American Idol is BAAAACCCK! The 2018 version airs on ABC Sunday and Monday. Featured on the panel are veteran R&B master, Lionel Richie, pop star Katy Perry and country singer Luke Bryan. Ryan Seacrest returns to host.
We’ve got a TON of Spoiler posts on the left side bar. Gonna link them here. NO SPOILER DISCUSSION ON THE LIVE BLOG. Keep it on the spoilers posts. Giving stuff away will result in an instant banning. That also goes if you managed to get your hands on the premiere screener. Thank you for cooperation.
What is that? It’s a Carrie Underwood voice over. “SO THE ADVENTURE BEGINS…No voice left unheard.” Sniff. “They are the fabric of America…They could be stars in the making. I should know. Because it happened to me.”
Here comes the upbeat music. The hopefuls are lining up! EEEEEE!!!! First there’s an intro to the judges, who promise to be straight shooters. And they gonna find stars. After they send them to Hollywood.
We begin in NEW YORK
Catie Turner – 17 – Langhorne PA – Twenty First Century Machine (Original Song) – Awkward, and annoying at first. She’s an oddball. She’s also Idol obsessed. At first blush she looks like a joke contestant. BUT WAIT FOR IT. She’s super ebullient. And promises she doesn’t drink coffee. When Katy mentions her hat, she throws it off to the side. Quirky is cool. But maybe she does need to calm down a little. Katy thinks she sounds like “a gosh darn genius.” And oh boy. She doesn’t suck. She’s got a beautiful tone and phrasing and SHE CAN WRITE SONGS Y’ALL. A young singer, full of personality, smarts and talent. An unbeatable combo. Luke calls her interesting and brilliant beyond her years. Lionel compares her to a martian. But in a good way! Luke tells her to ignore social media. “I don’t want the outside world to mess with your beautiful brain.” Katy is sure she’s strong she calls her point of view “fresh and necessary.” Catie compares her newly-minted golden ticket to her child. She wants to start it a college fund! Yes she’s weird. And there are times she could dial it back a bit. However, smoothing down her edges would probably be a mistake. Three very ENTHUSIASTIC Yeses
Ron Bultongez – 22 – Plano TX – Let it Go by James Bay – He was born and raised half his life in the Congo. His family escaped Africa when he was 10. It was difficult. His father was abusive–behavior considered normal in the Congo. His dad kicked him out and he had nowhere to go. But now, Ron has a family, including a smal son. He’s going to break the chain! He’s very articulate. Smart guy. Nice voice. Maybe not super special, but full of possibility. At the moment, it’s a coffee house performance, which is why only Luke has any enthusiasm for him. “Something about you is pretty dag gum exciting,” he says. He notes issues, but appreciates his demeanor and honesty. Katy thinks he’s too imitative. “I don’t know who you are at all.” Lionel thinks he’s not ready. But Luke likes his “unpolished” quality. Lionel talks about the early Commodores. How they imitated everybody. They had to develop their own style. “This is an identity business,” he says. Katy and Lionel say NO. Luke says YES. BUT NOT SO FAST!!!! LIONEL can’t get Ron out of his head. Lionel changes his vote to YES. Ron is headed to Hollywood.
Maddie Poppe – 20 – Clarksville IA – The Rainbow Connection from Sesame Street – Her performance serves as a backdrop to hopefuls discussing their hopes and dreams. Maddie’s pretty tone impresses Lionel who says that she’s got a “storyteller” voice. Katy calls it “dope.” No backstory from Maddie. But she gets 3 yeses.
Koby – 26 – St. Louis IL – Never Stops (Original Song) – Musical Theater actress – She’s a big deal theater actress in Denver. She refers to herself in the 3rd person. Erm. She studied Opera in college. Oh. OK. She’s a joke contestant. We weren’t supposed to have any of those. remember? *eyesroll*. She screams the lyrics. Hits ridiculous high notes. There’s no melody, basically. She can’t be for real. Is this a producer stunt? Katy says it straight up, “This is not the way people listen to music…you’re not a pop star.” Koby refuses to leave the room without a ticket. Lionel says her voice is NOT going to work for popular music. Luke tells her honestly, she’s going down the wrong path. To the strains of “Don’t Rain on My Parade.” She leaves the venue dissing the judges all the way. “I’m sorry I’m really good…dumb asses.” And then, “I think Katy’s just a little jealous.” This is literally old school terrible audition. 3 nos
Now we’re headed to Nashville!
