American Idol 2021 Recap Auditions 4 Live Blog
American Idol 2021 continues tonight with Auditions part 4. Who will get a coveted golden ticket to Hollywood? Who will be sent home! We’re live blogging all the performances here.
Judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan return, along with host Ryan Seacrest. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing is the rule in the studio! Additionally, instead of auditioning hopefuls across the country, the crew taped episodes in three California locations, including Los Angeles, San Diego and Ojai.
The show opens with a throwback to Carrie Underwood’s audition. Remember her rambling around on her family farm? And then Carrie’s American Idol heir, Gabby Barrett, wishes a hopeful, Laila Mach good luck via the Zoom room!
Laila Mach – Drive Off a Bridge (Original) – 15 – New Paltz NY – High School Student – Laila, a big fan of season 16 contestant Gabby Barrett, sings an original song inspired by Gabby’s “I Hope.” But Laila’s song is “even angrier” the young singer says. She sits at the piano to play. How much heartbreak can a 15 have endured? Oh gosh. She hopes her ex drives off a bridge! That’s not nice. The melody is very pretty, which is a little disconcerting. “I just hope to see you fall,” Laila sings. Dang. When asked how she thought she did, Layla answers that it’s the best she ever performed the song. Lionel give Laila “songwriting props.” Katy calls it a more deranged version of Gabby’s “I Hope.” Luke is impressed with her confidence. 3 yeses
R’eh – Bad Girls by Donna Summer – 27 – Houston Texas – Army National Guard – She’s the lead vocalist in an army band. Reh does an entire Donna Summer tribute with a silvery dress and stole. It’s a bit much to be honest. And her vocals are only mediocre. The army isn’t very discerning? This performance is like something off a cruise ship. So cheesy, and not in a good way. Afterward, the judges stand and salute. Lionel seems to really like it. His His dad was in the army, But I don’t think it’s the reason why he liked it so much, if you know what I mean. 3 yeses. Surprised she’s going to Hollywood. That performance verged on a joke audition.
Michael Gerow – Original – 16 – St. Louis MO – High School Student – Because Luke wants to be finished by the time the Alabama/Georgia football game starts, he decides to begin auditions without Lionel and Katy. The two finally show up before Michael sings, though. He’s a decent vocalist, with a sweet and high voice. He makes the most of what he has. He connects. The original isn’t half bad either. Lionel appreciates his vulnerability. Katy calls him exceptional. “You’ve got swag” she says. “Don’t let it get in your way.” She calls him “Top 10.” Add Michael to the pile of Top 10s. The number of hopefuls the judges deem “Top 10” is getting pretty long. 3 yeses
Cameron McGhar – Girl Crush by Little Big Town/You Ain’t Woman Enough (To Take My Man) by Loretta Lynn – 16 – Clanton AL – High School cheerleader – Looking at her Instagram, she’s not only a cheerleader, but a pageant queen as well. She lives with her nana because her parents couldn’t raise her. Her mom died from an overdose after she was born. Cameron suffered from anxiety as a child. So, pageants actually helped her. They helped her gain confidence. Hm, Cameron has an interesting tone, but she’s pitchy and her timing is off. She and the piano player aren’t in sync. The judges note how stiff she is. “Not believable at all,” says Katy. She sings another song, an older country tune. It’s a little better. Oh no. The judges are “coaching” again. This thing of the judges pushing through not-ready-for-prime-time-singers is not good. Lionel doesn’t think she’s quite ready. He is CORRECT. Katy notes her lack of experience. Cameron begs. COMMERCIAL BREAK. OMG Katy says yes. Luke is tentative, but he also says yes. RIDICULOUS. She is not going to be a better singer in Hollywood, and y’all know that. – Lionel says no, Katy and Luke say Yes
Bean – Wait for the Moment by Vulfpeck – 23 – Boston MA – Wedding Singer – Bean’s “Neen” is wishing good luck via the Zoom Room. His grandfather was a pastor, but “Neen” was the musical one. Actually, Bean grew up in a small central PA town. He’s in Boston after attending Berklee. His voice is kind of musical theater, but like the best Broadway singers, he’s very expressive. He has a beautiful tone, and a ton of personality. I’ll bet he’s great on stage. Not sure he’s pop material? but he’s very musical. Lionel compares him to Mr. Rogers. Because he’s so familiar? That makes no sense, Lionel. He’s not sure it works for American Idol. He’s got a point. But Beane may be more versatile than he’s showing here. If they let through that terrible Cameron, they should at least give Beane a chance in Hollywood. 3 yeses. Oh thank God. I thought they were going to say no to this kid.
