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51 performers made it this far and only 24 get to go on from here. I certainly have my favorites (especially one I’ve been very vocal about) so, as I continue to keep it short and to the point, let’s see who had the goods to keep moving forward:

Stephany Negrete – she’s been a consistent performer with a strong, mature voice that reminds my hubby of a young Cher. I think she was a good choice for the T24 but I would have taken those shoes off.

Shelbie Z – I’ve had mixed feelings about his chick but she can sell those HEART songs she been serving up. Not sure she’s T24 material for me but they thought so and there it is.

Michelle Marie – a very young singer with a very quirky personality. I wouldn’t have moved her forward and I’m glad the judges agreed. She showed great maturity and grace in rejection – that will get her far in the performing arts! I hope she continues to get better at her craft.

Colette Lush – uneven performances with an equally uneven voice did not endeared this one to me. I agreed with the judges that this was not her time.

Jessica Cabral – DAMN IT!!! I wish they had showed her live performance so I could see if something went wrong. She had the best voice going and I disagree that she wasn’t that strong a performer. She should have gone through because I believe she would have gained momentum. Pffffft…

Other girls who didn’t make it to the T24 –

Jessica Clark

Ameet Kanon

Terrian – I wasn’t enamored by any of these ladies

Mackenzie Bourg – this kid is an artist, even if his voice is not the strongest. The young girls are just going to love him so it was just a natural fit for the judges to put him through.

Trent Harmon – ah, yes…Mono boy…he fought through illness and he is a good performer with a equally good voice. I don’t think he got the pity vote from the judges

Jenna Renae – I heard enough from her that I can agree with the judges putting her through but she didn’t stand out for me. I hope she gets better

James VIII – IMHO, not a good choice — at all.

Kory Wheeler – just OK

Adam Lasher – same here

Jeneve Rose Mitchell – they’ve been looking for the odd ones this year and this child fits the build. I sincerely hope her family support is strong because she might just be in for a huge culture shock. She DOES have talent but at her age and with her backwoods background this may not end well.

CJ Johnson – if you like seasoned, bar room performers this cat has it in spades. He’s ok but the vocals are rough-edged at times and I still like to think this is a vocal competition. I wouldn’t have put him through but what do I know…

Amelia Eisenhauer – this ginger-haired 16 year old violinist is certainly a firecracker but her song choice for the live performance was not my favorite. But I’m glad that didn’t hurt her chances because she did make it through. She could be my new favorite.

Lee Jean – here’s another young buck I’ve liked from the beginning. There’s a lot of talent in that young package and I’m so happy he made it through. We’re going to see some good things from this one.

Avalon Young – she has definitely NOT been my cup of tea but her voice can be pleasant at times – particularly in the live performance. She may have made it through but she won’t make the T10.

More NOs

Chynna Sherrod – not a favorite

Mary Williams – didn’t even remember her

Zach Person – meh

Dalton Rappattoni – they are into the boy band sounding and looking kids this year, aren’t they? He reminds me of one of the Carter brothers and his performances have been inconsistent. I do like his voice and they like his inconsistencies so he goes through. He could make T10, through.

Manny Torres – I liked his smooth vocal style in the beginning and then saw very little of him afterwards. The live performance sounded good so I’m glad he made it through.

And still more NOs

Laurel Wright

Anatalia Villaranda

Issac Cole

John Klausen

Kassy Levels

Andrew Nazarbekian

Thomas Stringfellow – I’ve like both his voice and performance style since the beginning and I think he has the makings of a true artist. I’m glad he made it into the T24 – we should see some good things from him.

Sonika Vaid – this one has had a little bit of an attitude problem but she does have a great voice. I’m not happy she made the T24 after they let Jessica go but it is what it is. Pffffft…

Malie Delgado – I’ve liked this gal’s voice and spunk as a performer but the judges and I have not been in agreement in this last year so, again, I am not happy that she didn’t make it, especially since others who did weren’t half as good.

Olivia Rox – another of the sweet 16 set with a very mature set of pipes and a penchant for using vocal fireworks. If she wasn’t so affected I’d like her more but maybe she can learn something as she continues on the journey.

Emily Brooke – a little redemption can go a long way and I’ve liked this one since last year so I’m really glad they put her through this year. Watch this one carefully.

Another round of NOs

Sara Sturm

Jordyn Simone

Tiffany Lamay

Kayla Michalson

Mionne Destiny

Gianna Isabella – I was praying that picking her Mom’s song to sing in the live performance would not be a bad song choice. She sounded a little tight on it but she has such talent that they had to put her through. Another one to watch very carefully – but, Mom, please back away and let her come into her own artistry (but keep watching her back in other ways!).

Jenn Blosil – this one has been a little on the strange side and just a little too quirky for my taste (besides I don’t care for her voice) but since the judges have been all over the place this year I kinda expected them to put her through and they didn’t disappoint me.

NO-ville once again

Christian Eason

Ariel Sprague

Kelsie Watts

Shevonne Philidor – I don’t even remember this one!

Tristan McIntosh – Now, to me, this gal is as special as my favorite Jessica Cabral so I held my breath through her live performance and hoped the judges saw and heard what I did. Thank you, Jesus, they did! She is now my favorite and, IMHO, the one to take it all!

Kayce Haynes – he performs from a place way down in his soul. Couple that with a weathered vocal style and I was sure he’d make it through. I am just not calling it correctly this year…

Jordan Sasser – actually I liked his wife more than him but his live performance was really good. I wish he hadn’t beat out Kayce but I don’t think he’ll make it any further.

Lindita – I’ve been on the fence about this one for the last month and while I can’t deny her vocal talent there was just something about her that I couldn’t warm up to. Not sorry to see her go.

