Season 9 Preview: Jesse Barry, Katie Stevens, Austin Simmons, JB Ahfua

Our long wait is over, Season 9 starts TODAY! Getting excited yet? Just a little bit? Come on! Get Ready (best Danny voice)! Time for some new fan wars. We are starting off in Boston and there are a lot of Berklee grads in the mix including many we’ve profiled here and Brian has profiled over at Idol Chatter. Be sure to check out our Season 9 Roundup so you know who some of these people are!

And, let’s look at a few more. Three 17 year olds plus some guy.

Usual Disclaimer: Remember, that the Hollywood round doesn’t occur until this week this year. We don’t know how far any of these contestants might go. And since we never see some of the competition round contestants until the competition starts, we might never see some of these people. We might have even found the wrong person with the same name.

Number 32: Jesse Barry
Age: 17
Hometown: Asheville, North Carolina
Style: Blues/Funk/Soul

Number 33: Katie Stevens
Age: 17
Hometown: Middlebury, Connecticut
Instruments: Piano/Guitar
Style: Pop/Acoustic

Number 34: Austin Simmon
Instruments: Guitar
Sytle: Acoustic / Folk Rock / Indie

Number 35: JB Ahfua
Hometown: Salt Lake City/Taylorsville, Utah.
Age: 17
Instrument: Guitar

Pictures/Myspace/Links after the jump


Jesse Barry
Picture 1 Picture 2
Article 1 Article 2
Band’s Myspace
Band Profile
Band Details
Band’s Twitter
Band at Blues Challenge (youtube)
Band playing a gig (youtube)
Band at a Festival (youtube)

Jesse has an old soul bluesy voice with a dash of a funk vibe. And we all know how well female contestants like that do on American Idol. Sadly. She also sounds a lot older than she is and we all know how frequently Randy will mention her age. Sadly.

Her band is pretty amazing when you consider that they are aged 14-19. I think she is really talented and she may be able to break through the blues/funk glass ceiling on Idol, but I can’t see her winning. Hopefully, she’ll get enough exposure so that her and her band can get noticed. And that’s probably the intent.

The spoilers are pretty good on this one because she’s mentioned in two articles and there are a bunch of congratulations for her having made it to Hollywood. She’s on the edge of a group of female contestants that are bluesy, but the other contestants have more of a pop twist. That will either help her stand out or prevent her from making that final 24. Given the history of this show, I don’t think she’ll make final 24. Idol just doesn’t seem to be the kind of show for this kind of contestant.

Katie Stevens
Come Home (youtube)
Bubbly (youtube)
The Prayer
Somewhere Over the Rainbow (youtube)
Youtube Channel

Katie has a pleasant voice, but I think she needs to learn how to support it better. Unlike Jesse, she sings songs that are more fitting to her age group which will be a plus with many in the viewing audience. She’s got kind of a Kat McPhee vibe (her SOTR sung at some kind of pageant is even labeled as the Kat version, but I don’t know who called it that version). She’s pretty and young and that will get her some fans too. Plus, she’s not blond so that may make her stand out this year. IDK, though. I think that there are so many excellent females, she’d have a tough time going very far in the competition. She demonstrates that she can do covers, but doesn’t do anything special with them and I think Idol may have moved past “just doing covers well”. I think you have to bring something new to the table. She may get cast, but I think she would be cast with the intent of her being eliminated early (i.e. cannon fodder). Gosh, I’m pretty negative today.

She should probably have waited a few years. She’s got talent, but she needs a bit more seasoning. A bit more individuality. A bit more texture. I like the album covers on the walls.

Austin Simmon
Cached Myspace
Picture
Carry On
Song in Bar (youtube)

This guy looks like another Blake Lewis (hair, clothes and tats), but he’s really another WGWG (White Guy With Guitar). He’s been a good little boy and already deleted his Myspace (the cache is from Jan 6th). Does that confirm the spoiler? Again, I’m just not seeing this guy standing out in a very crowded field this year. Perhaps his look will be a bit different than the others and that will help him get cast. The videos are fine, but there just isn’t anything for me to sit up and take notice.

I’m not going to generate a lot of buzz with these three. How about…

JB Ahfua
Picture
Season 8 Audition
What Hurts the Most (youtbe)
Simple Serenade (youtube)
Ain’t No Sunshine (youtube)
Singing at USANA (youtube)
Introducing JB Ahfua

IDK. Here is what MJ said last year:

“Simon tells JB that he needs to loosen up, but he has a very good voice. Indeed, JB has one of those big, soulful voices that used to dominate the Idol competition. It’s like Idol retro! He gets 4 yeses, and outside with Ryan, he says he’s happy, because now he can help his struggling family. Backstory just around the corner!”

Exactly. Idol seems to have moved on from contestants like Katie and JB. Maybe in these times of financial and underwear bombs, viewers will be in the mood for a blast from the past. Maybe, not. He’s got a decent voice (and likely a decent backstory). He’s not ugly. He doesn’t look like so many of the singer-songwriters/WGWG’s we’ve seen so much of in these Hollywood previews. Maybe he’ll stand out.

I hope I have better luck tomorrow (anybody got a suggestion?). Good luck all you Idols.

BTW I don’t know if people have noticed, but I’ll freely state that a female contestant is gorgeous, but the biggest compliment that I give to the guy’s is that they aren’t hideous. Why? Because female beauty seems to be well understood, but years of Idol has taught me that just about every male gets people thudding. Sometimes, I’m like “Really? Really?!?!? Seriously? Okay, then”. So, if I guy isn’t covered in boils, I’m going to assume that he gets a few votes for “bringing the pretty”. Male beauty seems to cover a VERY wide spectrum. Discuss!

Spoilers from VFTW and IDF

BTW Idol 360 has begun to do previews of Season 9 Hollywood hopefuls, so I’ve added links to those posts in the Season 9 Roundup. The first three are Colin Benward, Jessica Wolfe and Megan Wright.

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Kirsten has had a long love affair with numbers. Marry that with her love of cheese and the Numbers Threads at MJs were born.