American Idol S15 The End…Or Not?

9 04 2016

And the winner is…….

I’m just kidding. There are 2+ hours of filler before we find out who wins the very last spot as an American Idol.

President Obama made a speech at the beginning in a pitch to get people to vote and exercise their rights as citizens to vote in elections.

The opening number included Idol contestants from previous seasons. My mind instantly went to one Idol who will there be in spirit, Michael Johns. His death was so sad. The song started with the top 3 of this season and then moved out of to the broader focus that included all the contestants from this season. Then more contestants. I recognized Nick Fradiani, Diana DeGarmo, Katharine McPhee, Jessica Sanchez, Colton Dixon, (was that David Archuletta, too, next to him), Taylor Hicks, Chris Daughtry, Allison Iraheta, Kellie Pickler, Jordin Sparks, Ace Young, James Durbin, Carly Smithson, Jasmine Trias (from season 3 who wore a flower in her hair), Bo Bice, Scotty McCreery, and Caleb Johnson. I am sure there are others I will see and be shocked at how much they’ve changed (like Bo Bice).   Tonight I believe more often than not we will be saying to ourselves, “Oh yeah, whatever happened to” fill in the blank.

Brian Dunkleman, the co-host of season 1, joined as a surprise guest, a nice book-end to the beginning of Idol history. But the jokes he continued making got old and they didn’t get many laughs in the audience. Awkward.

Trent and La’Porsha teamed up to sing “It Takes Two” by Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston with pictures of their journey this season playing behind them.

Season 10 and 11 judge Steven Tyler began a series of retrospectives of their participation in Idol. Later Nicki Minaj shared her wishes. Notably absent was diva Mariah CareyEllen DeGeneres sent a video.

Former seasons 8 and 9 judge Kara DioGuardi performed and I wished she hadn’t. She is a better songwriter than singer.   Also among the people in this medley segment were Colton Dixon from season 11; a duet with season 1’s Justin Guarini and season 6’s Jordin Sparks; season 2’s Kimberley Locke; Tamyra Gray (season 1); Allison Iraheta (season 8); Larry Platt from season 9 (“Pants on the Ground” song fame but was never a contestant); finally ending with Pia Toscano (season 10). Sanjaya was spotted in the audience in a “Where’s Sanjaya” segment.  Glad he didn’t sing.

When Kelly Clarkson was visiting a few weeks back as a mentor, since she was pregnant and it was unlikely she could attend the show, she pre-recorded a montage of all her most popular hits. It showcased why we love her and the show that served as a gateway to all the music she brought to our lives. The medley ended with the song that started it all, “A Moment Like This.

Male Idol rockers did a medley of songs. The members included Bo Bice from season 4 (the biggest physical appearance change I have seen yet this evening); Caleb Johnson from season 13; Constantine Maroulis (season 4); James Durbin (season 10); and Chris Daughtry (season 5).

Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood (season 4) joined forces to sing “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” originally by Stevie Nicks featuring Tom Petty (Tom Petty actually wrote the song). I wish Carrie would have had a crossover rock career. When Carrie sang rock songs on Idol season 4, they were my favorite and had me looking at her like a winner.

Next was a country medley of songs starting off with Diana DeGarmo (season 3); Skylar Laine (season 11) who wasn’t sounding so great; Kree Harrison (season 12) who I loved during her season also sounded not so great either (you were pitchy dawg). They were then joined by the boys are of country Bucky Covington (season 5); Ace Young of season 5 (who is married to Diana DeGarmo); and confusingly Constantine Maroulis (season 4). Constantine filled in for Josh Gracin who declined their invitation because he didn’t want to sing a medley of covers with other contestants (per his report on Then Lauren Alaina (season 10) and Kellie Pickler (season 5) came on stage. Lastly Scotty McCreery (season 10) came out.

Harry Connick Jr presented a very emotional segment along with his friend, Marley Fletcher, from The Ellis Marsalis Center for Music in the heart of the 9th Ward in New Orleans to sing “What a Wonderful World.”

He then introduced some of the best singers Idol has had on center stage.   Katharine McPhee (season 5) and Casey James (be still my heart from season 9) singing a duet; Carly Smithson (season 7) doing a solo; Clay Aiken (season 2) doing a solo; Ruben Studdard (season 2) and Amber Holcomb (season 12) doing a duet; and finishing up with Jessica Sanchez (season 11) in a solo of ‘The Prayer” where the others joined at the end.

Jennifer Lopez sizzled up the stage with her new song “Ain’t Your Mama.”   I would have loved to see that in person. That was stellar. And she ended with “Let’s Get Loud” to get Idol pumped up, the perfect halftime song. This whole thing left me breathless.

