Here we are! The last week of American Idol XIII auditions! And I don’t want to cut a bitch. I swear, this is the first season in which I have thoroughly enjoyed the auditions. Hopefully, it’s a good omen for the rest of the season.
Tonight’s two hour episode takes us to Salt Lake City, Utah. Join me as I live blog…
What do they put in the Salt Lake City water? Other than salt. Another entertaining audition show that’s chock full of talent. Harry continues to be as entertaining as ever, and I do admire the fact that he operates from a set of very clear cut rules, from which he rarely wavers. Jennifer, on the other hand, seems to allow instinct to drive her decisions. She says yes way more than she should, and is always wanting to give a kid a chance. Isn’t it better to dole out the tough love at this stage? Keith has no problem saying no, but he pulls his punches. Telling a hopeful who clearly cannot sing that they need to take lessons is wrong. Morally wrong! Now, that kid is going to waste his money, when he could be putting his time, money and energy into a more realistic endeavor.
The editing of these episodes is simply A+. Clips of the judges chatting away about the process are wrapped around the contestant auditions, adding grace notes to the proceedings and insight into how the trio think and make their decisions. Judging is not just fun and games, or a paycheck. These three are serious about finding and developing talent.
Worth a second look: Austin Wolfe, who is also a songwriter. She’s only 16 years old, but is a mature talent. Alex Preston is an accomplished singer and musician with impressive songwriting chops. Kenzie Hall, another teen, is a big voiced singer with exquisite control, and CJ Harris delivers his country blues with raw intensity.
The episode begins. Oh Hai Casey Thrasher. There he is at home feeding his baby a bottle before he heads out to his audition. And thus, your cold open.
“It’s not a show that’s cast, like some of the other shows,” Jennifer Lopez explains to reporters, about why Idol is so labor intensive. THE VOICE SHADE.
Austin Wolfe – 16 – “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons – Another preternaturally mature 16 year old! She sings assuredly, with a beautiful tone and phrasing. Impressive. Jennifer says she has the whole package. Harry compares her to Hayley Williams. Keith loves her pitch. Austin is a force to be reckoned with, he says. 3 yeses
Kylee Adamson – “When You Say Nothing at All” by Allison Krauss (Also Ken Whitley, Ronan Keating – Quick…name the Glee connection!) – She’s a lumberjack…AND SHE’S OK! No, she really is a lumberjack. Her vocal is solid, but I’m not seeing star quality. Nevertheless, much to her delight, she gets 3 yeses.
Tessa, Michael, Keith – First montage of the night! 2 guitar slingers and a big big voiced diva-type (Tessa) impress the judges! 3 yeses
A montage of “interesting” singers. Keith says he tries to be honest, without humiliating them. Harry is not quite as tactful! A hopeful actually dragged an electric keyboard to auditions!
Alex Preston – 20 – Original Song – He loves to write songs. In high school, he was a nerd and a band geek. Right now, he’s in between high school and college, pursuing his dreams. Austin is bluesy, with great natural phrasing. He’s got some songwriting chops. Definitely smart to sing an original. Harry wants to know how he knows the advanced harmonies he’s playing. He learned to read music in jazz band! His guitar style, is percussive, jazzy. Jennifer appreciates the way he connects to the audience. Keith calls him a “real musician.” 3 yeses
Samantha Calmes – “From Birth” (original) – Samantha’s unfortunate outfit involves a fanny pack. Harry asks, and she reveals the mundane items she’s carrying with her. Harry makes “Let’s Make a Deal” jokes, which is awesome. Her original has a talk/sing/songy verse, and a pretty chorus that she delivers with grit. I’m intrigued. The judges ask for a cover, and she sings a super-bluesy version of The Jefferson’s theme song. Harry doesn’t like her voice though. Hm. It’s probably the little vocal flourishes she add–Harry hates riffs that are not organic. Jlo disagrees. She finds Samantha unique and surprising. Keith compares her original to Macklemore and praises her choice of cover because of the way it showcased her voice. 3 yeses
Ellie Duke, Evan Sharp, Julie Awful…these are all hopefuls with unusual names. They also auditioned on the Idol bus tour. The best of the “small town talent” was brought to Salt Lake City.
Lebryant Crew – “My Babe” by Little Walter – He’s a preacher with gospel in his soul. Laurel Wright – She sings an original song with a lilting, pretty voice. They both get yeses.
