I’ll be live blogging the American Idol XIII Detroit auditions right here! Watch out for Didi Benami’s song “Watching and Waiting.” The American Idol Season 9 alum’s new single with be featured.
Are you still loving American Idol? I’m still loving American Idol! Half way through the auditions, I’m usually crying and whining about how I can’t wait for them to be over. The new producers are creating episodes that are fast paced, well edited, beautifully shot and full of music. And of course, there’s the hilarious Harry. I am not bored.
There is so much music crammed into an episode, I barely have time to breathe. No time to tweet, my fingers are flying as fast as they can to catch everything. I am not complaining. Last week, there were over 50 singers showcased. Last year, in the first 4 hours there were 37!
The joke contestants have creeped back into the mix, but they are still a small part of the mix. We even got a few costumes tonight, but they were all part of a quick montage that went by pretty fast. Harry’s interactions with some of them are pretty amusing. So are the snarky things he says after they leave the room.
Speaking of Harry, I also really appreciate the way he interacts with the young female hopefuls. He treats them as if they were one of his daughters. It’s such a refreshing change from the way icky Stephen Tyler would ogle the teens. Even Simon Cowell could be creepily inappropriate with some of the women. Harry’s able to acknowledge a women’s appeal without being gross about it.
Tonight’s standouts for me were the gritty Keri Lynn Roach, rocker, Jena Asciutto, bluesy Melanie Porras, and soulful Jade Lathan. I very much appreciate the return of alt/soul singer, David Oliver Willis, and country singer, Brandy Neelly as they were both ROBBED last season. Honorable mentions got to the smokey voiced Leah Guerrero and young soul singer, Julian Miller. Hm. The girls kinda ruled tonight. In fact there were 8 boys vs 15 girls (roughly) going to Hollywood!
Another cold open! A hopeful enters THE CHAMBER. DUN DUN DUN. Now a montage of more hopefuls kinda freaking out in the confined space. Sorry, but this chamber thing is really dumb, as gimmicks go. The hopefuls: “NOT JUST DOING IT FOR ME. I’M DOING IT FOR DETROIT.” Love the director’s penchant for Brady Bunch graphics.
Some things never change: Still editing stuff as if the cattle call and judges rounds happen at the same time… hm.
Keri Lynn Roach – 24 – “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons – Jlo is chawing some gum. TAKE IT OUT GIRL. Oh no, another one overwhelmed by the STAR POWER OF MISS JENNFIER LOPEZ. This one is a waitress. She and Keith have a convo about Fragels. Don’t ask. Her singing? Very slinky and sexy. Evocative. Keith wants to hear a song without guitar. She belts “I’d Rather Go Blind” by Etta James. She’s very soulful, but laying on the runs WAY TOO THICK. Keith likes her voice. Jlo loves her style. Harry likes that she seems like the type of singer who won’t be staring at the camera. He likes her grit. 3 yeses.
Julian Miller 18 – Despite his young age, he says the Motown era has been a huge influence. This one is special. Very nice phrasing and tone. Keith thinks he’s an artist that’s going somewhere. 3 yeses
Samantha Furtwengler, Olivia Diamond, Paris Primeau, A trio of female singers. Very different styles. country pop, soulful belter, quirky and theatrical. It’s yes for Olivia and Paris, a no for Samantha. Sads.