Season 3 ladies Latoya London, Fantasia, and Jennifer Hudson performed a trio “Bridge Over Troubled Water. Jennifer Hudson sang a solo of her song from Empire “Remember the Music.Brandon Rogers (season 6), Clark Beckham (season 14), George Huff (season 3), Danny Gokey (season 8), and Elliott Yamin (season 5) banded together to sing a medley of Motown hits.

Fantasia came back to do some of her song, “Ugly.” Latoya London (season 3) came back on stage with Taylor Hicks (season 5) “Knew You Were Waiting for Me” by Aretha Franklin and George Michael. Season 11 Joshua Ledet took the stage; wow he looks fantastic. He sang “It’s a Man’s World” by James Brown. He rocked that stage!   And more Idol joined in. Candice Glover (season 12) and Melinda Doolittle (season 6) along with a variety of other Idols including many of the season 15 contestants to sing “Joy to the World.” Even Harry Connick Jr was up dancing.

A tribute to David Bowie was done featuring Idol winners Phillip Phillips (season 11), Lee DeWyze (season 9), Nick Fradiani (season 14), David Cook (season 7) and Kris Allen (season 8) which included Bowie’s hits “Starman” from 1972, “Rebel Rebel” from 1974, and “The Jean Genie” from 1972.

Next was a playback of the worst or funniest auditions or moments during the early years with Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell, and Ryan Seacrest including that awful Simon and Paula kiss. Randy and Paula came on stage and of course you were just waiting for Simon to make a “surprise” appearance. Paula and Randy gifted Ryan with the American Idol sign that Ryan will put it on his nightstand. Simon didn’t have a black T-shirt on. He dressed up for the occasion. Fatherhood looks good on him. And just when you thought the surprises were over out pops the non-surprise, William Hung who performed “She Bangs.” He ultimately released an album which sold 200,000 copies and made it to number one on Billboard’s Top Independent Album chart. He now works for the LA Sheriff’s Department as a technical crime analyst. Ryan Seacrest did a little dancing with him on stage.

Contestants throughout the 15 years shared how much they loved doing the Ford video segments. Trent and La’Porsha received keys to their cars for this year.

Season 4 winner Carrie Underwood sang her song “Something in the Water.”   She got tearful when talking to Ryan Seacrest.

Now it is time to learn who is the winner is of the very last American Idol. The winner is TRENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am just as shocked as he was. With everyone chanting La’Porsha’s name in the audience the night before I felt certain the win was hers. He deserves it just as much as she did but I thought it was hers. I thought Trent was going to pass out. Jennifer pointed to Keith as if she was saying, “you called it.” Jennifer looked shocked and Harry looked shocked too and mouthed “wow” to Jennifer. Trent was sweet when he said that La’Porsha pushed him during the competition.

Ryan Seacrest then signs off the show by saying, “We say to you from Hollywood, goodnight America.” The room goes dark and you hear him say “for now.”   For now? What the hell does that mean? Do they think in 10 years from now, they’ll bring back like X-Files for a limited event? Let American Idol die in peace and go out on a high. They weren’t going out on tour for that very reason so what makes them think bring the show back is “going out on a high?”

I heard later on during the Twitterfest that the producers were going to shop the show to another network. If this is true, it is a mistake. American Idol is forever associated with Fox Broadcasting and to try to resurrect it as the same show or anything that has the name American Idol even if it is in a different format, is just a mistake. American Idol had a great run but like all things, they come to an end, and so should this.

Thank you American Idol for the many years of entertainment; you will live on in television legend.  Guess I will need to get back to blogging about other things, too.

American Idol S15 San Francisco Auditions

12 01 2016

A very “sorry” Brook Sample (who hates her last name and job because she goes home smelling like Ranch dressing) was adorable. She is from Oklahoma and currently living in Tucson. She chose a song from Dixie Chicks, “Cold Day in July.” I liked it better than the live version of this song by the original artists. Harry said in terms of presenting herself he thinks she owes herself a little confidence because she has a fine last name, she should be proud to be a waitress and she did a really good job. Jennifer thinks America might love her as much as she does. Keith thinks she has a really good voice—interesting and unique; it’s very special. She receives a yes from all three judges.

Olivia Rox is a 16-year-old who was born into a musical family who encouraged her talent from a very young age. She sang “When I Was Your Man” by Bruno Mars. The beginning of the song was dragging a little bit but it progressed well and showcased her voice super well. Yes, I got goosebumps. Harry thinks she is an extraordinarily talented kid. Jennifer thought she did beautifully and is someone who would add a lot to the competition. Keith thought her voice was really unique and refreshing to hear it.

Cover-band singer Jessica Clark did her own take on “Come Together” by The Beatles. While her voice is interesting, the nasal quality of her voices hurts my ears. She makes it through.

