Friday, February 05, 2016

American Idol: Top 24 Revealed!

Tonight we saw the Top 51 contestants take the long walk down the hall to see the judges and get the verdict.  After 2 hours, Idol unleashed its Top 24 for the final season...

Stephany Negrete - I can't really warm up to Stephany. She looks a bit like a Kardashian. J Lo has complimented her ability to walk on heels more than her voice. 

Shelbie Z - Shelbie looks like she could be part of the Honey Boo Boo clan, but this girl can belt. During Hollywood Week she dared to sing not one, but two Heart songs! She performed "Alone" and "Barracuda." She's got a ton of confidence. 

Mackenzie Bourg - I've liked this kid since his first audition, when he performed a medley of songs by the judges. With his old-fashioned glasses and plain white shirts and tousled hair, he's a nerdy teen dream. For his showcase performance he sang "Can't Help Falling in Love You" and really made it his own - plus he performed a great original song in the solo round. He's got a beautiful tone to his voice, and chicks are going to dig him.  

Trent Harmon - Poor Trent got diagnosed with Mono during Hollywood Week and couldn't be in a group, so they let him sing alone. He displayed a lot of heart and soul, powering through the illness and delivering well in his performances. For the showcase, he sang "Tiny Dancer" and his twitchiness reminded me a bit of Taylor Hicks (and that's a compliment from me)

Jenna Renae - I mainly remember her from her first audition where she wore a fedora and played piano. It was good but we didn't learn much more about her during Hollywood Week. 

James VIII - He's likable and soulful with a very unique name.

Kory Wheeler - Kory was a barista but he won't be making coffee for at least another couple of weeks. He's a likable singer/songwriter type.

Adam Lasher - He made it to Hollywood Week last year but this year was more polished and had a more clean cut look. 

Jeneve Rose Mitchell - I'm really happy they passed her through. This country girl who lives off the grid stayed true to herself. Her final performance of "Ring of Fire" was very dramatic. She's cute and a bit bizarre - definitely one of the quirkiest to ever make the Top 24. 

CJ Johnson - He's a bar singer from Memphis and he's got serious rock and blues chops. Plus he gets song choice points for me for doing "Go Your Own Way."

Amelia Eisenhauer - When she brought a samurai sword to the first audition, we all expected it to be a joke audition - but she's a beautiful girl who can really sing and plays the fiddle too. She's another quirky choice.

Lee Jean - This kid is so cute - J Lo has been saying it since his first audition and he's only become more likable during Hollywood Week, developing a cute friendship with fellow contestant Sarah Sturm. During his showcase, he told the crowd to be quiet twice, and J Lo told him he can't do that again. He may not have the maturity to win. 

Avalon Young - She's a tomboy, yet has extremely long hair. She sang "Excuse Me Miss" in the showcase and showed a lot of energy and sass. 

Dalton Rapattoni - He's been my crush since his first audition (those eyes!) and I'm so happy he made it! He almost doomed himself by talking too much during the showcase and telling the crowd the competition gave him low self esteem. But his personality-packed performances saw him through.

Manny Torres - J Lo has been rooting for him the whole way since they are both Puerto Rican, and he survived some uneven times. He has a lot of swagger. 

Thomas Stringfellow - This kid has boy band looks and revealed the sad tale of being dumped by his girlfriend the night before he flew to Hollywood. They had dated a year and she was afraid he wouldn't be loyal. I think she's a bit nuts to do that before he even makes it on the show and also the timing is cruel, but, hey, Thomas pulled himself together and performed great. 

Sonika Vaid - She's pretty and talented, but the judges feel she is missing something. Her performances are a bit understated but she could be a dark horse. 

Olivia Rox - This girl is cute with the pink streaks in her hair but the band drowned her out during the showcase. I don't see her lasting long. 

Emily Brooke - She made it to top 50 last year, and J Lo said she never saw anyone grow as much in a year. I'm underwhelmed so far.

