Tuesday, January 12, 2016

American Idol: The Atlanta and Denver Auditions

I watched the first 10 seasons of American Idol and blogged about most of them, and then I just lost interest. Simon was always the big draw to me, and it seemed like nobody was keeping it real after he left.  But I decided to come back for the fifteenth and final season, as much for the retrospective nuggets they'll give us as for the thrill of discovering new talent.  

The first episode showed auditions in Denver and Atlanta.  The judging triumvirate of Harry Connick, Jr., Jennifer Lopez, and Keith Urban is back.  Many former idols came back to participate as preliminary judges. Taylor Hicks seemed to get into it the most - jamming with contestants and advising the girl with the cello that perhaps she should consider the harmonica.  I will always have a soft spot for Taylor - he's my favorite winner.  Constantine is my favorite runner up. So with that being said, you can take my opinions with a grain of salt as they aren't as knowledgeable as Simon Cowell's and I'm likely to fall for whoever is the best lounge singer. 

The Good

  • Michelle Marie - There was something very endearing about this 15-year-old super fan who sang "Blue" by Lee Ann Rimes. She has braces and her outfit resembled a Disney princess. 
  • Josiah Siska - Johnny Cash fan Josiah sang one of my favorites - "Ghostriders in the Sky" and Harry Connick added some creepy ambiance.  It's not clear to me if he can do more than be a Johnny Cash impersonator.
  • Lindita - She is a personal trainer who lost 150 pounds before her audition.  J Lo said, "She sings like a heavy girl," proving the adage about the fat girl inside always being there in the newly thin body. Lindita has an amazing voice and should go far in the competition, plus she only has one name so that must mean she's destined for stardom.
  • Lee Jean - Cute kid - his older brother died in a accident, so he has a good story. I'm not sure he has the vocals to get out of Hollywood week. 
  • Jeneve Rose Mitchell - This girl is a hoot, with her cello and cowboy hat. Her family lives on a farm that is off the grid, yet her father seemed very familiar with the judges and the show format. Do they show it at the local saloon? 
  • Sonika Vaid - She is the beautiful daughter of Indian immigrants, likable, with a very pure voice. Harry said he thinks she could win. I don't disagree. 
  • Reanna Molinaro - She's a wacky cop who handcuffs Harry per his request. Once the silliness was over, she revealed a nice voice, but I can't say it really stood out. 
  • Shevonne Philidor - 6th time auditioning, and this time she made it! Not a huge voice but an interesting look
  • Kory Wheeler - 2nd time auditioning, and this time he made it! A likable singer/songwriter type.
  • Laurel Wright - 2nd time auditioning and this time she made it. Very pretty girl who says she came in with improved confidence.
  • Joshua Wicker - He's church music director who brought his pregnant wife to garner some oohs and ahhs. He didn't need the pregnant wife, because his vocal was quite unique and the judges were impressed. 
  • Jordan and Alex Sasser - They are a couple who are worship leaders and brought their baby. Alex sang first and played a pink ukelele. She was a bit quiet and seemed nervous and didn't make it. Jordan went next and revealed he was a big Celine Dion fan. He belted out "It's All Coming Back to Me" and got a ticket to Hollywood. Afterward, Alex cried, sought the family spotlight and blamed Jordan for dancing with the baby in a way that distracted the judges from her performance. Here's hoping the marriage survives this!
  • Kerry Courtney - His mom died of cancer when he was a teen. He sings a Death Cab for Cutie song, while making crazy twitchy faces. The judges loved it. J Lo said it was "super quirky and dark" while noting it might be too dark for America. I think this may be the case, but if he bathes and grooms himself a bit better, he could actually be a very handsome kid.
  • Shelby Z - A zaftig small town hairdresser, she reminded me of the women on Hee Haw who would sing "you'll never hear one of us repeating gossip, so you better be sure and listen close the first time." She sang "Last Night" by Carrie Underwood and revealed a very powerful voice that was shouty at times but always impressive.

The Bad
  • Billy Bob Evett - a very heavy country boy who kind of looked like a Campbell's Soup kid. Keith Urban sang along as Billy Bob was auditioning, which was annoying. He had pitch problems.
  • Joseph Kohlruss - a very confident, opera singer type who also had pitch problems and was not a good fit for the show
  • Sylvia Lee Walker - This Southern girl talked a mile a minute. She's 16 but in college because she skipped grades but sometimes she goes home to the family farm where she has a show goat named Jim. She did a yodeling song but had pitch problems that couldn't be overcome. 

I was relieved that they showed very few bad auditions. In the past seasons I'd watched, it seemed like they were really getting off on shattering people's ill-conceived dreams.  There was a cameo by Kanye West pretending to audition and rapping "Goldigger" to J-Lo, while a very pregnant Kim Kardashian waited in the wings talking to family friend / KUWTK producer Ryan Seacrest.  This reminded me of one of the Idol tapings I attended many years ago, where Kris, Kim and Khloe Kardashian were in the audience, getting a lot of attention from Ryan, before their show had taken over the world. 

This was an entertaining episode with some promising new talent, so I'll keep watching. 

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