Ameet Kanon, an 18-year-old student from LA, sang “Mercy” by Duffy. I liked her voice but no goosebumps. She looks good on camera.  She is through.

Kayla Mickelsen was also familiar to me from her auditions for “The Voice.”   She chose “Broadripple is Burning” by Margot and The Nuclear So and So’s. I love her. She reminds me a bit of Joey from last year. The judges liked it a lot. She is also through to Hollywood.

Melanie Tierce, a 21-year-old, from Murrie, California had me in goosebumps by the second note.   She sang “Rise Up” by Third Day. Apparently Harry was immediately sold on her, too. Jennifer got goosebumps. She had Keith crying. He said it was unbelievably good. Harry thought it was stunning. He thought it was one of the best auditions he has heard in 3 years.

Being Miss Alaska 2014 led to a job in radio for Malie Delgado. She chose Gretchen Wilson’s “Chariot” as her audition song. She has a lovely voice. No goosebumps but it was lovely. Jennifer thought she had a great voice. Harry gave her an analogy of the color blue and how many shades of blue they have in the competition. She is like an aquamarine. He is amazed all these ridiculously talented smart women are coming. He told her it will be a husky dog fight. She will need to yell “mush” as loud as she can. (Well, technically the term is “hike”, Harry). Jennifer and Keith are also a yes for Hollywood. After she walked out, the judges said she was a star.

Ryan stepped into Harry’s role and Harry took over Ryan’s spot. He gives the next contestant some tips on what to say to Ryan to win him over (loves labs, ask about his sister getting married). Brandyn Burnette decided to sing an original song called “Lost.” His voice reminds me of someone I can’t put my finger on at the moment. I love it and I love him. Harry felt the desire to hug him while he was playing piano. Keith gave him a brief standing ovation. Ryan was impressed. He felt the emotion. He sang it beautifully and he liked the lyrics. This gives him the first four-yes vote of the season.

The next contestant’s family are the biggest American Idol fans. They still have every show ever done on a recording (like VHS recording). Kyrsti Jewel believes that American Idol actually gave her her love of singing. Lee DeWyze went over and said hello. Ryan invited them all in for the audition where Kyrsti chose to sing “Mama Knows Best” by Jessie J.   WOW! She is a little powerhouse; she needs to learn how to vary her sound because it always on LOUD. She absolutely has talent, but that is the only thing I’d like to see her learn. Harry said she has an incredible instrument – clear, loud, energetic. She receives the three yes votes to move through to Hollywood.

Sarah Hayes thought she was coming in being confident and funny, but she was off-putting. She chose “Hero” by Bonnie Tyler. She forgot the lyrics. But what I started to hear was a person who has a nice voice, but not nearly good enough to even make it to Hollywood.   She also needs to lose the gum in her mouth. Then she switches to Invincible. Harry says yes to her because he feels like they are part of the problem of why she was messing up. Keith scolded her gently about how she presented herself was not a good way to audition. Jennifer worried about her because there is only going to be more and more pressure as time goes on. She didn’t hear enough of her voice to know if she can control it enough. Jennifer said no. Keith said the whole audition was unstable. Keith was also a no.


Next up: Philadelphia

American Idol S15 Atlanta Auditions

9 01 2016

(I know the Atlanta and Denver auditions were in the same show, but I’m splitting them up because the blog was just too long).

And so it begins….the beginning of the end of a 15-year run on American Idol. There will be surprises galore this season. Back of the judges panel are my favorite three judges: Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick, Jr. While some will argue that the original three judges, Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul, and Simon Cowell were the best, I prefer the constructive criticism that is given to the contestants versus the ridicule that left some contestants baffled as to what went wrong with their performance. I have been blogging about American Idol in one forum or another (including on the Fox 26 Houston blog site) since season 2 of the show when I first began watching.

If you are a newcomer to my blog, there is just one thing you need to know. My goosebumps never lie. Music truly rocks my soul. My mother had a beautiful opera voice and had auditioned for the NY Met, but didn’t make it. Because of her influence, I have been singing my whole life. I went to music school and my last public performance was at Hamman Hall at Rice University here in Houston. Stage fright got the best of me, my recital bombed, and I decided that this field was not my career path. My vocal coach was going to do a road trip and asked me to come along to be her background singer, a compliment that was not lost upon me, but the idea of being on the road, in gross motel rooms, singing in smoky environments (because there were no smoking bans in bars back then) just didn’t appeal to me. My childhood had been unstable and I decided to keep my stable day job. That didn’t mean, however, I gave up singing, writing songs, and challenging myself. My stage fright, however, has never left me. When I see singers crash because of stage fright on Idol, my heart truly feels empathy for them.