Gianna Isabella - We don't know her as anything much beyond Brenda K Starr's daughter, and we see a clip of Brenda pissing off musical director Ricky Minor with her stage mom behavior. Gianna even sang her mom's song at the showcase! She's a cute girl with a strong voice but she'll have to cut the umbilical cord. 

Jenn Blosil - She's bizarre as hell, but kinda pretty. She forgot the words during her solo performance but she's got such a unique style and gripping voice that she made it through anyway.

Tristan McIntosh - I think we knew this girl would make it through after her first audition when she was compared to Alicia Keyes and her military mom came out and surprised her. I was somewhat annoyed by her crying fit during Hollywood Week when she thought she couldn't sing "What Hurts the Most" because 3 other girls had claimed it. Sure, it had personal meaning for her, but her breakdown was so bad that I wondered how she will hold up during the pressure of the competition. Lucky for her, some girl who got cut gave the song up, and Tristan did deliver a great performance. 

Jordan Sasser - He's a worship director who auditioned with his wife and he made it and she didn't, causing a short-lived domestic dispute. He's very likable and handsome, especially when he let his hair down from the man bun for the showcase performance and rocked out. If he wasn't so churchy, he could be another Constantine.

LaPorsha Renae - I feel like they torment LaPorsha. They made her sing last during the showcase and they made her do the final walk with one other contestant to find out who would get the final spot. None of us had any doubt it would be LaPorsha who has such amazing presence, and a voice as big as her afro. 

A few cuts that were hard to take...

Michelle Marie - This girl was definitely kind of annoying with her sequined cowboy hat and giddiness, but you couldn't dislike her because she had such pure enthusiasm and a love of the show.  She revealed she lives in a trailer with 9 family members and has to sleep in the kitchen! I hope this show will be a platform for her to get some local gigs and get out of that situation.

Colette Lush - Beautiful redhead with a lovely voice. Harry thought she was a favorite during her first audition, but she didn't quite seize the day in Hollywood.

Malie Delgado - This radio personality from Alaska was so likable and I really felt she rocked the house in her showcase performance.

Lindita - She was the final one to be cut, although she gave a sexy showcase performance.  She had lost 150 pounds before auditioning.  Despite that, there was something a bit off-putting about her.

Next week 12 contestants will perform solo and in duets with former Idols, and 5 will be sent home.  This is a diverse and quirky group and I'm intrigued to see how the season unfolds. 

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Saturday, January 23, 2016

A Day at the Arcade Expo

I've driven to Palm Springs from LA many times, and often stopped in Banning to visit Hadley's Fruit Orchards for one of their famous date shakes, but I had no idea that the town also housed an incredible Museum of Pinball that was the site of last weekend's Arcade Expo. It's a 40,000 square foot facility situated on 18 acres with 800 pinball and arcade games! The Arcade Expo was a 3-day celebration of pinball and vintage arcade games, with live music, food and drink, vendors, and panel discussions. We were just there for the first day - Friday.  Admission was $35 for one day, including unlimited free play on the games, or $100 for all 3 days. We got a groupon that saved us half off the daily admission. 

Upon arrival, we spent some time in the pinball room which was a giant warehouse-sized space housing hundreds of @ 500 pinball machines.  You can see the full list of pinball and arcade games here.  Unlike many arcades, the room was laid out with plenty of space in the aisles to allow for comfortable game play. Machines were arranged by decade so a stroll through the space took us on a tour of pinball history.  They had some of the latest machines like Metallica and AC/DC. They even had an "adults only" room that had a couple machines with adult themes like The Sopranos and Sexy Girl, and black lighting.  The back corner was reserved for a weekend-long pinball tournament called "It Never Drains in Southern California" and there were monitors above the machines so spectators could watch the competitors.  They had Hercules - the largest pinball machine ever produced, and Joust - a two-player game that was set up like a cocktail arcade table where both players could play at the same time.  