Harper Grace – 16 – McKinney TX – Yard Sale (Original) – Young Dumb and Broke – She sang the worst national anthem ever at 11 years old. It went viral for all the wrong reasons. I remember this unfortunate moment. And at the time I thought LEAVE HER ALONE SHE’S FREAKING 11 years old. But Harper is back to redeem herself. She has a really good attitude about the experience. “At least my name is out there,” she jokes. After the anthem disaster, she created a dream board. Trying out for American Idol and maybe winning is one of her goals. So here she is. And she’s got her dream board with her. She’s a songwriter as well as singer. And the song that she performs has the clever word play found in so many country songs. If Harper wrote this herself, I am impressed. Katy says the chorus is well written. She sings another, a cover this time. She’s got a beautiful tone. And great intonation. Yep. She’s redeemed herself. Totally. Katy doesn’t think Harper has seen her ultimate potential, but feels Hollywood would be good for her. The judges write GOING TO HOLLYWOOD” on her dreamboard. 3 yeses
Layla Spring – 16 – Lebanon TX – Who’s Loving You by Smokey Robinson – Country corn. Layla grew up on a farm in the heart of Kentucky. Mom says Layla has wanted to be on Idol forever. Her 7 year old sister Dyxie looks up to her. We see them hanging out on the farm. Then they enter the audition room together. Katy can’t get over how adorable Dyxie is, with her front tooth missing. Layla is bubbly. Shades of Kellie Pickler, but without the innuendo. First the two sing “Blue” together. The judges are so charmed, they give the little one a golden ticket dated for 2026. Layla sings next. But not country! She belts out a soulful version of “Who’s Loving You.” She’s got a big big voice. Actually, she reminds me a little of Brenda Lee, a very soulful country singer from the old days. Katy thinks she could use all the experience in Hollywood. Lionel calls show business a mental game. He hopes the process doesn’t destroy her…CLIFFHANGER! We gotta wait until after the break to find out the results. “I believe you are strong [in your head]” Lionel says before sending her to Hollywood. – 3 yeses
First a montage of hopefuls gushing how much they love Katy Perry
Benjamin Glaze – 20 – Enid OK – Levels by Nick Jonas – He works as a cashier at an electronic store. It’s perfect for picking up girls (?) . His schtick is being socially awkward. He’s written songs about girls he’s had crushes on. But he’s too scared to sing them. Or something. He confesses he’s never been kissed. That couldn’t happen without being in a relationship, he says (Uhh…) Katy offers to be the first. He kisses her on the cheek. But on the second try, she turns her head and pecks him on his lips. He’s so rattled, he asks for water. And then rushes through his performance. PITCH PROBLEMS GALORE. Luke says, “get a little better at singing.” You think. Katy says he made her heart a flutter, but too many other singers are better right now. Katy admits she might have thrown him off. Lionel suggests he kiss a couple of girls, and come back. – 3 nos
Now we hit HOLLYWOOD. We see Lionel and Ryan hanging around their Hollywood stars. The judges begin a message group. They’re pals. They make fun of Lionel’s large phone fonts. “I can see that from the moon!” jokes Luke. Their message group name is “The Judgementals.” har.
So let’s compare and contrast Nico and Noah. Goth Nico has no enthusiasm. He claims to be hung over. Noah literally has NO CHILL he’s so outgoing and excited. A nursing student from Oklahoma, he describes himself as a “male Beyonce.”
Nico Bones – 22 – Long Beach – Worms (Kids song) – Nico is up first. Katy says he looks like an interesting dude. After Nico revealed his song choice, Luke confesses that he looked through his own poop. Katy is all, YOU CROSSED A LINE LUKE.” So, Nico does the “Worms” punk version. Yes, this is yet another joke audition. Pretty certain Nico is in on the joke. Katy burps, and then declares him “cool.” Lionel is glad it ended when it did. He doesn’t seem to be a fan. Katy says he wins at life, but maybe not for American Idol. – 3 nos. As a parting shot, Nico tells America to “keep rocking.”
