American Idol Season 14 San Francisco auditions

3 02 2015

Day 1

1385015_10154925704030601_1985407597453397698_nAmerican Idol Season 14 finished up their auditions in the city by the bay. Mustafa inspired the next contestant to audition. Yep. Her cat. Why does this remind me of an episode of Glee (Brittany’s ‘Fondue for Two’ web series)? She’s ready to be a rock star. I’m betting she isn’t. She takes on Florence and The Machine’s “Shake It Out.” Fifteen-year-old Katherine Skinner surprised me. She has a fabulous voice. She does need a fashion makeover, however. Jennifer thinks she’s talented but also crazy (not in a good way). She thinks she is made for the stage but whether that is American Idol or not she is not sure. Harry likes the crazy because it kept him off balance. Keith thinks she is bold and fearless. Three yeses. I think she needs to reign in the crazy because she is going to get on my nerves quickly.

Erika David, a 25-year-old hotel representative wants a ticket to Hollywood and takes on Alicia Keys. Jennifer thought she was sassy. Chandler Leighton, a 20-year-old student from Los Angeles also wants to go sings “New York State of Mind”. Jennifer got goosebumps. Ryan Pinkston, age 27, from San Francisco sings a cappella. Harry thought it was pinpoint perfect. Chandler gets three yeses from the judges and is my favorite out of this group. Erika gets a no from Keith but Harry and Jennifer say yes (with Jennifer adding that she has a lot of work to do before getting to Hollywood).

Seventeen-year-old Andrew Bloom from Yorba Linda, California sings “Too Close” by Alex Clare. He sounded good. There were a few sharps and flats but pretty good for his age. Keith thinks he has a good spirit and it comes through in the way he sings. There were some things that he could work on. Jennifer days he has what feels right which is something that is required of a performer. Harry likes his spirit and thinks hens pretty good, too, but cautions him to watch the blues licks. Three yeses.

Vocal teacher Kellyeann Rodgers, age 24, from Memphis, TN sings an old Carpenters has a lovely voice. Three yeses.

Forty family members in one house??? Holy cow! Sixteen-year-old Reno Anoa’l sings Rod Stewart’s “I Don’t Wanna Talk About It.” First goosebumps for San Francisco. While he was singing, Jennifer says “pretty voice.” Keith thought it was beautiful. Jennifer days what she likes is that when he is singing she believes him until he did the runs and then she didn’t. Harry thinks he has a great voice but he had an issue with it in that it needed to show some variety. After Keith gave him a mild scolding that he needs to stop praying and listen to the feedback, he gets a ticket to Hollywood.

The next contestant bows to Jennifer Lopez, the queen of Puerto Rico. He says Harry is the king. What does that make poor Keith? He wants to do a soap opera scene with Jennifer, and instructs Keith and Henry (BIG OOPS!) to their places. The Improv 101 that ends with Jennifer slapping him which was highly entertaining. And “Henry” hits Keith Urbano. Let’s hear Samuel Prince sing “As Long As You Love Me”. His voice is nice like my husband’s voice is nice but he should probably keep the acting gig. “Henry” says his vocals are not strong enough. Jennifer appreciated the fun but she agrees. Keith said it was like a person acting like they were singing. He didn’t feel like it was true to him. Three no’s.

Matthew Sequoia, a 15-year-old from Merced, CA did not do so well and he looked terrified. Luke Randall, age 23, from Enterprise, Utah tried to sing “Radioactive“—rather screamed–for his audition. These two did not make it through. Sade Shine, a 28-year-old singer from Branson, MO, sang “Dancing In the Street”. I really enjoyed it. Harry liked the feeling in the room, but he is not sure it is an American-Idol-winning voice. Harry says no. Keith says yes. Jennifer says no. Zach Dire has a cool voice but he does not make it through either.

Rayvon Owen and I have something in common—Spam in our childhood because we did not have a lot of money. But Rayvon you got it with cheese and me? Fruit cocktail. Makes me want to barf just thinking about that now. He sings “Wide Awake” by Katy Perry. He is a23-year-old singer/vocal coach from Richmond, VA. It was sweet. Second set of goosebumps. Jennifer got goosies as well. Keith loves his voice. Three yeses.

Ezekiel and Jeremiah Cárdenas are twins from Long Beach, CA. They have never auditioned before and it shows. The guitar should have been left at home. It was off pitch the entire song. Jennifer lets them down easy by telling them they need more practice. No ticket for them.