La’Porsha Renae – big, brassy and bodacious…with the largest afro I’ve ever seen! I must say for the record that I did NOT like her House of the Rising Sun performance but there was never a question in my mind that she wouldn’t be in the T24.

Now, next week 12 of them will get to perform solo and, as advertised, they will also duet with past Idol winners and contestants. That should prove to be very interesting and I am definitely looking forward to hear this mix of old and new.

So, what do YOU think? Let me know if you agree with me or the judges (or none of us!).

Until next week, America…

So, here we are at another final event on the AI 15 Going-Out-With-A Bang Tour – The Solo Round. Luckily they caught up with my personal favorite, Jessica Cabral, and I was happy to see she had made it past the Group Round. Now the pressure was on for the contestants to really WOW the judges one last time before the always dramatic room cuts — let’s see how some of your favorites did:

Stephany Negrete  – Very exotic looking but I just didn’t feel it from her – no real emotion and the sound was strong but colorless

Thomas Stringfellow – A little boy band sounding but the young girls will love him

Avalon Young – Thin sounding voice and bad song choice

Olivia Rox  – Kudos for singing an original song because it always plays to the performers strength

John Wayne Schultz – Good solid performance with a pleasant sounding voice

Mackenzie Bourg – Another one picks an original song and shows off the various colors in his voice – some of these kids are very talented

Shelbie Z – Channeling Carrie Underwood with that big voice but she is an in-your-face performer and sometimes that wears on me

Kory Wheeler – Just ok, sorry…

James VIII – His voice is a little too hard edged for me, sorry…

Tristan McIntosh – a very believable performer with a great set of pipes and a killer backstory

Sonika Vaid – She’s got a really good voice but she’s a little overconfident in attitude and a little flat in the performance mode which could be her undoing

Lee Jean – Very confident (in a good way), strong performer and great young voice

Sara Sturm – Relaxed, genuine but the voice is very young and somewhat fragile – I like her style though

Jenn Blosil – It sounded a little like a Cindy Lauper imitation and not in a good way, either…

Emily Brooke – The performance was all over the place but I like her voice quality

Malie Delgado – I’ve liked her past performances and it was painful to hear her fight a closed throat – poor thing

Mionne Destiny  — I haven’t heard her before but she wasn’t bad – I’d want to hear more (but is that name for real?)

Jessica Cabral – Portuguese girl power triumphs! She reminds me so much of me at that age it’s scary. Beautiful colors in her voice even when sick. Atta girl!

Joshua Wicker – Whoa – that was PITCHY! Nerves must have kicked in

CJ Johnson – Interesting song choice but it was a little bar room heavy sounding for me

Jeneve Rose Mitchell – Terrible song choice for her  – she’s much better than that!

Dalton Rappatoni – That boy’s song choice came from the Constantine Maroulis School of Odd Selections – it was so strange it could actually work in his favor

So who went through, who went home and did I agree (these are the ones I could identify:

Going on to the next round

Jenn Blosil – she should NOT have gone through – she’s quirky but not in a good way and the voice is not pleasing

Malie Delgado – thank goodness she gets another chance

Jessica Cabral – I knew she’d make it – can’t wait to see what else she does

Saying “Buh Bye”

John Wayne Schulz – I don’t agree with him going home – he had a strong male voice but needed a little work in the performing area and would have gotten better with time

Coming next – the live performances that lead to the equally dreaded LONG MILE walk to find out who will go on to the Top 24 (or whatever number it is this year since they will be ending the show 5 weeks early). My gal, Jessica, should be up for this challenge but will they find her appealing enough to keep going? We’ll see – stay tuned, America!

Note: Because I was out of town for week this past weekend the post didn’t make it to the blog on Friday. Here it is, finally, even though it’s a tad late and basically in outline form. Sorry!

Ah, yes…the dreaded and drama-filled Hollywood week on American Idol commences for the last time. I’ve always like this week – sorta like a car crash you can’t avert your eyes from…

This year they’ve called the 1st round the LINES OF TEN (190 contestants) 

Day 1

Jordan Sasser – kid has wicked blue eyes to go with the easy performing style

Dalton Rappattoni – clear, tenor voice

Jaci Butler (she of the green hair) – big, powerful voice with really good diction

Verdict – all three make it through – good!

Jenn Blosil – a little screechy this time around

Thomas Stringfellow – meh

Olivia Rox – a little affected

Verdict – all three again – but I would have left the girls behind…oh well…

Jessica Cabral – (my top pick) – a pure, warm tone without all the vocal fireworks – love this gal!

Melanie Tierce  – passionate singing

Sonika Vaid – still one to watch – really strong singer

Verdict – I agree with Melanie not going forward – not as strong as the other two

La’Porsha Renae – (she of the BIG hair and cute baby) – blues-ing up ROAR and killing it  – if she didn’t go through this round it would be stranger than strange

Harrison Cohen (guy with the cute grandpa) – I just like the kid’s voice and vibe – I think the judges blew it on this one – I DON’T AGREE!!!!

Daniel Farmer – he seemed a little nervous but

Manny Torres – a seasoned performer but not my cuppa tea

Verdict – Manny was OK to go through but not Daniel – must have been the end of the day…boo…

Lee Jean — he’s still a solid choice

Melany Huber – not my cup of tea

Shelbie Z – just ok

Verdict – I would have lost both girls but that’s just me

Day 2

Jeneve Rose Mitchell – she knows how to work that cello – and she’s a natural – good choice!