Mylaya Watson – “Ain’t No Way” by Aretha Franklin – She’s in the marching band. She plays the tuba! The judges are delighted with her soulful, organic performance. This one definitely has raw talent. Keith calls her honest. Harry loves her realness. Jlo compares her to a young Micheal Jackson. She can’t wait to view her transformation. 3 yeses
Bryan Watt – “So Small” by Carrie Underwood – This dude had a hand held camera at home, chronicling his journey as he and his mother make their way to the auditions. He must be special if he gets a camera. Boyish guitar slinger sings A Carrie Underwood ballad with a voice as sweet as heaven. Oh. He’s going to be a favorite. He’s got great pitch and a beautiful, clear tone. Jlo is literally groaning. Harry loved his confidence and effortlessness. He looks like a superhero! Says Harry. Keith compliments his assured guitar playing. 3 yeses
Khristian D’avis – “Saving All My Love For You” by Whitney – She begins with some sort of “accent.” Italian? Her father is Sicilian, her mom black. She sings. It’s ordinary, karaoke, theatrical. Keith finds it inconsistent. Jlo likes her style, but it doesn’t feel connected to her. Khristian is begging now. She hasn’t been performing since she did beauty pageants. She wants to be a STARRRR. SHE’S SO THIRSTY. Harry notices that she suddenly lost her accent. Basically, they think she’s a little bonkers and not ready for primetime. Yet, Jlo and Harry put her through, despite how fake she is. Keith says no. Smart man. This one is going to be a drama llama in Hollywood–probably why they advanced her. Keith is annoyed because she wasn’t listening to Harry when he tried to give her advice. After Khristian leaves, he mocks her suddenly losing her accent and it’s hilarious. 3 yeses
Dude asks if Jlo was fixing her tits as she put on her mic. “Thanks for your concern,” says Jlo. “Way to disrespect,” adds Harry. Indeed.
Jena Asciutto – “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele – Sweet looking girl was in a band in high school, which she quit 8 months ago. Whoa. Girlfriend has a HUGE HUGE voice. Very thick and rich. She’s a standout. Harry notices that she closes “things” off with her tongue. Harry wonders about her heritage. Italian and French Canadian, Jena offers. Keith could hear her personality in her voice. He loves her enunciation. Jlo loves that she made the song entirely her own. 3 yeses.
Now a montage of jokey joke contestants. We haven’t’ left those behind! The Singing Manicurist. I kid you not. “File that away!” says Keith.
Melanie Porras – “Fever” – Ryan asks her how she got to American Idol and she takes it literally. “Flying,” she says. Oh. She has a backstory. Her dad is a single father. He’s a musician too. We see them together at home, bonding over music. She’s got a distinct Haley Reinhart vibe. Her “Fever”, on guitar, is bluesy and sexy. Very musical. Jlo didn’t like her song (Watch out for her, girl) and asks for another. Next, she sings “Wanted Dead or Alive” a cappella. I was NOT expecting that. She gives the song a bluesy rock edge. Jlo decides that she likes this one. Harry thinks she “already has the seeds” and is impressed with her musicality. 3 yeses.
While Jlo goes off to the bathroom. Harry, goofing around, takes the stage to “audition”. “I’M SO NERVOUS I’M SO SORRY!” before he warbles the Star Spangled Banner. Loudly. The crew is cracking up. “You’re so beautiful.” Harry gushes to Keith. Unmoved, Keith says NO TO HOLLYWOOD. As the crew continues to crack up, Keith signs Harry’s leg as a consolation prize. “MOM MOM KEITH URBAN SIGNED MY ANKLE. Lolzers.
Liam Newberry – “The Way You Look Tonight” – He loves Harry Connick Jr. “I’ve been singing your charts…” CHARTS? I can tell this one is going to be a doozy. He looks like a total nerd–awkward, with glasses. His singing isn’t terrible. But he bellows, with very little intonation or phrasing. He needs to develop some finesse. Jlo thought it lacked swag. Keith, straight up, says he lacks sexiness. Harry tells him to forget everything he ever learned in musical theater. Practice as if he’s singing to the girl he loves. Harry doesn’t think he’s ready. Liam begs for another chance, but it’s 3 nos. He’s surprised they said no. Dude needs a giant cup of #ThisIsTheTruth #YouKindaSuck
Jade Lathan – “You Know I’m No Good” by Amy Winehouse – She’s got a string of beautiful flowers in her hair and an interesting little break in her voice. She snaps her fingers as she sings. Nice tone, lots of confidence and passion! Harry calls her adorable. (She is) She’s fun to watch, he says. Fresh, sweet and nice. And unexpected. Jlo says the whole package is right. Keith says “Very cool.” It’s 3 yeses.
