It’s the LAST night of American Idol XIII auditions, taking place in Omaha, Nebraska. I’ll be live blogging the 60 minute episode right here.
Despite the fact that Idol’s last trip to Omaha in 2007 produced that season’s winner, David Cook, the second trip, and the last night of auditions, featured the weakest singers so far. At one point, Harry changes a no to a yes, which he NEVER does. He always trusts his first instinct, but I swear the lack of big talent weakened his resolve.
Jennifer continues let through too many singers. Keith isn’t as rigorous as he could be either. Which is why it’s not uncommon for a weak singer to get through on 2 yeses from Jlo and Keith, while Harry wisely says no. Two mistakes tonight were the fifteen year old Carrie clone, Madison Walker (less than half baked) and 18 year old, Andrina Brogden, whose lack of confidence has the potential to trip her up.
Tonight’s standouts were country throwback, Tessa Kate, gospel belter, Paula Hunt, and sweet voiced, Casey McQuillen. An honorable mention goes to Tyler Marshall and his melding of gospel and R&B.
One final thing: For the first time in years, I thoroughly enjoyed the audition rounds. The episodes were beautifully shot and edited. The judges were, for the most part, informative and entertaining, and we got to see plenty of great talent. I didn’t even mind the proliferation of guitars. I think given the opportunity, any musician would accompany themselves while singing rather than go a cappella. My feeling is that the guitars will recede once the full band kicks in. But even if they don’t, it won’t bother me. Only in the Idol universe would a singer/musician be criticized for playing an instrument. It’s like dissing a carpenter for using all of his tools.
Up next? HOLLYWOOD BABY. See you there.
Oh look. It’s a montage of the singers the producers want us to pay attention to! DON’T FORGET OUR PIMPING PEOPLE. And that’s your cold open.
Idol carpool! Ryan is at the wheel. Arguments about directions ensue “If I had the directions, I would have directed myself to another car,” says Harry.
Quaid Edwards – Change is Gonna Come – 21 – College senior. His mom was a the lead singer of the country group, Jolie and the Wanted. She played with Keith early in her career. Quaid feels that he’s rekindling her dream, but he does not sound very enthusiastic for himself. Oh, mommy. Your career is over. Step back. The song starts off in Quaid’s weak upper register. He improves on the lower notes, where he can power through, but there’s a lack of vocal control and his phrasing is poor. Oy. These kids of showbiz parents who are just chasing shadows. (See: Wonder Mike’s kid from last night) Jlo likes the whole package, but there are vocal inconsistencies. Too many notes. Keith is struggling. Too many runs! Harry acknowledges his cuteness and potential appeal to young girls, but feels the singer needs to work on his vocals. Quaid claims to have an amazing work ethic. Because of his raw talent, they all say yes. Keith gives his mom, Jolie a big hug. Quaid tears up at the sight of his mom, who more nervous for him than he was for himself. Follow your own dreams, kid. 3 yeses.
Simon Hauck – 17 – “Sold” – I LOVE COUNTRY MUSIC! Declares Jlo. Sure you do. It’s a no for Simon, and his weak corny vocals. 3 nos
Next, it’s a montage of no’s, which Harry makes pretty amusing “I enjoyed your directing of Argo” he quips to a Ben Affleck look alike.
Madison Walker – 15 – “Before He Cheats” by Carrie Underwood – She’s got a clear, lovely tone, but there’s nothing original happening here. She’s merely aping Carrie’s sound and phrasing. Keith calls it a perfect karaoke version of Carries song. BINGO. Harry believes she’s going somewhere. But where is she going? Jlo wants to take a chance. Keith says yes too. BOO. C’mon people. She’s not ready. You should have told her to come back next year, or even the year after. Harry says he wouldn’t have voted her though, and predicts she’ll be eaten alive in Hollywood. “She’d be better off in the practice room.” Harry is my hero. 2 yeses, Harry says no.
Alyssa Siebken – “No Hands” by Waka Flocka Flame – Her rendition of the song is amusing, but like Jlo says, the “flip the rap song sweetly” deal has been done before. It’s easy to hide vocal deficiencies behind tricks and gimmicks. Jlo is impressed with her breath control and ability to rattle off lyrics. She says yes. Harry doesn’t believe her voice is strong enough, and says no. Keith wants to “see where you go” and says yes. I am Team Harry. In the end, she and her family get a “victory selfie” taken with Ryan Seacrest. 2 yesses, Harry says no
Tyler Gurwicz – Fire to the Rain by Adele – Bleh. Tyler’s tone is unpleasant and his phrasing phony dramatic. I’m not feeling this performance at all. Harry doesn’t know where he’d belong in the competition. Keith compliments him on his range, but dislikes the angry faces he pulls. Harry and Jlo like that about him. (I’m Team Keith) Harry doesn’t think he’ll be able to sing outside of his genre. Jlo says yes. Keith says no. Harry thinks about it for a minute, and says no. Tyler asks for a second chance, and gets it. CLIFF HANGER! After the break, he sings again…still unremarkable. Yet, Harry says yes. “That may be my first slip in judgement.” YEP. 2 yeses, Keith says No
More nos as the judges discuss how they feel about turning down hopefuls. Harry is not crazy about singers who beg. And now a contestant is performing presidential impressions. Oy.
