (they’re punking you, dude) “You’re cute,” says Jlo. Steven mumbles something unintelligible. The answer is no.
Jermaine Jones – 24 – Pinehill, NJ – “Superstar” by Leon Russell – Jermaine eats, drinks and sleeps music. He’s also a mama’s boy. “God gave that boy a gift, and the world needs to know it!” says mama. With that OTT introduction, I was expecting some bad singing. But Jermaine has a very unusual baritone. The vocals need to be refined–he over-sings in spots–but he’s got potential. “A really spiritual voice,” says Steven, “I can see that you’re really nervous.” Randy says, “You definitely got something unique jumping off vocally.” Jlo tells him to loosen up a it. It’s 3 yeses.
Britnee Kellogg – 27 – Vancouver, WA – “You’re No Good” by Linda Ronstadt – I was expecting pop music from Britnee–she’s got an uncanny resemblance to another Britney– Spears. Instead she’s got a soulful, big voiced rasp, with a deep rich tone. Her entire family is with her, including twin boys. She’s split from her basketball playing, womanizing husband who never supported her dreams. Her song choice amuses the judges. “You have a beautiful sense of humor,” says Steven. Randy loves her attitude. “I’m feeling you Britnee!” says Jlo. It’s 3 yeses. But before she leaves, she asks Jlo for advice on juggling family and career, “You have to be happy so they’re happy,” says Jlo, “When you have dreams, you make them happen.”
Sam Gershman – 21 – Clarksville MD – “I’m a Woman” – Peggy Lee – I have no idea what the hell is going on here. The weird thing–she’s got a good voice buried in there somewhere, but her performance style is filled with yelps and crazy runs, and nutty high notes. She was either nervous or had way too many Red Bulls. Maybe both. The judges were cracking up. “Could you have been any more perky,” says Steven, “You’re going to make a good Easter Bunny.” “I’m Jewish,” says Sam. Thanks for sharing! Steven calls it “a little too Broadway”. How about a little too insane? Jl0 and Randy say she’s not ready, and it’s a no for Sam.
David Weed – 22 – Mountain Home, ID – “Tom Sawyer” by Rush – David Weed’s unfortunate name sparked a flurry of dope jokes, particularly from Steven. “At least your first name isn’t Smokin'” Har dee har har. Poor David spends his days asking people if they’d “like fries with that.” After totally butchering Rush, Randy asks David what his dream is other than singing. It’s stand-up comedy. But the joke he tells is even worse than his singing. Steven says, “Not yet.” NOT EVER Steven. Randy is blunt, “I would say definitely no.” People have been telling David his entire life that he has a “phenomenal” voice. Whoa. Deluded. Now I’m sad.
Romeo Diahn – 22 – Portland OR – “Is This Love” by Bob Marley and the Wailers – Romeo’s family fled Liberia in the early 90s and spent years in a refugee camp in Ghana. They finally got to America, and it’s obvious Romeo has an appreciation for life that most of us don’t have. “I never thought we’d make it, because I saw so many people perish.” His reggae rasp is a little timid, but there’s something about his voice that grabs my attention. Line of the night: Family member to Ryan after he tries to chat them up, “So, who are you?” Perfect. Randy and Steven say yes right away. Jlo likes his “vibe” and his “flavor”, but is a little worried he’ll be tripped up by the themes, but she says yes anyway.
Naomi Gillies – 22 – Boston, MA – “Crying” by Aerosmith – Naomi had the stones to sing Steven’s song in front of him. Good thing she didn’t suck. She over sang some of the big notes, but overall, she’s got a nice big belty voice. “Nice,” says Steven, clearly impressed with her rendition. “If you’ve got it you’ve got it. That’s how you do it!” says Randy, who makes no sense whatsoever. Three yeses send Naomi to Hollywood.
Ben Harrison – 28 – Eugene, OR – “Somebody To Love” by Queen – OMG. After 2 seconds, I wanted this annoying douchebag off my screen. He claims he’s been kicked out of rock bands because of his “baby face.” “I rock it, man,” he declares. When he announced he was singing Queen, I knew we were in trouble. Dude just wants to be on television, which makes him a waste of my time. “Why…why…why…why,” asks Randy. Why, indeed.
Jessica Phillips – 25 – Brooklyn NY – “Again” by Faith Evans – Jessica’s boyfriend had a devastating stroke. He eventually woke out of a long coma, but with disabilities. Jessica has stuck by him, and is now his caretaker. Her story is very Chris Medina-ish. He’s interviewed as part of her package (when he says he’d be nowhere without her, it’s heartbreaking), but thank God they don’t drag him into the audition room to put him on display. Jessica takes a second to compose herself before she sings. She’s got a contemporary sound. Refreshingly, she’s NOT a belter. The judges are so impressed, they let her finish her song. She’s good. When she learns she’s made it to Hollywood, she cries.