DJ Bradley – 20 – Hometown Glory by Adele – Hey, it’s Ed Sheeran, the judges tease. Not sure where they get that. He doesn’t look AT ALL like the ginger singer. His singing is problematic, undisciplined and off pitch in spots. Jlo finds his voice pleasant, yet intriguing. Keith had mixed feelings. While his voice is interesting, his delivery verges on disinterested, he says. Harry compares him to Paul Simon, who also verges on the bland but has had a zillion #1 hits. Well, I would disagree with that. When Paul sings, he’s 100% present, even if his affect is undemonstrative. DJ sang as if he were thinking about what he’d have for dinner later on. Not impressed. 3 yeses for DJ.
So is Julie Awful really Awful? Did she make it to Hollywood? TWITTER VOTE! We’ll find out after the break. As we return, the judges weigh in. Keith felt she lacked confidence. Jlo thought she had a pretty voice. Harry thinks she deserves another shot. 70% of you believed she’d make it. 3 yeses
Kenzie Hall – 16 – “I’m Going to Find Another You” by John Mayer – Kenzie’s voice is so big, you can hear it echo off of the walls. This is not a bad thing. While her voice is huge, she understands dynamics and control, especially for a young singer. Jennifer and Keith like what they hear. Harry is impressed that she played a diminished chord. 3 yeses.
Paisley Van Patten – “When the Lights Go Down” by Faith Hill – She lived in Nashville for 7 years. She got her first record deal at 15. Within a year, everything was gone due to a problem with alcohol. She moved back to Utah to get her shit together. She’s been sober for 2 1/2 years. Good for her! Paisley considers Idol her second chance. Her engagement broke off, because her fiance made her choose between him and Idol. WTF? Oh. She’s got a sultry, emotional alto with a rasp that she uses in all the right places. Very nice. Keith loves her voice and appreciates her subtlety. Jlo admires her control. Keith says “raw is a good place to be for an artist.” She does her Cher impression before she leaves. Ha ha. It’s pretty right on. Not surprised she can do Cher, they share the same smokey tone. 3 yeses.
Hayden Olson – 15 – Keith sends her home after Harry says no. Chase Boyle. They also say no to screamy guy. Blue haired chick also gets a no.
Jocelyn Boyle, and another guy are through to Hollywood. Dude winking at Jlo. Lulzy.
CJ Harris – “Soul Shine” by Allman brothers – His dad passed away last year after a massive heart attack. Dealing with the grief has made him a better man. He travelled all the way from Jasper, Alabama to audition. African American singer is a country strummer. Although he doesn’t perform perfectly, he sings effortlessly and passionately. The judges note the vocal issues. Harry says he’s not the best guitar player. But, the three judges agree that the sum of the parts is bigger than the whole, and that CJ sings as if his life depended on it. – 3 yeses.
It’s day two in SLC! Ha ha. It’s the MOD SQUAD.
Keith walking through the waiting room: “LOT’S OF GUITARS!”
Tiquila Wilson – “Someone Like You” by Adele – She sings at her church and for the dead. She works at a funeral home! She looked so blowsey and theatrical, I was expecting her to be a joke contestant. But she’s got a powerful voice. Impressive, but she has the potential to oversing. Dial it back, sister! Tiquila tells Harry that she doesn’t care what her church thinks about her decision to sing secular music. She believes she can carry a message nevertheless. She gets 3 yeses. Her celebratory yell pierces the waiting room. “HEY WHAT’S UP,” she screams at Ryan. I’m smelling comic relief in Hollywood. 3 yeses
Chase Thornton – “When I Was Your Man” by Bruno Mars – He’s a male runway model and busboy. He’s not that good looking, to be honest. Holy cow. His vocal is so shrill and off key. NOT GOOD. Keith tells him to take lessons. No Keith. This dude needs to STOP SINGING STAT. Harry says it’s the weirdest voice he’s ever heard. No
Super dumb question only a newbie wouldn’t know: Which alum is from Utah? Kris Allen or David Archuleta. TWITTER VOTE. Only 70% of you got it right. Tsk. Tsk.
Back from break, it’s a string of nos, while the judges explain why they say no to some contestants who don’t seem ready. Show biz is HARD WORK.
We see a 16 year old Keith being critiqued by a judge during a TV talent show back in his native Australia. The remarkable thing, young Keith is unformed and BORING. I’d say no to him, too. His audition REALLY illustrates why some of these kids need bake a little more before they’re seen by millions on a talent show. Jennifer says she might have auditioned for Idol if it was around when she started, but her journey played out the way it was supposed to. Harry says if he auditioned for Idol, he would have never made it (we see young, precocious Harry playing the piano). But now, Idol is a way for new music to be heard.