Another large room housed all the video games and vendors with video game memorabilia. We talked to the guy at the Intellivision booth and checked out the new all-in-one Intellivision machine with all the games built in (and those same shitty controllers!).  We had a blast roaming the arcade and playing Dig Dug, Kick!, Breakout, Dragon's Lair and many other games from our misspent youth.  It brought me back to the days my mom would drop me off at Showbiz Pizza with a roll of quarters and go do her shopping. Would any parent leave a 10 year old in an arcade unattended these days? We got sucked into Magical Tetris Challenge - a tetris game with Disney characters where both players play at the same time. I said we couldn't stop until I won a game and it took me about 45 minutes to pull that off. 

Elsewhere on the museum grounds, there was a food court with burgers, hot dogs, pupusas, and craft beer (including Centipede IPA).  We visited a shooting gallery with gun-oriented video games.  There was a popular tent that housed pinball vendors and some of the hottest new games including The Walking Dead, KISS, Game of Thrones, WWE Wrestling, and, um, Whoa Nellie! Big Juicy Melons.  After seeing so many degrading images of women in the clutches of demons or being rescued by Conan the Barbarian types on all the vintage pinball machines, it was disappointing to see that we haven't in fact come a long way, baby, when it comes to representation in pinball.  It's a male-dominated hobby and this is supposed to be kitschy humor.  Here's an article with more info on the controversy around this Whoa Nellie! machine.  

The day passed quickly. We had a drink in the cocktail lounge but were disappointed that the vintage pong cocktail table machine wasn't working. There quite a few machines not working, but many volunteer techs were there fixing them as quick as they could, so by the time we walked by again, they'd be working. Dave had a rum drink served in a coconut - a fun take on the "ball" theme of the day. We would have hung out in the bar longer, but there was a huge vintage bowling game that was super loud and took up a lot of space in the small bar.


At 9:00 PM, we went to the theater room for a presentation by Walter Day, founder of the Twin Galaxies arcade and related organization that is the authority for video game competitions and world record validation, and Billy Mitchell, world record holder and super villain as portrayed in The King of Kong.  I was surprised at how tall Billy was, although I guess a couple of inches come from his hair. They answered audience questions. Billy said he hasn't seen any of the movies he appears in, which surprised me. He hadn't seen King of Kong although he's one of the main players in it, and he hadn't seen Pixels, where Peter Dinklage plays a villain that looks a heckuva lot like Billy. I would think curiosity would get the better of him.  

Billy showed a short film about Zack Hample, who is best known as a baseball collector but also holds some video game records including Super Breakout and Arkanoid. I was interested as a baseball fan but the video had no content at all about his video game prowess so it seemed an odd choice to show. Billy said the point was that if you could be obsessed and great at catching foul balls and home run balls and become the best in the country at it, that was the same type of dedication you needed to master a video game and be able to play Centipede for 47 hours straight as he had done. They started to show another short film about video game designers, and we went back to gaming.

Later, we ran into Billy and I asked if we could take a photo.  He posed for pics with me and Dave and also gave me a box of cookies that I suppose some fan had given him. We debated on the way home if we should eat the cookies or not. If someone felt he was a true villain, perhaps they added ex-lax.  Dave ate a few cookies without any negative effects.  I didn't find Billy to be at all villainous in person. He was gracious in answering fan questions and posing for pics.  I believe he was at the event the whole weekend, participating in panels and doing more screenings.  

The crowd got larger as the night wore on, and there were DJs spinning 80s tunes in the video game room. The evening DJ did a "name the TV or movie theme song" game with the crowd and kept everyone having fun.  There was also live music in the beer garden area. We saw Timon Marmex - a guy dressed kind of like Dr. Who playing a synth. It was quirky but didn't hold our attention - plus it was damn cold even with the heaters they had set up. Because of the cold, we didn't check out the Starcade - an outdoor gaming area where you could play video games and look at the stars - but it's a cool idea and would be great in summer. 

I wish the Museum of Pinball was open all the time, but the owner feels he doesn't have the ability to staff it and keep all the games running. I think it would draw a lot of tourists who are visiting Palm Springs or the nearby Casino Morongo and outlet mall in Cabazon, just as the Pinball Hall of Fame in Vegas draws tourists from the Strip.  I would definitely go back to play again. We were there for 8 hours but the time flew by, and I didn't manage to beat Dave at Dig Dug so we have unfinished business.