The first stop begins in Atlanta. Michelle Marie has been waiting to audition on Idol since she was 4 years old. She is 15 years old and is from Daytona Beach, Florida. Her song choice is “Blue” by LeAnn Rimes. I got goosebumps when she sang the opening “Blue” inflections. Jennifer thought it was pretty. Harry thought she did a good job with a song that is technically difficult to do. Keith loved it too. She is through.

Some of the previous contestants came to do screening judging on the audition part of the tour including Ruben Studdard, Clay Aiken, Taylor Hicks, Lee DeWyze, and Kris Allen. I am not sure if that was a gift or a curse for them.

Showing off classic country is 18-year-old Josiah Siska from Dacula, Georgia. Singing Johnny Cash’s “Riders in the Sky” in the key of Johnny Cash, this big old deep bass voice came out of this young man. It was interesting, but I am not sure he would make it far in the competition; he would need to learn how to change “theme” weeks into a range he could sing and people would enjoy. Harry got up and did hand clapping and sound effects for him. Keith loved his voice. Harry said they have never heard anything like him yet. Three yesses.

Lindita is a 26-year-old personal trainer who was ridiculed her entire life for being obese. They would say, “She has a great voice but she is fat.” She decided to make lifestyle changes and dropped 150 pounds in preparation for her audition. She also married her own personal trainer. She is from Kosovo. She sang “This is a Man’s World.” Goosebumps! Jennifer says to Keith that she has soul. I loved it. Harry thinks she is a powerful singer. Jennifer and Keith loved it. Keith thought she had too many runs, but she will learn to cut some of that out. She receives three yesses.

Billy Bob Evett, 25 years of age from Punta Gorda, Florida, is a self-described honky-tonk man who is quite the Jennifer Lopez fan. He picks a Waylon Jennings song. He is another contestant with a deep bass voice. He was a lot of fun but it was not as good as Josiah. Keith likes him as a person but felt the singing wasn’t strong enough (the pitch was all over the place). Jennifer and Harry agreed.

Fifteen-year-old Lee Jean, from Bluffton, South Carolina, sang “I See Fire” by Ed Sheeran. Immediate goosebumps for me. His voice is so pure. I think when he added the guitar his voice went off pitch quite a bit. My suggestion would be to lose the guitar so he can concentrate on the vocals. Jennifer wants to squeeze him he is so cute (and she loves his talent). Harry thinks he has a tremendous amount of talent. The singing-in-tune part needs a lot of work which is doable. Keith loves his tone and has a singer/songwriter quality about it. They all give him a yes.

Sylvia Lee Walker, a 16-year-old that likes to talk (A LOT), from Rayle, Georgia got a standing ovation from Keith for her tales of her life that were told at the speed of light. Her song choice: Yodeling. And at the end of that Keith did a “mind blown” reference and collapsed in a ball of laughter. Jennifer and Harry thought it was awesome. Keith thought she had an amazing accent and he could listen to her stories all night long. Keith said she is entertainer as a person, but this was a singing competition and her pitch was all over the place. Jennifer thought she would be a lot of fun at Hollywood week but she also was a no.

Joshua Wicker, age 25, is the creative director at his church. His wife is 3 weeks away from her due date of their first child. He decides to sing, “Stay” by Rihanna. Oh my gosh. From the first note, I had goosebumps. I don’t think it was from the ice on my foot either. Jennifer said it was an interesting voice with a lot of pretty colors. Harry said it was compelling and that is all he cares about. Keith thought he sang it like he wrote it which is the highest compliment you can give someone who didn’t write a song. Three yesses. And three weeks later their daughter Branch was born.

This adorable couple with a new baby are both auditioning. First up is Alex Sasser, a 23-year-old worship leader from Raleigh, NC. She sings Bruno Mars’ song “Count on Me” while playing a ukulele. She is cute and has a sweet voice. Harry thought she had a pretty voice but it was just not passing it at all. Keith felt it was just too light for him as a performance. Jennifer needed to hear more of a compelling voice. It’s a no from all three. Jordan Sasser was next up. He chose Celine Dion’s song, “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now.” He too is a worship leader at his church. He is definitely the stronger voice in the couple. I got some goosebumps. He has a nice face and a nice smile, too. Jennifer thought it was really good. Harry thought he is incredibly talented and smart. Keith thought it was great. Three yesses. What was sad to me is that I think she really believed she was the better singer in the family and it wasn’t just a joking around in the package before the singing. When she left she blamed Jordan for dancing around with the baby which made the judges not like her singing as much because it was distracting the judges. She says to him that she has never been good enough—she’s sat and watch him follow his dream and it’s heartbreaking. He looked shocked at her words. But he reassured her how proud he was of her and that he loved her. He really is the better singer Alex. It wasn’t the distraction of your baby in the room. And no offense, but you are a worship leader and we just witnessed one of the seven deadly sins:  Envy.