Gianna Isabella – ok, she has a “momager” in her famous female parental unit (Brenda K Starr) but she still shows a strong voice and presence – I just don’t care for some of the theatrics

Tristan MacIntosh – I liked her in the auditions and I still like her now – clean, genuine sound

Verdict – Good thing they went through but I fear for the first one in the group round

Kyrsti Jewel – trying too hard will NOT get you through – and thank the Lord the judges and I agreed on this one

Michelle Marie – she’s very young  but that’s one big ‘ol voice – afraid for her in the group round

Trent Harmon – (aka Mono boy) – tough break but still sounds decent

Miranda “Poh” Scott  – didn’t impress me much

Emily Brooke – pretty, folky sound

Verdict – I wouldn’t have put Poh through but that’s just me – I’m worried for Trent’s health and the rigors of the Group round.

And now…what we die hard fans of AI wait for all year (other than the finale)…the GROUP ROUND!!! (108 contestants)

It’s all drama, all the time! Musicians can be a cruel bunch when they are out to outshine others and the group round exploits those emotional diva wars to the Nth degree.

Team Blue Eyes (Jordan Sasser, Kory Wheeler, Jenna Renae, Kelsie Watts) – They all did well and I don’t remember hearing Kelsie before but she was very good indeed – they all deserved to go through

Milk and Cookies (Lynnzee Fraye, Jenn Blosil, Bri Ray, Sara Sturm) – nice ensemble sound but Jenn drove me a little cray cray with her quirkiness – I might not have put them all through (looking at you, Jenn…)

OohX2 (Amelia Eisenhauer, Tristan MacIntosh, Lee Jean, ???) – Tristan and Lee were the only ones I cared for in this group but why did AI not acknowledge the 4th member with her name and stats? I hate when they do that.

Then we had groups were we only heard one or two of the performers so all I can do is comment on what I heard…frustrating to say the least…

Avalon Young – as Randy would say “just aw’aight – you did ya thang…”

Jeneve Rose Mitchell – her uniqueness may start to wear on me as well as her style choices…

Chynna Sherrod  – I still like her sound and how effortless it looks

Terrian  – sort of reminds me a little of Lisa Bonet of Cosby Show fame…definitely a free spirit with a decent voice…

Just Trent (Trent Harmon) – That was tough because they sometimes don’t bend the rules for illness so I’m glad they put him through – now go get some sleep!!

Singing Out Loud (Michelle Marie, Shelbie Z, Lindsey Carrier, Ashley Lusk) – Tough to do a Carrie Underwood song but they did well enough to sell it – and Lindsey got the shaft after they took on another member but I had to admit she was the weakest link…

Now for a few in the “NO…”

Elvie Shane – meh

Ashley Lilinoe – also meh

Cameron Richard – sometimes it just comes down to the wrong song and I believe that’s what did all 3 singers in…

Chicken Noodle Soup (Dalton Rapattoni, Anatalia Villaranda, Kassy Levels) – nice, tight harmonies – good job

Envy (Sonika Vaid, Stephany Negrete, Andrew Nazarbekian) – He has some crazy falsetto going on there – yikes! However, I wouldn’t have put them all through (I’m looking at YOU, Sonika, I don’t care if you come from my neck of the woods – lose the attitude!)

Trick or Treat Tribe (Marcio Donaldson, Jon Klaasen, Kylle Thomasson, Kacye Haynes) – I thought for four very different male voices they did a good job – together and solo-wise!

Smooth Soul (Joy Dove, Daniel Farmer, Lindita) – The Kosovo chick annoyed me and I did like Daniel’s smooth sound so I’m not happy he didn’t make it…

Las Whaaat (? – They should have put the name up on the screen) (Gianna Isabella, Eliz Camacho, Dana Ordway) – Another diva self destructs – I love it when that happens! That b*tch wanted to sink the other two and she got hers alright…

The Good Vibes (Joe Dahman, Alesana Tolai, Olivia Thai, Jessica Paige) – Not bad but I didn’t think the song choice showed off their voices – none of them seemed to be experienced performers…

????? – (CJ Johnson, Jess Kellner, Jessica Baker, Zach Joseph) – Harmonies were good – solo spots just OK…

????? – (Thomas Muglia, Joey Hendricks, Bryson Dunn, Thomas Stringfellow) – Different take on the same song as the last group – a little quirky in the performance area – voices were ok…

Rebirth – (Manny Torres, Malie Delgado, Christian Eason) – No wonder she had no voice the way she grated on it during her solo…easy, girl – they did work well together and the song worked for them…

And, finally, the battle of the Stayin’ Alive groups…

Soul Cats – (Laurel Wright, Marshall Cunningham, Drew Angus, John Arthur Greene) – Did anyone in that group know the words? To that classic? Yikes!!! I wasn’t  impressed…

The Sisters – (Tonie Starr, Marlena Johnson, La’Porsha Renae) – If you’re gonna mess up then own the stage and these gals did! Give them props for that…and they didn’t sound bad either…I just didn’t like the song on them…personal taste…

The one contestant I didn’t see perform in the groups was my favorite Jessica Cabral – I really hope she made it through because if she didn’t then I’ll be REALLY TICKED!

Until next week, America!

Week 3 brings us more auditions from the same 5 cities…
I’m not sure I like the bouncing back and forth but what do I know…
so I’m not even going to bother noting the cities because it would make my head hurt…ready? set? GO!