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Friday, January 22, 2016

American Idol: The Final Auditions!

This was the final Auditions show ever! The judges couldn't tell anyone to try again next year. San Francisco was the location, and it proved fruitful.

The Good

Jessica Cabral - Jessica's parents came from Brazil and were musicians. She's a worship music director - we've had a lot of those this season. She's got a beautiful voice, nice control of it, too. Harry said he would be shocked if she didn't make it far and J Lo said she reminded her of Kelly. 

Brian Dale Brown - He's a big goofball who has auditioned 10 times. He did Scooby doo and Keith Urban impressions and sang "Unchained Melody". I thought it was a no for sure because he was so hammy, but the judges thought if he could tone it down he could be good. I'm stunned they sent him to Hollywood. I guess they think the tense Hollywood Week will need some comic relief.

Melany Huber - She's only 17 but has recently battled stage 3 Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma and has lost her hair. She had a tough time with chemo but now is cancer free and feels like she wants to go for it in life. She sang "Talking to the Moon" by Bruno Mars with a lot of emotion. J Lo said she naturally emotes. 

Rachel Karryn, Caroline Byrne, Bianca Espinal - These three were accompanied on guitar by grandfather, brother, dad respectively. A montage showed they all made it.

Chynna Sherrod - She sang "One Last Time" by Arianna Grande. She had a strong presence, lots of feeling, nice banter with the judges. She's very likable.

Lillian Glanton - She's from a poultry farm. She sang an original called "Country Boyfriend", and it was a clever song, Harry thought she was not good enough, but Keith and J Lo sent her through to Hollywood. She took a selfie with the judges. I thought she was cute and reminiscent of Kellie Pickler. 

Kacye Haynes - He is recently sober and has found solace in music. He sang "Brother" by NeedToBreathe. It was a split decision with Keith saying no. He's handsome, has a good vibe. Harry said he reminded him of both John Bon Jovi and Bono. 

Zach Person - He sang "Next Door Neighbor Blues" by Gary Clark Jr. He has a unique voice, but I didn't find it that ear pleasing. The judges loved his originality and confidence, but I think America may not be that into it. He's more of a niche personality.

Colette Lush - That's her real name and she has long red hair. She sang "Who's Loving You" by Jackson 5.  J Lo said she feels like Carrie Underwood just walked in. It seemed easy and natural. The judges expect her to go far and I do too, if American can overlook its ginger prejudice.

Avalon Young - She's a tomboy, wearing baggy t-shirt and ripped jeans. She was named for the song "Avalon" by Roxy Music and has the words tattooed on her arm. She sang "XO" by Beyonce, and the judges found her very original. She reminded me of Edie Brickell - cute, with a nice folksy vibe. 

Usen Isong - His parents are from Nigeria and he's a background actor but ready to move to the forefront. He sang "Not the Only One" by Sam Smith. He's got a big voice and fun personality. 

Jaci Butler - Her 3 bandmates live with her and her parents. Their band theme is black and green and they have black and green facepaint. She has lime green hair. She sang "It'll Rain" by Bruno Mars. I thought it was kind of average but the judges liked it. She does have a likable personality and she's something different. 

Stephany Negrete - She's a beautiful girl. She looked perfect - wore a great outfit, long straight hair reminiscent of 70s Cher and perfect makeup. She sang "Who's Loving You" by Jackson 5 - a popular choice this season.  J Lo observed that she was thinking too much about hitting the notes and not about the words, but all 3 judges felt she was talented enough to go to Hollywood.

Manny Torres - The final audition ever! He's Puerto Rican so he had J Lo on his side immediately. He sang "This Love" by Maroon 5. He's got a cute personality and big voice. 

The Bad

Cody Ostrenga - He's a three-time world champion western mounted Horse rider, which is a sport where you ride horses at speeds up to 45 mph and shoot at targets as you go. But he's also a belly dancer. He sang "Proud Mary" and danced. Judges said he was entertaining but his voice wasn't good enough. Well, at least we learned about a new sport. 