Maddy Hudson does not look 16 years of age. She hails from Pleasanton, CA. Third goosebumps of the night. Jennifer had goosebumps all over her legs. Jennifer said she was fantastic. Maddy is one of her favorites. Keith loved her inside and out; he heard and felt every bit of it. Harry said she has all of the ingredients to be a superstar. She yells at Harry that he is so nice. She has heart and a ticket to Hollywood.

Day 2

Harry entertains us at the piano before Adanna Duru performs “You and I” by Lady Gaga. She is impressive for a 17-year-old. First goosebumps of the night for me but I did feel like she was shouting towards the end of that. Jennifer calls her the full package. Harry cautions her to know what the lyrics are about. Keith thought it was great. Three yeses.

Is that Carly Smithson with Michael Orland doing the pre-auditions? Christopher Michael, age 26, from Los Angeles impressed them enough to get an audience with the judges. It was not what I was expecting (not in a good way). Keith loved the passion but that was it. The singing wasn’t there for him. Harry said the point was to move people and Christopher fired him up but the music wasn’t there. A contemplative Christopher thinks maybe it was too hard rock.

Sporting a Willy Wonka umbrella tattoo, Hunter Larsen, a hostess slash nanny slash florist is 20 years of age and is from Malibu, CA. She belts out “That’s Life” by Frank Sinatra. I got goosebumps. Jennifer likes her gritty voice which sets her apart from others. It’s memorable along with her look. Keith loved it. Harry also. She gets a ticket to Hollywood.

Tara Honda sings Carole King’s “It’s Too Late.” She is a 22-year-old server/cook from Murrieta, GA. It was nice but I am not sure if it stands out from all the other people. Harry said she sounds great and he would buy her remake of that song. Jennifer thinks she has a soul of an artist. Keith likes it too.

Daniel Seavey, age 15, from Portland, OR can play a lot of instruments. I wasn’t sure I liked his voice when he started singing “Hallelujah”. It did start to grow on me as it progressed. They talked about his voice breaking. Jennifer thinks he had a beautiful voice in there. The performance wasn’t complete and she could tell he was very nervous. Harry says he is handsome and talented but because of his age he doesn’t have the maturity yet. Will he have it? Eventually but not right now. So Harry votes no. Keith wants to see how he stacks up with others in Hollywood week so he says yes. Jennifer is on the fence but she says yes.

Rocky Peter, age 27, had a wild story. He was born in the USA but his father brought them to Africa and then abandoned them. There was no money and they begged for food. He ate food from the trash and drank water from potholes. Music was the one thing there for him. He sings an original song called “Wrong Places“. The falsetto in the song felt odd to me. Was he the best voice we’ve heard? No. But he deserves a break even if he just goes to Hollywood. Harry thought his choices within the song were very clever. Jennifer loved the song. She could hear the pain. He has something special. Keith’s only concern is what Rocky does may be incompatible with Idol. For his beautiful voice, really original, beautiful heart Keith says yes. Jennifer is a yes. Harry asks him if his opinion matters and Rocky sincerely wants to hear what he has to say. Harry says yes.

Sophia (unknown last name):  Jennifer says yes, Harry says no, and Keith says no.

Jaq Mackenzie is a student in a performing arts school. She brings in a guitar and wants to do an original song but then puts her guitar down. I will never understand people who do this especially if it is an original song. It isn’t very good. Maybe she should have used the guitar to get the notes right. Jennifer thinks she has the makings of a really great artist one day. It is already forming but she is worried how her style would fit with Idol. Harry thinks she is talented but he isn’t sure if Hollywood would help or hurt her. Keith likes her distinct singing style. She gets three yeses—cautiously but yeses.

Tyanna Jones was homeless for about 2 years when she was about 5 years of age. I love the black hair with blue highlights. She has a Janelle Monae vibe to her look. She sings “Little Mix’s Wings”. This 16-year-old is better than Jaq Mackenzie. Jennifer thinks she is very talented. Keith asks her if she is working on anything at this time and she said her pitch because when she gets nervous she messes up. This impresses Keith. Harry said she has a lot of talent and is a special young lady. Three resounding yeses.

Next up: Hollywood Hell Week





So You Think You Can Dance — All Stars Return

23 08 2012

Tonight our top 10 are paired with our All Stars from previous seasons. The one dancer I am looking most forward to watching tonight is Eliana, with whom she is going to be paired, and seeing her dance. You know that the show is going to reward her from being paired all these weeks with Cyrus. I enjoy Cyrus and I think Eliana has elevated his technique all these weeks; it is time for her to have a chance in the spotlight.