Wednesday

Miranda “Poh” Scott  — 17  — Baltimore, MD — Fairy Tale
Sister made Top 24 last year
a little nasal…no…a LOT nasal with a gravel edge…

and it distracted me from anything else…
and when they scream I’m out…totally disagree with the judges

Amelia Eisenhauer — 15 — Nashville, TN — Muddy Waters
hard edged voice with no bottom range and little breath control (and no head tone either)
just different enough to catch the judges attention and get a golden ticket
another one I disagree with the judges on

Joy Dove — 21 — Natchitoches, LA — Jambalaya
HUGH voice with a personality to match
Let’s see how she makes out in Hollyweird

Mackenzie Bourg — 23 — Lafayette, LA — Medley of Judges songs
a very creative audition – never seen THAT done in 15 seasons
vocally interesting to hear – scratchy tenor but had some interesting colors
he WILL be interesting in the next round

Andrew — 27 — and
Aaron Birdwell  — 23  — Cadillac, MI — ???
I knew this was bound for failure — don’t ask me why —

Jenna Renae — 23 — Williamson, NY —
pretty voice but under supported — sitting at a piano will do that
solid performing instincts however
she did deserve to move on though

Mario Bonds — 27  — Washington, DC — Inseparable 
blind at 10 with a solid backstory
good voice but very affected (a little lounge-y for me)
not a great performance and I had to agree with the judges

Adam Lasher — 28 — Danville, CA — Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door
Cleaned up his act from last year and brought a very creative arrangement with him
Hope he makes the most of the second chance

Emily Brooke — 16 — Wellington, FL — Careless
A little Taylor Swift-y but I did like her last year and glad to see her back

Thursday

Jessica Cabral — 21 — Worcester, MA — A Brand New Kind of Me
nice, warm sound with a laid back style (and being Portuguese is a plus in my book!)
she had them in the palm of her hand – glad she made it

Cody Ostrenga — 23 — El Paso, TX — Proud Mary
something told me he’d be a dud…maybe it was the belly dancing…oy…

Brian Dale Brown — 27 — Bakersfield, CA — Unchained Melody
auditioned 10 times and Lee Dewyze put him through…this will be good…or not…
an unchained voice is what I heard — it could be good but so many bad habits and tricks — too much of a goofball.. can’t believe they put him through

Gina Naomi Baez — 27 — Rockville Centre, NY — Lips Are Moving
a gal and her dog…great (not)…the kooks are out in this episode… she can actually sing but she’s a bit over the top for me…thank you, Jesus, they didn’t put her through…if she wanted to be taken seriously she shouldn’t have tried a gimmick

Melany Huber — 17 — Livonia, MI — Talking to the Moon
cancer survivor… folk/soul sound… it’s a young voice that may have been affected by chemo but that can be worked with…genuine performance…not a pity vote… I think she can take on Hollywood

Rachel Karryn — 20 — Columbus, OH —
Caroline Byrne — 25 — Waldwick, NJ —
Bianca Espinal — 22 — Harlem, NY —
each had a family member accompany them and each had a decent voice – nothing spectacular however

Justin Sullivan — 22 — Paramus, NJ — (What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You) Stronger
obsessed with Miss Clarkson…not a bad voice…I thought this might be a joke but he wasn’t half bad…very sincere…too bad he wasn’t a little better…

Chynna Sherrod — 16 — Bridgeport, CT — One Last Time 
smooth, easy listening style — young voice but a good sound — no gimmicks — I liked it and her

Lillian Glanton — 15— Athens, AL — Country Boyfriend (Original)
another down home country girl…I liked the song, actually…a Taylor Swift in the making…the voice is not very strong but it may be because she’s young…I sided with Harry on this one (surprise?)

Kacye Haynes — 23 — Talladega, AL — Brother
Rock singer for sure…not a bad falsetto…definitely an untrained voice…but it didn’t “wow” me…

Zach Person — 18 — Houston, TX — Next Door Neighbor Blues
very unique sounding voice for someone so young…and he knows the blues as well…genuine enough to stand out…

Colette Lush — 19 — Orange County, CA — Whose Lovin’ You
a red headed Christina Aguilera wannabe — didn’t expect that good a voice from her — she’s got something there that can be worked with — #teamginger

Avalon Young — 21 — San Diego, CA — XO
light, sparkly voice…no pretense…charming…might prove interesting so see where she goes

Usen Isong — 20 — Queens, NY — Not the Only One
a little on the nasal side and the high heels through me a bit but he was really good…a little on the quirky side

Jaci Butler — 19 — Rowlett, TX — It’ll Rain
real legit voice for an alternative singer…I liked her…except when she almost went into the alternative vibe…I’d lose the green, however…

Stephany Negrete — 21 — San Diego, CA — Who Loves You
just sing the song, honey…you have a legit voice but the vocal machinations were extremely distracting…you are very lucky they put you through…

Manny Torres — 20 — Flushing, MI — This Love
Latin fused performance…not the strongest voice in the bunch but great energy…fitting last audition

and lastly a shameless plug for GREASE: LIVE!

Didn’t see that coming…much…FOX is so predictable…

One final note — Clay actually said out loud of what some of us have been thinking or screaming at out TV’s for the last 15 years when he chewed out that over-the-top wannabe contestant. I enjoyed it and I don’t care if it may be have scripted. It was about time!

So the ones to watch in this final round were few but impressive:
Mackenzie Bourg
Jessica Cabral
(my personal favorite)
Zach Person
Colette Lush

Now it’s on to Hollywood with its overabundance of drama – I can’t wait!

Till next week…

Phabulous Philly

Hola, friends! This week we move on to Philly and with Clay Aiken in attendance — how can we lose? Clay’s never at a loss for words, especially when he’s at is snarky best. It’s also nice to see the show paying attention not only to winners but those who made a big splash in music/entertainment without having the title.

My only burning question of the night is — what’s with Harry trying to rock the white t-shirt a la Simon Cowell? Please don’t give into the dark side, Harry! You will NEVER be Simon and that’s a good thing!