Gina Naomi Baez - She sang "Lips are Moving". She brought her dog Tinkerbell and they had matching outfits - blue dresses with yellow stars. It just wasn't very special, but she was devastated when the judges said no.

Justin Sullivan - He is obsessed with Kelly Clarkson and even wears T-shirts that say "Mr. Clarkson" on the back. He sang a Kelly song: "What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger." The judges felt it had some moments but wasn't good enough. I think the judges were being too kind to this Kelly stalker. 

Next week - the top 190 head to Hollywood! 

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Thursday, January 21, 2016

American Idol: Auditions from All Over America

Tonight's episode skipped around again from Denver to Little Rock to Atlanta to Philly, etc.  

The Good

Miranda "Poh" Scott - Her sister Shi made the Top 24 last year, and she wanted to get out of her shadow. She sang "Fairy Tale" by Sara Bareilles and the judges loved her husky voice and confidence. She reminded me a bit of Amy Winehouse, just in the voice, not the persona. She's the one Keith is still thinking about at the end of the day. 

Amelia Eisenhauer - This ginger lass brought her fiddle which delighted Keith. She sang "Many Rivers" by Annie Lennox and revealed a big voice. She's quirky. She sings in a family band and brought a samurai sword with her but chose to leave it out of the audition room. She has some geeky appeal.

Joy Dove - This big, bubbly gal was so hyper that I thought she would fail, but she delivered a fun rendition of "Jambalaya" that Harry couldn't resist.  J Lo said she was envious of her big voice.

Mackenzie Bourg - This cutie has the same birthday as Harry and he's from Louisiana. He performed a medley of songs by the judges, and the judges ate it up. He has John Mayer type looks, bookish and sweet. He should go far. 

Jenna Renae - This pretty gal in a fedora played the piano and the judges found her soulful. I felt she overacted a bit in terms of emotion and gave too many meaningful looks.

Adam Lasher - He revealed a unique take on "Knocking on Heaven's Door." He made it to Hollywood last year, but this year he's back to try again with a more clean cut look. He's a cool dude, but maybe a bit cocky. 

Emily Brooke - She made it to Hollywood last year at age 15, but judges felt she needed to develop her gift more. She sang "Careless" by RaeLynn. I felt she had a Taylor Swift vibe. The judges felt she had improved a lot since last year. Harry found her the most memorable of the day.

The Bad

Andrew and Aaron Birdwell -  These brothers are self-proclaimed nerds who like board games. They perform a strange duet that Keith calls "a Gregorian acid trip" and Harry calls "a Gregorian can't."

Mario Bonds - Mario is outgoing and likable. He had a degenerative eye disease and went blind at age 10, struggled with behavior issues and is now on solid footing. He sang Natalie Cole's "Inseparable." He had talent but the performance was kinda heavy handed, and pitchy in places. Judges said they love him as a person but he's not good enough for the show. He cried. This was hard to watch. I felt he might have been good enough to go to Hollywood, but he probably wouldn't have made it out of there. 

Only one more night of auditions to go...

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Friday, January 15, 2016

American Idol: Still More Denver and Little Rock Auditions

Tonight we got 2 hours of auditions from Little Rock and Denver. We also saw some auditions from those cities last week. I think I preferred the old format when an episode was devoted to one city. It gave you more of a feel for that part of the country. Tonight, they skipped around so much that I couldn't keep track of who was auditioning where. 

The Good

Amber Lynn - She sang the Allen Stone song "Unaware." J Lo said she had a lot of soul. She was accompanied by her friend James the 8th on guitar, and she convinced him to audition too.

James the 8th - He sang "Sun Comes Up" by John Legend. His contorted face was a bit hard to watch, but he demonstrated a soulful voice and made it through. He's the 8th generation in his family to have the same name, hence the catchy nickname "James the 8th."