Joining the resident judges Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy is Benjamin Millepied who starred in the movie “Black Swan.” He is part of a creative force behind the new group called the L.A. Dance Project and that group would be performing that evening.

The opening song was choreographed by Tyce Diorio as a tribute to the legend Gene Kelly who would have been 100 years old on Thursday. His wife, Patricia, was in the audience. Tyce also filled in for the slightly injured Cole in the dance routine. The song was “The Cool World Stomp (Reprise)” by Mark Isham.

I have not given Cat Deeley enough love this season. I wish she could host every show (including The XFactor). She is so lovely and seems so genuine in her appreciation of the dancers as her children.

Dancer: Tiffany
All-Star: Brandon Bryant (Season 5)
Style: Disco (ugh)
Choreographer: Doriana Sanchez
Song: “You Make Me Feel…(Disco Fries Remix)” by Cobra Starship featuring Sabi

My thoughts: I am not a big fan of this style on the show. It does showcase athleticism and gymnastics, but this is more of a dance in which one participates, not for a competition. They did a great job. Cat Deeley thought it was Saturday Night Fever On Steroids. No, not really. Maybe more like Saturday Night Fever On Starbucks. Tiffany does not even look like she is sweating (I hate her–not really).

The judges: Loved it. They felt Tiffany and Brandon had a great connection and it was a great party. Benjamin said that she had a chance to be fearless tonight because of Brandon’s partnering. He was impressed by the constant level of energy and expressive face.

Dancer: Witney
All-Star: Nick Lazzarini (Season 1)
Style: Jazz
Choreographer: Travis Wall
Song: “Sing It Back” by Moloko
Necessary story: They are in an abandoned lounge. Witney and Nick are ghosts who are still doing the show but no one is seeing it.

My thoughts: Travis Wall jazz? I am glad I watched it back again because the So You Think You Can Dance app program was irritating the crap out of me (had to put on my reading glasses to read my phone, then put my distance glasses on to watch them dance). However, it was only slightly better. I thought Witney looked out at the audience too much. Just when she was connecting with Nick and I started feeling the dance, she would look at the judges or at the audience and it would break that connection for me. I didn’t feel any chemistry between them. I thought Witney had a lot of chemistry with Witney. It could have been a smoldering hot (like Eliana’s dance to come). It was not my favorite. I even preferred the disco dance more. I disagreed wholeheartedly with the judges.

The judges: Benjamin thought it was excellent and great fun to watch. Nigel said, “You were totally committed.” She was sexy when she was breathing. “You’re a star.” Mary said, “Lord Have Murphy.” It was smoldering. Each week she is a shining star and she loved the ending move.

Dancer: Cole
All-Star: Anya Garnis (Season 3)
Style: Cha-Cha
Choreographer: Dmitry Chaplin (a.k.a. Be Still My heart)
Song: “Glad You Came” by The Wanted

My thoughts: What is in the water tonight??? Cole is one of my favorites. It was rough. His foot work was rough. It looked a little amateurish. Did his injury play into this. I think he might be in danger for this week’s eliminations (that will be announced next Wednesday). It looked better the second time I watched versus the first time because I was still irritated with that app. When you dance with Anya you have to bring it. Unfortunately, I kept trying to stick Dmitry in there and knew how much better it would be with him in there. Note to Cole: You cannot say you want to be the first in the top 10 to be on the hot tamale train and then have an under-seasoned dish.

The judges: Mary thought it was amazing. She reminded people that Anya was the reason why the phrase “hot tamale train” became infamous. She thought Cole did a tremendous job. She said the foot work and lines were okay, and the chemistry was not hot enough. He did a good job and his bags are packed but he is still on the platform. Benjamin thought it was great, that Cole partnered well. He offered to Cole to think of movement quality and contrast in a performance for something Cole could learn. Nigel agreed with Mary. He was a little disappointed with the contact with Anya. There was no rise and fall. He needed to get sexy with Anya first and then in the performing. He needed to have both.

Dancer: Lindsay
All-Star: Jakob Karr (Season 6)
Style: Broadway
Choreographer: Spencer Liff
Song: “Dancin’ Dan (Me and My Shadow)” by Fosse (Original Broadway Cast)

My thoughts: I guess this is the downside of having an emotional episode last week of all my favorite Mia Michaels’ routines: I was very bored tonight; nothing was moving me to want to pick up the phone to vote. She had beautiful lines. The synchronization of the two dancers must have been extremely difficult, especially during those moments they could not see each other.