Ok, then – let’s see who impresses the judges on this stop:

Gianna Isabella — 15 — Jackson, NJ — House of the Rising Sun
Mom is Brenda K. Starr (80’s pop star – I Still Believe)
Reminds me a little of her mom – big, strong voice
pretty vocal colors when not screaming (why do they all try that?)
hopefully not too young – would like to see her survive Hollywood

Derek Huffman — 21— Coventry, RI — Angel in the Morning
Obviously NOT a Claymate (or even someone who as actually watched Idol)
1st to bring in a boombox as accompaniment
Not great vocals
Reminds me of too many kids I’ve bumped into in RI

Issac Cole — 15 — Emlenton, PA — ?
The country version of the Bebs
“acappella song with guitar”
I think he’s too young — voice needs to mature
Harry gave him great advice but they shouldn’t have put him through

Sarah Strum – 17 – Centerville VA — Lips are Moving
bright, bubbly and full of personality
she has a solid but young voice
confidence a mile long

Ellis Banks — 25 — Indianapolis, IN — Born This Way
a Nicki Minaj impersonator? Ouch!
Didn’t do GaGa an justice at all

Jenn Blosil — 23 — Brooklyn, NY — Radioactive
Very nasal but a unique sound
Quirky, free spirit
Can’t figure her out — is it an act or not?
Hollywood will sort it out for sure

Harrison Cohen — 17 — New York, NY — No Time original
good guitar player and the song is really good
not a bad singer – a little on the boy band side mixed with Jewish runs

John Arthur Greene — 27 — Raleigh, NC — Somebody Like You
one heck of a backstory but great attitude
Broadway Baby but really didn’t sound that way
nice voice and great stage presence
credit for singing a Keith Urban tune

Carry me back Denver and Little Rock

Something tells me they saved the crazies for the second week of auditions and if the coming attractions are any indication there will be even more next week. Great… (sarcasm) Let’s not worry about that now and take a look at this interesting group:

Amber Lynn — 28 — Provo, UT — ?
a little Ricki Lee Jones like with a lot of soul
just ok for me

James Gray Dawson (the 8th) — 23 — Provo, UT — Sun Comes Up
I don’t like the faces he makes but the voice is good (yet somewhat affected)
good guitar player

Emily Wears — 25 — Solon, IA — Bring on the Rain
professional auctioneer – not bad, either
pretty little voice but slightly under supported at the beginning (nervous?)
got better as she felt more comfortable but I agreed she shouldn’t go on

Chris “CJ” Johnson — 28 — Memphis, TN — Make My Dreams Come True
working musician
yes, he’s a guy with a guitar but he was really engaging going old school with a Hall and Oates song
good voice

Ethan Coots — 15 — Nashville, AR — Stormy Monday
breeds American Fox Hounds
Blues/Southern Rock
VERY young voice but he does feel the music
needs a lot of work, however
a really tough one – even the judges were torn on this (I agreed with Harry that he is too young for AI)

Mary Williams — 23 — Belfast, TN — ’Til I Can Make It On My Own
definitely an old school country singer
nice, warm sound and a good delivery
Even though Keith didn’t like her I’m glad they put her through

Xavier Soller — 26 — Newtown, KS — Friends in Low Places
(one of my favorite songs 😉
great personality but pretty affected (almost sounded like an imitation)

Terrian — 18 — North Memphis, TN — Happy
a real natural singer with a sincere, warm voice

Leann “Blue” McIsaac — 23 — Traveling Nomad — original
she actually had a decent voice but too colorful for this show

Tommy Stringfellow — 17 — Bentonville, AR — Gimme Love
Nice, easy, true tenor voice
just different enough to make it through

Tywan “Tank” Jackson — 29 — Ashtabula, OH — Superstar
if it can work for Ruuuuuubin it can work for this boy
he was a little out of breath so he shouldn’t have busted a move
before he sang
not a bad sound – smooth tone on a big voice

John Wayne Schulz — 27 — Salt Lake City, UT – The Dance
I DID remember him (Season 10) and now with a heartbreaking backstory
still sounded as good as I remembered
great performance

Leah Harbert — 24 — Moriarty, NM — Chain of Fools
She lost me at rewinding and singing to a Brittany Spears cassette – ouch!
Was there even a melody present???

Jordyn Simone — 15 — Los Angeles, CA — Who’s Lovin’ You
Whoa!!! That was really unexpected
A real natural singer and performer – an old soul

Kassy Levels — 17— Dallas, TX — ?
good performer but highly affected from what little I heard

Rhea Raj — 18 — Princeton NJ — How Will I Know
different take on the song but voice was a little weak

Jake Dillon — 22 —- Sandsprings, OK — Danny’s Song
such an easy voice to listen to and thank you, Keith, for sending him through – he may just be a dark horse ***

Ashley Lilinoe — 20 — Kane’ohe, HI — Black Velvet
she sings with clenched teeth and I was not impressed
can you believe I agreed with J-Lo?

Andrew Nazarbekian — 20 — Moscow, Russia — To Make You Feel My Love
Too much vocal calisthenics but he has a really pleasant voice when he sings it straight

Elvie Shane — 27 — Caneyville, KY — House of the Rising Sun
They bookended this show with this number – oy!
But this guy was really smokin’ – a barroom singer but highly engaging
***

So, my watch list for Hollyweird continues to grow – here’s who I added on after this week’s tryouts:

Harrison Cohen
Terrian
John Wayne Schulz
Jordyn Simone
Jake Dillon
Elvie Shane

Let me know who you liked and passed on this week and whether or nor you’re agreeing with our judging panel by adding your comments to the comment box. Next week will be the last 1st round auditions before the Hollywood phase so we’ll be going back and forth again between the five cities. Personally, I’d rather we concentrate on one city at a time but what do I know… 😉

See you all next week!