Chris "CJ" Johnson - He's a professional musician with some cool tattoos that Keith complimented. He sang Hall and Oates' "You Make My Dreams Come True" and put a lot of swagger and soul into it. He's one of my favorites so far. 

Ethan Kuntz - This kid from Nashville, AR was so sweet and polite that he called the judges sir and ma'am. I have to overlook the fact that his family breeds dogs because I like everything else about him. He sang "Stormy Monday" by The Allman Brothers - an odd choice for a 15-year-old. He definitely has the blues and a big voice to match. Harry didn't think he was ready but Keith and J Lo put him through to Hollywood.  

Mary Williams - She loves horses and sparkly clothes. She's a world champion mule rider. She has a classic country voice, but Keith felt it was missing the feeling that Tammy Wynette put into the song. Harry and J felt all the feels and gave her a golden ticket. 

Terrian - She's from North Memphis and talked about growing up in a rough neighborhood, yet she sang "Happy" by Pharrell. She's stylish and pretty and reminded me of Lauryn Hill.

Thomas Stringfellow - His family takes in foster kids, and he dedicated his quest for gold to them. This cutie sang "Give me Love" by Ed Sheeran. He has a mellow poise about him, with boy band looks. 

Tywan "Tank" Jackson - They showed this heavy guy dancing in the crowd and I thought it was going to be a bad audition for sure. I was totally wrong. He sang "Superstar" by Luther Vandross and wowed the judges. And before he sang he did a little dance routine, so J Lo pointed out he was out of breath when he sang yet still revealed an amazing voice.  Roll on, Tank!

John Wayne Schulz - He auditioned in season 10 and was in a run off with Scotty McCreary but lost. Perhaps it was meant to be, as he got to spend his mom's final months with her since he wasn't on the show. She passed away from cancer. This tall country hunk sang "The Dance" by Garth Brooks but didn't make it sound cliched.  I expect he'll do well. 

Jordyn Simone - She's 15, but the judges think she looks 25. She sang "Who's Loving You" by The Jackson 5. She's a sweet girl and J Lo thinks she's special.

Kassy Levels and Rhea Raj - 2 pretty ladies who made it to Hollywood but we only saw snippets of their auditions. 

Jake Dillon - He is 23, got married at 18, has 2 kids, and works as a plumber's apprentice. He sang "Danny's Song" by Kenny Loggins, and I would have given him a golden ticket just for the excellent song choice. Why don't more people audition with the light rock sounds of the 70s? The song seemed autobiographical and he sang it with feeling. Inexplicably, Harry said he wasn't special enough. Thankfully, J Lo and Keith disagreed.  

Ashley Lilinoe - Her name was a shortened version of her super-long Hawaiian name. She sauntered in and sang that old Idol chestnut "Black Velvet." J Lo said no but Keith and Harry, no doubt blinded by her beauty, put her through to Hollywood. 

Andrew Nazarbekian - Born in NYC, he grew up in Moscow. He sang "Make You Feel My Love" by Adele. He has a nice voice but I found him kind of awkward. 

Elvie Shane - This Kentucky dude overcame a rough past of drug use thanks to the support of his wife Mandy. He took on her 5 year old son, and he wants to make it big for them. He sang "House of the Rising Sun" and revealed amazing range and presence. He's got a cool name too. Harry said he might steal his name. 

The Bad

Emily Wears - She's an auctioneer from Iowa, who dazzles the judges with a tongue twister she learned in auction school. But her voice isn't as impressive. 

Xavier Soller - He's a emcee for the Denver Nuggets, who sets up a basketball game for the judges. J Lo makes a basket despite her tight dress. Unfortunately, Xavier fouled out due to his singing voice. 

Leann "Blue" McIsaac - She's a singing nomad, with blue hair and a lot of piercings and unique look. After hearing her story of living in the jungle in Hawaii, J Lo said she could never live outside. Harry replied, "You could build a shelter out of all your assistants." Zing! Blue made up a song for the judges using their names and key words they gave her. Keith said she's creative but her voice isn't good enough. So it's on the road again for Blue...