Keith Urban plays a contestant’s guitar as he sings “Waiting for the World to Change.” That was a nice moment.
IT’S A QUIZ. Jennifer Hudson was in which Detroit-based movie: a) Dreamgirls b) 8 Mile. WHAT? Anybody who answers that wrong is an idiot. Tweet your answer!
Sarah Scherb – 19 – “The Way” by Ariana Grande – The judges liked that one. Her dad flies for Delta. He’s met Deltalina! Shes the lady who wags her finger at you from the overhead video. Jlo has no idea what Harry is talking about. At this point, Harry takes the opportunity to tease Jlo mercilessly about flying private planes. Again, HILARIOUS. “I’ve never seen it! What’s a flight attendant!” Jenny from the Block. SURE. Ha ha, Harry. Yes
Sydney Arterbridge – “Loving You” By Minnie Ripperton – Is she gonna hit that whistle note? Welp. Pretty much! Impressive. Little gal packs a big vocal punch. When she gets her golden ticket, she squeals…in a whistle tone as she runs to share the happy news with her family! 3 yeses
Maurice Townsend – 26 – “So High” by John Legend – He’s a worship leader with 4 children. His adorable young family is waiting outside. A video package follows him at church and hanging with the family at home. Cut back to his song, Maurice has a smooth, beautiful tone, and a little bit of rasp where it counts. The judges love it! “A really good performance,” says Harry. The little children come in with their mom. Harry calls them “The most stylish family I’ve ever seen.” Harry encourages one of the kids to hold up the golden ticket and say, “Dad you’re going to Hollywood.” WARNING CUTE OVERLOAD. 3 yeses
Didi’s song plays as Harry and Keith complain that Jennifer is ALWAYS LATE. So is Ryan. “That could mean a couple of things,” teases Harry.
David Oliver Willis – “Too Close” – He auditioned last year and was cut in Las Vegas. In the meantime, he opened a coffee house with his wife. He wants to show America how he’s grown. He was good last year. He’s still good this year. Playing a propulsive guitar, he sings with soul and urgency. Jlo says it felt right. Harry notices that the guitar playing drives his vocals. He wonders if he’ll have trouble without his instrument. Keith still loves him, but advises him to not rest on his laurels. Jlo agrees. Harry thinks he was born to play and sing, but can’t win. He gets 3 yeses.
Karlita and Rakita Gulledge – “Listen” by Beyonce – MORE TWINS. They talk in tandem. They’ve been singing all their lives and boast a “natural talent.” Uhm. No. They’re screechy, off pitch and unpleasant. “That was just a minute of screaming” says Harry. Jlo compares it to a high school talent show. It’s 3 nos.
Amanda Goth – OK. Another quiz. Is this pretty contestant headed Hollywood or Home? TWEET YOUR VOTE. SHE’S A BUST. And going home. “Lighten up dude,” she says angrily about Harry afterward, “You don’t have to be such a jerk all the time.”
Blake Soles – 22 – Keith tells guitar dude, he needs more work, but it could all come together in time. Harry says to Keith, “When is that going to happen for you?” asks Harry. “Fuck you Harry,” says Keith. “THERE I SAID IT.” Heh. (They’re kidding! Kidding!) . 3 nos
Brandy Neelly – “Wanted” by Hunter Hayes – She’s another returnee, with a new hair style! This is a good audition. She’s got a big voice, but with a wonderful grasp on dynamics, which is all too rare with many of these inexperienced hopefuls. Keith loves it. Jlo notices a nasally quality. Harry isn’t sure it’s a bad thing. He enjoyed it. Jlo thinks she should fix it. Harry thinks she shouldn’t. I’m Team Harry. As Brandy leaves the room, Harry and Keith recite lyrics from the 70’s song “Brandy.” Heh. It’s 3 yeses.