Call me crazy but I just can’t resist blogging one last time about this cheesy, frustratingly fascinating reality “singing” competition as it begins to ride off into TV sunset. Through its ups and downs — and there have been legions — I have stuck with this show for all of its 15 seasons; screaming at judges (like they could hear me), agreeing with mentors (particularly Barry Manilow, Neil Sedaka and Adam Lambert), loving just about everything Harry Connick, Jr. does (and he was correct to call out Quentin last season – sorry) and praying that Simon would get a personality transfusion – along with cheering when Randy “Dawg” Jackson FINALLY left the judges table. It was the first of its kind – a singing competition that drew you into the contestant’s story and struggle to be the best – and it was a TV program the entire family could sit down, watch together and then discuss/debate for days until the next episode. Those that have followed (The Voice, America’s Got Talent, etc) have all succeeded in their own way but American Idol is unique in getting us, the viewer/voter, to care about the singers and root for them through a sometimes twisted process. And, yes, the show has had its low points – which I won’t go into right now – but on the whole it has helped to display and encourage real musical talent in a country where the arts are played down in schools and no longer something everyone can share in no matter what level of talent they possess.

But enough waxing on about the past. Let’s enjoy what we have left of this show and get to the first week of auditions!

First of all I LOVED the show opening! This show has had a significant impact on American life and visual demonstrating that was a great reminder to all the naysayers. Beginning in Atlanta was also significant because, besides being Ryan’s hometown, I think the most top 24 contestants first started out there (anyone want to fact check that?).

After the usual crowd and judges shots, we get to the first of the auditions: (so you know, my thoughts on the auditions are in shorthand and not full sentences – I also try to include song titles if they announce them

Michelle Marie – 15 – Daytona Beach, FL – Blue
Nice, young country-ish sound
A little quirky (braces and all)
Might be a tad young for this competition but don’t tell her

New this year, and something they should have started about 5 years ago, is that they’ve brought the former Idols and contestants on to do a little judging at the first level. Why they waited until NOW is beyond me. So, since he lives next door in the 215, it was only appropriate to have the Velvet Teddy himself, Ruben (Roooooooben) Studdard take a turn at judging.

Josiah Siska – 18 – Dacula, GA – Ghost Riders in the Sky
This kid’s a big bad bass – for real – has a bit of a tremolo
Decent on the guitar
And he sang a downward chromatic scale – cool! (Harry & I are music geeks, go figure)

Lindita – 26 – originally from Kosovo (married to an American) – It’s A Man’s World
Lost 150 to audition – didn’t see that song coming
Bad ending (she’s a run-er for sure)
Might have interesting backstory

Billy Bob Evett – 25 – Punta Gorda, FL
I thought it was good but I couldn’t hear the pitch issues because Keith singing along
May not have gotten a fair shake

Lee Jean – 15 – Bluffington, SC – Icy Fire
boy band sounding voice
Plays better than I thought
Cute enough for the teen girl
And he has a backstory to die for

Then it was on to Denver with AI Season Five’s winner Taylor Hicks (he hasn’t changed a bit)

Jeneva Mitchell – 15 – Saddle Mountain, (Crawford) CO – Chain Saw
Very different presence and sound – great cello work for her age
She’s got raw talent & young voice
Sometimes being “off the grid” is a good thing

Sonika Vaid – 20 – Martha’s Vineyard, MA
Pretty little voice – nice vocal lines – beautiful tone – no crappy runs – pure sound

Joseph Kohlruss – 16 – Scotsdale AZ – Hello (Ritchie)
Picked the wrong song out of the gate
Showed and overbite when he sings
Trying to be Josh Groban
There’s stuff to work with in that voice but not for Idol
Seems a little too self assured

Reanna Molinaro – 24 – Hobbs, NM – Get Over It
Nice alto/chest voice
Pure sound  – would have liked to hear her play guitar

Sylvia Walker – 16 – Rayle GA – Yodelling
was that a joke? she has a show goat?
could win an award for talking – yikes!

Shevonne Philidor – 24 – Tampa, FL
has auditioned before – with her sister – I remember that
nice and confident this time

Kory Wheeler – 27-  Nashville, TN – Benny and the Jets
don’t remember him from last year
different arrangement of a classic song – not a bad voice

Laurel Wright – 19 – Maryville TN
girl with a guitar – just ok

Joshua Wicker – 25 – Jacksonville FL – Stay (Rihanna)
expectant dad / worship leader
nice tenor – interesting song choice
puts everything into the song (but just a little over the top at times)

Jordan Sasser – 27 – All Coming Back to Me Now
Alex Sasser – 23 – Raleigh NC
Husband and wife
and what’s with the man-bun?
She – a little nasal but very bright and sparkly voice (I disagree with judges – I would have put her through)
He – very high tone – very passionate – another interesting song choice

Kerry Courtney – 24 – St. Petersburg, FL – Black Sun
very intense performer
has a coffee house vibe
voice isn’t bad but tough to watch him sing
I wouldn’t have put him through but he probably won’t survive Hollywood (at least I hope he doesn’t)

Shelbie Z – 23 – Sumiton, AL – Last Night
Big old voice but very affected
equally big personality
Just OK for me

With Wednesday’s commercial laden proceedings concluded we move along to Thursday night where the Idol Audition bus rolled into San Francisco & Little Rock.