The judges: Nigel thought it was a great routine, magnificent. She still had a lot to learn but she was nearly there. Mary thought they had first-class tickets on the hot tamale train. The synchronization was fabulous. Benjamin thought it was extremely well executed.

Dancer: Will
All-Star: Kathryn McCormick (Season 6) and star of Step-Up Revolution
Style: Bollywood
Choreographer: Nakul Dev Mahajan
Song: “Ooh La La” by The Dirty Picture (Soundtrack)
Necessary Story: She is the snake; he is the snake charmer.

My thoughts: Oh wow! There was another “Will” that did Bollywood: (See Sanctuary, Will, Season 2, episode 12. Who says science fiction isn’t entertaining).

Okay back to THIS Will. I LOVED THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My favorite dance of the evening (so far). Finally woke up some life inside of me. The first move when he moves up her front–it was more sensual in the rehearsals, but I’m nitpicking. The synchronization was spot on. The difficulty of these moves versus the dance with Lindsay and the shadow is multiplied by factor 10. It made me want to get up and dance around my room if I was not so enchanted by the snake charmer. In the end, though, the cobra bit him. And I think he was slightly smitten with her because he kept kissing her when the judges were talking. I’ll vote for him tonight. This is dancing on STEROIDS instead of Starbucks (i.e., the disco routine).

The judges: Mary thought he was the Energizer Bunny but also had amazing control. She felt like he was one of the most likeable guys in the competition. Benjamin thought it was charming and had a unique style. It was completely engaging and interesting. Will took advantage of every section and showed different ways of expressions. Nigel said he brought personality to everything he did.

Dancer: Cyrus
All-Star: Jaimie Goodwin (Season 3)
Style: Contemporary
Choreographer: Travis Wall
Song: “Outro” by M83
Necessary Story: Life after destruction; two sole survivors at the end of the world.

My thoughts: Travis Wall and a story about surviving the apocalypse (two of my favorite things). Ah, yes, this is the Travis Wall that gives me goosebumps. I remember being critical of this when I watched it and I was tweeting, but I changed my mind. Not being distracted by that app, I got chills. Cyrus really did rise to the challenge. Travis was smart in the way he choreographed it, showing off his strengths and hiding some of his weaknesses, but he also made Cyrus. You may be able to criticize the technique (and my saying that Eliana was “stuck” with him) but Cyrus is humble and Cyrus has an amazing heart. You know that he is not expecting to win but he feels blessed to be there. And you cannot help but fall in love with that quality about him. I did worry about the length of time the judges were spending on him with the comments because I thought that was preparing him for being in the bottom 3.

The judges: Benjamin finds this energy compelling to watch. He can also partner very well. Cyrus has a raw energy that is very exciting. Nigel paraphrased a quote from George Balanchine: “I don’t want people who want to dance, I want people who have to dance.” He felt that Cyrus HAS to dance. There is still so much for him to learn, but he works very hard. (Cyrus is humbled by the accolades). Mary said that Travis did not hold back and made it even harder for Cyrus. Maybe his feet and his legs are not the best right now. It is the passion he gives and people connect with that.

Dancer: Chehon
All-Star: Lauren Gottlieb (Season 3)
Style: Lyrical hip-hop
Choreographer: Dave Scott
Song: “Pretty Wings” by Maxwell
Necessary Story: Two friends who support each other.

My thoughts: It is still too stiff in the upper body. I felt like the spiked-out hair made it look like he was trying too hard (although I realize that is not his doing). It is not a world that he belongs (hip-hop). he is a brilliant ballet dancer. However, my expectations are very high because Alex Wong blew my conventional thinking that ballet dancers could never do hip-hop (the dance with tWitch: Get Outta Your Mind–one of my favorite routines of ALL TIME). He tried hard, but it was just okay for me. Again, with the judges giving him a lot of feedback, I felt like he was in the bottom 3 as well.

The judges: Nigel complimented him on everything not being straight and him having a smile on his face. He was much warmer. Mary said she wanted it to be more funky, but it was going in and out. It was not the most memorable but personally he accomplished a lot. Benjamin said the kind of looseness of tonight’s dance he needed to focus on. Performance was spontaneous. He was having fun with her. Chehon was very charismatic.

Dancer: George
All-Star: Allison Holker (Season 2)
Style: Jazz
Choreographer: Tyce Diorio
Song: “Bahamut” by Hazmat Modine
Story: George lets the train go by because of this great distraction (Allison)

My thoughts: I love George. If you want a song about lightness, you have him dance it. You want something hot and passionate–no. I do not think he has ever been in love like that before so it came off as a little high school production-ish, like he was acting at acting that he was in lust with this woman. After hearing Mary and Benjamin talk, though, I thought I was just cranky again, but Nigel agreed.