Emily Rottler – Valerie – She’s teased for wearing mustard tights. Her sweet, lyrical voice impress the judges. 3 yeses.
Dexter Roberts – “I Like to Drive” by Casey James – He’s an Alabama farmer. He raises dogs to hunt ducks. Geez. He’s a total stereotype, with the thick accent, plaid shirt and baseball cap. Who cares, though. He can sing! His guitar drives a vocal with a great tone and sense of rhythm. He’s into blues, bluegrass and bro country. Harry thinks he sings and plays well and is authentic. 3 yeses.
Ally Roundy – “At Last” – Keith and Harry thinks she needs more time. Jlo disagrees. She wants to give everyone a chance! 2 nos, Jlo says yes
Briston Maroney – 15 – “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” – His great great grandfather was a recording artist in Nashville. His guitar has been passed all the way down to him. Aw. He looks so nervous! Keith notes the vintage Gibson. Briston doesn’t know his grandfather’s name? Hm. His voice is unique, but it’s a little fussy. It’s distracting. Keith calls his style “affected” and hopes a few more colors come out. Yes, his style–adding rasp and swallowing his words–could get monotonous pretty quick. Harry is worried that he’ll lose his voice. Still. 3 yeses
Sabrina Lentina, Carson Henline, Fish – Harry says no to Sabrina, but Jlo and Keith save her. They say no to Carson. Honestly, he looks and sounds like he’s 12. He needs a few more years. Fish is put through unanimously.
Johnny Newcomb – “Last Kiss” by Pearl Jam – This song, a cover of a 60’s hit, is terrible. Harry and Keith feel he hasn’t developed his own style yet. Yep. He’s an Eddie Vedder clone at this point. He tries out another tune, “If It Hadn’t Been” by Adele. Jlo changes her mind. Keith caves and said yes. I like that Harry listens to his instincts and sticks to his guns. Johnny has talent, but he’s yet to develop his own style. 2 yeses. Harry says no.
Kimberly Tosti – “Barracuda” by Heart – Whoa. We got a screamer here. This is extremely unpleasant. Harry thinks she belongs in….Opera? Uh. No. After she leaves the room, Keith says it was so loud, he almost lost a filling. No.
Carmen Delgina – “Tainted Love” – Her dad is Wonder Mike from the Sugar Hill Gang. He’s out in the waiting room! The two sing “Rappers Delight” together for the waiting hopefuls. Jlo is so star struck. She says that song changed her life. Carmen’s singing is unremarkable, despite her pedigree. Harry doesn’t believe her vocals are strong enough to make it to the end. Jennifer calls her inconsistent, but with talent. Keith felt a disconnect, but wants to give her a chance. They all say yes. I’ll bet she would have gotten 3 nos if her dad wasn’t famous. 3 yeses.
Kassandra Castaneda – “Chasing Pavements” by Adele – She gives Jlo her uncle’s number at his request. Jlo tried not to be TOO dismissive. Kassandra surprised me with her beautiful tone, and easy phrasing. Harry did not like her runs. Eh. I didn’t notice that many runs. I’m a little surprised this girl is rubbing him the wrong way. Keith says he’s crazy. Jlo also disagrees with Harry’s assessment. With two yeses, she’s off to Hollywood. Harry wants to call Kassandra’s uncle. “He might be hot!” Lulz. 2 yeses, Harry says no
Woody Gaddie – Gospel singer performs a slowed up version of “Swing Low Sweet Chariot”. 3 yeses.
Casey Thrasher – “Believe” by Brooks and Dunn – Wow. He’s the male answer to Marrielle Sellars. He’s being pimped big time in this episode. Casey is a dad who only wants to provide for his kids. His song choice is dedicated to Keith, whom Casey met at the CMA awards in Nashville. He promised Keith he would do his best to see him again. And here he is. His voice isn’t special, but he pours emotion into his delivery, which is more than half the battle, if you ask me. Jen loves him, she believes his performance. Harry admires his drive, and is convinced Casey will be a hard worker. Keith felt his hunger. Casey wipes away a tear. “From the chain link fence at CMA to American Idol,” says Keith. Casey delivers the news to his kids over the phone. So, where’s mom? The Daddy card = Strong Pimp Hand. 3 yeses
30 SLC contestants make it to Hollywood, bringing the total to 193.