In Little Rock we were treated to an appearance by Season 8 winner and hometown boy Kris Allen. He was very genuine with the contestants and still looks like the entire experience hasn’t fazed him a bit. Moving on…

Cameron Richard  – 15 – Raceland LA – Gimme Love
born with cleft palate? Never would have guessed it
boy soprano-ish voice (maybe not fully changed)
very good performance – he feels the music
very cute – heartthrob material

Daniel Farmer – 24 –  Memphis TN – How Does It Feel
smooth, passionate voice – big range
nice falsetto
He needs to watch the ego a bit

Dalton Rapattoni – 19 – Dallas, TX – The Phantom of the Opera
Well, THAT was very interesting take on the Lloyd-Webber song
very interesting sound and performance style
Quirky enough to be legit

La’Porsha Renae – 22 – McCome, MS – Creep
Ok…That’s some BIG HIGH HAIR
with a big back story to boot and a cute kid
huge voice with a lot a control on runs but lacking some melody

Maddie McAllister – 16 – Ashdown, AK – Cowboy Casanova
now this one had a show chicken – yikes!
pretty girl with smooth voice until she tried to copy Carrie Underwood
too young for this competition

Trent Harmon – 24 – Amory, MS – Unaware
Pure high tone – surprisingly soulful
good guitar player

From the Midwest to the West Coast, San Francisco to be exact, we’re treated to another round of auditions – this one visited by Season 9’s champion Lee DeWyze (who? Just kidding…)

Brooke Sample – 28 – Tucson, AZ – Cold Day in July
genuine performer – smooth mezzo  – a little country sounding
needs confidence and some media coaching

Olivia Rox – 16 – Agoura Hills CA – When I was Your Man
Pretty and powerful  – like her tone
risky song choice but it paid off

Jessica Clark – 23 – San Dimas, CA – Come Together
pretty sound but didn’t like her runs

Ameet Kanon -18 – Los Angeles, CA
smoky sound

Kayla Mickelsen – 18 – Geneva, IL
coffee house sound

Melanie Tierce – 21 – Murrieta, CA
another girl with a guitar – just OK – not sure what they were raving about

Maile Delgado – 20 – Anchorage, AK – Chariot
former Miss Alaska but that was not a pageant performance
she brought it to church – nice voice

Brandyn Burnette – 25 – St. Louis, MO – original song
different sound (nice falsetto) and the song wasn’t bad either
gets credit for putting up with Harry’s antics

Kyrsti Jewel – 15 – Arcadia, CA – Mamma Knows Best
she might have the goods but it’s a very young sound and she’s a little affected
her family backstory is a bit much, however

Sarah Hayes – 26 – Middletown, CA – (I Need a) Hero / Invincible 
bit of a hot mess in the attitude department
not that great a voice and kept forgetting the words
Simon would have given this one a verbal tongue lashing and marched her outta there

Tristan Macintosh – 15 – Nashville, TN  Why, Baby, Why
mature sound for her age
budding performer
she can sell a song and the military backstory is a plus

So, after two nights of auditions, here are one I think could become contenders in this musical race:

Sonika Vaid *
Daniel Farmer
Dalton Rapattoni
Trent Harmon
Olivia Rox
Maile Delgado*
Brandyn Burnette
Tristan Macintosh*     *= my personal faves

Now it’s YOUR turn – let me know if you agree or disagree with my observations. Use the comment box and voice your opinions…but let’s play nice, OK? All comments are moderated because it’s my sandbox and I want civil discussion. Thanks!

The Beginning of the End

Call me crazy but I just can’t resist blogging one last time about this cheesy, frustratingly fascinating reality “singing” competition as it begins to ride off into TV sunset. Through its ups and downs — and there have been legions — I have stuck with this show for all of its 15 seasons; screaming at judges (like they could hear me), agreeing with mentors (particularly Barry Manilow, Neil Sedaka and Adam Lambert), loving just about everything Harry Connick, Jr. does (and he was correct to call out Quentin last season – sorry) and praying that Simon would get a personality transfusion – along with cheering when Randy “Dawg” Jackson FINALLY left the judges table. It was the first of its kind – a singing competition that drew you into the contestant’s story and struggle to be the best – and it was a TV program the entire family could sit down, watch together and then discuss/debate for days until the next episode. Those that have followed (The Voice, America’s Got Talent, etc) have all succeeded in their own way but American Idol is unique in getting us, the viewer/voter, to care about the singers and root for them through a sometimes twisted process. And, yes, the show has had its low points – which I won’t go into right now – but on the whole it has helped to display and encourage real musical talent in a country where the arts are played down in schools and no longer something everyone can share in no matter what level of talent they possess.

But enough waxing on about the past. Let’s enjoy what we have left of this show and get to the first week of auditions!

First of all I LOVED the show opening! This show has had a significant impact on American life and visual demonstrating that was a great reminder to all the naysayers. Beginning in Atlanta was also significant because, besides being Ryan’s hometown, I think the most top 24 contestants first started out there (anyone want to fact check that?).

After the usual crowd and judges shots, we get to the first of the auditions: (so you know, my thoughts on the auditions are in shorthand and not full sentences – I also try to include song titles if they announce them

Michelle Marie – 15 – Daytona Beach, FL – Blue
Nice, young country-ish sound
A little quirky (braces and all)
Might be a tad young for this competition but don’t tell her

New this year, and something they should have started about 5 years ago, is that they’ve brought the former Idols and contestants on to do a little judging at the first level. Why they waited until NOW is beyond me. So, since he lives next door in the 215, it was only appropriate to have the Velvet Teddy himself, Ruben (Roooooooben) Studdard take a turn at judging.

Josiah Siska – 18 – Dacula, GA – Ghost Riders in the Sky
This kid’s a big bad bass – for real – has a bit of a tremolo
Decent on the guitar
And he sang a downward chromatic scale – cool! (Harry & I are music geeks, go figure)

Lindita – 26 – originally from Kosovo (married to an American) – It’s A Man’s World
Lost 150 to audition – didn’t see that song coming
Bad ending (she’s a run-er for sure)
Might have interesting backstory

Billy Bob Evett – 25 – Punta Gorda, FL
I thought it was good but I couldn’t hear the pitch issues because Keith singing along
May not have gotten a fair shake

Lee Jean – 15 – Bluffington, SC – Icy Fire
boy band sounding voice
Plays better than I thought
Cute enough for the teen girl
And he has a backstory to die for

Then it was on to Denver with AI Season Five’s winner Taylor Hicks (he hasn’t changed a bit)