Anthony Key – Dynamite by BTS – 27 – Merrillville IN – DJ – He’s been performing all his life. He tells Ryan that he’s inspired by all the boybands. His dream is to be “the biggest pop star.” Hm. The song starts in a high range, which puts Anthony at a disadvantage right away. Not a great song pick for an audition. His dancing is affecting his pitch. Katy wants Anthony to teach her his dance moves. Luke and Lionel join in. Katy thinks Anthony needs to find himself. Luke says the vocals aren’t strong. Lionel says stick to choreography. He’s not an “out front” guy. True. Afterward, Anthony is basically: The judges’ words don’t affect me. I’m still going to be the biggest pop star on the world. Good luck with that, son. – 3 nos
Ash Ruder – Bryan’s Song (Original) – 22 – Turlock CA – Dad is with her. She wrote the original song she’s singing for him. He inspired her musically. Sadly, he struggled with drug and alcohol addiction. She was so angry growing up. Two years ago he got clean and sober. Aw. Good for them. He’s making amends. He’s crying, and is a little embarrassed. He doesn’t know she wrote a song for him. It’s his birthday today, so she’ll spring the song on him as a gift (Katy says Happy Birthday is expensive to clear, but I think it’s now part of public domain). There’s more to Ash’s story HERE. She presents some country storytelling. It’s not perfect, but it’s straight from her heart. Tears all around, including Luke and Lionel. Luke wants more dynamics, but loves her vibrato. Lionel says the song is all bout “love.” Katy calls the performance “healing.” 3 yeses
Cheryl K – Endless Love by Lionel Richie – 24 – Malaysia – Singer – Here’s the Crazy Rich Asians chick. As a USC student, she sent an audition tape to the producers and got a couple of cuts on the soundtrack, sung in both English and Mandarin. So she’s REALLY been waiting all her life to be on American Idol like she says? OK then. Her dog, “Jimmy Choo” is with her. Very cute pupper. Cheryl is a “huge” Lionel Richie fan. She wants to duet a song with him. They sing “Endless Love” together. She’s brandishing the original 45. Jimmy seems unimpressed, however. Oh. Lionel says No! “You haven’t found it to where you can control it.” She bursts into tears. Oh man. 3 nos to Crazy Rich Asians chick. Her actual audition song was cut from this clip, so maybe she bombed? Judging on the duet with Lionel, however: She’s better than that Cameron chick the judges let through earlier.
Heather Russell – Harleys in Hawaii by Katy Perry – 20 – Toronto Canada – Musician – And here’s another singer who already found a measure of success. Simon Cowell signed Heather to SYCO records 10 years ago when she was only 10. She’s already released a bunch of records. Katy Perry is Heather’s Idol, so she’s covering her. She sits at the piano and delivers an impressive rendition of the song. She’s very soulful. And yes, a better singer than Katy. Whoops. Man, gal’s got RANGE FOR DAYS. Luke says be careful of the tricks. He calls her high end world class. Lionel compliments her control. But Katy disagrees, calling her performance “all frosting” with no cake. Oh wow. Is Katy a little envious? Her critique is a wee bit catty. “You sound dead inside,” Katy says. Yikes. I mean, she did overdo the runs, but I wouldn’t go as far as Katy. But she says yes anyway! – 3 yeses
Caleb Kennedy – Nowhere (Original) – 16 – Roebuck SC – High School Student – We previewed this audition HERE. Caleb quit playing football because it was “hard for a fat boy.” Caleb’s mother books his gigs around his small town. The two are very close. He suffers from a lack of self confidence that came after his parents divorced. His outlet is song writing. He wrote “Nowhere” by himself but didn’t finish it. Ballsy to audition with an unfinished song. Or unwise. Katy orders him to finish the song. She also wants to see his eyes, asking him to adjust his hat. Caleb writes everyday. He considers himself more of a writer than a singer. Luke tells Caleb that “he’s just perfect.” Katy likes his voice AND songwriting. She can feel his pain. She thinks his songs will resonate with others going through the same thing. Lionel says he’s got a “storytellers voice.” Katy says he’s got “girt.” Caleb’s voice is raspy and raw, with lots of potential – 3 yeses
Abby Lebaron – All I Want by KODALINE – 19 – Springfield UT – Social Media management. – Her neighbor sent her a link to American Idol auditions. That convinced her. She’s mostly kept her singing to herself. Katy wonders if Abby has a big social media following, she says no. And indeed, I went looking for info on Abby, and could only find an Instagram account. She really is a newbie. Luke busts out in a song from Annie Get Your Gun to teach Abby how to show off. He def did musicals in high school! So, she actually is a newbie with some talent. Abby has a beautiful unique tone and she delivers the song with skillful phrasing. I like her simplicity. She adds some grit to the chorus. Very good. Katy thinks she has a talent, but needs to find confidence. Luke thought she lost it a bit near the end. Abby says messing up a chord on the piano threw her off. Learn to go with mistakes, says Lionel. Overall, however, the judges like what they hear – 3 yeses
Murphy Just the Two of Us by Bill Withers/The Painted Man (Original) – 27 – Baltimore MD – Musician – We previewed this audition HERE. His life was hard. “I just had a tough life.” He’s half blind, with no vision in his left eye. His mom died when he was young. He found her, dead in her bed. Horrible. Not bad enough, his father was addicted to her**n and alcohol before he died. Hard, indeed. Murphy began his musical journey after his father died. Murphy traveled the country, busking. He goes by “Blind Boy” sometimes. Murphy sings “Just the Two of Us” for the judges. But they aren’t impressed. Katy thinks he’s on the precipice of something cool, but he’s not quite there. Lionel thinks the performance is novelty. He asks for another song. He performs an original, “The Painted Man.” Murphy is more connected to this song. But his guitar and vocal style are very jaunty, even while singing poignant songs. Maybe he needs to be more somber. Luke says yes. Katy says no, thinking it’s too “novelty.” But Lionel wants to give him a shot. “Peel back some layers,” Lionel suggests before saying yes. Luke and Lionel say yes, Katy no
Alyssa Wray I Am Changing by Jennifer Hudson (Dreamgirls) – 18 – Perryville KY – College Student – The town she’s from is very small. She’s 6 foot 2 and colorful. She envisions herself in a movie! She didn’t appreciate being different until she was older. She’s wanted to be on Idol her whole life. Alyssa has been featured in several Idol promos, for months now. I suspect she’ll go far. She is striking and has a big voice. She’s definitely throwing some Jordin Sparks vibes, but with even a bigger and stronger voice. Lionel is so impressed, he begins pacing the room. I have to say…she is oversining a bit. She’s a bit shrieky on the top notes. The judges clap and give her a standing ovation. Lionel calls her a “once in a generation” talent. Katy feels like she’s witnessing history. Alyssa begins crying as she realizes that a door is opening for her. Alyssa gets 3 very enthusiastic yeses.
Last night of Auditions next Sunday!