The judges: Mary felt it was fun to watch. He had a good time and good technique. Benjamin thought he is an amazing mover. He attacked every step with a vengeance and he was a fan. Nigel thought that his technique is tremendous but he did not believe his character. Here he was to have a raunchy night with this raunchy lady and it just appeared like he was dancing.

Dancer: Eliana (FINALLY!)
All-Star: Alex Wong (Season 7) TOTALLY PSYCHED
Style: Who cares
Choreographer: Stacey Tookey
Song: “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) By Nancy Sinatra

My thoughts: WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! FINALLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I found my breath rising and falling with the movement. They were so into each other. It was sensual, sexy, smoldering. And I want that red dress. They received a standing ovation. She deserved that! Then I thought, wow, wouldn’t it have sucked if all this lead-up to her performance had fallen flat?

The judges: Nigel said this is what he meant by maturity in movement. Eliana is his favorite girl this year. She was perfect technically and in performance. It was a fusion of the two. Mary said her hair went up on her arm. Her favorite routine of the night. It took her breath away. She was the star of the show tonight–the perfect tiramisu (Mary must have been pretty hungry). Benjamin said it was a great dance and a great song. She has it all: Performance driven by so much passion which is most important.

Dancer: Audrey
All-Star: Stephen ‘tWitch’ Boss (Season 4; one of my favorite all-stars)
Style: Hip hop
Choreographer: Dave Scott
Song: “Sincerely, Jane” by Janelle Monae
Necessary Story: A couple of 400 years bond together by love and hate. I’m already thinking “Dark Shadows.”

My thoughts: Audrey was worried she wasn’t going to keep up with tWitch and while he definitely owned the stage, she held her own. I kept thinking she reminded me of a particular actress and Nigel named her. That routine was a lot of fun.

The judges: Benjamin thought she did well. He felt it was unfair to have tWitch, but he wanted more from her, to shine of her own accord. He wanted her not to be afraid. Mary thought it was a great comical number and very entertaining. She was watching Audrey the whole time. She thought it synchronized well and she loved the groove. She called Audrey a dance angel. Nigel agreed with Benjamin. He wanted her to be more like Helena Bonham Carter (Tim Burton’s wife) and get a little crazy like she is.

My Favorites Tonight

For the girls, in this order: Eliana, Audrey, Lindsay, Tiffany, Witney

For the guys, in this order: Will, Cyrus, Chehon, Cole, George

Eliminations

They are only going with the bottom 2 this week. For the girls it is Witney (who did the bench routine last week) and Audrey (who did the flowers routine). For the boys, it is Chehon (who did the bench routine) and George (who did the Hometown Glory routine last week). And of course the audience wants to see solos; there is still 20 minutes left in the show.

Witney: Song: “You’ll Find A Way (Switch and Sinden Remix)” by Santigold. I don’t know. Witney is starting to get on my nerves. There was too much self-worship and too much hair (what they tell the people who are auditioning NOT to do).

Audrey: Song: “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” by Jennifer Holliday. I LOVE her song choice. I don’t know if that was deliberate but there is a touch of rebellion in her that I like. Her technique in her solo was better than Witney’s, but I did start to see the same moves over and over.

Chehon: Song: “Til Enda” by Olafur Arnalds (Commissioned by Wayne McGregor/Random Dance). His technique is….whoa. I know…profound review.

George: Song: “Brotsjor” by Olafur Arnalds (that’s kind of funny; did they plan that?) It was great, too. A mix of ballet and contemporary.

My going-home picks were Witney (because she seems to have hit a plateau). And for the guys, I think they are going to take George’s blah performance tonight into account.

After the LA Dance Project performed (Song: “Trio” by Nico Muhly), the people going home were announced. Nigel said the decision tonight was not unanimous (I think he meant for the girls), but Audrey was going home. Did you see Witney’s face? I really do not like this young lady any more. She had this smirk on her face–it reminded me of a pageant girl who pretends that she is shocked but not shocked. I do not like people like that. My opinion of her just tanked. For the guys, it will be George who is leaving us tonight.

Predictions for Next Week

Based on tonight’s performances, I think Witney and Tiffany will be in the bottom 2 (Witney because of her performance, but Tiffany because she was closer to the beginning of the show and people have short memories). For the guys, Chehon and Cole because of their performance issues.