Jeneva Mitchell – 15 – Saddle Mountain, (Crawford) CO – Chain Saw
Very different presence and sound – great cello work for her age
She’s got raw talent & young voice
Sometimes being “off the grid” is a good thing

Sonika Vaid – 20 – Martha’s Vineyard, MA
Pretty little voice – nice vocal lines – beautiful tone – no crappy runs – pure sound

Joseph Kohlruss – 16 – Scotsdale AZ – Hello (Ritchie)
Picked the wrong song out of the gate
Showed and overbite when he sings
Trying to be Josh Groban
There’s stuff to work with in that voice but not for Idol
Seems a little too self assured

Reanna Molinaro – 24 – Hobbs, NM – Get Over It
Nice alto/chest voice
Pure sound  – would have liked to hear her play guitar

Sylvia Walker – 16 – Rayle GA – Yodelling
was that a joke? she has a show goat?
could win an award for talking – yikes!

Shevonne Philidor – 24 – Tampa, FL
has auditioned before – with her sister – I remember that
nice and confident this time

Kory Wheeler – 27-  Nashville, TN – Benny and the Jets
don’t remember him from last year
different arrangement of a classic song – not a bad voice

Laurel Wright – 19 – Maryville TN
girl with a guitar – just ok

Joshua Wicker – 25 – Jacksonville FL – Stay (Rihanna)
expectant dad / worship leader
nice tenor – interesting song choice
puts everything into the song (but just a little over the top at times)

Jordan Sasser – 27 – All Coming Back to Me Now
Alex Sasser – 23 – Raleigh NC
Husband and wife
and what’s with the man-bun?
She – a little nasal but very bright and sparkly voice (I disagree with judges – I would have put her through)
He – very high tone – very passionate – another interesting song choice

Kerry Courtney – 24 – St. Petersburg, FL – Black Sun
very intense performer
has a coffee house vibe
voice isn’t bad but tough to watch him sing
I wouldn’t have put him through but he probably won’t survive Hollywood (at least I hope he doesn’t)

Shelbie Z – 23 – Sumiton, AL – Last Night
Big old voice but very affected
equally big personality
Just OK for me

With Wednesday’s commercial laden proceedings concluded we move along to Thursday night where the Idol Audition bus rolled into San Francisco & Little Rock.

In Little Rock we were treated to an appearance by Season 8 winner and hometown boy Kris Allen. He was very genuine with the contestants and still looks like the entire experience hasn’t fazed him a bit. Moving on…

Cameron Richard  – 15 – Raceland LA – Gimme Love
born with cleft palate? Never would have guessed it
boy soprano-ish voice (maybe not fully changed)
very good performance – he feels the music
very cute – heartthrob material

Daniel Farmer – 24 –  Memphis TN – How Does It Feel
smooth, passionate voice – big range
nice falsetto
He needs to watch the ego a bit

Dalton Rapattoni – 19 – Dallas, TX – The Phantom of the Opera
Well, THAT was very interesting take on the Lloyd-Webber song
very interesting sound and performance style
Quirky enough to be legit

La’Porsha Renae – 22 – McCome, MS – Creep
Ok…That’s some BIG HIGH HAIR
with a big back story to boot and a cute kid
huge voice with a lot a control on runs but lacking some melody

Maddie McAllister – 16 – Ashdown, AK – Cowboy Casanova
now this one had a show chicken – yikes!
pretty girl with smooth voice until she tried to copy Carrie Underwood
too young for this competition

Trent Harmon – 24 – Amory, MS – Unaware
Pure high tone – surprisingly soulful
good guitar player

From the Midwest to the West Coast, San Francisco to be exact, we’re treated to another round of auditions – this one visited by Season 9’s champion Lee DeWyze (who? Just kidding…)

Brooke Sample – 28 – Tucson, AZ – Cold Day in July
genuine performer – smooth mezzo  – a little country sounding
needs confidence and some media coaching

Olivia Rox – 16 – Agoura Hills CA – When I was Your Man
Pretty and powerful  – like her tone
risky song choice but it paid off

Jessica Clark – 23 – San Dimas, CA – Come Together
pretty sound but didn’t like her runs

Ameet Kanon -18 – Los Angeles, CA
smoky sound

Kayla Mickelsen – 18 – Geneva, IL
coffee house sound

Melanie Tierce – 21 – Murrieta, CA
another girl with a guitar – just OK – not sure what they were raving about

Maile Delgado – 20 – Anchorage, AK – Chariot
former Miss Alaska but that was not a pageant performance
she brought it to church – nice voice

Brandyn Burnette – 25 – St. Louis, MO – original song
different sound (nice falsetto) and the song wasn’t bad either
gets credit for putting up with Harry’s antics

Kyrsti Jewel – 15 – Arcadia, CA – Mamma Knows Best
she might have the goods but it’s a very young sound and she’s a little affected
her family backstory is a bit much, however

Sarah Hayes – 26 – Middletown, CA – (I Need a) Hero / Invincible 
bit of a hot mess in the attitude department
not that great a voice and kept forgetting the words
Simon would have given this one a verbal tongue lashing and marched her outta there

Tristan Macintosh – 15 – Nashville, TN  Why, Baby, Why
mature sound for her age
budding performer
she can sell a song and the military backstory is a plus

So, after two nights of auditions, here are one I think could become contenders in this musical race:

Sonika Vaid *
Daniel Farmer
Dalton Rapattoni
Trent Harmon
Olivia Rox
Maile Delgado*
Brandyn Burnette
Tristan Macintosh*     *= my personal faves

Now it’s YOUR turn – let me know if you agree or disagree with my observations. Use the comment box and voice your opinions…but let’s play nice, OK? All comments are moderated because it’s my sandbox and I want civil discussion. Thanks!