Ethan Harris – 20 – “You’ll Think of Me” by Keith Urban – Keith calls him the “lost Osmond” as Ethan walks in the room. Indeed, he’s very wholesome looking He’s a big Keith Urban fan. He flips his guitar to reveal a portrait he drew that he wants Keith to sign. Not bad. Harry asks Ethan if he’s ever wanted to photo copy his butt (Ethan works at a copy shop). Ethan isn’t quite sure how to answer that. Keith notes that his singing voice is just like his speaking voice. It’s a round about way to comment on Ethan’s high pitch, as if his voice never changed. His tone is unique, and not unpleasant. I could pick that voice out of a crowd. Jlo likes his sound. Keith really liked his rendition of the song, ans is touched they he chose to play it.
Harry sits in The Chamber and confesses his sins. He steals Jlo’s notes (I don’t believe that for a minute) and Ryan’s hair care products!
Symphony Howlett, Zach Day, Leah Guerrero, The standout here is Leah, who sings a smokey rendition of Rihanna’s “Stay.” All 3 get yeses, with some caveats.
Ayla Stackhouse – 17 – “Wings” by Little Mix – She’s from Detroit, but lives in LA with her aunt, who is generously helping her to kick start a music career. Growing up, Motown had a big impact on her, it’s all she listened to. I think Harry is asking all the native Detroiters this question. Girl is personality plus! She sings with swag. She’s got some star quality, in addition to a great voice. The judges all think she has potential. Harry calls it a “smart audition.” 3 yeses
Eric Gordon – 27 – “Perfectly Lonely” by John Mayer – Keith asks about his fancy Pompadour. He’s got a Buddy Holly thing going with the hair and the glasses. I wasn’t expecting such a soulful sound, but I wouldn’t call him a standout. Nice tone and phrasing, though. He’s a bit of a throwback to another era with the look and sound. He reminds me a little of Bruno Mars. Jlo thought his groove, and sense of timing were all there. Harry loves all the influences he’s got going, and his his Members Only jacket. 3 yeses.
Xavier Cavillo – “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” by Credence Clearwater – He’s got a guttural rasp that’s unpleasant, to which the judges say no. Xavier begs and begs. Harry suggests that he leave with his dignity intact. It doesn’t stop him from pleading once more before he leaves the room. Harry shares that in his nightmares, hopefuls are popping up at every turn asking “Just one more? One more chance?”
Tony Delbarrio – Keith thinks it’s odd to pick a song that’s not in his range. It’s 3 nos.
Next, it’s a montage of disappointed hopefuls. Keith says hearing no is the only way to grow. Parents and friends who encourage bad talent aren’t doing them any favors.
Ryan Nisbett – “Angel” This kid sort of looks like Johnny Depp. He’s got super high hair and an elaborate goatee and thrift shop clothes. His backstory: He used to weigh over 300 pounds. He trimmed down and is now free to be himself! He’s got a big, theatrical voice, which I was not expecting. He reminds me a little of Josh Grobin. If Josh Grobin was a hipster. Odd. Jennifer calls him one of a kind. Harry calls his voice incredibly unique. I don’t know. Close your eyes? It’s not that unique. His crazy look makes him stand out. He refuses to shake hands with the judges, due to a cold. That could explain away a couple of issues he had in his upper register. The judges are impressed that he didn’t use it as an excuse. He gets 3 yeses.
Marrialle Sellars – 17 – “Grenade” by Bruno Mars – AGAIN? She cold opened the Boston auditions. NOW she’s getting the last spot in the city where she auditioned? Could the producers pimp her any harder? Oh. Sob story too! Her father, who encouraged her music, passed away in 2008. Should I be recapping this again? Because I already did. Not to say she isn’t a special singer. She is. But if she’s good, her talent will speak for itself. Dial it back producers! This version of the audition was a little longer, to include the backstory and additional praise. The judges compare her to Miley Cyrus. I’m not seeing that, but OK. 3 yeses.
Forty tickets from Detroit! 119 bound for Hollywood so far.
It’s Atlanta tomorrow night! Only one hour, people.