Tyler Marshall – “Proud Mary” – Church boy with David Ruffin realness totally impresses the judges. “You look like a happy guy,” says Harry. “I like that…it was great.” Keith calls his voice killer. 3 yeses
CJ Jones – “Stand By Me” – 20 – “I have to stay here,” cracks Harry. “NO STAND HERE,” demands CJ. So Harry does! Eventually he’s grooving with CJ. “Oh no you skipped a beat! Now I have to dance like a white guy.” Heh. CJ sings with a decent groove. And for that, he gets 3 yeses.
Dajontae Lenear, Dylan Becker – The former has a big crush on Jlo, the latter impressed the judges with his WGWG stylings. Both receive 3 yeses
Paula Hunt – 20 – “All I Could Do Was Cry” by Etta James – She sings for the US Air Force Heartland Band, playing for the troops overseas and at home. Her gospel-tinged vocal is strong, effortless and pure. Girlfriend’s got a killer church voice. Mom had some success in the business, but could not sing anymore after she was diagnosed with MS. Paula cried as she recounted her story. Harry compliments her on knowing when to sing licks, calling her singing “elegant and tasteful.” She’s a big Keith Urban fan! Her mom loves Harry. Aw, mom is out in the waiting room in a wheelchair. She haltingly describes how her children sing for her now. 3 yeses.
Andrina Brogden – 18 – “Halo” by Beyonce – The producers like this one, because we see shots of her at home, in North Dakota, 24 hours before her audition as she gets ready to embark on the biggest trip of her life. She wants to put ND on the map! Andrina has a unique tone, there’s something THERE that keeps me listening, but her performance is tentative. Jlo compliments Andrina’s beautiful voice, but remarks that she’s shying away from the bigger notes. She needs to be fearless. Harry disagrees. He doesn’t think she’s simply not a good enough singer. Keith thinks she’s got a GREAT voice, but she’s nervous. He loves her look, and thinks she’ll rise to the occasion. I agree with the great voice and nerves. But I’m not convinced she’ll be able to screw up the confidence to rise to the occasion. Two yeses, Harry says no.
Christian Scholl – “On the Road Again” by Willie Nelson. He’s a square dance caller, which he demonstrates out in the waiting room. Unfortunately, his tuneless performance impresses no one. The audition was worth seeing just for Harry’s joke. When Christian described a square dance move as “grabbing a girl’s forearm,” Harry quips that where he comes from, people call that “domestic abuse.” 3 nos
Idol trivia: Which winner began his Idol career in Omaha? Scotty McCreery or David Cook. TWITTER VOTE. C’mon YOU know the answer!
Casey McQuillen – “Skyscraper” by Demi Lovato – She’ got a sweet tone and a lovely break in her voice. Beautiful control and restraint. The judges love what they hear, and put her through. “She’s got all the right things to blossom,” says Keith. 3 yeses
Tessa Kate – Folsom Prison by Johnny Cash – She plays and performs in Branson, MO. Loving her throwback country style. There’s a little Dolly quiver in there, and its awesome. She’s pretty handy with a guitar too, changing up the rhythm as she sings. Tessa is completely useless in a commercial sense, but who cares. I’d still love to hear more. Harry had a crush on Barbra Mandrell. He could see her on their 7o’s TV show. He loved it. Jlo sounds really dumb when she compares Tessa’s voice to a chipmunk. She digs the hole even deeper when she attempts to backtrack. Honestly, Jlo should cede the country critiques to Keith and Harry, because it’s painfully obvious she knows nothing about the genre. Keith is worried she’ll get crushed by the other singers, but feels she’ll be protected by having her own lane. ETA: I didn’t notice the guitar change until some of you brought it up in comments. It appears that two performances of the song were spliced together, as Tessa’s guitar mysteriously changes in the middle of the song! Cut to the judges comments, and her original guitar has returned. Weird. 3 yeses.
21 hopefuls advanced to Hollywood from Omaha, bringing the grand total to 212.