Leah Harbert - She said she was taught to sing by listening to her Britney Spears cassette over and over. She performed "Chain of Fools" by Aretha in a very affected manner that was painful to watch.  

There did find a lot of good talent in Denver and Little Rock. 2 hours is a long haul, but Harry's sense of humor made it tolerable.  

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Thursday, January 14, 2016

American Idol: Philadelphia Auditions

Philadelphia didn't prove to have too many contestants who are gonna fly now to Hollywood...but there were a few gems. Clay Aiken was a guest judge and he radiated smugness.  At least this episode was only an hour compared to last week's 2-hour slogs. 

The Good

Gianna Isabella - Her mom is Brenda K Starr! J Lo knew her mom back in the day because they trained at the same dance studio, and they reunited after the audition. Gianna is 15, cute, and delivered a powerful rendition of "House of the Rising Sun"

Isaac Cole - A cute farm boy who seems perfect for a country boy band. He said he can sing an a capella song or a guitar song and the judges tell him to do whichever he'd like. He then said,  "I'm gonna do my acapella song with my guitar." Keith thought he was not quite ready but said yes anyway. Isaac assured him that he is a fast learner. J Lo found herself still thinking about Isaac at the end of the day and wondering if he could be Top Ten. 

Sara Sturm - This energetic 17-year-old began the audition by chatting about her job waitressing at a breakfast place called Great Eggspectations.  She sang "Lips are Moving" by Megan Trainor.  Keith liked her confidence. I found her likable but probably forgettable.

Jenn Blosil -  She came across like a very spacey girl, like something was slightly off kilter about her. She looks like an awkward Michelle Pfeiffer. She played piano and sang "Radioactive" by Imagine Dragons in a way that reminded me of Alanis. Harry said he is surprised she can sing, after her weird intro.  J Lo felt she was watching an artist. I felt like I was watching someone who was interesting but too weird to go far in the populist competition.

Harrison Cohen - This cute 17 year old brought his "foxy grandpa" who couldn't get over how many cute girls were there to audition.  Harrison sang "No Time" - an original song about his experiences with the ladies. J Lo felt it was a great pop song.  I agree it was a catchy song, but I thought his voice was unremarkable.  

John Arthur Greene - This hunky guy had one of the saddest stories in Idol history. He accidentally shot and killed his brother when they were kids. John performs in Matilda on Broadway, and his voice didn't really grab me but it was decent. Judges were split with Harry saying no but Keith and J Lo saying yes.  

The Bad

Derek Huffman - He sang "Angel" by Shaggy and brought his boom box for accompaniment. The judges laughed at him. After his rejection, he inexplicably removed his shirt and said he supposed they weren't ready for a real entertainer and just want another Adam Lambert.  

Ellis Banks - Elis wore a sparkly doo rag that he referred to as a "Jesus head piece" and he gave them to all 3 judges. He also wore a bejeweled speedo and a robe. He performed "Born this Way" by Lady Gaga, and he certainly is one of her monsters. 

I thought the most interesting thing about tonight's show was Keith's "Star" T-shirt that looked like half the logo of the old Stardust casino. Anyone know where I can get one? As for this group, I'll be rooting for Gianna, but I won't be surprised if Isaac and John Arthur make it to the semi-finals.  

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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

American Idol: The Little Rock and San Francisco Auditions

The January 7 episode showed the auditions that took place in Little Rock and San Francisco. The mother lode of talent proved to be in Little Rock.

The Good

Cameron Richard -  A cajun kid who overcame a cleft palate, he sang "Give Me Love" by Ed Sheeran. J Lo loved the voice and passion. Something about his tone annoyed me. Not sure he'll get out of Hollywood Week. 

Daniel Farmer - A student from Memphis, he declared he wanted to seduce J Lo.  The build up made it seem like he would bomb, but he showed a lot of vocal control when he sang D'Angelo's "How Does It Feel." J Lo felt he was funny and sexy. I think he needs to ditch the grinding and tone down the antics.