Noah Davis – 18 – OK – Stay by Rihanna – Noah is a Okie farm boy who hears the call of the city and is anxious to go. WIG he says to Katy. They instantly fall in love. Luke asks what he’d do first if he won American Idol. He’d buy an Alpaca. He suggests Googling “Alpacas running.” In any case, Katy is ready to have her WIG GO FLYING. Luke still doesn’t get what “wig” means. Noah accompanies himself on the piano. And as it turns out. HE’S GOOD. Engaging voice. Soulful, good phrasing. Katy is entranced. Luke suggests a hug. Katy says “WIG SNATCHED THROWN OUT THE DOOR.” She doesn’t even want it back. Luke still doesn’t know what WIG means. Head down to west Hollywood and find out Luke. I would say Noah may be from the sticks, but he understand his true authentic self, if you know what I mean. And I’m here for that. Go forth and snatch you some wigs, Noah. – 3 yeses
We’re headed to DISNEY SPRINGS in Florida. Hello Idol winner Jordin Sparks (S6), Kris Allen (S8) and Ruben Studdard (S2)!
Alyssa Raghu – 16 – Saint Cloud FL – Almost is Never Enough by Ariana Grande and Nathan Sykes – Disney World is her LIFE. She spends as much time with Mickey and Minnie mouse as possible. Her parents divorced when she was two. Then her mother left the family. But her father has had her back ever since and they are best friends. She says he’s her OG. Dad supports her musical aspirations 100 percent. She’s only a sophomore in high school but seems years older. Vocally, she’s unbelievable for a 16 year old. Alyssa possess a lovely alto and her phrasing is exquisite. Terrific control and intonation. This kid is a gem. The judges clap for her. VERY GOOD says Lionel. Katy says “all of my hairs…I need to shave my legs now. They grew about an inch.” Luke says, “You are so easy on the ears.” Katy declares, “You’re top 10.” Alyssa can’t believe it. She’s in tears. “You guys are the OGs!” she gushes after receiving her golden ticket – 3 yeses.
Sardor Milano – 26 – I Want You By Luke James – He’s “well known” in Russia, having won the X Factor there in 2015. He has a BIG range, he claims. So big he can sing both male and female parts. People love it, he insists. His heros are “Queens” and “Michael Jacksons.” (sic) Before he begins his audtion, Sardor checks his pitch at the piano. And then…why did he bother? He’s flat out horrible. HORRIBLE. Another joke contestant. He won XFactor in Russia. Really? OK then. He must be a relative of an oligarch coughfixedcough. His high voice could kill birds and make cats and dogs go crazy. Luke and Katy make Lionel go first…but we don’t even hear their critique. Sardor tries the wrong door. He emerges with the bad news. Apparently the judges told him to try Broadway. Uh. No. – 3 Nos
Back in New York City!
Zach D’Onofrio – 17 – The Way You Look Tonight – He has a sock collection and brings pairs for Ryan and the judges. Skulls for Lionel, Laser Shooting Kitty Kats for Katy and roosters for Luke “Cocka dang doodle doo!” Luke says. Zach’s speaking voice is REAL HIGH, but when he opens his mouth, his singing voice is surprisingly deep. Katy covers her face with her sock covered hands. She’s so shocked, she springs up to dance with Zach as he performs. His voice is a little shouty and he sings too much on the beat for swing (Luke points this out). But for a guy’s first audition, he isn’t bad. Luke wonders if his speaking voice is natural. Well, it is. Katy says “stuff is dropping!” Luke says, “You have Sinatra down…but he’d lay it back. That’s all you need to do!” Katy says, ‘You had me at kitten socks.” Lionel thinks he “killed” it. Maybe a reference to the skeleton socks. – 3 yeses
Zyrtec is sponsoring “Icons” featuring American Idol alums. The first feature is about Season 5 alum and Christian singer, Mandisa. You can find her story at AmericanIdol/Icons. I wonder who else will be profiled?
Now, it’s time for a parade of sad NOs including fifteen year old Grace Walker whos sings Paris (Ooh la la) by Grace and the Nocturnals. The judges are being very kind and constructive to very young, emotional contestants.
Dennis Lorenzo – 26 – Philadelphia PA – Unaware by Allen Stone – He grew up in West Philadelphia. A rough area. His dad was murdered when he was five. A tough upbringing, he began hanging out with the wrong people. When his grandparents gave him a guitar it changed his life. He left the east coast for Los Angeles and was homeless for a bit. A kind soul gave him a job, even though he didn’t have an address. Eventually he got a girlfriend and they had a baby. He performs a jazzy acoustic version of “Unaware.” It’s very soulful. His falsetto is just lovely. Lionel calls him “refreshing.” Katy doesn’t need to be convinced. Luke points out his guitar with a hole in it. Luke says some kids come in with top shelf instruments. But he did it with less. “THIS SHOW IS ABOUT AMERICAN DREAMS,” Luke says. 3 yeses. Concluding the show on a high note, Dennis is a keeper!
More tomorrow night!