Dalton Rapattoni - Wow, I found my new Idol crush! Dalton is a vocal coach at the School of Rock in Dallas. He was super cute with his big blue eyes, eyeliner and flowered Doc Martens. He sang "Phantom of the Opera" and played guitar, delivering a unique arrangement. Even Harry Connick Jr had to admit - "That guy was pretty."  He looked like a new wave boy and definitely has teen idol potential. 

La'Porsha Renae - She has an amazing afro and a voice that's just as big. She brought her baby to the audition and has escaped an abusive relationship. She sang "Creep" by Radiohead and put her own spin on it. She reminds me of Macy Gray. Harry called her "an assassin with runs."

Trent Harmon - He grew up on a farm that features its own farm-to-table restaurant. He sang "Unaware" by Allen Stone. The judges annoyingly talked through the beginning of his audition, expressing their disbelief that the country boy is actually an R&B signer. Harry said it was his favorite audition so far. I wasn't that blown away but he's good. 

Brook Sample - This waitress from Tucson couldn't have been more irritating. They did a montage of her saying "Sorry" over and over while flubbing her interview segments. She sang "Cold Day in July" by The Dixie Chicks. Her nerves subsided when she sang, and the judges liked her. Harry told her she needs to stop apologizing, I hope she listens. Overuse of Sorry is really a very typical self-sabotaging habit for women.

Olivia Rox - A cute girl whose parents are musicians. She sang "When I Was Your Man" by Bruno Mars. She's likable and cute, with pink highlights in her hair, but I think she may be overshadowed by the larger voices in the competition. 

Jessica Clark, Ameet Kanon, and Kayla Mickelson - These 3 were in a quick montage demonstrating that a lot of talented women were making it to Hollywood.

Melanie Tierce - This was a weird audition. Harry interrupted it by walking out after she sang a few notes, saying it was a yes from him but he needed a break. Keith got choked up. Harry returned to say it was one of best auditions in his 3 years. I don't like the tendency of these judges to interrupt or talk over the contestants. 

Malie Delgado - She was Miss Alaska 2014 and is a radio morning show personality. She did a Gretchen Wilson song and showed that she was confident and likable. Judges felt she was already a star. 

Brandyn Burnette - He played piano and sang an original song called "Lost." He's a cute kid from St Louis, who reminded me a bit of Bruno Mars. Harry snuck up and hugged him while he sang the final notes. Ryan Seacrest was filling in for Harry who was on yet another break, so Brandyn ended up getting 4 yes votes. 

Kyrsti Jewel - Her family are idol groupies who have attended TV tapings and who for some reason still use a VCR and have a videocassette library of all the Idol shows through the years (come on, the show doesn't go back THAT far!). Lee DeWyze gave her a pep talk before she went in. The girl can really belt. I may have to forgive the weird spelling of her name.  

Tristan McIntosh - They saved the most heartwarming audition for last. Tristan's mom is deployed overseas. She is only 15, but she displayed great maturity and talent, playing piano and singing "Why Baby Why" by Mickey Guyton. She's a pretty girl and J Lo pointed out her resemblance to Alicia Keyes, both in looks and in heart. Harry read an email from her mom and she started to cry and then they brought her mom out to surprise her. Keith cried. Everyone watching at home cried. J Lo said she might win.

The Bad

Again, there was very little focus on bad auditions, and I'm glad. 

Maddie McAllister - A cute girl who brought her state fair chicken to her audition and declared, "My chickens have the biggest breasts in Arkansas."  She is only 16 and the judges felt she needed more practice.

Sarah Hayes - This girl seemed like she had a good voice but she was totally discombobulated. She sang "Hero" by Bonnie Tyler but quickly forgot the lyrics. She tried "Invincible" and stopped herself and apologized. Harry wanted to put her through anyway and, in a rare moment of self-awareness, blamed himself and the other judges for goofing around with her too much at the start of the audition, but the Keith and J Lo said no.  I don't think she could have handled the pressure.  

This episode got me excited as some definite talent was revealed.  Plus Dalton is so dreamy! 

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